Monday, June 13, 2011

A case for readability

With no Gmail, Facebook in office and work pretty much over, I spent a large portion of time reading online news and articles. Readability or the ease of reading is an issue we hardly consider while reading physical books or news papers. But web pages contain several other things than the main article - adds, links to other articles etc. So readability becomes an important issue while reading web text. I am a big fan of the plugin Readability. Unfortunately it doesn't work in my office network. So I had to find other means to make articles more presentable to myself. One of the biggest feeder of articles for me is Indian Express. I am producing a few snapshots of Indian Express articles here for showcasing various layouts.

Multi page format.
Negatives: Distractions on right side and the pain of clicking  "next page link"
Positives: Lesser text to read at once

Single Page Layout
Negatives: Scrolling
Positives: No extra clicks required. Easy to skim backwards in the article. 
But the layout which I prefer is the print preview. It is provided by many standard content rich sites. Unfortunately it's use is still not widespread. I hope someday it becomes a norm.
Print Layout
Negatives: Extra width. Possibility of loss of concentration after mid length
Positives: No adds. Flickering, Flash adds often distract from reading. Entire article presented in one single view
One of the interesting features of Readability is the conversion of links embedded in the article into footnotes. Many times writers use the contents of the external article as stepping stones or examples to substantiate their point. So providing reference links is a natural action for writers.But while reading a long article embedded links most often disrupt the flow of reading. So from a reader's perspective these hyperlinks may not be a good idea.  It's a bit of writer-reader conundrum. That's where readability comes handy. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


2011 edition of world cup has seen a lot of action till date. England beating the contenders while getting beaten by two of the weakest teams in the group and almost losing with the third, a tied match, a blitzkrieg innings by Ross Taylor to sink the Pakistani ship and of course two great innings by the batting maestro. But one of the major factors which have affected this world cup has been the UDRS referral system. One of the proponents of the UDRS system Duncan Fletcher has few thoughts on how stupidly the system has been used sometimes and how ICC keeps tinkering with it all the time. One needs to understand that the referral system is essentially meant not for the 50-50 chances but to avoid blunders and shockers which can change the course of the game. The high ratio of on-field umpires' withheld decisions to reversed decisions is a testimony of the fact that on field umpires are doing a fine job.

From the spectator's point of view, UDRS has taken away the imminent unadulterated joy from the dismissals. You feel like a kid who goes to collect his grade sheet, comes to know that he has topped the exam and is suddenly told that his papers would be rechecked and after a while same result is declared again. Though this subtle emotional aspect due to involving technology in the game, will neither make any difference to the ICC policies, BCCI's opposition to the referral system nor will it matter to the broadcasters. It will just remind the viewers of the era when the dreaded finger would have the last laugh.

Update (13th June 2011): It will be interesting to see how Duncan Fletcher deals with India's constant opposition to UDRS when he is the coach of Indian team and when BCCI continues to rule the global cricket scenario. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Goggles are nice. They provide a tinted view of the world. Change the colour of the glass and the world changes. No-colour brings excessive clarity. Eyes can't take it. They find solace in the stained sight.

Eyes on the opposite side of goggles, not covered with any goggle, try to push their vision beyond the glass boundary of goggles. But the real eyes are not visible. When they stare hard enough, all they get to see is their own reflection. Looking at themselves, they think, is this a pleasant sight? Eyes can't decide. All they decide is to wear a goggle.

Now either eyes, when stare at each other, can only see goggles - the other goggle and a reflection of own goggle.