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October 26, 2006

Changes in Fractals of Change

If you read Fractals of Change directly from its blogsite blog.tomevslin.com, you may notice that its look has changed as of this afternoon.  If you read via an email or RSS subscription, you won’t notice any change at all.  If you’re a fellow blogger, the reasoning behind the changes may interest you.

It’s all about readability and usability.  In my new career as a writer, I like to be read.  I’d certainly appreciate feedback on these changes and, of course, bug reports.

The blog now fits itself to the width of the window in which it is opened.  The left and right sidebars are fixed width so it’s the middle column, where the posts appear, which resizes.  For most people this change means that the middle column will be wider; since the lines of text are longer, you won’t have to scroll as much to read a whole post.  However, if you find that the lines of text are uncomfortably long for the way you read,  just make the window you are reading in more narrow.

New posts appear faster on slow connections and slow devices.  You may have noticed that most blogs are drawn column by column from left to right.  This means that the posts in the middle column don’t appear until the left sidebar has been drawn.  Stuff which requires multiple requests to a remote computer can draw slowly when latency is high.  My list of recent reads requires an access to Amazon’s computers for each book so it got moved from the left sidebar to the right and can draw at its own good speed while you read the new content which will now appear sooner.

Unfortunately, this means that the book recommendations are below the fold.  My guess is that they won’t be discovered as often.  My sales commissions from Amazon’ll go down (which is no great loss to me) but some people have said that they find the book list and capsule reviews helpful so I hope they’ll take the trouble to find it in its new position.  BTW, if you read Fractals of Change in email or RSS, you can click on the “Books” link at the bottom of each post to see the book list.

The left sidebar is dedicated to things that make the blog more usable.  The right sidebar is, in general, for ads.  You’ll now find all the blog navigation aids like Search, Recent Posts, Category Archives, and Calendar Archives are in the left sidebar.  Even the ad for hackoff.com got moved over to the right since it doesn’t help you read or use FOC.

Support for Google’s new Custom Search capability has been added.  Read here about that.

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