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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Monday, March 21 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Brushes with technology-4

I thought I'd wrapped up this topic on Friday but, still writing under the duress of the worst head cold I've had in, perhaps, ever, I'm taking the path of least resistance and turning up yet a few more leftovers on last week's topic—publishing technology in my early life—to meet today's word quota.

My exposure to Linotype machines before they became obsolete (with, I'm sure, some exceptional cases) helped me anticipate the most important technology in my life: the computer. I was always fascinated by reports of computer developments, despite my general indifference toward scientific areas academically, because their potential for publishing were always apparent to me. When I watched Linotype machines operate, I was transfixed at how complicated they were and how well they did so many operations. Part of that fascination was realizing that the Linotype, though more mechanical than electronic, had a built-in computer function.

In "those days" almost all newspaper and magazine columns were "justified." That means that the right side of the column was as straight as the left one. The column you're reading now is what newspaper layout people call "ragged right"; every line of type ends wherever the last word that fits in the line ends, so there's an uneven —ragged—appearance to the right side of the column. Most newspaper columns still use justified columns, because "justification"—forcing every line to fill out the maximum available width for the lines of type— gets more words in the same length column than the ragged approach.

To justify every line of type "on the fly," the Linotype had to figure out how many letters, and how many letters of a certain width (i's, n's, and m's are discrete widths, for example), would occur in any line and perfectly distribute whatever space would have been left at the end of the line if it were not justified, in the spaces between words and, in some cases, even extra equal spacing between letters. It still amazes me how the Linotype was able to do this, but of course in the 2000s we take such calculations—computations—for granted.

The point is that when a computer/word processor was first described to me, I was ready for it. I couldn't wait to be able to afford my first computer (and as a result threw away almost a thousand 1985 dollars on my first, which didn't have as much computing power as my—or anyone else's—cell phone does now!).

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

The importance of a good testimony

I was at a stop light, behind a car with a bumper sticker that said "Honk if you love Jesus." So I honked. The driver leaned out his window, gave me an very impolite gesture, and yelled, "Can't you see the light is still red, you MORON!?"

Thought for today

Christian one-liners:
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Sent by Carl Essex   

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