Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Width and readability

I've just switched the "theme" of this blog to a fixed width theme. As screens get wider, it can be awkward if lines of text are too long because it's too easy to lose your place when your eyes flick back to find the start of the next line.

Related odd thought: I remember reading (I forget where -- I think somewhere in the documentation for the LaTeX publishing system) that the Times font was designed specifically for narrow columns of text, as you get in the Times newspaper, and there was a warning that it could look awkward for documents with much wider single-column formats. However, it's been the default in Word for a decade (though they changed it in Word 2007), and probably most of the documents any of us have printed have used it, without it seeming awkward. Anything else looks unusual. So does that mean that the warning was wrong, or just that we've got so used to it we don't notice any more?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

"Prove it's unsafe"

UK Environment minister Phil Woolas has supposedly claimed it's now up to the opponents of GM to prove that it is unsafe. This seems like fairly disingenious phrasing -- either it has been proven safe or it hasn't. If it has, then surely that's what he should focus on. If it hasn't, then effectively saying "well, we're stumped; let's put the burden on proving there's going to be a problem" doesn't sound like a sensible approach. It was very difficult to definitively prove there would be a problem with feeding processed cow-remains to living cows (we can kill all the bacteria and viruses), until the BSE crisis hit (oops, we forgot about prions).