Seven, v0.5.20040723

I’ve restructured Seven so that the document should be much nicer to read and also much easier to update. I’ve added a new chapter to the story, and polished off many of the earlier chapters. Read the Note before the story for more of what I have to say. The changes in this version are:

Friday, July 23, 2004, version 0.5.20040723

Summary: Major Changes. Recommend a re-read from Chapter One.

  • Added Chapter Five, Cast, Units, the Note and Changes.
  • Major formatting changes in this version, Seven is now a nicer, single document, easily converted to lots of different formats.
  • Standardized magicka.
  • Removed Interrupts and Sci-Fi tie-ins… for now.
  • Ashlands tie-in added everywhere.
  • Many typos and sentences fixed.
  • Note: The changes in earlier chapters haven’t yet been finished, the next few updates could also be ‘re-read’ ones. Sorry!
  • Note: About one half of this story has now been posted 😀

Two versions are available: Word DOC and PDF

I’m going away for a week for my industrial Visit to Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Mysore and lots of other places, so unless I can post from a cafe while I’m traveling, its goodbye till the first of August. Hope this serves as a nice going-away present, see ya!

Uncle, me

Maloos and Meenakshi :-D

At my last count, I have three nieces and two nephews, courtesy of three separate cousins who decided to marry and procreate :-). I make them call me cheta (brother) though cause I’m too young to be an uncle ;-). But that’s what I am, and these two beeeautiful girls above are Malavika and Meenakshi, and because they are growing up in the US, it’s nice (and sometimes intimidating) to hear their English. It’s funny how they alternate between English and Malayalam and it’s funny how they are always careful to repeat every question that they have in both languages lest I don’t understand 😀

They are just the age where they have tactless condescension (no that’s too strong a word, but something like that) put down pat. When they grow older, it’ll be so much less fun since I can’t grin at questions like, “Vishnuchetta, do you understand English?” 😀

Simple and Stylish

Aesthetics is not a branch of science. That is, if you define science as a study that includes exact measurements and theories, aesthetics most probably won’t fit the bill, because the needs of people (and their desires) differ. It’s more like pschology – a pseudo-science, one that attempts to categorize the reactions of a broad percentage of people so that they can be weeded out into normal and sub-normal. But like many other such tricky knowledge, it’s very important to how the world works.

Nobody buys a car that looks like a box on wheels. You’ve got to have curves, and just the right amount of appeal. Nobody buys a bike that’s entirely silent. It’s got to have a drone, and the more distinctive a rumble, the better. It’s very difficult to estimate where aesthetics end and marketing begins in many cases, because both are sciences that aim to please. Aesthetics does it in the name of art, marketing does it in the name of money. When you pool both in, a good idea becomes a workable one, one that appeals to a lot of people.

For design, aesthetics is often called upon more, rather than marketing. One of the basic rules of design with respect to publishing is that humans scan a block of text; rarely do they read, especially in environments like the web where time is of essence and the bushels of chaff are many. For a designer to become effective however, he must know which areas of text to highlight and which to use simply as page-fill. A rule of the thumb to follow is that when a document is more than 60% page-fill, it’s useless. So succintly, the point I’m trying to elaborate is: be brief. And expanding it to the context of the entire design scope, be simple.

Simple doesn’t imply plain. People who’ve stared at Nakshatra [2] collections will know what I mean. It is the special designer who can bring out the beauty in simplicity. Gaudiness often serves only to point out the flaws in the design; a minimalistic layout which uses the needs of the design as a guide to creating web pages that breathe well and think easy will be much, much more effective. In other words, it should be the content that decides the wrapping, not the reverse.

My first web page was an exercise in futitlity. Vysnu in its current incarnation is in some ways, much better, but there is oh, so much more that I can do. It’s still too heavy on the eye, and the elements do clash every so often. I can’t promise a redesign any time soon, but when I do it, I want it to be much better.

Oh, and analogous to the great coding principle that I live by (and what Vivek taught me) “Keep it Simple and Stupid” is “Keep it Simple and Stylish” when it comes to design. At least, that’s how my philosophy is wired. So KISS and make up, and lets be on our way.

This is a note to all ex-loyolites who stumble on this page.

As you may have heard on the LOBA e-newsletter, I’m taking over the LOBA web presence. On the cards is a rewrite of the code to make it XHTML and Mozilla-aware, minor tweaks to the interface, and much better innards. Post any suggestions that you may have here, or forward a mail to webmaster .AT. Although I won’t be aiming to bring about the radical change that Ashok and Abhishek brought out, it should be a steady evolution :-D.

Personally, I’m excited at the prospect because allows me to play over an SSH terminal, a luxury I don’t enjoy here. Once I figure out how to work the connection, I will be excited long enough to make interesting things happen.