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re: free books at http://www.baen.com/library/

I spent relaxing hours last night reading one of these
fine books. Downloaded, unzipped to an empty directory,
and adjusted the web browser settings. Light reading
from Mercedes Lackey, "Born to Run", which is like
Harry Potter for adults.

An interesting (somewhat) point concerning reading
novels via a web browser... Web browsers are better,
in my opinion, that Acrobat (pdf) or word processor
programs for reading continuously. The reason is that
the html markup language was explicitly designed to
allow the user to control presentation (though some
obstinate web authors insist on specifying specific
font sizes, line breaks, and whatnot.)

When I read a novel I like to position the screen
fairly close -- not more than two feet -- and
decrease the size of the browser window while
increasing the font size so that an entire line
can be read at a glance without moving my eyes
left and right. The window is sized to approximately
the same size and shape as a page in a paperback
book, except the letters are much larger than in
a paperback. Because of the way html works, and
that most authors rely on the '<p>' paragraph
commands for word-wrapping, increasing the size
of the font used to display the writing just means
that there are fewer words on each line (the browser
"word wraps" the lines to fit the size of the window.)

Then I position the keyboard by my knee, rotated
90 degrees clockwise so I can easily tap the
"Page Down" key while reclined in my easy chair.
One tiny push of a button turns the "page".

Once all of the settings are fine-tuned and I
become engrossed in the book I just relax,
motionless except for a continuous "tap, tap,
tap ... " on the Page Down key every second
or two.

Curiously, the contents of an entire paperback
that retails for $5.95 (US) requires only 200
to 300 thousand bytes when compressed for
downloading in .zip format. And don't you think that
if entire books can be downloaded in a few
seconds over a regular dial-up line that just
perhaps the need for high-speed DSL or cable
internet has been slightly over-hyped? Just
maybe? Strip out all of the bogus pop-up ads
and excessively ornate graphics and the amount
of content available using a 56K modem far
exceeds what a normal person can assimilate.
(Note: in Mozilla browser you can turn off
downloading of graphics. As an experiment
this is interesting to do to see just how much
garbage we download along with our daily news.)

P.S. Here's an item that needs pictures but
few words:
http://www.321gold.com/editorials/fasciani/fasciani011904.html
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