Friday, September 26, 2008

Not-so-Portable Document Format

It has been a bit quiet around here, because of time crunches (September heralds in a new semester), illness (children are germ factories) and a missed weekend of play. But with all of that, I should be able to comment on all of the good, new material coming out out Dragon magazine, right?

Yes, if I had time to read all of the tantalizing articles, but I find I've barely been able to keep up with the wizardlinks indexes. Still, it got me thinking about the fact that I've read very few of the articles that have appeared in Dragon since the magazine went online.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that I prefer to read away from the computer, in my armchair or in bed. Sure, I read my general RSS feeds online and that keeps me informed, and lead to the occasional full article being read on-screen. I read digital books for work purposes, when a hardcopy isn't at hand. But when I have spare time to read (and I do try to make that time), I realize that I'm reading OTHER content -- Scientific American, Wired, National Geographic, Dr. Dobbs -- instead of any D&D material. Dragon and Dungeon magazines used to be part of that pile of magazines, but no longer.

Do I need to train myself to read at the computer, to decide that "those magazines" are part of my regular circulation? That's difficult, as I usually go to read when I'm tired of sitting in front of the computer. Should I read them as they appear? That's also difficult, as I'm generally at work when the RSS feed informs me of a new article, and I make time to update my index and to pop the PDF up in a new tab -- but I don't have the time at work to sit there and read it, even if that tab sits open for a week or more (until my browser crashes or the machine gets rebooted).

Do I print it out? Possible, I suppose, though I don't know that I'd enjoy the printer-paper version nearly as much as I used to enjoy the glossy magazines. Also, do I just print out individual articles as they appear? Or do I wait until the whole issue is compiled into a single PDF, giving me one complete issue, but making me wait until the end of the month before I get a chance to comment on it?

Of course, at this rate, I'm not commenting on any of it, as I'm never getting to it.

I had mixed feelings about the move to online content before, and I still do. I like that the new content is going to be added to the Compendium, though that's not really something that the online version enables -- it could have been done with a paper issue as well. But I see how the push to a full digital layout drives this setup.

Perhaps the solution is a tablet PC.

Anyhow, I'm going to try to be more diligent in reading this material. If I succeed, don't be surprised if I post about material from a few months ago...

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