A New Readable Theme

As you might notice, I changed the blog theme from Elemin to Lovecraft. I liked Elemin, but it was hard to read with my old eyes, especially in doing transcriptions. Unless you work in WordPress, you might not know that the text size looks the same in the editor as it does on the published page, so that small font was hard to work with, even with my computer glasses. Lovecraft has a large, readable font that looks good on all devices.

The large font makes it easier to transcribe using the Mac split screen now available with the El Capitan OS:

splitscreen

Lovecraft is a relatively new theme. It’s simple, but has a space in the footer for widgets—one of my favorite site features. I feel that if you have read or scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page, there ought to be something there for you to read.

I don’t know how the theme expresses H. P. Lovecraft or if it’s supposed to, but it’s working for me, as long as Cthulhu doesn’t emerge from it. I might put more effort into having featured images on some of the site pages, instead of the same header on them all, but I don’t have any ideas at the moment.

 

Site Activity

I’m doing a little rearranging of menu items on the site, grouping some and setting a priority for the letters section. That’s because, as I mused in a recent post, I’ve decided to post the letters on this site, with a page for each letter that shows the scanned pages of the letter, followed by a transcription. That starts with exporting the PDF scans to JPEGs of each page in each letter, and then uploading those JPEGs to the site. I’ll do the transcribing after that. I’m starting with the 1951 letters and then going back to the WWII years.

At one point, I thought I would try to put it all into a book, but I have no expertise in how to do that and it was a weight I don’t need, so I’m casting it off. On the other hand, I have plenty of expertise blogging and writing online, and making this decision gives me new purpose in finishing the project. So the site may change in the future, but I think I’m pretty satisfied with the look of this site for the purpose of posting letters without extraneous decoration.

For the time being, until I get going and have at least one section done, I’m going to keep The Letters pages password protected. Soon enough, like in early spring, I should be ready to let it all be open.

Why Not Transcribe the Letters Here?

I’ve been going round and round about what software to use for the transcriptions, from simple text editors to open-source word processing software to Microsoft Word (the least attractive). I’ve looked at a number of academic transcribing systems, but I am this close to not being associated with any academic institution and, so, will not have an opportunity to work where I could publish the work on an academic server, nor have the human resources to help me work with such software. Here’s an example of such software, although it is primarily for sites where a community of users can help transcribe your items: Scripto. I don’t want that sort of project, but the software options and results are interesting. You can see under the User’s guide menu that Scripto can be used with a WordPress installation (the org not the dotcom WordPress).

So, that got me thinking and doing some more wandering around the web looking at how other people handle letters. Then out of the blue and thanks to the D-Day anniversary, @neinquarterly tweeted a link to one of Kurt Vonnegut’s war letters:

Letters of Note is an attractive site and I like the presentation of the letter images and their transcriptions. Why don’t I just transcribe them here on this site? Initially I was going to provide the transcriptions on a password protected page on the site for family, anyway, but I had been knocking around a weird  process of transcribing them in Word, pasting them in iBooks Author, then pasting them here—that never sounded good. Why not just do the transcribing here, treating the site as a content management system?

I had hoped and still do hope to put the letters in a book with essays I will write about them, but I don’t know anything about publishing books, having only published a few scholarly articles long ago, and am likely to just do some kind of self-publishing in the end. Until then, I ask myself again, “Why not just do the transcribing right here in this site?”

 

A Lovely Display of Letters

At least to an academic, this digital collection of “The John McCoy Family Papers” at the Dartmouth College Library is lovely. View the documents and letters from this page: http://collections.dartmouth.edu/teitexts/jmccoy/index.html

Here’s a nice example of what I find so inviting in the display. The transcription on the left is clear and easy to read, without too many interruptions except where words are illegible. The actual letter image is available on the right in a nice viewer that does not allow readers to copy or download the document, to prevent distribution. I don’t think I’ll ever have the skills or resources to do something like that (you never know), but this would be a nice format in which to display my letters once transcribed. I’ve heard (I have connections) that the collection will eventually offer a toggle to the full TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) markup, something I’d like to learn in my coding adventures.

Dartmouth Library Document Collection Display
Dartmouth Library Document Collection Page Display

new blog theme soon

[Obvious update: The new theme is Elemin. The post is about the old theme, fusion.]

Oh, drat. This theme hasn’t been updated in over two years, and that’s not good in terms of being responsive to viewing in multiple mobile devices, nor in having the kinds of features that make WordPress.com sites so useful and beautiful. I’ve waited. I’ve Tweeted. I’ve searched on the developer’s site (digitalnature) to no avail.

I have used and do use a number of themes on several blog sites, but I’m going to be extra careful before I pick a new one here. Don’t be surprised when you come here some day and see a whole new arrangement of the same stuff.

Bye Fusion; I really liked you, but times change.