Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Writing print articles

Few months ago, I started writing articles for the most influential computer magazine in Serbia, PC. I wanted to spread the word about modern web design, CSS-based, semantic markup and similar stuff.

Initial spark was annual Serbian Top50 list, traditionally chosen by PC staff at the end of the year. Of those 50 sites, none was nowhere near validity, semantics. They were (are) all technically outdated. The mag’s site itself was like that (built by me in 2002, I plead guilty) - I added DOCTYPE recently and corrected the mistakes I could.

First article I wrote (for March ‘04 issue) was purely a commentary on that finding, written in the single breath. When it was published, I realized large part of the article was edited to better fit the mag’s style…and soften my bashing a bit. Lesson learned.

Later articles deal with importance of markup validity, semantic markup, CSS etc. Each next article had less and less edited parts. The lesson I learned is that print articles are written over period of several days, even weeks.

The second article I wrote was done in 3 days. I let it be for two days. Then I read it again and realized that it’s poorly written. There was no clear flow of the content. I would talk about one thing, then mention something related, then expand the related part to whole paragraph until the point I completely lost the context. Someone reading that would probably be very confused what exactly I’m talking about.

So enter streamlining process.

Print publications are not blogs. Once it’s printed, there is no going back. You can’t return and correct mistakes or re-phrase sentences. Over the last few months, I developed the process of writing.

In the first phase, I simply collect resources. I write like a maniac, two or three paragraphs in a spree. Some of them are not really related to each other, but all related to the subject. This can last from 2 to 7 days or more (like in the case of CSS basics I’m currently writing).

In the second phase, I organize the parts so they have natural flow. I decide on the main theme and exclude parts not strictly related to it. All usually done in one or two days.

Then comes the hardest part. I read the whole piece and re-phrase parts, divide into chapters (err…sort of), connect them…Then I repeat this after a day or two. Then repeat again, and again…

On each reading I find parts sounding bad or don’t fitting-in with the rest of the article. After that is over, I ask friend(s) to read it, to gain different perspective. I’m lucky in this, as I have friends working for the web but mostly on the server-side. They understand what’s written, even though they have never used CSS-based design or semantic markup. Such feedback is very valuable and always result in subtle changes which I would not bother with, since I eat & breath with CSS, semantics, validation and rest of the crowd.

Only then it’s ready to be sent to the editor.

Writing articles is hard. Very time-consuming. But worthwhile and rewarding.

Great song that should've been a winner

Man, that was close. Our contender Zeljko Joksimovic almost won the Eurosong competition. After 12 years of absence, this is a very strong second place. Although I can hardly be called objective, the Ukraine song is really stupid in english. Shaka daka tralala…simply stupid. Lucky for her, she sang on her own language so it was not obvious…who knows, maybe it has meaningful lyrics in original.

If you liked the Lane moje song, you can get it here. I think it’s evident that it’s much better to sing in your own language than in english, which seems to be a trend. Also, I’m surprised that the quality of songs is so low. As I said, my country was not part of this for twelve years and when I heard the songs I was really amazed that something like 80% of the songs are very bad. Melodies were either non-existent or empty, duos were poorly synchronized or you simply forgot the song after 2 minutes. Very, very bad. I like the songs from Macedonia (To�e should’ve sing in macedonian, it much more melodic), Cyprus and Greece and perhaps Croatia, but not that much.

Well, it was fun nonetheless. While in purely ephemeris area, it’s good to be part of Europe, and to be so strong.

Short MT rant

There is an incredible amount of raging comments and trackbacks about the way SixApart decided to lead Movable Type to. Everyone are going crazy, it makes me think that people are to be forced to pay for the new version or to use something else.

I’m gonna use something else. It’s called MT 2.661 and it serves me pretty good.

There are folks having dozens of authors and blogs running on MT 2.x. Who the hell forces you to change it? If it served you fine until now, why change it? If it didn’t, why haven’t you changed it earlier?

It’s ridiculous.

All the best to SixApart. It’s their software, their money, their fortune (or not).

Troy

I was last night at the world premiere, here in Belgrade (yes, it was shown before Cannes and LA). Premiere was held at the Open Air cinema, at football (soccer for you Americans) stadium in front of something like 4k people. It would’ve probably been more, but it was freezing weather, luckily with no rain. Despite the fact I still can feel the chill in my bones, it was worth it.

Troy

The film is awesome. I’m self-certified sword&shield movies sucker, but I think this movie will also appeal to those seeking much deeper emotions than shield-wall grinding.

Eric Bana is excellent as magnificent Hector, Orlando is…well, Orlando. But Brad Pitt…man, how good he is. He gave the master-piece of acting - just watch his face when he’s calling Hector out, when Priam meets him, his moves…

Diane Kruger as Helene really looks worthy of war. It is un-human how beautiful she is.

I can’t wait to get this on DVD to watch over and over. I’m sure I missed some good moments last night.