Saturday, August 16, 2008

InfoQ, Firefox Hacks and Media Snobbery

I happen to be one of those people that don't like TV - it's not that I don't watch it when I get a chance, but I've made a conscious decision not to buy one and to get my news and movies from other sources. My primary issue is that TV as a media is too engaging, passive and slow. Radio is also passive and slow, but less engaging, hence better.

For example: in 10 mins browsing news sites, I can learn more than 10 mins of browsing newspapers, which still fare better than 10 mins of radio, which is just the same as 10 mins of TV, except that when I watch TV I don't do anything else.

I'm a much faster reader than listener. When I read I can always stop and mull over a sentence for a couple of minutes, go back or skip forward with natural ease. Not so with video and audio. Even though most streaming media these days have some kind of non-linear controls (skip-bar, etc.) it's still impossible to do the equivalent of scanning the headlines or speed-reading in the case of podcast or video content.

One of the reasons I like the InfoQ interviews is that they have full transcripts. One of the resons I hate them is that the transcript is enclosed in small box, 250px high in the middle of the screen and one has to click the open and close buttons and scroll like crazy. What I often end up doing is to fire DOM Inspector, cut off all the DOM nodes except the ancestors of #interviewContent, switch to CSS properties, delete the height and max-height props and this way I end up with full-screen view of the transcript, which I can print or browse at my convenience.

Today as I was debugging some stuff, I remembered that Firefox supports user stylesheets. By putting the bellow statements in my ${FIREFOX_PROFILE}/chrome/userContent.css, I was able to expand the transcript to be readable in a browser without inner scrolling and tweak the printable view to display only the relevant content (no empty squares in place of the flash player or vendor links I can't click on paper.)

 * This file can be used to apply a style to all web pages you view 
 * Rules without !important are overruled by author rules if the author sets any. 
 * Rules with !important overrule author rules. 
 * For more examples see 
div#interviewContent * { 
    height: auto ! important; 
    max-height: none ! important; 
    overflow: visible ! important; 
div#interviewContent div div div { 
    display: block ! important; 
@media print { 
    * { 
        border: 0px ! important; 
        float: none ! important; 
    .box .bottom-corners, 
    .box .bottom-corners div, 
    .box .top-corners, 
    .box .top-corners div, 
    .box .box-content, 
    .box .box-content-2, 
    .box .box-bottom, 
    .box .box-content-3 { 
        margin: 0 ! important; 
        padding: 0 ! important ; 
        float : none ! important; 
        width: 100% ! important; 
        line-height: 130% ! important; 
    /* these don't work on paper */ 
    .vendor-content-box { 
        display: none ! important; 
    /* visual garbage */ 
    .comment-header > p, 
    #interviewContent img[alt='show all'], 
    #interviewContent img[alt='hide all'], 
    #content-wrapper > .box > h2, 
    #footer { 
        display: none ! important; 
    /* Fix comment headings */ 
    .comment-header * { 
        display: inline ! important; 
    div.comment-header { 
        border-top: 1px solid gray ! important; 
Now the only thing left is to convince the InfoQ guys to start providing transcripts for the presentations and downloadable slides :-)

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