Wikipedia is a fractal

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Jul 302011

There is a strange attractor in Wikipedia: if you follow the first link on a page, and then go to the first link on that page, and so on …  you will nearly always end up at the page for Philosophy.  There’s an article about it on the New Scientist site: Feedback: Wikipedia’s strange attractor – 15 July 2011 – New Scientist.

And there’s a beautiful diagram at which looks very like a fractal, especially if you look at it as a pdf file and enlarge it a few hundred times.

 Posted by at 20:43

My adversary: MS-Word

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Jun 022011

I’ve just had a minor triumph: I’ve persuaded MS-Word to do what I want it to do.

For weeks I struggled with the layout of pages with pictures on.   I need a lot of pictures in my book Of Infinite Beauty, so this was a big aggravation.  I would place a picture at the right point in my text and then:

  • It would have a big, unwanted, white margin around it, OR
  • The picture would make a previous picture disappear, OR
  • The picture would go where I put it, but the text would move, OR
  • all sorts of other arbitrary moves would mess up my beautiful page.

I tried varying all the positioning and text wrapping settings.  I was systematic, but I couldn’t find the right combination and I couldn’t get a feel for what was going on: the program was simply unpredictable.  I came to view MS-Word as an adversary, not as a tool.

Now I have a solution.  I organise the space on each picture page by putting in a simple table, usually just two rows and one column, with the row height fixed to fill the page.  (I set the borders of the table to be invisible.)  Then I position the pictures as free-floating items ‘in-front-of-text’.

It seems to work, but I’ve no idea why.

 Posted by at 09:50