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One of my biggest complaints about laptops these days (and desktop machines, as well) is that the screens tend to be optimized the wrong way: it is very hard to get a new screen which isn't 16:9 or 16:10. 4:3 or 5:4 screens were the norm, but they no longer are. 4:3 is roughly the same ratio as an 8.5x11 page (it's exactly the same ratio as a 9x12 page, in landscape mode), so 4:3 is comparable to working with paper. 16:10 is useful for watching movies, but it's a bit too short for reading documents. I find myself scrolling way too much.

I don't think I would mind so much if they chose to make the screens wider, but instead the choice was to make the screens shorter, both in physical size and in resolution. A previously common resolution was 1280x1024, and 1600x1200 wasn't hard to find. One of my monitors at work is set to 1600x1200. It's fine. However, my laptop can only do 1365x768 (16x9), which is a significant loss in vertical pixels from 1024 with only a modest gain in horizontal pixels.

There are some webcomics out there which are deliberately set up to be published as printed graphic novels. Examples include Girl Genius, Dr. McNinja, Code Name: Hunter, Gunnerkrigg Court, FreakAngels, etc. I recently found Paradigm Shift and needed to read it's archives, all of which are formatted as full printed comic pages. Very annoying with the limited vertical resolution.

However, Linux (or Ubuntu 10.10 at least) is capable of changing the orientation it sends data to the video card. I could tell it to rotate the image left, set my laptop up on it's right side, and voila! full-printed-page comics now fit in their entirety on the screen, no scrolling. The horizontal resolution is reduced (my screen is now 768x1365), but I've got glorious vertical resolution. Most blogs work out well too, with the column widths now either being reasonable width for quick reading, or no longer having large empty filler on the left and right sides. And my laptop seems to be running much cooler with it's base no longer against the tabletop.

The only drawback (and it isn't much) is that it virtually requires the use of an external mouse and keyboard, and LJ isn't formatted for a narrow page (10:16 is roughly the layout for US Legal paper (which is 8.5"x14" for presumably historical reasons). Typing this posting is into a text box which is a bit too wide for my screen.

(Paradigm Shift has one feature I'd like to see replicated across more web comics: When browsing the archives, the left and right arrow keys take you forward and backwards through the archives. So far I've seen: no archive navigation (rare, and real pain in the tuchis), first-prev-next-last links (common), click on image to go forward (nice), click on left/right side of image to go back/forward (nicer), and now left-right cursor keys navigate back/forward (really nice).

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About a decade ago i worked for a law firm. At that point, only the courts of New Jersey, unique in the US, its territories and possessions, required legal size. All other courts required letter-size, and would refuse legal-size. I find little use for legal at this point, except when laying out schedules for conventions, or similar such.

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