I'm Jim Brown, a retired chemical engineer who did most of my work in the environmental field. Playing with personal computers has been a hobby since 1977. I use this site to record interesting tidbits from the web. I may occasionally express opinions on different topics, but this is not a blog and is not updated frequently. Glad to have you here. If you see something you want to comment on, you can let me know at by sending a note to the e-mail address at the bottom of this page. There is a bit more information about me here.
About This Site
I hope you find the pages on this site attractive. More important, I hope you find their appearance transparent. Transparent in the sense of the Crystal Goblet. I've been doing my own web site since 1998. I spent a lot of time (and had fun doing it) learning how to use XHTML and CSS and Photoshop to make my site colorful and eye-catching. As I've gotten older, I've learned to simplify not only my web site but also my life. At least I try to simplify. It ain't easy. So I've come full circle on what I believe presents a useful and elegant web page. You don't need lots of images, color, and animation. The message is the point and the message is invariably the text content. Well-placed and well-proportioned text can be pleasing, useful, and even elegant, but it should not be the center of attention. The message should be. It seems that a lot of experts have come to the same conclusion. When you look at the home pages of some of the experts of the web, such as here and here, you see simple, elegant pages.
The driving force behind a simple, text-based web page is readability. I implied in the paragraph above that I've come to believe that simple is better. Maybe there's a different dynamic going on here. Maybe I'm just getting old. My eyes aren't what they used to be, I don't like to waste time (after all, the older you get, the less you have left) picking through the fluff to get to the message. Maybe you're in that same boat and you'll appreciate the simple, readable web site I've made. If you like it and you wish that all the sites you visit could be so readable, then click here to check out Readable, a small program for your browser that converts any web page to text with a format that is designed to be "readable." Note that Readable mainly ignores images and just styles the text--Readable may not handle table spacing well at all, so if the page has a lot of information in tables, it will probably not be "Readable." 2016 UPDATE: In the past year, most of the major web browsers have come out with a "reading view" feature to render almost any web page like Readable does.
I've also tried different layouts with my web pages over the years, I've used everything from side menus to page headings and internal page links and page-turning links to help the reader navigate the page. I believe scrolling works best to read the content on a page, with menus reserved to move to different parts of the site. If you want to know if a page on my site has information that you are looking for further down the page than you can see on one screen, If scrolling seems inefficient, use search (CTRL+f) to find out if the page has information that you're looking for. The computer can read faster than you can. :-)