Quasicard: a hypothetical reimagining of HyperCard and TiddlyWiki

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2021-09-25 08:30:03

Quasicard is a hypothetical reimagining of HyperCard and TiddlyWiki, born out of my combined frustration and contentment with reading textbooks and taking lab notes on an iPhone and doing exploratory data analysis and algorithm design in IPython/Jupyter.

I’m currently reading Horowitz & Hill’s “Art of Electronics” on this iPhone. Using whatever downtime I have on public transport to read a page or two is a fantastic way to gradually come to understand things that have mystified me for years, sometimes decades. And, unlike most things on the iPhone, the PDF reader app doesn’t break all the time when internet access is disabled. But it is frustrating.

The column width of the PDF is such that about a column and a half of text fits on the screen in landscape mode at a comfortable reading size; in portrait mode the text is slightly too small if a whole column width is on the screen, but about 36 lines of about 10 words fit (360 words). At the larger but more comfortable size where a column width fills the landscape screen width, 11 lines fit (110 words). This leads to a lot of uncontrollable fits of interaction, sliding the words on the screen around every five or ten seconds, and the sense of reading the whole book through a peephole.

While the text is still not unreadable when shrunk so that both columns are visible side-by-side on the landscape-mode screen, it is uncomfortably small, and the other column is usually not useful — the two chunks of text are not linearly sequential, unless most of the top or bottom of the page is taken up by a figure. Indeed, the text is still readable with a magnifying glass when the entire page text is shrunk onto the screen in portrait mode, but this is not comfortable.

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