[TUHS] The Elements Of Style: UNIX As Literature

Bakul Shah bakul at iitbombay.org
Sat Nov 7 01:18:52 AEST 2020

On Nov 6, 2020, at 7:06 AM, Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 06, 2020 at 05:37:25PM +1100, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:
>> On Friday,  6 November 2020 at  0:04:28 -0500, John Cowan wrote:
>>> On Thu, Nov 5, 2020 at 8:41 PM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
>>>> I click but I mostly live in terminal windows.  Which are all 80
>>>> columns because that's the right width (I can go on and on about
>>>> that).
>>> Aw, c'mon.  You're going to tell us that the number of punch holes
>>> that IBM could fit on a punch card in 1928 that was exactly the size
>>> of the dollar bill used in the U.S. from 1862 to 1923 so that it
>>> could be stored in a mechanical cash register is miraculously the
>>> Right Thing when it comes to reading monospaced text on a screen?
>> I think you're jumping to conclusions.  The importance of 80
>> characters (for small values of 80) is that it's a comfortable text
>> width for human eyes.  
> Exactly this.  I'm a very fast reader, easily 2-3x the average.  I read by
> running my eyes down the middle of the page and get the left and right
> from peripheral vision.  It's super fast but it doesn't work when you
> get much bigger than 80 columns.
> Even if you read normally, the wider it is, the more back and forth your
> eyes do so less is more.
> It's also why I'm fine with smaller screens, I tried the giant apple
> displays and found that those required head movement along with eye
> movement.
> I'm lazy.

In Acme almost always I use variable width font but I still adjust column
width to 80 (for a monospaced font). That way on a full screen on MBP
I get a number of regular width columns and one narrow one which I use
to keep my to do list or to note key points. 80 columns is a compromise
that allows  one to make better use of the screen real estate. I format text
or comments in narrower columns so that you can read straight down
instead of zigaziing down. Switching columns implies switching context.

Lazyness is the mother of invention!

Not sure what this has to do with "Unix as Literature"!

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