Is everything phone-focused these days?

I use the “blog version” of Boing-Boing because I’m a dinosaur that still reads things in Firefox on a nice big monitor on my desk. Even the blog version, though, seems to be formatted for a phone - one narrow-ish block of text rather than flowing to the edges of my browser window. Are there tools around to make things better? To take a URL, and grab the content and reformat it somewhat?


Only the true fans of BoingBoing use the ASCII version…

ETA the blog version looks fine in Chrome. Yeah there is a lot of white space on the sides but it isn’t that much extra space on my 21 inch monitor. I think not so much phone friendly as portrait orientation friendly.


I also use a desktop with a big monitor (dual monitors) and Firefox. I’ve found that the Firefox add-on Stylish lets you write CSS that can change the layout of any site to suit your needs. Wider, narrower, make entire sections disappear, there’s a lot you can do. You do have to know CSS though. And when sites change their representation you have to do your work again.

Caveat: I haven’t written anything new for Stylish since Firefox redid their add-on ecosystem a year or two ago, so my understanding may be out of date.


Optimal line length for reading is around 50-70 characters. Beyond that, we can still read ok, but our eyes lose track of where they were going from one line to another and that adds subconscious breaks and confusion that makes it suboptimal.

The weird thing isn’t really phones, it’s the widescreen monitors. Widescreens were designed for watching movies, not reading, they’re the exact opposite ratio from a book, and flowing text across an entire widescreen monitor is awful. But reading multi-column text (as in print newspapers) sucks on a monitor as well. So options are:

  • Reflow everything to fill the width of the screen, which is hard to read and makes paragraphs seem short
  • Have a lot of whitespace at the edges
  • Scale up the text until it’s super-large to fill the width (but relatively few lines fit on the screen)
  • Read in a window that’s not near full monitor width (and try not to be distracted by other windows)
  • Get a tiltable monitor and turn it to portrait mode for reading

Best option is putting your monitor in portrait mode if you’re going to be reading a lot, but I only do that for e-books. Otherwise I go with half-width or less windows and/or scaling up for focus.


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