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Sunday, January 5, 2003
By Paul Ford
Frequently asked, or implied, questions about this Web site.
Am I biking the right way?
Who are you?
Paul Edmund Ford. Sometimes I write or illustrate the site as the fictional characters Scott Rahin and Rebecca Dravos (with more fictional characters, likeley, to come). All other attributed writers are real people, living or dead. I also take all the pictures.
I am a noisy guy born in 1974, who likes to read, write, think, program computers, walk around, lift heavy things, work, and
talk to people.
When is Ftrain published?
When I have something to say that will not add to the massive shit-pile of kulcha.
I sent you a poem for the anthology, and you never published it!
Yes, because I fucked up. I totally underestimated how long it would take me to get my poetry anthology together and working. I am very sorry. It will go up before April, 2092 and you will receive an email when it happens.
What happened to the interview project?
I didn't feel safe meeting strangers in that context. Enough said.
What's with the links?
Bold links point to a section that is a sub-section of the current section; ie a chapter in a book. Non-bold links are cross-references. Underlined links are to external web sites. When in doubt, put your mouse over the link; there's usually a tooltip with a hint about where you're going.
I don't understand the structure.
Many people come back to Ftrain over a course of months of years before the structure makes sense, and then, they tell me, it suddenly makes perfect sense. The structure is an essential part of the site. So if you like the writing, but are put off by the structure, know that other people have felt your pain, but that sticking with it might reward you. Might.
Ftrain is a hierarchy. Any given page has one or more of parent, children, and sibling pages, and every page lives somewhere in the hierarchy.
The front page is the very top node of the hierarchy, and everything branches out from there.
On the front page are all the pages flagged for release on this day, or, if there are none, the most recent piece written.
You can also navigate chronologically, by following the “Navigate by Time” links at the bottom of the page.
Ftrain is this complicated because it has over 1000 separate nodes, all of them connected to one another in some way, with something like 700,000 words between them, and all extensible. It was designed to make it possible to tell stories over time, so that a piece begun in one year could be resolved in the next, just like it happens in life, but with the added satisfaction of narrative completion.
I think the navigation is an okay, but imperfect compromise between the technical and the prosaic, and will continue to develop it.
What happened to Reader Services?
Reader Services was going to be a sort of mega-bookmarking tool for reading this site (and other sites with similar structures). The prototype worked okay, telling you what you've read, what you could read, and allowing you to keep and share notes on individual pages, but the system broke as the database ballooned to a ridiculous size. I am working a new version, but it needs to wait until I consolidate the system either around a Python/XSLT or Java/XSLT framework.
Can I have the source code? Also, the Sourceforge code makes no sense.
Soon, I swear, I swear, it will be documented and generalized well enough for real use. It will all be released GPL.
How many readers do you have?
Many more than I deserve.
Can you publish my poem or story?
No. You can, of course, publish it yourself, like I do.
Can you edit my poem, story, or article?
No, but if you're looking for a top-notch professional editor with extremely reasonable prices, I recommend my friend Stacy Tartar-Esch's firm, Brainstorm Services.
I put a link to your site on my site, and now will you....
I'd like to meet you!
There are just not enough of me, or one too many.
I wrote you an email and you never wrote back, and you're a shithead.
I am a shithead. But this usually happens because I'm tired and busy, and has nothing to do with you. But also, calm down.
1How come Bruce Cockburn stole your front page image?; or, How come you use a Bruce Cockburn CD cover image on your front page?
Hooray for the Public Domain!