Ftrain FAQ

Frequently asked, or implied, questions about this Web site.

Am I biking the right way?

Sign on a street in Cambridge, MA reading: IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU ARE BIKING THE WRONG WAY.

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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. I am not in any way single. I am single. No—I am no longer single. I also have a career.

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When is Ftrain published?

When I have something to say that will not add to the massive shit-pile of kulcha.

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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.

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What happened to the interview project?

I didn't feel safe meeting strangers in that context. Enough said.

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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.

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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.

If you use Mozilla, a recent Netscape, or Opera the wonderful “Site Navigation Bar” feature will also allow you to quickly race around Ftrain's hierarchy.

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.

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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.

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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.

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How many readers do you have?

Many more than I deserve.

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Can you publish my poem or story?

No. You can, of course, publish it yourself, like I do. The exception: letters to the editor, which may or may not be published, and may or may not be edited.

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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.

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I put a link to your site on my site, and now will you....


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I'd like to meet you!

There are just not enough of me, or one too many.

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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.

How 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!




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents