Reader Services FAQ

What are Ftrain Reader Services? Why don't they work?

Why are you mucking with PHP instead of writing about tasty kittens?
I don't know. It might be a mistake.

Something is broken! I can't change my name!
Umm, yep. I released this thing too soon on purpose to find out what I need to do to make it work. Sometimes the name doesn't change (on IE?) I don't know exactly why. If things aren't working and you are willing to trouble yourself to care about this silliness, please:

  1. “Erase Yourself” by clicking the "Erase Yourself" link.
  2. Enter a name for yourself.
  3. Click “Change”
  4. Click one more links.
  5. If you're still called “Stranger”, send me an email at ford@ftrain.com with your type of browser and operating system.

Hopefully then I can figure it out.

All right. So it more or less works. What is it?
As my web site has grown to a surprisingly large ( ) number of pages of mostly textual content (about 1500 double-spaced pages) I've come to realize that the standard click-around method of navigating is not working; it's not giving real grade-A narrative experience. Readers are lost and never found again. Since Ftrain has been a rather half-assed affair for 4 years running, this is no terrific loss.

But let's say I or someone else wanted you to have more options as a reader. Let's say they wanted to help you find your way around a story and keep track of things and make use of all the exciting things computers offer in your reading experience? In a way that's not intrusive or distracting but actually contributes to the reading experience?

So that's what I want all this to be. This is just a tiny little beginning but I released it because it's fun and confusing in a way that I hope will make others think a bit, even if they just think I'm an idiot, and because I need to work out some of the basic problems before I continue building it.

Do you expect me to read all of this shit? Like all 1000+ pieces?
No. Honestly I myself don't know everything that's here on Ftrain anymore. I've more or less given up on editing too much from the first few years, although I'm trying to slowly make things into coherent narratives.

Anyway, this is more of a proof-of-concept. Maybe the idea will be useful for other things where the reader will gain benefit from reading it in its entirety. I'm starting somewhere.

You suck. This sucks. Please entertain me.
I promise to try harder.




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.


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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)

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