[Volunteers] meeting.shtml edits

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Dec 2 19:18:28 PST 2005

Paul, thanks for the telephone call.  Per your request, here are the 
remaining fixes that I'd ordinarily go ahead and just do, at this 
point.  Attached is a copy of the page, thus modified.

(I notice that a half-dozen or so fixes I made, earlier, that Paul 
had me revert, were subsequently reapplied to the page by someone 
else.  Thank you, to whoever it was.)

1.  Capitalisation/word usage:

Actually should be written as "GNOME", as the 
expression is an acronym standing for GNU Network Object Model 
Environment.  It was petty of me to refer to the uppers-and-lowers 
rendition as "misspelling", so my apologies for that.  I was very 
tired, annoyed, and not feeling the least bit charitable.

2.  Existing phrase 
       This month we'll have multiple short presentations [...]   

Sentence would be improved by putting a comma after that phrase, as it
is parenthetical.

3.  The "i" tag as a general rule:  This tag is properly used only
in situations where the contents of the text literally indicate
that something is italicised, because otherwise you're leaving no
discretion to the user's output device as to how to express the 
intended trait of _emphasis_.  Accordingly, the better way to mark
up the book title is with "em" tags, rather than "i".  Output 
devices such as braille printers and text-readers can then apply 
whatever notion of emphasis best suits their situations, rather than,
when one uses "i", their ignoring the tag because they cannot implement 

The "em" tag is from a W3C category called logical (or semantic) markup
tags, as distinct from physical markup tags such as "i".  Common logical
tags include "em" and "strong".  The roughly corresponding physical 
markup tags that people often confuse with those are "i" and "b".  
(Our site for that reason tends to not use "b", either, substituting
"strong" for it, instead.)

We follow that standard (using "em" for emphasis) throughout the entire
Web site.  And, by the way, my apologies for being pissy about that,
but the reason to (generally) avoid physical markup really has been 
a part of every basic guide to HTML all the way back to NCSA's 
"A Beginner's Guide to HTML", circa 1994 -- and I've been fixing 
this error for years in a couple of people's additions to SVLUG's 
site, over and over.

4.  The "i" tag as applied to titles of talks:  The standard markup
for the title of a talk, or a magazine, or a movie, is to just put it
in quotation marks.  Italics get reserved for the titles of books --
as well as, of course, things you want to put in italics for emphasis.

We have no special need to emphasise the titles of Micah, Bill, and 
Andrew's talks in the context of the meeting description field.
Therefore, the present use of "i" tags there should be removed.

5. Existing sentence:
     In order to prepare for the keysigning, see
     <a href="http://individual.utoronto.ca/chant/svlug">
     Andrew's instructions</a>. 

This is pretty good, but it's wise to emphasise that it's _participants_
who need to read that, and (particularly) that they need to do so _in
advance_.  Long experience with conducting keysignings has shown me that
people's path of least resistance, if you just tell them that they need
to consult a Web page, is that they do so at the last minute, or just
print it out and bring it.  That habit prevents their participation,
since Andrew needs to receive public keys no later than two hours before
the meeting (5pm).

So, I would suggest the following, which is also briefer:

  (Important:  Participants should read 
  <a href="http://individual.utoronto.ca/chant/svlug/">keysigning 
  procedures</a> in advance.)

6. Existing sentence:
     Bill Kendrick will be presenting the "State of Tuxpaint"

Sentence needs a period at the end.

7. Existing sentence:
     Micah Dowty will be presenting "CIA: A real-time window 
     into the open source world."

That closing period is best moved outside the quotation marks.  Yes, the 
rule in regular English typography is to put the sentence inside
the quotation marks even if it's not part of what's being quoted,
but texts in the computing field often adopt, for reasons of 
clarity, the more reasonable convention that closing punctuation
goes outside if it's not being quoted, inside if it is.  This
is particularly important for computerists, because the regular
English convention makes the nature of what's being quoted ambiguous,
which is fatal if, e.g., you're talking about "variablename."

The SVLUG site consistently adopts the computerist convention on
closing punctuation and quotation marks, everywhere on the site:
Making the change would bring this sentence into harmony with the rest
of the site.  (It's of course not a big thing, but why not get it

8.   Existing URL:

This is a good URL for the book Margaret is reviewing, but the page at 
appears to be slightly more specific to just that book.  I think the
latter URL should be preferred.

9. Existing sentence:
      Margaret Wendell will be reviewing Prentice Hall's book 
     "Linux Desktop Garage", and demonstrate some Gnome desktop 
     tips and tricks.  
     <a href="http://www.phptr.com/bookstore/product.asp?isbn=0131494198"</a>http://www.phptr.com/bookstore/product.asp?isbn=0131494198</a>

Exposing URLs like that to public view is a good idea if you're
trying to call attention to the contents of the URL itself, but 
I don't believe this is our aim.  It's better to use part of the
existing text as an HTML anchor, and not make the URL itself visible.
I therefore recommend:

     Margaret Wendell will be reviewing Prentice Hall's book
     <em><a href="http://www.phptr.com/title/0131494198">Linux 
     Desktop Garage</a></em>, and demonstrate some GNOME desktop 
     tips and tricks.</p>

10.  As mentioned, it is the convention in English to italicise
the names of books, and that is why, in the preceding item,
I put "em" tags around the book title.

Aside from the half-dozen or so of my fixes that someone has 
now independently reimplemented (and not to my knowledge mentioned
doing so), plus my moving all the talk descriptions out of the header
section where they'd been originally placed, the above are precisely
what I had done to the page subsequent to version 1.231.  No more, no
less -- with the exception of snipping the
"SSH/SSL/GPG/DES/RSA/AES/WTF?" prefix from Andrew's talk title, with his

I honestly don't think I _or any other person_ who happens to 
help maintain our Web pages should need to check with anyone, 
prior to implementing such fixes.

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