A while back I pointed to a place at The Guardian where you could post questions for Pepys biographer Claire Tomalin to answer. This week she’s answered them. (Thanks Kim.)

She says she’s tried to use this site in the past but has been “frustrated by the site crashing.” I’d love to know what browser and operating system she’s using, and what exactly happens, as I thought I’d squashed all such bugs weeks ago. If anyone knows how to get in touch with her…


First Reading

Eric Walla  •  Link

Re: site crashing

I haven't experienced any problems whatsoever with the site (except having to make the text bigger each time) and I've tried it on PCs and Macs with a variety of browsers. This may be a general question that should be asked of "participants"--are there any bugs encountered by the Collective?

Eric Walla  •  Link

On Claire Tomalin's answers ...

It is very enlightening to get an insight into her thought processes, as well as the "path" by which she eventually found her way to a study of Pepys.

Perhaps I'm very much overreading her comments, but the overall feeling I got was of a brilliant yet rather lonely, isolated reading of the Diary. Probably this is the case in the majority of academic studies, since such a pursuit by nature is to turn your personal intellect on a topic and create a distinctive, individual product.

I would contrast this to Phil's project and the joy we get from our "group reading." Perhaps we're not creating a work that will garner any prizes, but the insights I find gathered together in one spot, as well as the intellectual curiosity and talents on display, make me feel that we too are very much a part of the vital discussion.

melinda trapelo  •  Link

I've never had any crashes, either.
And am I over-reacting, or does she seem rather condescending about the whole project?

michael f vincent  •  Link

crashes: None so far: Urls yes when extra a character comes in at the end like a period, bracket, colon etc
or at the beginning, there be a corrupted http|w3

chy  •  Link

When I access the site with aol, I frequently get the site not responding message. I have also gotten knocked off line frequently - another aol plague.

When I use my other connection and Opera browser, I have no problems.

Maybe she uses aol?

Is anyone interested in period recipes? I have a few medievil through 1700 recipes and a lot of links to more.

Phil  •  Link

Re font sizes...

It concerns me that some people are still having problems with fonts being too small as I thought I'd fixed it, and I can't replicate the problem on any browser I try. I'd really appreciate it if those with problems try my experiment here, which should help me solve the problem: http://www.gyford.com/phil/writin… Thanks!

martin richards  •  Link

Re crashes...

- IE5.5 on Windows 2000 - no problem
- Netscape 4.7 on Windows 2000 - not as pretty, but seems to work OK
- Netscape 7.0 on Windows 2000 - looks a lot like the IE5.5 view
- Konqueror 3.0 on RedHat Linux 7.2 - crashes browser instantly (a random selection of other sites, e.g. bbc news seem fine, so it's not a (completely) flakey build)

Anyone out there got some mac browsers to try - especially Konqueror, since there was talk of Apple adopting that as the codebase for their new browser (see http://arstechnica.com/archive/ne…)

Eric Walla  •  Link

I've tried the test, Phil ...

... and everything looks good there, fonts ranging from good to bigger than necessary (well, I won't talk about x-ray). My question is: should one of those (Default?) have been a reflection of my experience on this site? It certainly wasn't.

My primary experience, btw, has been on Windows 2000 with IE 5.5.

Phil  •  Link

The problems may be related. I'll pick up any lessons I learn from that experiment and try them here and we can move on from there.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Phil, interestingly enough ...

... I cannot reproduce my font problem on the site. I cleared my browser cache and restarted the machine, fully expecting to come back to have the site appear in "smaller" type, but that was not the case.

Have you done something, or did I stumble upon my own personal solution?

Phil  •  Link

I haven't changed anything on this site! Maybe you've changed your default text size in IE's View menu? Anyway, I'm glad it's working - email me if you want to continue this further!

Susanna  •  Link

Some Mac Tests

IE 5.0 with Mac OS 9.2: no problems.

IE 5.2 with Mac OS X (10.2): no problems.

AOL for Mac OS X: no problems.

AOL 5.0 for Mac OS 9: does not crash but is borderline unusable (tiny font, and the "background" links overlap the main text; there are also strange lines running through the text).


Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Font size

Phil, I'd bet this has to do with the default size picked in IE, and the adjustments you made a while back. The Pepys site looks great when the font size is set to medium, the IE default, but because I (and, I suspect, other people) usually work with a relatively high resolution setting (anywhere from 1024x768 to 1600x1200), I usually change the IE font-size default to Smaller, which makes the Pepys site (and your test site, which you refer us to above) too small.

Parenthetically yours, etc.

Phil  •  Link

Yes, I think you're right Todd, although I don't think the changes a while back would have affected this. From the tests and the feedback I've had it seems that definining font sizes in ems (which I do here) makes them too small when IE's font size is "Smaller". But if done with percentages it looks fine - compare the Default and 'Font Test 2' with both Medium and Smaller settings in your browser. Strange, but it looks like percentages will be an improvement.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Right you are!

Yep, both Font Test 1 and Font Test 2 work very well in IE, regardless of the font size picked. The text remains readable even at "Smaller" settings. Thanks.

Roland Southworth  •  Link

Tiscali 10 produces no problem with crashing and the font size can be increased or decreased at will from 'Smallest' to 'Largest' in 5 steps.
I am enjoying Clair Tomalin's book

Glyn  •  Link

Re: Claire Tomalin "If anyone knows how to get in touch with her

Lori Dalgleish  •  Link

Whist reading Claire Tomalin's excellent biography of Thomas Hardy and Kate Summerscale's " The Suspicions of Mr Whicher " (about the Saville Kent murder case ) I think I've made an intriguing connexion !!
According to Tomalin's biography
Hardy's cousin, Emma Sparks was working as a servant in Somerset 1859 - 1860, she married a carpenter from Faulkland , Somerset in August 1860.
According to Kate Summerscale's murder mystery
an Emma Sparks worked as nurse maid for Saville Kent at Rode Hill house, somerset 1859 - 1860. She was dismissed by Mr Kent for supposedly visiting her boyfriend in the nearby cottages.
After the murder of Mr Kent's three year old son in June 1860, an Emma Sparks was summoned from Frome to come and give evidence.

Could this be one and the same person ?

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