One thing I’ve been meaning to blog about but haven’t got round to is my lovely new toy, an Asus EeePC. I bought one partly on a shiny-craving whim, partly because I wanted a genuinely portable computer, and partly because I think the anti-feature-bloat approach that they took with it is something that should be generally encouraged. So I encouraged it, with money.
It’s a really neat little machine, and I’m very, very fond of it – I’ve been using it almost to the complete exclusion of my trusty old ThinkPad, largely from the sheer pleasure of having something that starts up in 25 seconds, shuts down in 12, and doesn’t interrupt what I’m doing every half an hour to nag me about some software update or another.
It does take a little getting used to, however – the keyboard is fine, although I’m still not as quick on it as I am on a regular sized one, and I wonder how well someone who doesn’t have my tiny, childlike fingers would cope. The small screen is also a little odd at first, but by and large works with most things that you need it to – you just need to get used to CTRL-plussing and -minusing a bit more than normal to optimize the font size for the screen. The one site I regularly use that was causing me grief, however, was Google Reader.
The problem essentially is that the main menu (the bit in the upper left with the Home, All Items, etc options) takes up a fixed amount of real-estate, which squeezes the list of your subscriptions – the actual meat and potatoes of the reader – into whatever space is left. Which on the Eee, is precious little. In fact, it only manages to fit in two lines, making it all but useless for looking over your feeds to see what’s new:
Even doing the old CTRL-minus to reduce the text size doesn’t help much – by the time you’ve got a usable number of lines, the text is all but illegible:
The solution, after a bit of monkeying about, turns out to be twofold. Most obviously, F11 gets rid of the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, giving you a fair bit more to play with. The extra help comes from using Greasemonkey, by way of grabbing Lifehacker‘s Better GReader extension. This lets you fiddle about with the look of Google Reader – the option you want to use is the Minimalistic skin, which lets you get rid of the top bar on Google Reader by simply tapping W. The combination of these two gives you plenty of real estate to browse your feeds in, even with the normal chunky text size:
You can, of course, give yourself even more to play with by reducing the text size a bit – it’s still legible with one, or even two, reductions. Not a terribly complex or hard-to-figure out fix, but I couldn’t see it noted down anywhere on a cursory google, so I thought I’d put it here in case anybody else was gnashing their teeth over the issue…