You say ‘homage’, I say ripoff: cakeordeathsite’s What a Life!

So via mefi I find this: What A Life! | cakeordeathsite.

I love it when people discover this book. It’s been a minor obsession of mine for nearly 30 years. I first put it on the web in March 2000 and updated it to then-current web standards in 2003: What a Life!: an autobiography. Over the years I’ve received a bunch of interesting notes from fans and even a couple from relatives of the authors. I marked it up the old, hard way: by scanning pages then re-keying the text. OCR wasn’t that great back in the day.

So I get kind of irked that this cakeordeath fella lifts my pictures and markup wholesale. Shame he didn’t understand how to copy CSS, ‘cos his formatting comes out worse than mine:

cakeordeath’s rendering, viewed 2018-04-01 18:22:34
my rendering, viewed 2018-04-01 18:23:20

Crack open View Source on his and f’rinstance my Chapter 1,


<p><span class="smallcaps">I</span> was born very near the end of the
year. <img src="Images/wal009a.jpg" width="112" height="104"
alt="calendar showing 29 December" class="right" /></p> 

<p>The grange where I was born was situated in a secluded corner of
the Chiltern Hills. Rumour had it that Queen Elizabeth had slept

<div class="centre"><img src="Images/wal009b.jpg" width="160"
height="232" alt="doll's house" /></div>


<p><span class="smallcaps">I</span>&nbsp;was born very near the end of the year.<img class="right" src="" alt="calendar showing 29 December" width="112" height="104"></p>
<p>The grange where I was born was situated in a secluded corner of the Chiltern Hills. Rumour had it that Queen Elizabeth had slept there.</p>
<div class="centre"><img src="" alt="doll's house" width="160" height="232"></div>

I mean, come on … including my domain and image path in his image urls? Otherwise, it’s whitespace difference. I dunno, these kids today: lift anything without credit, so they would. Seems this dude is a semi-popular blogger, and I’d be vastly annoyed if he were getting ad revenue for this, while I did this for fun and it’s cost me to host it all these years.

There’s a further uncredited lift from Chris Mullen’s oldweb classic, Visual Telling of Stories. cakeordeath’s banner page scan is straight out of Chris’s Collage Pioneers: E.V.Lucas and George Morrow, What a Life! 1911 with the same file name. Was there credit? Was there shite …

Lady Goosepelt Rides Again!

Lady Goosepelt, from What a Life!

In case anyone wants them, the 600 dpi page images of What a Life! are stored in this PDF: what_a_life.pdf (16MB). If you merely wish to browse, all the images from the book are here.

I got a bit carried away with doing this. Instead of just smacking together all the 360 dpi TIFFs I scanned seven years ago, I had to scan a new set at a higher resolution, then crop them, then fix the page numbers, add chapter marks, and make the table of contents a set of live links.

I’ve got out of the way of thinking in PostScript, so I spent some time looking for tools that would do things graphically. Bah! These things’d cost a fortune, so armed only with netpbm, libtiff, ghostscript, the pdfmark reference, Aquamacs, awk to add content based on the DSC, and gimp to work out the link zones on the contents page, I made it all go. Even I’m impressed.

One thing that didn’t impress me, though:

aquamacs file size warning

I used to edit multi-gigabyte files with emacs on Suns. They never used to complain like this. They just loaded (admittedly fairly slowly) and let me do my thing. Real emacs don’t give warning messages.

“What a Life!” lives!

Lady Goosepelt

After about a year offline, I’ve put the book What a Life! back online. Someone asked, you see. It’s here. You’ll like it.

I’m glad I was careful with the markup back in 2000 when I did it, ‘cos it only needed minor tweaks to become valid XHTML.