Saturday, 7 May 2016

Jeff Seiler: Reading Reads

Cerebus Vol 9: Reads (1995)
by Dave Sim & Gerhard
Remastered Edition In Progress!
Dave asked me a while back to document the long, strange trip that has been the proofreading of READS. What he actually said on the voicemail was, "Hi, Jeff! Hope you’re having fun on your vacation in Florida. I was going to suggest that you get your friend to take a photo of you at the computer while you're proofreading READS. And, then, you could post it at A Moment Of Cerebus, along with a write-up explaining all of the complications that you've encountered and how you've fixed them so that, hopefully, we won't encounter those again, as we move forward." Or, something to that effect.

As I am ever the diligent servant, here we go:

The project started back in late 2015, when Dave asked me to proofread the book. He first said that he thought I could get a cheap copy of it online, because he presumed that I would mark up the pages in the book with red ink, as I did with the first 66 pages of the COLLECTED LETTERS VOLUME 1, was back in the stone age. No, no, I told him, I'm going to need to write this out by hand.

Thus, I did. On a yellow legal pad. I made four columns: Page, paragraph, line number, and correction. I wrote it all out with the suggested corrections and with appropriate notes, when necessary. And then, after some couple of weeks of doing that, I sent the entirety of it to Dave by FedEx.

A few days later, I received a voicemail from Dave saying that he and Sandeep Atwal (who was to make the corrections in the original text) had decided that they needed a typewritten version of the corrections. So, I did a spreadsheet, in the same format, and sent it directly to Sandeep.

A while after that, I received word that we still had not hit the mark. So, Sandeep found a Microsoft Word program that he could use to scan the entire text of READS, presumably from the printed copy, and then email it to me, so that I could open the file and edit the file, in text.

Now, here’s where it got complicated. Last year, because the $250 price tag was too nice to pass up, I bought a Google ChromeBook laptop computer. I like it for a good, long while, until I found that it would not let me edit in the file that Sandeep had sent to me. I could view the file all day long but, whenever I tried to edit, I was told by Google that the file was “not supported for editing”.

I tried everything I could think of to get it to work (here is probably where I should tell you that I am not exactly computer literate), but I couldn’t get it to work. I mean, I spent time just sitting in my chair, thinking about what I could do, and I had "ah-hah!" moments, all to no avail.

But, I was just a week away from my scheduled trip to Florida, so I emailed my friend, Nate, and asked if he had Word on his computer. Sure do!

So, problem fixed. Fly to Florida, making sure I have a copy of READS with me. Sandeep had already sent me photo files of my handwritten corrections...oh, yeah, that was another thing. Dave and Sandeep had decided that sending me my corrections back...wait, let’s back up a bit. When I sent the corrections, I was already (laughs to self) behind on my schedule and I went to the FedEx store and asked how much did it cost to make copies. Twenty cents per page. I was looking a very large number of pages of corrections, so I said, eh, no.

So, when Dave and Sandeep decided that I needed to enter the corrections directly into the text file, they also decided that the $35 or $40CAN FedEx cost could be saved by having Sandeep scan my corrections and email them to me. Easy-peasy. But...

When I got the scanned files and tried to print them out (they were scanned two pages to a scan, side-by-side), the printout of my email would only print the left side of the photo. Meaning, I could look at page 1, page 3, page 5, etc. in a printout, but not the even-numbered pages.

I kid you not. But, have I mentioned that I am less computer-literate than is Dave?

At that point, I decided that I was just going to have to proofread the whole thing again, in text, which made sense, since I had been instructed to... um... proofread in text.

But, then, my friend’s computer would not let me edit in text. If you’re not familiar with how that works (if you are, skip down), you get a file sent to you and you open it and click on Edit (at the top of the first page of the file, not in the bar at the top of the screen), and you’re supposed to be able to insert corrections into the file. But, I couldn't. Long story short (yeah, I see you IT guys rolling your eyes), I finally found the one clicky thingy that would let me get into the file and edit. "Override." To me, anyway, it was not easily found.

And, away we went. Smooth sailing. Cruising along... until I got about halfway in. It was then, and only then, that I noticed that the formatting of the file was different from the formatting of the original phonebook.

READS, as it is constituted, has no paragraph indentations. Also, there are double spaces between paragraphs, whether or not there is a little curly-cue between the paragraphs (which I could not replicate, nor did Sandeep's Word scanning program).

The scanned file had five-space indentations at the beginning of every paragraph and no double spaces between paragraphs. So, having just woken up to that fact about halfway in, I spent the better part of three or four hours going back and backspacing and double-spacing all of the work I had previously done, in text. And, when I looked closely at the difference between a line or paragraph that I had reformatted and a line or paragraph, as it was scanned in, I noticed that the scanned versions was just slightly off, where the indentation of a paragraph ended. If the corrected version was at X spot, then the scanned version was about half a letter to the right of that.

So, I had to backspace and, when I did so, it didn't backspace space-by-space, five spaces. No, one click and it was back at the left margin. So, I had to backspace each paragraph right back to the end of the previous paragraph and then hit RETURN and double-space to start the new paragraph in the correct format.

On April 13th, I had just seven pages to go, having stopped the night before because I was so tired. I woke up on April 14th and my friend’s computer was frozen. I could not even open up Word. He was at work and, so, I just sat and watched baseball all day. Yay, MLB Network! He came home and found a way to get it going but, then, we had dinner plans.

So, on the 15th, I finished the last seven pages and then prepared to email the finished file to Sandeep. I sent an email addressed to Dave and Sandeep and then attached the file to the email. As is my wont, I cc-ed myself and then opened up the attachment, to check it...

Take your right hand, open up your palm, and apply it liberally to your forehead. Repeatedly.

I had clicked on the "Reads Text" file and sent it to Sandeep, only to find that it was the original file that he had sent to me.

The uncorrected file.

So, I tried again, but in a draft email. Same thing. And, then I found that it wasn't exactly the same file, uncorrected, that Sandeep had sent to me, but the file, as it was as of April 13th. With seven uncorrected pages at the end.


I went back into the file that I had corrected and checked that it was the COMPLETELY corrected file. And then, I rename it, went to my email, clicked on ATTACH, and added it to the email to Dave and Sandeep (via Sandeep's email address since, you know, Dave doesn't {ahem} do email) and cc-ed myself. And, then, I looked myself up and clicked on the attachment and...


But, then, I still had to send the corrected file to Sean Michael Robinson, and I did, only to be told by him that it didn’t look corrected. I looked at what I had sent to him, and it looked corrected to me. I mentioned to Sean that I did not correct Dave's original Canadian spelling in many spots (but did so in others) and that that may have been what had thrown Sean off.

But, I went back and checked what I had sent to Sean and, sure enough, that last section of the book was not (this is where I started using the term) corrected correctly. So, there was another two days of correcting the corrected corrections. By this time, I was up to around April 22nd or so and then I had a weekend event to attend that would eat up of my time, all weekend.

On Monday, since I had already found out that I wouldn't fly home until Friday, the 29th, I worked on correcting the corrected corrections. As expected, that took two days of my on-vacation time allotted for working. Sent the final file off to Sean, who, in the interim had faxed Dave about what was going on. Dave had faxed a reply, which Sean had forwarded to me, that basically said that corrected files not staying corrected was a common thing and that it was just going to have to take a little while longer.

Also, in the interim, I wrote this. And then, having sent the corrected file that actually "stuck" (cross your fingers), I headed home. Today, Saturday the 30th, my birthday, I went to FedEx, printed out a hard copy of the 143-page file for Dave (and one for me) and stuffed it in an envelope and sent it off, to arrive at Dave's door on Tuesday, May 2nd.

All of you out there who are reading this and thinking, "What the heck?!?", or some variation thereof, just keep in mind that I am less computer-literate than is Dave Sim. That's saying something.

But, please bear in mind that I am a consummate proofreader. Just ask my friend, Nate, with whom I shared a nice vacation in Florida. One evening, he asked me, very politely, not to correct his syntax anymore.

Oh, and, Dave? It's "farther" for distance and "further" for everything else, including concepts.

There you go, folks. Next time, less glitches, God willing. 

[Jeff did mention he had taken some photos to accompany this article... but unfortunately he couldn't work out how to email them to me to post here! -- Tim W.]


Jeff Seiler said...

Well, actually, I know how to attach photos to emails. Every time I did so, I got a message saying, "sending failed". After three times of that, ya kinda just give up.

BTW, next up for proofing (and remastering, of course) is, I think, "Jaka's Story".

Hopefully, far fewer problems, even if I have to fly to Seattle and steal Bill Gates' Microsoft Word-loaded computer.

Let's hope it won't come to that...

Paul Slade said...

"There you go, folks. Next time, less glitches, God willing."

Er, shouldn't that be "fewer glitches", Jeff?

[Just yanking your chain. Sod's Law dictates that any piece about proof-reading will contain at least one uncorrected error of its own.]

Jeff Seiler said...

You are absolutely correct, Paul. Fewer. And I know that. D'oh! I didn't know it was called Sod's law, but he was spot on, the old sod.

Jeff Seiler said...

Somewhere here, I posted a comment about my annual weekend with Gerhard and Shelley, and I don't remember where.

So, come Saturday, look for the one-off of Gerhard (and Shel) and Me.

God willing.

(With surprise guests!)

(Caveat emptor: It will be lengthy.

A lotta shit happened, as the kids say.)