How Far Are You?

Lisa and are are in the process of finishing the three “Girl” books by Stieg Larsson. Actually, I should say Lisa has now finished them and I’m about 21% through the last book.

I like that last sentence.

One advantage of the electronic age is that when Lisa asks me “How far into the book are you?” I can answer her. The book actually tells me how far into something you really are. Or does it? I mean, what, exactly is 21%? The book will stay on 21% for several “page-clicks” so technically it’s 21.X%. But then I wonder if the algorithm truncates. Will it read 21% all the way until I cross the 22% barrier? Or, does the algorithm round? Could it be 20.7%? I don’t know. in the old days I could have looked at the page number, then flipped to the last page and read that number. A quick bit of mental math and I would have known exactly where I was, which would make my engineer’s mind happy. But now I’m left to wonder whether I’m 20.50000001 percent through the book or 21.999999%.

Of course, the next question is whether it uses words or characters or something else completely in its calculations. Clearly it cannot be using the definition of “standard pages” since that definition doesn’t apply.

I suppose I’ll have to Google a bit to see if the calculation algorithms have been publicly vetted. Just what I need. Something else to do.

Damned e-book.

Never mind that when Lisa asks “How far into the book are you?” she’s not asking me for a measure of distance. Sure, my mind interprets it in numbers and pages, but she means “what’s happening in the story?” So she gets a bit annoyed at times when I reply with a nearly perfectly correct “21%.”

Hey, it’s not my fault she’s not an engineer at heart.

That said, I’m enjoying the stories. And, yes, the reader is nice, too.


I picked this out of Kris Rusch’s feed, so you might already have seen it. But I thought this was a great commentary of criticism … but then, Roger Ebert kinda knows what the heck he’s talking about.

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  1. Tried reading “The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo” after Tammy was done with it — found it fairly sterile and unengaging for the first few chapters, so I put it down and just walked away. Does that qualify me as “zero percent done” or “one hundred percent done?”

  2. John — That’s a philosophical question that this engineer with his HR lobotomy isn’t sure he’s qualified to answer.

    Dragon Tattoo takes a few chapters to get rolling, but I admit I enjoyed the characters quite a bit as he put the blocks in place so I never felt the need to put it down.

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