Sassafras4u: Science Article SpreadSheets And Fast Reference Archive System

What’s Provided and What’s Not

Active Links and Text Files

As well as active links to the original articles (via the spreadsheets), I save the text of each article so that I can read the article more conveniently and more quickly using a dedicated text viewer, such as Tofu.

The text has been “cleaned” of “garbage text” that I find distracting and annoying, such as verbage related to: advertising, links not directly related to the main article and pull-quotes (that simply repeat what is in the main text). Extra paragraph returns and spaces, among many other annoyances are also removed.

As well, “special characters” (keystrokes that are not cross-platform, i.e., they appear differently on Macs and PCs) have been changed to universal “typewriter” characters so that they will appear the same no matter what computer I will be using in the future.

Special characters include “curly quotes” (like the preceding), en and em dashes (—), ellipses (...), foreign accented characters (é), ligatures (combination characters like ae or fl), invisible characters (line feeds, non-breaking spaces, en or em spaces, discretionary hyphens), and pretty much anything other than what appears on a standard typewriter (what’s that?) or keyboard.

I should emphasize that this “cleaning” is done rapidly and automatically, so that, in the long run, I’ve, in fact, saved myself many hours, days, or even months, of otherwise wasted time.

Interesting Links Followed in Text Files

An additional advantage of viewing the text files, versus the original online articles, is that, if the subject was interesting enough for me to pursue, a single text file may also include related linked articles, so I don’t have to spend time (re)following the links myself later.

One text file may conveniently combine many otherwise separate webpages. For example, see 141-x.txt from 7/13/07, in which 25 humorous news items are combined into a single text file (141.1.txt, 141.2.txt,...). In this example, 189 individual news items (pages) have been compacted into 8 text files (combining 25 items or less each).

(Click on the links for the 7/13/07 StuffIt or Zip archive.)

Page Breaks

A multi-page article is presented in its text file as a continuous “page,” i.e., without a “hard” designated break. Breaks are, however, designated by a horizontal line (series of underscores). As an editor, I find it of interest to observe where the author chooses to deliberately (or seemingly not very thoughfully, in most cases) place the break.


Although, for my own use, I save the graphics associated with the articles—especially if they contribute significantly to the information (e.g., graphs, charts, photos of the main subject being discussed)—I do not provide these on this site.

Among the reasons: I’m not sure what the copyright implications may be and, as you know, graphics take up quite a lot of space compared to text files.

If you wish to save the graphics associated with any article, you can easily save them from the original article, instantly accessed by clicking on the active link on the spreadsheet.

News Articles Often Disappear

As you might expect of any news item, articles tend to disappear eventually, so, if I wish to save the graphics, I do so sooner rather than later; I don’t count on them to be still available far into the future when the information contained in an article may become of much greater interest to me than I presently realize.

Of course, if I’ve saved the text files to my archive, these will remain available far into the future, even after the original online article has long been removed or edited.

This fleeting nature is especially true of blogs, of course, so I find that saving interesting information from a blog as a text file is a very good snapshot that may be useful to me in the future.

See an interesting 3/23/08 article about disappearing web pages.

Article Comments

I rarely save comments attached to an article unless they are an obviously important contribution. Otherwise, I’m usually not much interested in what the general public has to say.

To read comments, you can very easily and conveniently go to the original article online by using the spreadsheet links.