Alan Lastufka

I don’t remember if it was a TED talk or a blog post or a YouTube video or what, but I remember hearing someone very successful claim that whenever a new task or job comes up, they always assign it to the laziest person they can, because the lazy person will find the quickest and easiest way to complete a task. Or in other words, the most efficient way.

Since hearing that, I always try to approach every new problem this way. “How can I get this done right, while doing the least amount of work possible?”

So over the last week a pretty big problem came up with the Lizzie Bennet kickstarter perk of the printed Pride & Prejudice book. The text was sourced from (which is permitted via their terms of use), but when that text was imported into InDesign for the book layout and publishing design phase, all of the italicized words were no longer italicized. So Pemberly Digital was left with 61 chapters of text that needed to be re-italicized. Talk about a pain!

But no problem, give it to an intern, right? Or hire someone cheap to read and re-read the text, re-italicizing where needed, yes? Sure, if you want to waste a TON of time.

I told Hank I would step up and solve this for Pemberly. I wasn’t quite sure how yet, and if I couldn’t come up with a good idea, I would have to sit for hours on end, reading and re-reading and re-italicizing. Not the best use of my, or anyone else’s, time.

After thinking about a few different approaches, I remembered the source of the text was a plain HTML page. That’s good, that means there is some basic mark-up language if you view the raw HTML code. So I copied the raw HTML code into Dreamweaver (a coding program) and used its “Find” function to search for every instance of “</i>” in the code. The “<i></i>” code tells browsers to italicize the word(s) inside the code.

BAM, less than a second later Dreamweaver reported back 402 instances of the italics code, and highlighted every single instance for me. Dreamweaver’s “Find” function can even jump from the first instance to the second, to the third, and so on… meaning I took this week-long intern task and found a way to complete it within an hour or two, and with zero mistakes! Because the computer scanned the text, not me, not a single italicized word will be missed due to eye fatigue, or my brain getting engrossed in the story rather than its italics hunting task.

Instead of reading and re-reading 125,038 words, I need only look at the 402 words that should be italicized. And they’re all already highlighted for me in the code.

I’m a freakin’ (lazy) genius.

  1. hopefulgreenstuffwoven reblogged this from alandistro
  2. bisexuallydia reblogged this from alandistro
  3. sp-ke said: I’m sure there’s some way you could script the italicising and thus save going through highlighting 402 words, but nice stuff anyway :)
  4. doyouthinkimageek reblogged this from freqbox
  5. freqbox reblogged this from alandistro
  6. calvero reblogged this from alandistro
  7. potatoes1836 reblogged this from alandistro and added:
    I really love this image of this really successful company having a bunch of really lazy people as consultants on how to...
  8. hau5mu5ic reblogged this from alandistro
  9. twelfth-doctor reblogged this from alandistro and added:
    I have encountered this same problem before and now I’m mad I didn’t think of that. :c
  10. aquellosdias reblogged this from alandistro
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