Archive for January, 2007

Feed Reader: Found

A little over a week ago, I wrote about my hate-affair with Outlook 2007 and its (mis)handling of my Blogroll. I got several suggestions on what I should be using, and I’m happy to report that I have come to a decision.

But first, let’s go through the contenders. Now, this isn’t meant to be a full-review of each product, however, I did subject myself to at least 30 minutes of freshly imported RSS goodness with each product before I came to a decision.

Feed Demon
This was the first suggestion I got, courtesy of Scott. Now Scott is the secret leader of the Anti-Microsoft Holy War, so I hardly expected him to recommend a Windows-based product. I did expect him to thumb his nose at whatever he did recommend and scoff, “Why aren’t you running OS X?”. He uses NetNewsWire, which is a Mac-only product by NewsGator, but Feed Demon appears to be its Windows counterpart. (Why they don’t just call it NetNewsWire for Win…oh…that’s why).

Feed Demon is pretty slick, with a channel-meme to manage your feeds. My favorite features: online synchronization with www.newsgator.com, keyboard shortcuts for navigating through the XML-goo, and the “news bins”, which is a fancy name for clipping the article for later consumption. My least favorite features: constant prompting to sign up for synchronization with a NewsGator online account (I get it, I know! Stop pestering me!), it’s not free, and it quietly installs (naughty!) another NG product called FeedStation, which is billed as being able to manage your podcast/RSS enclosures. Score: B+

Google Reader
No one suggested this one in particular, but I heard about the Google reader around the time that I heard we were looking to outsource our student email servers with Google/Gmail or Microsoft Live.

It feels a lot like Gmail (especially in “list view”), so it immediately has a nice “welcome home” feel to it…if your name were Google…and you ate Ajax or something. Anyway, it has keyboard shortcuts for navigating through your feeds, it updates your feeds even if you’re not signed into Reader (which is similar to other online-only readers), and it’s incredibly fast/responsive (at least in IE7 on Vista). Oh, and it’s free (if you sign up for a Google account). Importing my feeds from the last remnants of my blogroll from Outlook 2007’s exported OPML file was a breeze.

Only a couple of things stand out as minuses. Unlike Gmail, which has a pretty standard web-based-email interface, Reader feels a little less intuitive. I’m not entirely sold on the online-only business, as sometimes I want to sync-and-go. Score: B

Bloglines.com
Bloglines was vociferously recommended by both Dave and Roz, and since I trust them both, I had to give it a try.

I actually signed up for Bloglines a really long time ago, at least long enough ago that I had forgotten that I signed up for it. I went to register my normal username, and it was taken. It reset my password and I was back in business. The first thing I noticed was in fact the worst thing I noticed. After importing my OPML and clicking on a folder, it instantly marked the whole folder/feed as read. Gah! I like my feeds like I like my email; unread if I’d like to get back to it. Marking a whole feed as unread was just too cumbersome for me. Marking all 300 of my “Geek News” posts as read when I click on the folder just makes no sense to me.

Bloglines does have keyboard shortcuts (although I couldn’t find documentation on what exactly they were). The UI doesn’t feel as streamlined as Google Reader, and it’s online only. Bloglines does offer more than just a reader interface; you can also setup your own blog (but hey, I’ve got one of those I think). Score: C-

Mozilla Thunderbird
I didn’t realize that Thunderbird also did RSS aggregation, and stumbled upon it as an option when doing a search for RSS Readers on download.com.

Like Outlook 2007, it treats RSS feeds as another type of email item, and it’s an asynchronous (read: not online-only) process. The normal conventions apply like drag-and-drop to other folders, mark individual items as un/read, and keyboard shortcuts for the same. In version 1.5.0.9 at least (maybe it’s fixed in the latest rev), the feeds update when you hit the “get mail” button, but the unread count in the individual folder doesn’t update. After I imported my OPML, I was clicking “get mail” like a mad-person and it looked like Thunderbird wasn’t doing anything at all.

If you use Thunderbird to read your POP/IMAP mail, and you like managing your feeds in the same client you manage your email, this is probably the package for you. I don’t use TBird for email (Exchange and MAPI a’ight?!?), so that feature isn’t as compelling. Oh, and it’s free. Score: B-

AmphetaDesk
Barry, my boss, suggested this one. It hasn’t been updated since 2002. No way, José. Score: D

The Winner
Feed Demon. I like the keyboard shortcuts, the “news bin”, the synchronization with newzgator.com, its responsiveness. Somehow, for me, it made feed reading more efficient; I was blowing through my feeds in record time. All the others had me fumbling through “clumsier” UI and constantly switching from mouse to keyboard to mouse without really getting me any further along. I said to Scott, “Now I know how you can keep with your 600+ blogroll!”

So? 92,653 words later, I’m using Feed Demon, and Scott gets to collect his prize. Scott? Just let me know which week of your on-call shifts you want me to take! Many thanks to Barry, Janice, Roz, and Dave for their time and suggestions.

Super Bowl Carbon Negative? **gasp** and **swoon**

I’ve been casually reading Treehugger ever since watching An Inconvenient Truth, not because I’ve become a Eco-Fascist or anything like that, but just because they tend to have some really down-to-earth (har-har) and day-to-day sorts of things that I can do (and you can do!) to become more eco-friendly.

In addition, they spread the good word about larger and further-reaching eco-stories that provide inspiration (or desperation, depending on the story). Like this one:

Super Bowl XLI to Go Carbon Neutral

Now Boyfriend and I can sit on the couch come Game Day and feel just a tiny bit better about participating in what this article calls “a symbol of excess and over consumption”.

Can Casa de Guamaniac be far behind? Stay tuned.

That’ll be a Jackson, two Washingtons, and two Guams please

RSS is everywhere! I recently discovered that the Pacific Daily News (Guam’s Newspaper) syndicates it’s comments with XML feeds!

Tomorrow’s newspaper (it’s Friday on Guam, already) has an article about a vote today in the U.S. House of Representatives, reporting that the “50 State Quarters Program” is being expanded to include the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories, the latter of which, Guam is a member!

Madeleine Bordallo, Guam’s delegate to the U.S. House says:

Continuation of the Quarter Program by minting quarters to honor Guam and our sister territories would be a good way to promote our country’s diversity and to educate Americans about our island’s history, our culture, and our island community.

You could also chat it up with your friendly, neighborhood, Guamanian, yours truly!

http://www.guampdn.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070126/NEWS01/701260309/1002/rss

Looking for a Feed Reader

I stopped subscribing to magazines a couple of years ago, primarily because everything that I got in print was so out-of-date relative to all the timely and good information I was getting from all of the online content, be it Blogs or other syndications.

So now that I’m getting all of my information online, my “reader” or “aggregator” is more important than ever. I didn’t realize just how much I relied on my reader until it stopped working.

I started with Sharpreader (thanks to Terry’s suggestion) and recently switched to Outlook 2007 when the public Beta 2 was released in the Fall. Sharpreader is a solid client, but the prospect of 1) managing my feeds in the same client I managed my email, and 2) using my Windows Mobile SmartPhone with Direct Push to keep up with my news/gossip/all-around geekery when riding/waiting for the bus was too good to pass up.

Outlook 2007 Beta 2 worked out well for me and I was flying high amid infoporn heaven.

Outlook 2007 RTM (i.e. non-Beta), not-so-much.

I noticed that several of my Feeds weren’t getting updated. The folders were still there, the old posts that I wanted to save were still there, but nothing new. Normally I’d get at least several a day. Even worse, it was random. Engadget would get updated, but Engadget HD would not. The folders are there, but they’re not getting updated?? DoubleYou-Tee-Eff!!??!!

Turns out that the folder isn’t an indication of whether or not you’re actually getting content, but rather a delivery location for an embedded subscription engine in Outlook. In other words, you have to go somewhere else to manage your feeds.

After finding it in the Outlook Account settings, I re-added the missing feeds (which of course, created brand new folders in Outlook), and all was right again.

Until it happened again…and again…and again…I was spending too much timing managing what can only be a bug in Outlook 2007!

  1. Notice one or two feeds are missing
  2. Re-import the list of feeds from an exported OPML file (or somehow correlate the folder list with the feed list)
  3. Delete old/broken feed folders
  4. See step 1.

With about 75 feeds, that’s about a half-hour of work just to get back up and running! And, of course, the OPML export is out-of-date, so I’ve got to troll back through some recent posts and figure out where that cool site was and re-add it to my dated feed list. Oh and of course it lost all of my subfolders so now Life Like Weeds and Lifehacker are side-by-side, when I really want LLW in People and LH in Lifestyle.

I got fed up. Buh-bye Outlook!

I switched back to Sharpreader. But you know what? Sharpreader is getting a little long in the tooth without an update since the first time I started using it. And the first time I accidentally deleted a post, reached for the Ctrl+Z, and nothing happened, I knew I couldn’t go back to it.

So … the hunt is on. I need a new reader! What are all of you using and what’s the best thing about it?

The winning submission will get a week off from on-call shifts (if you’re a co-worker), a hand massage (if you’re Boyfriend), or a Pauline Tweaking (if you’re on the rugby team). All others, will just get my undying gratitude!

Weather Haiku

Overcast days three
In sequence, sire My blue air.
I yearn for Sunlight.

My Saturdays start out like this…

My Saturdays start out like this.

Heavy breathing.
Panting.
Numerous licking and kissing.
More heavy breathing and panting.

Open my eyes and there’s a blur of black, beady brown eyes, ropes of saliva. Glancing over at the alarm clock and it’s just before 6am.

<GRUMBLE> It’s Saturday for crying out loud!

More panting, face licking, and by god, it’s time to wake up. Roll out of bed, and the fur starts to fly. Tchotckes are knocked off the night stand, I can’t find my slippers because it’s still dark out, and I’m not sure why I’ve subjected myself to this torture for the last two years.

That’s how my weekends start. That’s what it’s like when you’re Ethel’s Daddy.

In case you’re not sure yet, Ethel is my dog. One hundred forty-five pounds of pure-bred Newfoundland, a breed which is widely regarded as the most graceful, most beautiful, hardest working breeds out there.

Except that nothing is graceful or beautiful at six o’clock in the morning. And Ethel only works for food. Oh, and widely-regarded as yadda-yadda-yadda is from a sample of other Newfoundland owners…and the one-off pig farmer.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret adopting Ethel. I weather the incessant drooling (believe me when I tell you that sometimes it veritably *rains* drool), the midnight barking at nothing in particular, the wanton destruction of anything shaped like a shoe.

I’ve learned to adapt to these things. You buy special paint so that the drool is easy to clean off of the ceiling. Drool towels are hung in strategic locations throughout the apartment. Shoes are out-of-reach at the *top* of the closet.

I adapted because every once in a while, she does the cutest thing you can possibly imagine. She puts her head in my lap and looks up at me with those puppy-dog eyes; believe it or not 2 years old she’s still a puppy! Or she lies on her back at the foot of the bed, her feet in the air, in a most un-ladylike position, and I can’t help but laugh out loud (you can see a picture or two of that to the right).

Or, unexpectedly, she steps in front of me and protects me from a dangerous person or animal, putting herself in harm’s way. That might explain away the midnight barking; she senses something awry, and she wants me to know about it.

Or when she gets away from me across a grassy field, stops, looks around for her Daddy, and then comes running back at top speed, and slides to stop at my feet as if to say, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! I didn’t know where you were and I thought you had left me, and then I saw you were behind me and I came running as fast as I possibly could because I wanted to make sure you were still with me and I’m totally breathless right now and can we do that all over again?”

Or when I go outside to the car for ten minutes, and when I come back inside the house it’s like I was gone for days and she missed me terribly.

Or when our personal record for face-licks is 275 in one sitting.

I love her terribly, in case you couldn’t tell.

It’s just…I could do without the early morning wake-up call.

Comcast sucks slightly less…

So, if you remember, on Saturday, we had a minor meltdown trying to get reception for the Eagles playoff game on the living room Comcast DVR/Cable box. Part of my list of things to do the following day was to get a replacement DVR box. I browsed to Comcast’s website and did a quick search for a place to ‘replace converters and other equipment’. I already knew there was one in South Philly on Columbus Boulevard, but I was mostly after their hours.

They opened at Noon on Sunday and were closed on the MLK holiday, so I made sure to set the alarm for 10:30am so I could get to the Comcast office bright ‘n’ early.

I got there at exactly 12:05pm … and there were thirty people ahead of me! Jeez Christ! The Comcast-Suck-o-meter was ratcheting up to the red line! Yet more inconvenience I can lay at their feet!

I grumphled to the back of the line … queued up like a good little boy. I glanced around and took stock of what people were there for; a good 75% of them had cable bills in hand, ostensibly stopping by the office in person to pay their bills. A good sign, since bill-paying is relatively quick and easy. Several had non-hi-def cable boxes in hand, which hopefully a) they wouldn’t rub any of their “analog signal”on me and b) they were replacing immediately posthaste forthwith absolumon with shiny HD-capable cable boxes.

Before I knew it, about 30 minutes had elapsed and I was at the front of the line! There was only one cashier/CSR/waitron there, but she was no-nonsense-lickety-splickety-rabbit-quick with getting each person’s questions answered, and I was no exception.

I’m here to exchange my old DVR for a brand new one.

Is there something wrong with the old one?

No.

Okay here’s the new one. Do you need a remote?

She handed me a shrink-wrapped DVR that I could just tell was brand-badunkin’ new! I peered through the plastic and spied two things that made me quiver with delight: HDMI, and 160GB.

My old DVR had a “lousy” DVI output for HiDef video feeding to my TV. My new DVR has the top-of-the-line, all-digital, holy-grail of A/V interfaces. My old DVR had a practically “anemic” 120GB Hard Drive. My new DVR has a 33% larger drive for recording even more HD episodes of Gilmore Girls! I can’t believe it! They just gave it to me because I drove up and asked!

I was in geek heaven.


Change a Lightbulb, change the world!

It only takes 18 seconds to change a bulb. If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an energy-efficient bulb, together we could save enough energy to light more than 2.6 million homes for a year. Find out how you can save energy and cash by making the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs... and check out how many have already sold in your area.

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Coconut Trees

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Coral Reefs

January 2007
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