Google Reader’s uncermonious dismantling has long been the beginning of my loss of faith in Google as a “do no evil” company. This TechCrunch article, “Google revives RSS” is disturbing on many levels. For one thing, RSS is not dead despite Google’s multiple attempts to kill it. For another, Google has shown over and over again, it can’t be trusted not to ditch any product that isn’t bringing in boatloads of cash.
Google did so much damage to RSS, the thought of them “reviving” it is analogous to Exxon reviving the site of some huge oil spill, one that they didn’t contribute to cleaning up. Even worse, browser vendors have no place trying to provide the user interface for RSS. Another toxic dump site. If Google wants to help RSS, great — here’s how. Do the subscribe button, that’s a good thing. But the result should be a dynamic OPML subscription list, that the user can provide to any reader app they want. It’s dynamic in that the contents can change, and the readers should periodically check to see if feeds have been added or removed. This way, if someday Google abandons RSS, again, everything can keep on ticking, more or less. Inviting users to rely on them shows that they have no sense of responsibility for the trust they betrayed in the past.
Hurray for supporting RSS but it’s not dead and it certainly won’t be after Google decides to drop it once again.
Some friends of mine1 built a new kind of online meeting space. It’s called Relm. It’s a virtual space that brings people together in a game-like environment with live video chat. In a nutshell, it’s a playful virtual space for online events.
Relm is a community of artists, engineers, philosophers, and spiritual thinkers making a new kind of home on the internet. It’s a virtual world where you can commune with friends.
Just a couple of days ago they updated it to (sort of) work on iOS (iPhone, iPad). Safari is my browser of choice and while you can get basic functionality, it seems to work best in Chrome.
Charlie Warzel, former technology opinion writer for the New York Times, has quit his job there to jump onto the newsletter subscription Substack bandwagon. He’s calling his, “Galaxy Brain”.
In the introduction to his foray in the Substack revolution he explains why he would jump ship.
“The last two places I worked were big, polarizing brands, which also meant that a huge chunk of my readers on a given story were there because they wanted to use what I’d written — usually just the headline — as ammunition in a culture war battle… And if I’m honest, it’s burned me out and left me feeling grim about the role of mainstream media.”
His latest instalment features him outlining why he is skeptical of Facebook’s courtship of creators. While I enjoyed the piece, I’m not exactly neutral on Facebook in the first place. Go figure — Facebook again ripping-off another platform in a blatant attempt to capitalize on the latest trends… who would have thunk-it?
You give it the ID of a tweet that’s at the top of a thread. The app loads all the tweets it can find that are replies to the tweet with that ID, written by the author of the original tweet and shows them inside a box, in chronologic order, as a nice sequence of easy to read paragraphs.
Next, just copy and paste from the Threadviewer.com output and Twitter can be a writing space for posts you want to use in other places on the web.
With the new M1 MacBook Air comes the need to once again figure out how to get a modern, highly secure, 64-bit operating system to communicate with a device made in the early 2000s. The device in question being a Dell 1100 Laser Printer.
After some searching online, a little trial and error, some attempts at using an old driver from an old computer (nope) and a little more searching online I finally came up with the solution. I’m posting it here in the hopes that it will help someone else save some trouble and probably for my future self at some point.
Before I even started, I knew I would need a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
I’ll save you the trouble of going through all my trial and error and just say that the solution to get Andrea’s MacBook Air (M1, 2020) running Big Sur 11.0 to work with the Dell 1100 Laser Printer was to download this collection of drivers:
Open it and when it’s done installing head to the System Preferences Printer icon (with the printer plugged in and turned on) and add a new printer.
When selecting software, choose Samsung ML-2160 Series.
Albeit there was an error the first time I printed (or maybe it was just a warning) but then it began its typical whirling sound and out popped the printed page. It continues to work every time without issue.
Should we continue to use — and promote the use of — Zoom at institutions and organizations that stand for liberal democratic values when Zoom has been discovered terminating accounts and disrupting video calls about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy activists? Obviously, we should find something else.
Prosecutors said the China-based executive, Xinjiang Jin, worked as Zoom’s primary liaison with Chinese law enforcement and intelligence services, sharing user information and terminating video calls at the Chinese government’s request.
If our organizations believe in free speech then it behooves us to tell our organizations about Zoom.
Zoom continues to fail us and mark my words, this will not be the last time we hear that this corrupt company is in the news.
When I was wandering the streets of Salt Lake back in ’99 I came across a fellow by the name of Greg Breedlove1 who was part of the Spirit of America team. He told me about how he had helped on the second version of the jet car and how his dad was the driver that set many land speed records on the Salt Flats near the Great Salt Lake. He offered to send me some photos of the car if I gave him my address which I happily provided.2 I’ve often thought about what it would be like to drive a car that fast.
Driving the Spirit of America might be the impossible dream, but today I came across an ad for a different jet powered car on Craigslist — this one is a Jet Powered VW and though it might not set world records, it’s definitely faster than I would want to go.
The car has two engines: the production gasoline engine in the front, driving the front wheels, and the jet engine in the back. The idea is that you drive around legally on the gasoline engine then, when you want to have some fun, spin up the jet and get on the burner (you can start the jet while driving along on the gasoline engine). I built the car because I wanted the wildest street-legal ride possible. I was able to use some stuff I learned while getting my fancy engineering degree with this project (I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University). It was great to design this street-legal jet car without distractions from other people’s projects, solely because no one has done it before. I have no idea how fast the car will go, and probably never will. I built the car in order to thrill me, not kill me. That said, I do enjoy the occasional blast down the highway.
He’s asking $550,000 USD.
1. At least I think his name was Greg, it could’ve been Craig. I have it on a note somewhere but I don’t know where it is.
2. Promises made, promises broken. I never heard from him, but photos are a lot easier to come by nowadays, so it’s no big deal.
I came across a site tonight that hits on a lot of my interests. It’s got a nice mixture of art, technology, with just a hint of psychology.
I’ve been interested in pareidolia since I first learned about it years ago. It is, as wikipedia defines it, “the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music.”
In this particular case, the objects are grains of sand and the incorrect perception is that they look like faces.
In the artwork Pareidolia* facial detection is applied to grains of sand. A fully automated robot search engine examines the grains of sand in situ. When the machine finds a face in one of the grains, the portrait is photographed and displayed on a large screen.
The first stand-alone RSS news feedreader I ever used was NetNewsWire. Soon the name changed to NewsGator and not long after that the original creators were no longer working on the product. Still, it worked like a charm but pretty soon the world moved on to web based readers. After Google Reader came and went I found it difficult to settle on another reader that satisfied me. At least, that was until just a couple of months ago when the original creator of NetNewsWire, Brent Simmons, was able to acquire the rights to the name and released a new open source Mac version of the software. I’ve been loving it but what I’m truly excited for is today’s news that the iOS version of NetNewsWire is about to drop!
It’s free and open source. Even though it’s labeled as 5.0, it’s a brand-new app, a fresh start for an app that originally appeared on the App Store on day one.
The big difference is not the price tag — there have been free versions of NetNewsWire before — and it’s not just that it’s open source. It’s that there’s a great team of volunteers behind it now.
I highly recommend you get your copy of NetNewsWire 5.0 from the App Store — Canadians can get it here.