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Archive for May, 2005

eBay and RSS

The key to success in on-line auctions (such as eBay) is rapid and frequent flow of purely useful information.

There are at least two circumstances where RSS feeds can greatly assist:

  • The first: Keeping track of rare item/s
  • The Second: Finding the very best deal, as defined by a low range of prices

rssauction.com is a Web site that provides customised, self-tailored eBay feeds. For those who do are not familiar with RSS feeds, JavaScript equivalents are made available too.

The Daily News
Remembering the days when
auctions were announced by paper

Feeds Correspondence

Following a previous item on using Wikis for correspondence, I decided to share a prophetic view on one communication method, which I believe to be spam-free and highly convenient. Have a look at the figure below:

Feeds talk
A synthetic view of what future RSS aggregations might comprise

One can create channels of communication and broadcast message to friends, colleagues and family (and vice versa). This can definitely work once more people are ‘RSS-enabled’. This idea essentially converts correspondence into feeds. I once proposed unifying newsgroups (NNTP) and feeds, which is a similar step forward.

This method is spam-proof. In E-mail, blocking of messages that do not arrive from known people (whitelist) means that genuine, unexpected messages will be thrown away. With RSS there is no such problem. One need not receive message, but listen to them instead. Nobody will be listening to sources of spam.

PDF to HTML

There are Open Source projects that claim to be able to convert PDF files to HTML. See, for example:

None of the tools which I have come across and tested appears to work in a satisfactory manner. It appears that a LATEX (or equivalent) source is required; then, tools such as LATEX 2html or LyX2html can be used with great success.

Personal experience has shown that commercial Windows products will not do a good job either. Needless to mention, screenshots of pages are out of the question because they neglect to treat text properly. That is probably why PDF is not truly open (yet it is secure) and feelings about it are somewhat mixed.

On the contrary, many tools exist for converting HTML (which is open) into PDF. See a Google survey to convice yourself that it is so.

Double-headed arrow
A one way conversion is always a bad thing

Stolen Graphics

Dynamite Monkey

Graphics and photography on this site is either openly shareable or self-produced. Yet, there are cases where thieves HotLink images — that is — they refer to images on another site, thereby exploiting others for bandwidth. Fat Sam from NNTP://alt.www.webmaster posted this hilarious message today:

We’ve probably all experienced the problems of people remotely linking to images on our websites….

Well, this made me laugh…I found it in another newsgroup, but I thought it would be relevant here….

Imagine the scene

Ebayer1 decides to sell a graphics card, and in order to better show the product, he links to some images that he has stored on his own server….

Along comes Ebayer2, who happens to be selling the same graphics card….He checks ebay to see if anyone is selling anything similar, and finds Ebayer1′s auction with all those lovely extra images….
So he decides to remotely link to them too….

Naturally, Ebayer1 notices this extra traffic, probably in his referral logs, so he changes the images on his server…..

The resulting page of Ebayer2′s auction can be seen here (UPDATE: The seller changed the pictures after a few days, but one of the pictures is shown at the top of this item)

I especially love the image of the Plasma TV with the caption, “This Plasma TV included free”….

Valuable Firefox Tip

Firefox icon

I shall attempt to explain why your bookmarks are sometimes better in flat HTML form rather than in hierarchical menus.

Mozilla Firefox has a powerful “find as you type” feature. If you open Firefox Preferences → Advanced → Accessibility, you will find [Begin finding when you begin typing], which ought to be enabled. You can then begin entering keywords, hitting F3 if multiple matches are found. In Firefox 1.0.4 (unlike previous versions), text highlighted is also in focus, so on we move to a…

Practical example: If you are in a page that contains your bookmark/s (e.g. exported as HTML and includes a link to Google), type in the letters g o o g followed by ENTER and you should find yourself in Google. No mouse actions are involved and the entire process takes only a second or two.

Yahoo Sponsors Google

Yahoo may not do so directly, but…

Om Malik said:

Flickr is making money off Google AdSense even though it is a Yahoo company. There are Adsense text ads appearing on your photo albums etc.

I have always suspected that Google make a larger profit than that of their clients, who happen to be Flickr (Yahoo) in this case. After the initial “Welcome to AdSense” E-mail, one only communicates with the Google server. All the placement chores are left to the client. Have we become Google’s peons? Verging evil perhaps? I doubt it, but here is some comic relief.

Brin Drag
We are not truly peons to Google’s founder, Sergei Brin,
shown in this very genuine photo from 1996.

Nevertheless, many of us are peons to the man below.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates posing for a teen magazine in 1985
with a Mac at the back, from which he nicked the GUI

The latter photo had to be posted to balance this discussion.

Google Adverts in Feeds

Ad BlockingIt now appears to be true, inevitably. After much gossip this morning, Google have unleashed a beta of AdSense (their content-driven advertisement program) for RSS feeds. This means that adverts will occupy (supposedly) lightwight site summaries and ad blocking in feeds comes to mind.

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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