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Archive for August, 2005

End Browsing, Syndicate Everything

Syndicate
An example of my desktop when I come to work in the morning. In each text file, changes are contained for pages that I keep track of, which do not provide feeds. No changes — no file. This provides a good overview of which sites have new content for me to browse to.

Before I discovered I used to have a ‘browsing cycle’ which was contained in my portal (see prototype). Later on, having been inspired by feeds, I set up a bunch of cron jobs so that I can syndicate static HTML pages and only see changes (once they happen) in my Desktop. The full and detailed instructions are still on this site in case anyone seeks to do the same. if you use Windows, you might need to run everything on top of Cygwin.

Related items:

Vista Perils

Longhorn screenshot
Longhorn (Vista) alpha: looks promising, but how much computer power will it devour?

I have just come across an interesting speculation according to which the release of Windows Vista might give a boost to Linux on the desktop. The oxymoron did not surprise me much as I tend to agree that it Vista will be indictor of staticity. As I have argued before, Vista (formerly knows as Longhorn) excludes many of the lucrative features it was set to implement. Once it hits the market, people may conclude that Vista is uninnovative when compared against Windows XP, which in itself is similar to Windows 2000 ‘under the hood’. Moreover, Vista has some high requirements from hardware — an issue that Linux distributions do not suffer from.

As the time gets closer and closer to the public debut of Vista the operating system seems to be constantly losing the luster which was associated with Longhorn.

If this was not enough to turn people off from Vista, there are the hardware requirements.

Noting the problems with the arrival of Vista, an effort should be made to get people on desktop Linux distributions.

Speaking of desktop Linux, I purchased a new computer this morning. It should arrive my home within a day or two. The machine will have Mandriva pre-installed, but I might wipe everything off to put Ubuntu or SuSE on it. It is yet undecided.

Related items:

Why I lost Interest in CSS-Discuss

RANT STARTS HERE

CSS-Discuss is probably the most prolific mailing list when it comes to Web design and cascading style sheets (CSS) in particular. It is a broad group with high traffic of messages circulation. I subscribed to it earlier this year due to admiration for Eric Meyer — possibly the man behind this mailing list and the man to provide us with a Web-based presentation tool better known as S5.

[CSSD] avoids off -topic discussions like general (X)HTML, accessibility and particular Web-related applications. However, I am put back by the dull, useless, non-reusable discussions in that group. Much of the conversation traffic gets ‘wasted’ on cross-platform site checks and dealing with known browser bugs (rather than CSS as a standard). Almost every single day one would see entire threads about rendering of pages in different browsers — something along the lines of this fictitious paragraph:

In IE, the border is drawn one pixel above that which I see in FF so if I look closely enough I can see some small speckles in my menu. Having said that, it only becomes visible if I use this particular arcane browser.

Internet Explorer

To sum up, my final advice is to avoid this mailing list unless it resides on a separate E-mail account. It might be relevant if you wish to discuss bugs attributed to browser developers or if you want to wind up opening various Web sites in different computers and occasionally giving a nod to the OP, which acknowledges acceptable page rendering.

RANT ENDS HERE

All iPod Owners Can Get Compensated

iPod head
Even the Queen of England might fill out the form

Dear iPod users,

Be sure to read this earth-shaking item and fill the form if necessary.

A San Mateo County judge on Thursday approved the settlement of a class action suit that will offer relief to as many as 1.3 million iPod owners who may have been victim to poor or defective batteries.

Blogs Graveyard

Graveyard

Noone can deny that blogs are dwindling. This doesn’t mean to say that popular blogs no longer exist. This does not imply that blogs stopped emerging either. Nevertheless, let us ponder the following contentions:

  • Lost interest and enthusiasm among blog authors is apparent
  • Many blogs ceased to be maintained or are rarely modified in an attempt to show signs of life
  • rel="nofollow" discourages feedback via comments
  • Traffic becomes illusionary: no visitors, only crawlers
  • Free blogs can be set up everywhere. With plenty of dormant blogs, there is excess bandwidth and server power that begs to be used, even for free
  • Blogs are no longer an implication of being technology-savvy; they used to be though. If celebrities and baseball players that blog are no evidence, I fail to grasp what would make better evidence.

Here are a couple of ‘dead’ blogs that are worth pointing out:

Have a quick look at the blogs above. Statistics say that they are well over 10 million blogs and that a blog is created every second. But does a one-entry blog count? What about spam blogs (splogs), which were recently reported to account for a crushing majority of the total number?

Also see: Blogs Recession — and item that received enough attention to be cited by Om Malik.

Font Size Mistakes

Magnifying glass

Excessively small fonts have become a problem that too few keep in the back of their minds. To a friend of mine who is 76-years-young, one of the greatest features in Firefox is that fonts are easily scalable. Having taken a look at the The Rogue Librarian, I think the administrator must have excellent eyesight. The small fonts will pose problem for the generation that still cares for books. With the buggy IE, I hard to tell if scaling/zooming would even have an effect.

Conversely, taking as an example A List Apart, which is a Web design authority, several forums criticised the recent re-design, although many loved it too. As Els correctly pointed out, “on a 1024×768 window, font size only one notch up already gets the ‘feed’ menu item off screen (no second row). People with bad eyesight can’t get to the feed, nor are allowed to contribute”.

Screen and Usage Grabber

Screen Grab
My screens at the time of writing – WordPress is on the right monitor

Only a couple of days ago I finished implementing the little tool (pet mini-project) which I have longed for. I finally made everything public this morning. In a nutshell, the tool serves 2 tasks at the moment:

  • It grabs a screenshot of my display every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, and puts it on a public Webspace, which I can then access from anywhere
  • Similarly, some simple scripts get usage statistics (memory and CPU) as well as running tasks and make these public via the Web

To me this is valuable as I can ‘eavesdrop’ on my computer while I am away. All of this is done without the need for remote login means such as Telnet or SSH; the disadvantage is that things are passive. Since screenshots are visual, there is no need to forward X11 (component responsible for display and user interaction in most UNIX systems) either. Feel free to take advantage of these scripts. You can see an example of these scripts in action by viewing the bottom of my introduction page. Although it jeopardises my privacy slightly, visitors can now see (roughly) what I work on. I personally use it to check when my experiments have reached completion.

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