On the death of RSS

2013/04/03 at 13:07

I’ve been an avid user of Google Reader for several years, and I am bummed about Google’s decision to shutter it. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about the life of the underlying technology: RSS. In this blog post, Ryan Holiday offers his opinion on why RSS, along with Google alerts and Delicious, is dying:

Think about it: in an ad impression-and pageview-driven business, a service [such as an RSS reader] that allows users to opt out of the noise and get content delivered directly to them is dangerous. When the common practice for bloggers is to publish first, verify second, the paper trail of Google Reader can be an embarrassment. And when sites do everything they can to hook you and increase the critical “time on site” metric or hit you with retargeting cookies, off-site RSS Readers once again stand in the way.

In other words, RSS is impervious to blogging’s worst, but most profitable, traits.

Depressing but probably accurate.

 

Get Rich Slowly!

2012/12/17 at 09:00

Marco ArmentMarco Arment‘s new project, which he’s calling The Pinboard Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud, is brilliant. As a counter to the typical get-your-investors-rich-quickly model of venture capital investment in startups, Marco believes that ” social capital [not money] has become the bottleneck to success.” Therefore, Marco is backing innovative projects with his own social capital: his ability to get “world to go look at what you made.”

Having worked in numerous startups (including one that refused venture capital), I’ve long been critical of the VC model of investment. My primary criticism is that it reinforces short-term, get-rich-quick thinking, not a view for the long term viability of the product or services. Marco holds similar beliefs and furthermore, he has the ability to help give a leg up to innovators who aren’t interested in, or aren’t appealing to, the venture capital model.

 

 

This modern world

2009/03/17 at 10:48

I heard this on the news this morning: SXSW iPhone users overwhelm AT&T’s 3G coverage

Spam wars

2009/02/26 at 13:45

My friend Susan and I maintain the Religious Resources directory. Users can submit sites for inclusion in our directory, but Susan and I personally review all submitted sites before they appear in the directory.
Years ago, we started getting bots that would fill out and submit the site submission form, so I implemented a captcha system. A while back, the spammers figured out how to defeat the captcha, so the bogus submissions started flowing again. The other day, I changed the verification mechanism for the site submission form, so I’m one step ahead of the spam bots again. I’ve foiled the bots for the time being.
After changing the verification, I saw a few bogus submissions still coming through. I noticed that the information was appropriate for the submissions: the ‘site name’ field contained a site name, the ‘URL’ field contained a URL, and, most tellingly, the submitter had selected an appropriate category for the site.
The spam bots tend to enter data in fields pretty randomly, so this consistency struck me. I emailed Susan and told her that some of these bogus submissions must be hand-entered. However, I was doubtful about that, since this seems like such a time-consuming activity, but I really couldn’t think of any other plausible explanation.
Yesterday, I checked the recently submitted sites and found this one (that’s a screen capture from our admin page; click on it for a larger version):
spamshot.jpg
Theory confirmed. However, I don’t know how to defeat cheap labor.

Language filter fail

2009/01/12 at 08:56

Apparently, Internet dating site eHarmony monitors the text that its users input and filters out terms such as “get[ting] laid”. Unfortunately, for this user, the filter wasn’t smart enough to understand his answer to the prompt “What are you thankful for?” His answer, “Having a job, given the way I watch a friend get laid off nearly every week lately,” earned him a terms of service violation notice.
(via Consumerist)

Google predicts flu activity

2008/11/12 at 09:20

Google Flu Trends: “We’ve found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional systems.”
You can even download the raw data. This is so cool!
(via Jason Kottke)

Time warp

2008/10/28 at 09:43

This is something I haven’t seen in, oh, eight years or so: a Y2K error. Ah, the memories.
old_peas.jpg
(via the Daily WTF)

Color me unimpressed

2008/07/28 at 13:24

The buzz in the geek world today is all about the new search engine Cuil. I did the exact same thing that half the other geeks in the world did when they read about Cuil: entered my name and searched.
I immediately saw the following problems:

  • I don’t know where they got the images that accompany the link to my resume and to my blog (heat death of the universe). They are not images that I’ve ever seen before.
  • The text blurb associated with the link to my blog seems to be some random post which was probably on the home page the day they spidered the site. Odd.
  • The text blurb “Stan Taylor is an Australian criminal…” accompanies the following links: “math lessons – Stan Taylor” and “The Ultimate Stan Taylor Dog Breeks Information Guide.”
  • The only categories listed pertain to the Australian criminal Stan Taylor
  • One link and blurb are in Dutch, the rest in English

Maybe that’s good for their first draft, but I know I won’t be using Cuil for my Internet searches any time soon.
A screen shot of the first page of search results is below. Click to see the full-size version.
Cuil results for 'stan taylor'
UPDATE: At least the random photos associated with my sites weren’t pornographic (link is NSFW, contains a thumbnail-sized porno image)

Spoiled by Gmail

2008/01/04 at 15:54

I use Gmail for my personal email and Outlook 2003 at work.
Once I’d been using Gmail for a while, I started displaying my work mail in Outlook by conversation, which is somewhat similar to Gmail. One difference, however, is that in Outlook sent emails are not added to the conversation, only received ones. So, at work I still find myself frequently digging through my ‘Sent Items’ folder to find emails that I contributed to an email thread.
In Gmail, I use tags for organizing my email. At work, I organize my email by putting it into folders. But in Outlook, if a new reply comes in for a conversation that I’ve moved to a folder, the reply goes to my Inbox and is not displayed with its entire conversation until I move it to the same folder. Frustrating.

If I had a dollar…

2007/11/21 at 04:30

…for every time I’ve helped someone sort out domain registration and web site hosting issues (explaining how name servers work, how to get the domain registrar to change name servers, etc.), I’d have, well, at least $20. What a pain for a non-geek to manage. (I just did it again, if you couldn’t figure that out)