Monthly Archives: February 2004

Truncated Text in RSS Sucks

Now that I’m using an RSS reader, I am cursing everyone that publishes a truncated version of entries in their RSS feed. Its bullshit, and it isn’t going to encourage me to visit your actual site.

Of course, I’m pretty sure my RSS is truncated, since that seems to be the Movable type default (WHY?), I need to muck with my templates and fix it.

In Which I am Cynical About the Bush Administration

Yahoo! News – U.S. Denies Iran Report of Bin Laden’s Capture

IRNA quoted a story on Iran’s state radio Pashtun service which reported “a very reliable source” as saying bin Laden had been captured in a tribal area of Pakistan.

A senior U.S. defense official denied the report, telling Reuters it was “another piece of stray voltage that’s passing around out there.”

Call me cynical, but I just have to believe that this administration would keep Bin Ladin on ice for a while, so they can trot him out at an opportune time to influence the presidential election, just as the Regan administration cut a deal with Iranian militants to hold on to the American hostages until after Carter was gone.

RSS Aggregators

I’ve been poking around a bit looking at RSS Readers/Aggregators because I want to increace the number of blog-like sources of information I read without significantly expanding the amount of time I spend on the activity. Having everything reviewable in one place, with the ability to see at a glance what’s new and what isn’t should really help towards that goal.

So far FeedDemon seems like the most featureful and polished application. It provides various filtering functionality, Outlook-like previews of unread items and a nice “newspaper” like view of all the entries in a particular grouping. It also has an easy to use clipping bin allowing the archiving of interesting entries.

Unfortunately, it lacks some other features I find desirable. There is no way, so far as I can tell, to use the outlook inbox-like listview to scan items from multiple feeds in a single window (unless you kludge something with the filter functionality). The only way to do this is with the newspaper view, but in that case, it appears to insist on doing a top-level grouping by source, so that all the new items for a given feed are clumped togeather. I’d rather have the option of merely sorting them all in reverse chronological order. The other issue is that it seems this grouping can only be done for a single “folder.”

The OpenSource .NET based Sharpreader seems to address many of these issues. It allows you to create a nested hierarchy of feeds, and by simply clicking on a given node of the hierarchy, it will roll all the feeds contained below it together and display them in chronological order, interleaving items from multiple feeds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the preview functionality, nor does it have the option of viewing the full content of all enties in a sort of webpage view like FeedDemon and some other products. It also doesn’t have a bin for archiving items of interest.

I’ve yet to explore the support of any of these products for posting to blogging tools. Also, if I were currently working, I’d be interested in the ability to synchronize state between two machines, so the articles I might have skimmed at work would show up as read when I read from home.

More later….

War On Terror, My Ass

Yahoo! News – CIA Chief: Al Qaeda Can Still Do 9/11 Style Attack

Director George Tenet said on Tuesday that despite strides made against al Qaeda it remained capable of conducting an attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, and he warned of dangers from broader anti-American sentiment among Muslim extremists.

Yay! Such a good war president. Afganistan continues to unravel, and Iraq has provided Al Queda with a new source of recruits, and a new front to shoot at American soldiers AND hammer our credibility as both a military force and a determined champion of freedom and justice.

Nixie clocks

Nearly a decade ago, I got the idea that it would be really cool to build a clock out of those little glowing tubes used to disply numbers on electronic cash registers before LEDs came along. There was one tube per digit, with a separate fillament in the shape of each number, and they would glow neon orange. I asked around on USENET and learned that they were called Nixie tubes. Of course, I never actually built a clock with one.

Appearanlty I wasn’t the only one with the idea, because several people have built nixie clocks. There is even
an article on it in IEEE Spectrum
with a brief history of the device and photos of various tinkerers completed clocks. Even better, this guy’s site has plans for one (as well as lots of other cool electronic and electrical artifacts and experiments). One fellow even made a nixie wristwatch.

There are also people selling completed clocks, but I’m not about to send my large and affluent readership their way without compensation, so you folks will just have to search on google yourselves until my people can work out some sort of paid placement deal.