Category Archives: Web

Website updates

I’ve taken down both MacMegasite and WorldBeatPlanet since I haven’t really had any interest in maintaining them for several years. In fact I haven’t even looked at either site in a long time. Both sites were hosted somewhere else, and when my annual hosting plan came up for renewal, I decided it wasn’t worth renewing.

I’m willing to sell both domains. If you’re interested, contact me.

In other news, I’m really excited about the projects I’m working on now at Line2. I also adopted a new kitten earlier this year.

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ReadKit

I’ve been a very active user of Google Reader for a long time, so I was very disappointed when they decided to shut it down. After trying several replacements, I settled on Feedly as my replacement. I prefer to read news on my Mac and Reeder was my favorite desktop newsreader. Unfortunately they’ve been neglecting their Mac app and haven’t updated it to support alternatives to Google Reader.

ReadKit looked like an attractive Mac newsreader, but until a few days ago, it didn’t support Feedly. Since they added support for Feedly with their latest update, it’s now my favorite newsreader. In addition to reading RSS feeds through Feedly, Fever, Feedbin, FeedWrangler, and NewsBlur, it also supports bookmarking & article saving services like Instapaper, Pocket, Pinboard, and Delicious, so I’m using it as a substitute for Pocket’s Mac app as well as my news reader.

A great loss

Today’s news that Aaron Swartz committed suicide hit me hard. I’ve known him from the days of Radio Userland when we exchanged many emails and chatted about scripts & features. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but he was someone I respected.

Aaron was only 14 when he contributed to the RSS standard, which is the basis of blogging. Aaron’s work with Demand Progress helped revolutionize online political activism and was one of the reasons Obama was elected.

Nexus 7

I’ve had a Nexus 7 for two weeks and there are lots of things I love about it and some things I really dislike.

Good:

  • I love the size. After using it, I really want a 7″ iPad.
  • I really like the universal back button at the bottom of the screen.
  • The soft home button moves to the correct position when you use it in landscape mode.
  • Rearranging icons is less annoying than in iOS.
  • Widgets can be placed on the home screen.

Not so good:

  • UI is ugly. No rounded corners, shadows, or gradients. Everything looks flat & square.
  • Endless march of notification icons across the top of the screen.
  • Many of my favorite apps aren’t available for Android. The only Twitter app I use is Echofon because it’s the only one that syncs my mute settings as well as unread tweets. It isn’t available on Android, which seriously limits my ability to use Twitter on the Nexus 7.

For a long time I dismissed the rumors of a 7″ iPad, but after using the Nexus 7 it makes perfect sense. A 7″ tablet is a lot more comfortable to use than a 10″ tablet, yet the amount of screen real estate is just as usable.

Changes at MacMegasite

I’ve been busy with other projects, including a new contract I just started today, so I’ve been pretty much ignoring MacMegasite recently. For that reason, Max Swisher, will now be the main writer at MacMegasite.

Flickr’s confusing authorization prompt

Twitter, FaceBook, and many other sites are using OAuth or some variation for user authorization. With OAuth, rather than storing a username or password, you request a token from the website, which you shore and use to access the site in the future. If you’re not already logged in to that site, you’ll see a login page. If you’re already logged in, you’ll get a prompt asking whether you want to authorize that application.

For most sites, the authorization prompt has clearly marked buttons telling you to proceed if you specifically asked that application for authorization or cancel if you got there some other way. With Twitter, for example, the cancel & proceed buttons are red & green.

Flickr (which actually uses its own variation), on the other hand, gives you two paragraphs of text, which you have to read very carefully, and two identical next buttons. Not a good design.

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Site Redesign for mcdevzone.com

I completely overhauled my MC Development site, converting it to static HTML. Since I moved my blog here, I no longer need to run WordPress on that site. This change will help me reduce the load on my server.

Spam is killing Twitter

Twitter’s spam problem has been getting steadily worse, despite claims that they’re taking steps to stop the spam. It has reach the point where any time I mention a device whose name begins with ‘i’, I get as many as 10 spam replies. These spammers all follow a typical pattern and are very easy to identify.

 

Twitter spammers are easy to recognize

These spammers almost always have a generic icon, no followers, aren’t following anyone, and almost all of their tweets are @replies.

Twitter should be able to identify them and automatically block them. Until they do that, Twitter’s usefulness is severely limited.

Switching from Delicious to Pinboard

When Yahoo announced the possible shutdown of Delicious, I decided to switch to Pinboard. Moving my bookmarks was fairly painless. I had to export my bookmarks from Delicious and then import the resulting bookmarks file into Pinboard. Even during the signup rush, it imported quickly, although it took several hours for my tag cloud to appear.

Pinboard lets you add bookmarks with the usual bookmarklets and it supports v1 of the del.icio.us API, so most Delicious clients which lets you specify the API endpoint will work with Pinboard. It can also add bookmarks via email or import from Instapaper or Twitter. One feature I find especially useful is importing from my Twitter favorites. When I see an interesting link when I’m reading Twitter on my iPhone, I simply mark it as a favorite to bookmark that link.

The only Delicious feature missing from Pinboard is automatic blog posting. However, the Postalicious WordPress plugin works with Pinboard. Set it up as you would for Delicious, but for the RSS feed, enter your Pinboard RSS feed URL, which will be something like http://feeds.pinboard.in/rss/u:username.

You can see my Pinboard bookmarks or follow me on Pinboard at http://pinboard.in/u:mike3k.

Use Gmail's filters to organize your email

If you belong to FaceBook, Twitter, and other social networks or mailing lists, you probably get a lot of email notifications (“Bacn“, email you want but not right now). These emails probably end up in your inbox, distracting you from more important matters.

You can use filters or rules in most desktop applications to move those emails to a different folder, but if you read your email on a mobile device or on the web, all of those emails will be in your inbox. Gmail’s filters are a much better solution. Any filters you set up on the web will run automatically on all received email, before it even reaches your inbox, so your email will remain organized wherever you read it.
Setting up filters is easy. Gmail will let you create a filter matching the email you’re currently reading or emails you have selected in the list using “Filter messages like these”.

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Gmail will show you the rules that will match the selected email. You can fine tune the rules, like having it match all addresses in that domain or a specific subject line.

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Finally, choose the actions for that filter. Most likely you’ll have it skip the inbox and apply a label.

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Don’t be afraid to set up lots of filters. Your ultimate goal is to keep everything out of your inbox except email that you’re actually interested in.