Google News RSS Feeds

So most of you know that I’ve been using to read about 20 RSS feeds, both blogs and news, for some time. You can see many of them in the Blogroll to the right. Big deal, I’ve still got information overload syndrome. But now Google just released a technology that NOT ONLY lets you get RSS feeds from Google News, but also lets you read search results feeds.

i.e., I can create a feed in Bloglines like

and it will feed me the latest news on lemurs. For some reason, I’m thinking this is really cool. It makes me think that almost any one-way communication that used to be delivered by email would be better served as RSS. Newsletters, for example. Announcements, updates, etc.

RSS needs to catch on a bit more now. Vista will have it. Apple’s Safari does a pretty good job at doubling as an RSS reader. I wonder how KDE and Akregator will evolve, keeping in mind that Plasma will thrive on dynamic, content-focused data.

UPDATE: Why is this Google search feed so cool? Because you can have an RSS feed about ANYTHING now. If you want an XBOX 360 feed, you got it.

Work Subroutine

Put this little subroutine into your robot worker to make it more human like. Don’t bother me about the fact that it is a hybrid of DOS and BASH scripting. That happened because, well… see for yourself what happened to my /proc/brain.


do work

if work = $good
goto START

if work = $evil
goto END

/proc/brain > /dev/null
shutdown -h now

“Give me AJAX or give me death”

After reading the recent Wired news story claiming a web revolution based on AJAX (Slashdot coverage), I’m excited to see where web developers will take us. Although I really like the direction KDE is taking, most futurists agree that high-powered desktops will eventually be obsoleted by low-powered networked computers and thin-clients. AJAX is the perfect platform with those devices in mind.

AJAX can be nearly anything:
Personal Information Manager
Server-data-dependent app, like Point of Sale, Content Management, Customer Management, Shopping, and Databases

AJAX might work well for:
Word processing
Presentation creation

AJAX wouldn’t work at all for:
Pro image editing (although basic photo sorting / editing could work, and already exists)
Pro video editing (not really until Internet 2 would this even be thinkable)
Pro sound editing (ditto)

The secret is…(shh)… Google could do it all and make billions!!!

KDE4 On The Chopping Block

KDE developers are hacking away at 4, which is now in /trunk, because 3.5 was moved to a branch. There is a lot of talk about simplification, speed and eye-candy. KDE4 will hopefully blow Windows Vista out of the water (at least in my book, so that I don’t feel tempted at all to use Vista). Maybe perhaps KDE4 will hold its own against Mac OS X Leopard, which would mean that when all those MacIntel ports of applications will run just as well on Linux, and I won’t feel the temptation to switch Mac either.

Nine things KDE should learn from Mac OS X

Some basic thoughts about KDE4

Plasma Kollaboration Forum

Usability – Real and Virtual

Alright, fine! I’m back and I should be posting more often, but I’m lazy. Has it ever bothered you that software developers are often terrible at designing interfaces? These guys are, and I am too. But software developers aren’t the only ones…

Microwave Ovens are the worst offenders of keypads on appliances. There is no standard, so it is a free-for-all whenever an appliance maker designs a new oven. Here is the keypad on a 1993 GE SpaceMaker:

Microwave Oven

How do you enter 1:30, judging from this image? You’re thinking “just press 1, 3, 0” but you’d be wrong. Actually, to enter exact cook times on this cooker, you have to press “TIME COOK” first. So for some reason, it is now faster to enter 1:30 by pressing 1 (which gives 1:00) and “ADD 30 SECONDS” (which gives 1:30). A word to GE – number keypads should all work as expected, okay? And we expect them to work when we first press them. Imagine having a cell phone where you had to press a “DIAL NUMBER” button before dialing the number.

I’m a little upset with my microwave, as you can see.

Here’s another useability flaw that I came across today. This is the page shown when you click “Help Center” at, where I have one my domains registered:

As you can see, it presents a FAQ index. But it doesn’t show the most popular FAQs. It does allow for searching the FAQs, but at first glance a user won’t notice that, because it is in a separate box that includes a list of links to other locations. Wonderful. Next you’ll see the “Contact Us” link, which takes you to a webform where you can fill in your name, email, problem description, and “traceroute if it is a connection problem with one of your sites.” Are you kidding me?

They don’t provide any contact email, phone number or IM. A hint to all web startups: make it EASY for the customer to get answers from a real person. FAQs are fun to make, and sometimes fun to read, but are useless when not exhaustive knowledgebases (such as Microsoft’s KB). For a real world metaphor, read on.

You’ve just walked up to the Customer Service desk at your local Walmart SuperCenter. There is no receptionist nor representative. There is no telephone. There is only a 3 ring binder which, upon opening, reveals a list of questions that Walmart customers frequently ask. The top page is an index, and thumbing through it you see answers to all kinds of questions. Not surprisingly, you are unable to find the answer to your question. Now you have noticed that there is a ticket machine. It is tucked away to one corner, so you didn’t even see it when you first approached the desk. You take a ticket, and read the text on the back of the ticket: “Thank you for your inquiry. You should receive a response within the next 48 hours.”

We would never put up with this at Walmart, so why do so many of us put up with it on Customer Support websites?

Internet Everywhere

Captain’s Log: StarDate, er… June 25th, 2005.

Location: the ocean. Technically speaking, Pacific Beach in sunny San Diego.

I’m blogging in the ocean. Oh yeah. Peace out.

California dreaming, racks, WikiTeam

I’m going to be in San Diego for the next few days. I hope my guitars (I’m taking 3) survive the Yuma desert on the way out there. The Priority band (website’s down, so no link) is playing for a camp at Point Loma. I should be excited, but I’ve done this before, and last time I was large and in charge. This time I’m not only playing guitar, but I’ll also be helping run the behind-the-music show.

As in, racks. Or rather, rack – a very large 20 space rack! We just put this together, and it has everything we could ever need (minus recording equipment). Not to mention it is so pretty, it deserves a unique name and recognition as a work of art. In this case, a picture would speak much better than I, but since the rack is stuffed away in a trailer, you’ll have to wait (I promise I’ll post a pic). This new outboard rack consists of (from top to bottom):

  • Furman Pro Power Conditioner
  • 2 Behringer Multicom Compressor / Limiters (8 channels of compression)
  • 2 Behringer Virtualizer Pro Effects units (4 channels of effects)
  • Numark professional dual-deck CD player (with separate controller space)
  • 3 Behringer Ultragraph dual-channel 31-band graphic equalizers (6 channels of eq)
  • 4U rack drawer with lots of toys (microphones, etc.)
  • Furman Pro Power Conditioner (yes, that means 2!!)

On this trip, we also have the privilege of borrowing 8 Sennheiser Wireless units (with Countryman headsets if needed) and 4 Intelligent sound-sensitive stagelights.

At this point you’re wondering about “WikiTeam” in the title. Well, after some discussion on #ubuntu-doc, the next Ubuntu Documentation Team meeting will decide whether or not to form a new subteam (or possibly a separate team entirely) whose sole responsibility would be Wiki janitorial work. Now, that may not sound very elegant, but I’m really good at it, and it can be hacked on from any computer / platform (read: my Windows laptop). The Ubuntu Wiki needs a lot of help, especially now that it has been converted from Plone to MoinMoin. I see the Wiki as being the centrifuge of knowledge, information and documentation between the forums, the DocTeam, and unofficial documentation. I’m working on debugging various Python scripts that can convert HTML to MoinMoin (and back again) and DocBook to MoinMoin (and back again).

mdke (a DocTeam member) and I are interested in creating the WikiTeam. I hope that the rest of the DocTeam will see the need. Of course, once it passes our internal vote, it may then have to go to the Community Council meeting to be approved officially. Perhaps then I’ll nominate myself for Ubuntu membership. :)

Plasma brainstorming…

I’m really excited about the potential that Plasma will bring to KDE. I’m even more excited that aseigo is looking to the community for ideas and concepts.

This is a brain dump I created using KJots (a very useful note-taking utility): Plasma Applet Ideas