My blog has been inaccessible today, first due to a failure in ZoneEdit’s DNS records, then to me changing DNS host to GoDaddy, where I host the domain for the blog. Several years ago, when I set up the this blog, GoDaddy didn’t have the required functionality for subdomains, as I wrote about back then, but now I realized that this wasn’t a problem anymore. So things should be up and running again!
I’ve just moved my blog to WordPress from Typepad, since I haven’t been very active recently, and didn’t want the monthly cost. The export-import operation went swiftly, with just a few duplicates (despite guarantees, but that’s OK anyway), and a few links between posts needed to be updated. Also, I put an external resource file on Amazon S3 using the Amazon S3 Firefox Organizer, since not all files would be hosted by WordPress.
Everything looks great! Maybe I’ll start blogging again just because of the change…
In a recent post, I wrote about the latest release of RSS Bandit, and a fix of its newspaper view. Then, I thought that it was "safe" to use it for reading all posts in all blogs under a category. But after some thinking, I’ve changed my mind. Let’s look at the available options, after having selected the category and waited for the newspaper view to show up.
- Read all items, and finally press Ctrl-Q to mark all items as read.
- Press Ctrl-Q to mark all items as read, and then read all items.
- Read one item at a time and mark each as read by pressing the "envelope" icon.
We’ll analyze them in order. The problems come only when the feeds in the category are updated, so if you know exactly when each and every feed is updated, and it’s OK for you to read while the feeds aren’t updated, there’s no problem for you. Congratulations!
Another essential piece of information in order to understand the problem is that the newspaper view doesn’t change when new items arrive in the selected category.
- If some feeds in the category are updated and new items are added before you’ve read all items in the newspaper view, those will be marked as read, too, when you press Ctrl-Q, so you’ll never get to see them. Unsafe!
- In this case, an update of the feeds might have started just before you press Ctrl-Q, and so some items (but fewer than in case 1) might have been marked as read although they aren’t in the newspaper view. Unsafe, but safer! And anyway, I never remember to click Ctrl-Q before I start reading, so I usually end up with option 1.
- This option does work and is safe, but involves too much clicking for my taste. I’m using the newspaper view for skimming through a large number of posts, and I wouldn’t call it "skimming" if I’d have to click lots of buttons.
Now, how can we resolve this? I’ve got only one good suggestion, actually, to make the newspaper view safe: When I press Ctrl-Q after having skimmed the newspaper view, I want only items that are in the view to be marked as read, and if new items have arrived during the time, they will still be marked as unread afterwards. In order to read them, I would need to refresh the newspaper view, or to click on them one at a time.
Better solutions, anyone?
Finally my blog is being attacked by trackback spam, so I have to turn on comment and trackback moderation until there’s a better spam filter in TypePad‘s system. I wonder why there isn’t one; it should be quite easy to let for example SpamAssassin have a look at comments and trackbacks before letting them through.
But hey, this means either that the spammers are quite technically unsophisticated (of course they are unsophisticated in most other ways), or that my blog is getting more popular!
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Finally, the "Nightcrawler" release of RSS Bandit has been released. Looks good, so far! The only obvious thing that I can see doesn’t work is communicating the "read" status with Newsgator Online. The right feeds get synchronized, but it looks as if I haven’t read any items.
I hope they’ve fixed an annoying thing with "newspaper view": if a refresh of all feeds occurred while I was reading a group of feeds in newspaper view, that view just vanished, and I had to start reading that view from scratch again (because items might have been added). Doing "mark as read" when I started reading in newspaper view wasn’t a solution either, because I didn’t know if I’d be lucky not to get a refresh operation while reading. It isn’t an easy problem, because if the newspaper view would stay, while the feeds were refreshed, marking all items as read should only mark those in the newspaper view, or I would be forced to mark every item as read, individually. I haven’t checked through their list of fixed issues yet, but I’ll tell you later whether it works satisfactorily or not.
Update 29 Nov. 2005: They have indeed fixed the bug, not in the way I thought, but in an even better (less complicated) way. The newspaper view isn’t removed when new items arrive, so I can mark everything as read before I start reading. Then if new items arrive, I won’t see them in view, but they will be unread, so I’ll see them the next time I read from that category.
I just have to remember to press Ctrl-Q (mark all as read) before reading, and not to do it after reading.
Search engines are indeed very strange. On Google, I’m number one on "conceptual integrity". Same on MSN Search. But on Yahoo, I’m number thirty-six. I doubt that anyone would be consulting my blog as the number one reference on conceptual integrity! But I promise, I will be writing something directly connected to that topic, sooner or later!
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There are many bugs, sure. But I believe it’ll be great, soon!
Nick Bradbury writes about "reading list subscriptions", basically subscribing to OPML files. A great idea. But why stop there? Couldn’t we just subscribe to anything on a standardized XML format, by inserting into an RSS feed items conforming to a specific XML schema? I’m most certainly overlooking some technical complications here, in particular, that we would stop keeping things simple. But anyway, by inserting more and more stuff into RSS feeds (we’d like to subscribe to anything, wouldn’t we?) we will finally reach a point where such a generalization is inevitable, I believe.