Tag Archives: google

Replicating Reader Sharing with TTRSS and WordPress

I was shit-talking Google Plus’ utility as a replacement for Reader’s social features, and realized I think I actually can do at least as well with my existing infrastructure. I’m not immediately planning to switch, because Plus offers convenience and discovery for others, but I wanted to try it, so there will likely be some spurious posts appearing [and disappearing] shortly. I suspect most of my readership consumes their internet through a feed reader, so this post exists as documentation.

For the interested: TTRSS has a publish mechanism, which creates a custom RSS feed of any article you mark published, along with whatever note you have attached to it with the built in annotation system. It even allows for non-feed content to be shared. There are various WordPress plugins that can embed an RSS feed (HungryFeed,EmbedRSS) or import an RSS feed as a post type (FeedWordPress).
Embedding as custom posts gives both distinction and a comment system, and it is a universal interfaces (can read from web, subscribe via RSS ,etc.). There is even social discovery support built in should such a thing take off.

If this experiment works really well, I might even talk myself into using it before Google gives me another reason.

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Google is Getting Awfully Evil

TLDR; I no longer consider google trustworthy, Tiny Tiny RSS is a suitable, self hosted, replacement for Reader.

Until this week, Google had managed to convince me their services were trustworthy – more trustworthy than self-hosting – which is quite a feat , since I don’t tend to do well with faith in any context. Killing reader after it drained the rest of the RSS aggregator market took care of that illusion. Kicking the ad blockers out of the play store (on the same day) after Android had become the dominant species, and it no longer mattered that ad blockers are required to make the mobile web experience tolerable, and intentionally breaking Jabber federation later in the week just underscore the point.
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Google Exit Plan

I started writing this as notes for my own use, and wasn’t really planning to post it publicly. However, I didn’t find any comprehensive google exit plans that were suitable for people in my position, and it seemed like an interesting area for discussion, so up it goes.

While making my regular Google backups (detailed below in “Backup ALL the Things”) over the weekend, I decided it was time to update my plans for bailing out of google’s services if necessary, and discovered that there may be superior alternatives to some of the services I’ve been depending on. Google’s vast infrastructure, development resources, ubiquity and integration have tended to make them better than self hosted options. The fact that they are a single party who has thus far been generally responsible with user data makes them more attractive than other hosted solutions. Both of those situations are subject to change.

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Why the hell did Google just force me to link my YouTube account to a Google account? Do not want.

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While being a guinea pig for a software test, watching several groups try to coordinate for a tutorial via conference call and Skype makes me appreciate just how much better Google’s new hangout feature is — that said, they seem to need screen sharing, and google isn’t doing that (yet? please?). On the other hand, neither does Skype in the real world, and VNC (for fuck sake) and and old school conference call is the only thing working.

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Google Buzz

I’ve started using google’s new status message/message into the void, pleading for attention/twitter-like system, Buzz. Between being resigned to the fact that google already knows everything they possibly can about me, and the fact that the system is reasonably open and transparent (unlike, say, facebook), I’ve decided it is sufficiently un-creepy to use.

Stuff posted here will (FINALLY, it took 3 days to index my rel=”me” link) start cross-posting to Buzz. Things posted to buzz won’t show up here, but my buzz feed can be followed by non-google-users at My google profile.

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I downloaded Chromium (google chrome, but purely FOSS, so there is a build that can be grabbed directly from the Arch repos) to play with this weekend, and it is way more promising than last time I played with it. In particular, I wanted to see if the touted speed benefits were real, and see if there was a viable alternative after the massive UI (”Open in new tab” is a critical feature for tabbed browsers…), resource consumption, and stability regressions in Epiphany after it’s switch from Gecko to WebKit.

I should note that my browser usage is a little weird; I keep one Firefox window per topic (usually 3-4) on my first virtual desktop, plus an instance of Epiphany on the second virtual desktop, which is used for mail (it stays logged in to my google account, Firefox doesn’t), banking and various other things I’d rather not have logged in alongside my normal browsing, or brought down when I manage to crash Firefox.

As for Chromium itself (I’m using “Chrome” and “Chromium” interchangeably here):

The good:
* Fast. Very, very fast. Especially javascript, which is it’s claim to fame.
* Responsive. The UI is WAY more responsive than Firefox, I’m yet to have a “did that work?” moment with it.
* The default new tab behavior that places text entered to a new tab into a google search is correct as far as I’m concerned, I’ve had Firefox set up that way for ages.
* Per-tab processes to prevent broken pages from taking down the browser.
* Extensions in separate processes. This is probably the best feature, Flash crashes all the time on my machines, and I hate having to restart Firefox to get it back.
* Incognito windows. This is a partial solution to the logged in/not logged in issue that makes me keep two browsers up.
* Perfect default tab opening behavior; tabs created from “Open link in new tab” open next to the parent tab, tabs created by ^+T open at the end of the bar. I’ve never managed to make that work consistently right in Firefox, despite having a nice extension to do so.

The bad:
* That “innovative” UI that doesn’t integrate with the desktop theme, and gets clumsy when you turn on the “Use System Title Bar and Borders” option in the vain hope that it will help.
* That same “innovative” UI that puts the tabs in that awkward fitts-law worst case scenario place close enough to the edge of the screen to require long travel, but not close enough to get edge benefits. I am not alone in this opinion, would it really be so bad to add an option to fix that?
* No scrolling tab bar. I usually have several windows with <20 tabs each, but if I spawn tabs for all the interesting unread threads in a forum or somesuch, I really like to be able to read the titles.
* Ravenous memory and cycle consumption: if you think Firefox is bad about consuming resources, just wait until you see Chrome. Then again, the latest builds of Epiphany have a nasty habit of bugging out taking up some CPU time constantly, and Chrome is way better than that.
* Awkward bookmark-group behavior. There is a “open all in new window” feature (which is very cool), but it extends to sub-folders (which is not).

Overall, it is definitely my new second-choice browser, and I’ll keep it installed to use when I have problems with Firefox. I might even switch despite the UI issues; some of the above features are really nice, and adblock works just as well with chrome (this is very important for my primary browser). It should be neat seeing the next few versions of Chrome and Firefox, real competition (sorry IE and Opera, you don’t really count) is a wonderful thing.

EDIT: Apparently adblock doesn’t work quite as well in Chrome, Firefox adblock actually prevents ad material from downloading, Chrome adblock simply prevents it from rendering. Not an issue with a fast connection and fast machine, but you might want to go ahead and fix your hosts file to get rid of the more egregious offenders anyway.

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Google Go

Being in a programming language design course (and being the sort of person who would play with it even if I weren’t) google’s new programming language, Go, is pretty intriguing. A few of the things I notice:

* There are some pretty significant people behind it. Ken Thompson (one of the great old bearded ones) lends a lot of credence to anything he touches, and Robert Griesemer and Rob Pike both have pretty distinguished records of their own.

* Really? “Go”? There is already a (very low profile) language “Go!” which is causing a bit of a stink (the suggestion of renaming Go “Issue 9” is really clever, particularly in light of the people involved; I’d support it). There is also the problem that “Go” is essentally impossible to google for, and “Go Programming Language” has the acronym “GPL” which is already pretty well populated in the computer context. Also, the game Go has Go taken in computational circles. Too many conflicts to be a good idea.

* SLICES! — OMG YES SLICES! Slices are one of those features that I miss whenever I am writing in a language that doesn’t support them. There aren’t many software languages with slice support, but Verilog and some of the other HDLs have them and they are wonderful. The implementation (slices are associated with an array which contains the values, and merely provide bounds) isn’t bad, and the “create a hidden array for a slice not associated array” feature isn’t too heinous, although perhaps it would be cognitively cleaner to restrict slices to existing arrays, or make them genuinely first class.

* Baked-in concurrency goodness. They don’t seem to be quite done with this (FAQ even says so), but having language primitives for concurrency and well-defined concurrency/atomicity behavior over the whole language is becoming really, really desirable with the advent of many-core, many-thread machines and quality generic software tools to automagically parallelize serial code looking rather unlikely (but very cool). I’ve noted that proper concurrency models are something to appreciate before, and will probably do so again.

* I’m not entirely clear on what kind of usage they are envisioning for Go. It isn’t really suitable for the OS people; it has no pointers, no explicit memory management, no existing OS with appropriate hooks to use it on… (that said a Plan9-like OS, written as much as possible in Go would be rad). The applications and web people have moved on to ;decadent languages with unbelievably gigantic standard libraries (<rant> and given up any pretense of programming for the computer that will be running the code over and over and over, it’s all about the developers who write it once and maintain it…</rant>). One environment where it would be very nice is old-style low-UI applications and services (ie. once the bindings are in place it would be nice for *nix daemons). Having spent a fair amount of time poking around inside of compilers it would be quite well suited for compiler development as well; I bet we’ll see a bootstrap compiler in a matter of months.

* I’m feeling some of the same vibe as D (which I briefly fiddled with some time ago) coming off of Go, but Go seems MUCH cleaner. D holds on to most of the ugly in C++ (which I’ve never met anyone who refutes is an ugly language, even Bjarne Stroustrup is on board with that assertion), while Go is creating a clean start, and not including all kinds of decadent features.

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