The Unrealised Potential Of Online Feedreaders

We’re a nice bunch these days on the web. We like to hear great stories and tips, and usually the first thing we  do when we read them is share with our online friends. We do this through Digg, Delicio.us, Twitter and Facebook usually, but a growing number of us use tools like Google Reader or Bloglines to get all our information from one page via feed subscriptions. However, the methods of sharing in these utilities are old-fashioned and hardly Web 2.0, as we like to think the web is these days. I had these ideas buzzing round my head a long time ago and when comments came into being on Google Reader I thought “Awesome, the Reader them and I think alike, this is getting social and if I sit tight at the table for just a while longer I’ll get my three courses of dessert at once. Sadly, I’ve sat at the table a long time now and am pretty hungry for pudding. So, here’s a few  suggestions that I think would improve Feed Readers for all of us. I’ll be using Google reader as an example, as it’s one of the biggest and the one I use the most.

Comment on the Original Item straight from the Reader:

This is one I’ve always wanted. When I read a great blog post on Reader sometimes I want to comment on it, but I’m on another computer other than my own, so I have to go to the original item, wait for the page to load, type in my name, email and website and then comment. It’s be great if I hit comment in reader and could type my little bit and GReader automatically did the hard work, using OpenID perhaps and left the the comment on the original item for me . Sure it could be a bit messy for a while, but it would greatly increase my productivity and make me hesitate more when I hit “Next Item”

Make the experience much more social:

Let’s face it, Orkut was never going to be a real contender on the social space and now it’s a sinking ship, abate one that’s in  very shallow water, so it’s still hanging around when all the passengers have long since abandoned it.When I read something awesome on Reader, I share it. When one of my GReader friends shares something, I usually do a Reshare with a note, since that’s what twitter has nailed into my skull. Adding “Originally shared by [Name]”, and for my own items “Reshared by [Name],[Name] and 4 others” would be a great  start towards a more social experience. The GReader team introduced comments a long time ago, but they’re quite limited and don’t always work when they should. Maybe that’s just me though, I don’t know. Of coarse, when a article is shared a lot over the GReader network,  The “Sort By Magic” option would know to send this valuable information to the top of my feed. I could then hit the link to the original sharer and follow them, making my stream that bit more valuable. This data is sent to twitter and people there start following me on GReader. Of coarse, this depends on GReader making it easier to find people you know, which is a feature in any modern social network. Suddenly data is flying all over the place. I’m following some of the best internet gold diggers on the internet and they’re sharing good articles, highlighting the bits I should read, adding theit own little notes throughout. Heck, Google could use some of that lovely new Wave technology and have articles popping up in my feed all over again because one of the internet’s design darlings has added his own experiences to the article.

So what do you think? Would it be great if 2010 was the year that Google Reader evolved into the Google Reader Network, and became the Internet’s top resource for data? Leave a comment, or if you’re reading this in Google Reader and don’t have time, Share with a note. I’ll understand, believe me 🙂

How to Fix Facebook Chat for Firefox Beta Versions and Daily Builds

I like to be on the cutting edge, but I don’t like the way if Facebook doesn’t recognise your useragent string it assumes you’re using an older non-compatible browser. This means you have to open chat in a new window, annoying at the best of times. So I did a little rummaging about and found a really easy fix for this.

  1. Go to your address bar and type in “about:config”. Click “I’ll be careful, I promise!”
  2. In the filter bar, type “general.useragent.extra.firefox”
  3. DoubleClick this to change the value. For me, it said “Shiretoko/3.5.7Pre”. I changed it t the nearest stable release I knew about, which was “Firefox/3.5.5”. For people using this guide in the future, you should go to http://getfirefox.com and find the name of the latest release.
  4. Close about:config and load/reload Facebook
  5. That’s it, your Facebook chat should now be working fine!

I have not tested this on a lot of websites, but it should not cause any problems as long as the version numbers are quite close. Let me know how this goes for you!

How Safe Is Your Privacy Online?

So I was just reading Paul O’Flaherty’s blog and came across this. Well I headed over to http://whattheinternetknowsaboutyou.com/ to see how safe I was, and I got this (Click for Full Size)

Good no? I don’t even wear a tinfoil hat 🙂 So what about you, how safe are ya? The Internet at least now knows I use Linux Mint and Firefox, and in case you go pointing fingers, Transmission is downloading the latest Ubuntu Karmic alpha!

Linux Distro Review #1: Xubuntu 9.04

My laptop is a piece or crap, I know this. 512Mb of RAM, Intel graphics card and a Intel Centrino Duo processor is nothing to write home about. This is why when I read that Xubuntu is a Linux OS designed for low-end machines, I downloaded the ISO, burned a live CD and had it installed in little over two hours. Now, if you are new to Linux and would like to know what Xubuntu has to offer you (Or any Canonical distribution for that matter) I suggest you take a look here. For everyone else, I’ll cut to the chase.

I installed Xubuntu because I wanted a very fast desktop that was stable and made the best usage of resources available. Xubuntu disappointed me on all these points.

Speed: I had previously been using Ubuntu 9.04, which I found slightly sluggish when using applications like Firefox and XBMC. Xubuntu did seem a bit quicker when navigating folders (Xfce being the desktop environment and thunar the file manager) but not a lot faster with resource hungry apps open. Worse, Xubuntu proved ABSOLUTELY unusable while installing new packages, something both the experienced user and the curious newbie do frequently. I also experienced several bouts of CPU 100% during each day with no obvious offender.

Stability: I never had problems with stability in Ubuntu, save when upgrading to a new release rather than installing it fresh. Xfce suffered a bug in where the entire system would stall, and even hitting standby would produce no results. This could happen every 3-4 days, taking into account I shutdown at least every two days.

Ease of Use: Ubuntu comes with a strong suite of applications included such as OpenOfice, Tomboy Notes, Firefox and Pidgin. Xubuntu sacrifices some of these for faster equivalents which is understandable. However, with the amount I use the former two apps I mentioned, I had to install them myself, which means an extra 300+ MB download at each new release.
On Ubuntu, it is simple to toggle touchpad preferences, and within 5 mins of install I had turned off the dreaded “tap-to-click”. There was no such similar GUI for Xubuntu, and this led to stressful editing of config files.

Worth a Install?: Simply, no. I appreciate the amount of work the community puts into a release like Xubuntu but if you’re system can’t handle Ubuntu, then you should look to other distributions such as Crunchbang Linux or even DSL (Damn Small Linux)

If you have any problems with my review, or would like to share your own experiences, please leave a comment.

I got my college offers!

Well I knew from twitter leaks last night I’d gotten my coarse, but clicking accept on cao.ie is a whole different ballgame, and a relief to be perfectly honest. As of September I will be studying Software Development in Computing at GMIT Galway. I’m over the moon, and can’t wait to get started. Congratulations to all other Leaving Cert students, and to those of you in Galway, let’s do drinks sometime 😀

I See Radiohead Have a New Song

Recently the last remaining UK veteran of the 1st world war Harry Patch died at the age of 111.
I had heard a very emotional interview with him a few years ago on the Today program on Radio4.
The way he talked about war had a profound effect on me.
It became the inspiration for a song that we happened to record a few weeks before his death.
It was done live in an abbey. The strings were arranged by Jonny.
I very much hope the song does justice to his memory as the last survivor.

It would be very easy for our generation to forget the true horror of war, without the likes of Harry to remind us.
I hope we do not forget.

As Harry himself said
“Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims”.

This morning the Today program played the song for the first time and now it is available to download from our website.

Please click here to download.

The proceeds of this song will go to the British Legion.

To peace and understanding.

Thom

Banging. Quite a beautiful song, and well worth a pound in my opinion.

Sick of Eircom Broadband Downtime? How to switch to OpenDNS

 

I know I’m not the only one who has really suffered this week with Eircom downtime (Apparently their DNS servers were hacked. The lady I asked about this on the phone convincingly said “Ah no, I don’t think they were hacked now, is that even possible?”) and just switched to OpenDNS, which was suggested by Komplett.ie’s blog (Thanks Komplett!). The process was relatively painless but if you’re not tech savvy, then the guide offered for Motorola routers likely puzzled you. Luckily Thomas is here to save the day and break down the process for you. I won’t provide screenshots as I don’t think they’re necessary as it’s quite quick, but if you hit a obstacle feel free to leave a comment and I’ll help you to the best of my ability.

1) First, open your router’s settings page by opening it’s address (http://192.168.1.254/ if you’re using the router Eircom provides for free)

2) Hit “Expert Mode” on the left sidebar

3) Confirm that you want to enter expert mode, then click “configure” and then “connection”

4) Scroll down to “Primary DNS Server” and change it to “208.67.222.222”. Change “Secondary DNS server” to “208.67.220.220”.

Hit “Save and Restart Connection” at the bottom of the page, wait a few moments, and complete registration on the OpenDNS site.

And that’s it! I hope this guide helped you with your switch, and I hope you’re happy with your much more secure connection, but don’t be afraid to let Eircom know how annoyed you are with this whole situation. I’ll be expecting some sort of compensation on my bill, or Eircom can expect one less customer next year.

My Dad

Today marks the first anniversary of my dad’s death, and I wanted to mark the occasion by filling you in on a few things. My Dad, John Geraghty,  had always had a bad chest.  He’d begun smoking when he was 14, nicking them out of his father’s pocket and at 56, finally decided he’d had enough and packed them in. He felt a whole lot better at the time but the damage was done. Along with cigarettes, When he was younger he’d moved hay which had been left in a old shed for years without a mask. Needless to say that wasn’t very good for his lungs.

About 2 years ago, he couldn’t catch his breath one day and collapsed on his bedroom floor. I ran and brought a basin of hot water and a towel, hoping the steam would melt whatever mucus was caught. I’m not sure how much it actually helped but he said it did and after an hour the ambulance brought him into hospital. Turned out he’d had a flu in the lungs my doctor had failed to diagnose and had been left untreated for far too long. These little trips into hospital for checkups became a regular feature, but after that he didn’t have much trouble.

He went in for one of these in June 2008. He wasn’t feeling very bad and drove in himself. They weren’t happy with his chest and decided to keep him in. I was talking to him over the phone while he was in there and he said he felt fantastic and would be home at the weekend. But, before that, we got a call saying he had suffered a setback, and no more information. That couldn’t have prepared us for what had happened. He had suffered a stroke and lost most of the movement in his left side. We were told that it was probably a clot in an archery and he’d be fine, but it was in the brain, and he was moved to intensive care. When he was moved out again to make room for car crash victims we knew what was coming. On the night of July 1st, I was staying in the waiting room of the hospital when a nurse came and informed me he was probably going to die soon. He did so at 11am that morning.

The cause of death was cigarettes. There are always other contributing factors but it was cigarettes that stood head and shoulders above the rest. If you have lost a parent or sibling, you know the pain involved and just how long it take to get things back to normal, but things will never be the same. The old saying goes “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone” and it’s true. I miss my dad something terrible. He was an intelligent, humorous man and always took an interest in whatever I was doing more than  anyone else in my life. He fostered my love of Reading, Art, Nature and computers. I can’t watch a David Attenborough documentary without thinking of him. Now it pains me that I’ll never hear his voice again.

Cherish your loved ones, you might not realise how precious they are until it’s too late.