An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


Some Personal Thoughts on Human Rights and Space Travel

I’ve been reading astronomy all weekend. I’ve kind of missed it since I first took astronomy in university (and with all the changes in spaceflight going on – space tourism, woohoo! – I think I’d better brush up). Somehow I got an A in astronomy (no, not just staring at stars all year long) and nearly flunked accounting (even though I aced accounting in high school – university level accounting and high school accounting are NOT the same). Okay, well, I was under “extenuating circumstances” the year I was studying accounting. Still had to re-do accounting though because less than a C grade was not acceptable for the program. 🙁 (The business school was actually wondering why I didn’t just do a math degree. Lol. I did get accepted into the math program, I just opted for business for some insane reason.)

I’ve been wanting to go back to school (for the third time now), but have been torn between law school overseas (because all the law programs in North America now seem to be business focused, but some law schools in Europe have programs on international human rights law) or maybe astrophysics (if I can hack the science now that I’m older and not lazy like I was in high school). Then again, I’m not keen on going into debt again to pay some institution for subjects I can learn on my own, so I might not go back for anything at all.

Lately though, I’ve been leaning towards studying astronomy and astrophysics because law (particularly human rights law), for the most part, seems too easy in a way. Not to sound conceited or arrogant, but a lot of the issues in human rights seem to have straight-forward, logical, sane solutions. The problem though is that people en masse aren’t sane or logical or straight-forward necessarily. Work in human rights dwindles down to plain and outright politics (which I understand, but don’t love; frankly, I think politics is b/s, and I never even played office politics when I was working). Funny enough, as a teenager my family told me I should probably go into politics because I’m passionate about some issues and I have strong opinions on most things. My response was “Hell no”. 😉 It seems like with human rights, being involved in politics is unavoidable. At some point, you get dragged into it. Human rights work is also terribly emotionally draining and exhausting. Even just reading and writing about it can zap you for a few days. I can only imagine what it’s like if I was dealing directly with a human rights case. As rational as a person can be, some cases will just get to you because you will feel helpless at times and you will feel frustrated because you feel that you just can’t help so-and-so or some group of people.

Why astronomy and astrophysics? For me, it’s clear. It’s time for humans to be able to get off this planet. It’s time to colonize (moon, Mars, Jupiter’s moons, etc.), and I really plan on being one of the first to go. (Leave me to my dreams people!). Sure there’s some politics involved with convincing governments to fund space programs, but those politics are arguably less stressful than the politics in most (probably all) human rights cases.

I’m not saying I’m going to ignore human rights issues. Even if humans do begin to colonize other worlds, inevitably these issues will come along for the ride (get too many people in one small boat and inevitably some will start fighting). It’s important to understand these issues, so we do not make the same mistakes over and over. In some distant future, if we manage to be able to travel “to the stars”, I also think that space travel should be a human right (so long as it is feasible, as under our current economic system, it may not be feasible for a long time). This idea stems from the opinion that travelling today should also be considered a human right. Human rights law as it exists now allows nations/countries to have border controls. I think this is an obsolete idea today. Border controls are tools of nationalism. Nationalism has no place in the today’s world – certainly not in a world where we can communicate all over the world in an instant making friends who live on the other side of the world; and also travel to anywhere in the world in less than a day. People should be able to freely travel with no fear or chance of being unreasonably held in a foreign country; and to properly ensure that, border controls need to be eliminated. World travel should be a human right and, in the distant future, space travel should be a human right.

In my opinion, if humans want to survive and if we want to see our civilization last, it’s important that we look beyond Earth as a place to live. Not saying that everyone has to race to get off the planet. Certainly, there are some people who might want to stay here; and definitely, there should be a population remaining on Earth, but I do think the option to live elsewhere is important for our civilization. As our world population continues to grow, we are more pressed for space to live than when humans first landed on the moon 42 years ago. (You’d think humans would have landed on Mars by now! But well… it was really politics that got us to the moon… another rant, another time.)

Throughout history, humans have proven to be adventurous and there have always been explorers. What happened to this sense of adventure? Where are the explorers now? Are some people (*cough* politicians *cough*) just self-satisfied with life as it is that they don’t want to know more about the universe? Have some people just given up on the idea of space travel? Why don’t we put more pressure on our governments world-wide to emphasize space programs? (Note: has anyone else besides me noticed that there are no political parties devoted to promoting space travel and continued studies and research in the relevant fields? I may not like our political systems, but sadly you have to work within the framework that’s already in place to make the changes you want. I dislike politics and I don’t want to start my own political party, so someone please start a “Space Party” or something like that. “New Millennium Party”, maybe? Something!)

That being said, space programs like NASA’s should be open to everyone, not just U.S. citizens. More accurately, it should be turned into an international program. Failing that, we need to start an international space program. The European Space Agency (ESA) is a good start. Maybe they could merge NASA and ESA and start including other countries. (Note: It looks like they may have started this process. See “International consensus on joint space exploration”.)

There is also commercial spaceflight and space tourism. As pessimistic as I can be about putting the future of human civilization in the hands of a few corporations, I think that commercial ventures in spaceflight will get us into space sooner than government ventures alone. Governments no longer have to contend with other governments, but also with other corporations – corporations that have more money than governments to spend on building spacecrafts. My hope is that the corporations and the governments will be able to co-operate on space ventures in order to bring the reality of space travel to humans sooner. (If you read various articles on, it does look like this process is starting.)

In the meantime, I’m going to refresh my knowledge of basic astronomy and physics. My personal home study curriculum now includes anatomy, physiology, astronomy, physics, some languages (Korean and Spanish; for Chinese, I’ve decided to concentrate on the reading and writing instead of the oral language) and a few other subjects of personal interest. All this on top of taekwondo training right now and my other personal goal of writing at least one novel in the science fiction and fantasy genres (oh yeah, another reason why I should refresh my knowledge of astronomy). Eek! Loads to do.

Your local knowledge junkie


Call Itself What It Wants, It’s Still Just Another Aggregator

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 00:17

Link: A Review of The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

While the reviewer in the above link seems to be fair in listing the pros and cons, I think the cons far outweigh the pros (I think the reviewer was thinking of the number of pros versus cons while I’m thinking about the value of each pro and con). It’s not just “buggy” if something is attributed to the wrong person, it’s an issue of “moral rights” of the author/creator. (Side note: Do people not remember the ban on plagiarism in school? It’s closely related to moral rights.)

“Promotes the paper as something you created”

I have a problem with this. The “newspaper” created by is done using your Twitter account (people can also sign up using their  Facebook account, which I think is cause for great concern considering that most people do not post publicly on Facebook), but the paper itself isn’t your creation as you didn’t write the content (if you’re lucky, maybe some of your tweets will be in it) nor have you personally selected each “article” in the paper. calls its users “publishers” and “editors”, though the job of a newspaper editor is more involved than just selecting a feed. An editor has to actually read the content first before publishing (also editing the article for typos, grammar, spelling, and appropriate content).

To be fair, I did set up a account. I don’t like their Privacy Policy, but seeing as I don’t have a lot of information about myself on my Twitter profile, I don’t have much to worry about really. Since the review (see link above), did put in the ability to remove content off of a paper as well as add some additional content filters in the initial setup for a new paper. An example of a “newspaper” is one set up by HBO for the series Game of Thrones (which I have seen before, but didn’t bother reading since I was more interested in following @GameOfThrones on Twitter directly) – see Game of Thrones. As you can see, most of the “articles” are related to Game of Throne or A Song of Ice and Fire.

Despite the added controls, I still don’t see a good reason to use can dress itself up and call its aggregated feeds “newspapers”, but they really are still just aggregated feeds, albeit published feeds versus private feeds like in Google Reader. I guess that’s where my problem really lies with It’s just a glorified content aggregator, especially now since they’ve added the ability to include RSS feeds into your “newspaper”; however, unlike something like Google Reader, people aren’t reading these feeds before they are published in aggregate as a “newspaper”.  I have to question why I would want to read someone’s “newspaper” if chances are they haven’t read everything that’s being put into their “newspaper”. Removing content from the “newspaper” after it’s been published still doesn’t help because I could have read the content before it was removed by the “publisher”.

At least when I see stuff on someone’s Tumblr, I know that that person has monitored what he/she posted. Even if some people get a little carried away with reblogging pictures and animated gifs, at least I get a sense of what that person likes.

It just seems that the content on any “newspaper” created on can be found elsewhere. would like us to think that it’s a great way to share stuff that you’re interested in, but how is it actively sharing when technically its users are passively sharing stuff they haven’t necessarily even read yet? just feels very impersonal and hardly social. As commented on my Google+ post about, “yet another service trying to make money on the back of an existing service without bringing anything particularly new to the table.” does indeed put ads on every “newspaper” that’s created.

The other thing about that is unsettling is this feeling that I could be spending huge amounts of time on that one site setting up different “newspapers” hoping that people will actually read them, but the truth is that the users on there are busy setting up “newspapers”, not reading them. makes no distinction between a user who’s a “publisher” versus a user who’s a reader. Like I said, feels very impersonal, but on top of it, I feel like there’s no real audience. (And I feel like I wasted some time today, but then again I ended up writing a blog and me writing something is always a good thing).

I’d much rather blog and micro-blog. 😀 Yay for blogging, where bloggers can be publishers, editors, writers, and promoters of their own content; and for micro-blogging where you can actively share stuff with others.


See also an older review of Create your own Twitter newspaper.


The Shared Items Archive and Sharing on the New Google Reader – A Solution

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 09:02

As mentioned in my previous post, I failed to find a decent replacement for Google Reader. Honestly, I didn’t think there would be a feed reader that would do what I wanted it to do (but I still wanted to look around). Thus, I had to keep in mind alternative solutions for maintaining an archive of interesting items I’ve found in Google Reader.

One option that some people seem happy with is a web browser extension called Reader Sharer. There are two versions of this extension. The second version is Reader Sharer (Original Style), which retains the styling of the new Google Reader. Other than the styling differences, Reader Sharer (Original Style) does exactly the same as Reader Sharer. You can install either version of Reader Sharer depending on which style you prefer.

ReaderSharer Restores Sharing Options For New Google Reader [Chrome] reviews Reader Sharer, which includes styling changes to the new Google Reader. There has been a recent update to Reader Sharer since that review, so I’ll note what you can expect to see if you install Reader Sharer.

Quickly, I’ll review what you see in Google Reader’s new interface. On the left-hand side, there are links to ‘Home’, ‘All Items’, ‘Explore’, and ‘Subscriptions’. Using the drop-down arrow on ‘All Items’, there’s links to ‘Starred Items’, ‘Trends’, and ‘Browse for Stuff’. Click the drop-down on ‘Explore’ to see recommendations. Clicking the drop-down on ‘Subscriptions’ will let you see your subscriptions. On a new item, you’ll see a star, the +1 button, the Google+ share button (this is new as of writing this blog article – see Send Stories from Google Reader to Google+ with the New Share Button), ‘Email’, the ‘Mark as Read’ checkbox, ‘Send To’, and ‘Add Tags’.

Installing Reader Sharer will add these links back to the left-hand side of Google Reader – ‘Your Shared Items’, ‘Notes’, ‘Your Liked Items’, and ‘People You Follow’. The first three are found between ‘Your Starred Items’, and ‘Trends’. ‘People You Follow’ appears before ‘Explore’. Click the drop-down to see the people you were following. A link to the ‘Sharing Settings’ is located there as well. On each item, Reader Sharer adds back the ‘Like’ button, the ‘Share’ button, and the ‘Share with Note’ button. Using ‘Share’ or ‘Share with Note’ will put the item onto your ‘Shared Items’ page. Thus, you have your archive of interesting items back.

While some people are happy with Reader Sharer installed, I see this as a temporary fix. Reader Sharer is a good extension as it does what it says it will do. However, I do think that this ‘fix’ will work only as long as Google maintains the archive of ‘Shared Items’, ‘Followers’, ‘Liked Items’, etc. As for the public pages, there’s no guarantee that Google will maintain those.

Regarding the new Google+ share button: There is one glitch I’ve noticed. After marking an item as ‘read’, I can’t go back to that item and uncheck the box. The ‘Mark as Read’checkbox is there for unread items only. Basically, I can’t mark the item as unread. Problematic if the automatically marking as read option is on for expanded view or if you just marked the item as read by accident.

Although Reader Sharer adds back the old ‘Share’ button to Google Reader and I can continue to add items to my ‘Shared Items’ public page for now, I’ve decided to find another way to publicly archive interesting items. I realize that since the +1s show up on my Google+ profile page, this is actually a public archive of things I’ve found interesting all over the ‘net. However, I want something that just publicly archives the interesting items from my Google Reader. Basically, I’m trying to find a way to replace my ‘Shared Items’ public page in case Google does eventually take down those pages. I decided that my best options for a replacement were blogging sites.

I currently use a WordPress blog, so naturally I thought I could make another WordPress blog. I also thought of Blogger since Google owns Blogger. I wasn’t interested in Blogger before because I’ve been pretty happy with WordPress. I should point out that my WordPress is not hosted on, but it’s the downloaded WordPress on a server that I use. I use a Linode server to which I have admin access. Basically, I have pretty good control over my WordPress blog. I decided to check out Blogger in comparison to WordPress. Blogger does allow you to export your blog as well, but it’s still not as good as WordPress in many ways. For one thing, WordPress has plugins you can install to do a variety of things. While Blogger has a layout and design interface you can use to help you skin your blog, actually writing CSS to skin your blog gives you more flexibility than any layout and design interface. However, the layout and design interface has the benefits of being fairly quick in comparison to writing code for a web page. I note that Blogger allows followers, which makes it a social blog, while WordPress is more of traditional blog. Since Blogger is owned by Google, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s integrated into Google+ at some point. Maybe it won’t be, but I just wouldn’t be surprised if it is.

Lastly, I could set up another Tumblr blog. I’ve been using Tumblr for a while now as something in between traditional blogging like I do on here versus micro-blogging like I do on Plurk and Twitter. Tumblr offers features that WordPress does not have and that’s followers and reblogs. Tumblr is a social blogging site like Blogger, but the reblogs like the retweets on Twitter adds a more social environment. Thus, I’ve found it useful to have both a WordPress blog and a Tumblr blog. Via a plugin to WordPress, my blog posts to Tumblr when I publish an article on here. Tumblr does have a way to export your blog posts, but it’s via a Mac app they’ve created. I do happen to have an old MacBook, so I do have a way to export my Tumblr posts.

I decided to set up another Tumblr blog to use as my public archive of interesting items from Google Reader. I decided to use Tumblr because like WordPress, I can skin the site with my own CSS. I still need to get around to skinning my WordPress blog and my main Tumblr with CSS. For now, I’m using Tumblr themes, which are frankly nicer than the themes on Blogger. My main Tumblr is Pneumatic Blogging and my new Tumblr for feed items is Pneumatise Your Brain. I posted a few items onto ‘Pneumatise Your Brain’ that I had already shared on my Google Reader.

A lot of people have been upset about the ‘Shared Items’ archive and not having access to it. With Reader Sharer, they do again for now. All of the data on a Google Reader account is available to the account holder to download. Unfortunately, aside from the subscriptions, everything else is saved in json files. I spent some time looking for a way to output the json files as html, but the best I could find was json to html. The output wasn’t pretty. The information is there, but then again the information is in the json file readable along with the code in a text editor. Plus, I didn’t see how to copy the html into a file I could save (it really wasn’t pretty). I ended up just going to my ‘Shared Items’ public pages and manually saving each page as html files onto my computer. It actually took me a shorter amount of time than trying to find a way to output the json files in a way that was nicely readable. Tedious as hell manually saving each page, but at least I have the information in a format that is easier to read.

Back to Google Reader. With my new Tumblr set up as my public archive, I can now send items in my Google Reader to my Tumblr. This won’t be as easy as using the old ‘Share’ button. It really was convenient. Just one click and presto, the item in my Google Reader was on my public ‘Shared Items’ page.

Normally, I share items in my social media sites by copying and pasting the url of whatever it is I’m wanting to share. Thus, I’ve never really used the ‘Send To’ button, but I probably should now as it is more convenient than copying and pasting the urls of dozens of web pages (depends on how many items I read in my Google Reader each time). The ‘Send To’ feature isn’t new on Google Reader, it’s been there for a few years now. It’s also customizable. Google has some sites set up on there already such as Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The other sites I don’t use. MySpace I haven’t signed into in ages. You can check mark the ones listed already to have them appear in the ‘Send To’ drop-down menu. Other sites you have to add manually.

Since I was considering using a WordPress blog as an archive, I checked to see how to add a WordPress blog to the ‘Send To’ in order to show my blog as an option in the drop-down menu. Follow the instructions on Using Google Reader Sent To with WordPress. It works. 😀 Since Tumblr and Blogger were already listed, I didn’t have to add them manually.

If you have other sites you want to send to, you can use ‘Add to Any’ as mentioned in this article, Google Reader’s Send To Feature.

I tried adding Plurk to the ‘Send To’ as well, but I’m not sure what the post url would be. If anyone knows, please comment!

With the ‘Send To’ feature set up, I’m ready to share stuff from my Google Reader again. (Hopefully they’ll fix the missing ‘Mark as Read’ checkbox or I might have to use Feedly instead.)

Here’s a quick review of my sharing options now:

1. +1 the item (the item will show up on my Google+ profile +1 tab; all +1s are public)
2. +1 the item and share on Google+ (can select Public, Extended Circles, Circles; or can list names of Circles; or can list names of people)
3. share the item on Google+ (like #2 above)
4. send the item to my WordPress blog (I can save the post as a draft)
5. send the item to my Blogger blog (if I ever decide to use it; I set one up while checking out Blogger’s features; can also ‘save as draft’)
6. send the item to my Tumblr blog (if you have more than one Tumblr blog, the pop-up window has an option to select which blog; you can also ‘save as draft’)
7. send the item to my Twitter account
8. send the item in email to a person or persons (note that you can email the item to yourself at another account if you want to privately archive it; why is it people seem to forget about email?)

I didn’t bother checking the box to add Facebook to the ‘Send To’ drop-down menu since I’m not planning on sharing on Facebook.

With Reader Sharer installed, I have the option again to ‘Share’ or ‘Share with Note’ for now, but I think I rather like sharing on Tumblr.

(There is an alternative to using Reader Sharer and setting up a blog as an archive. Lipsumarium has written a script, called Google Reader Share, that will add a ‘Share’ button to Google Reader as well as allowing people to follow their friends again by typing in their email addresses. I haven’t tried this script and I’m not entirely sure I would trust just anyone on the ‘net. I mention this only in case others are willing to try it. I don’t necessarily recommend it.

I was never a big user of ‘Following’ others on Google Reader, but I know some people were. In the old version of Google Reader, your ‘Shared Items’ did not have to go onto the public pages. Some people opted to share their items with specific groups of people as set up in their Gmail contacts. With the new Google Reader interface, they couldn’t do this anymore (not unless they install Reader Sharer). How to Share Privately With the New Google Reader briefly discusses this issue.

Here are the ways you can share privately from Google Reader:

1. Email. I’m guessing this is a not-so-attractive option for some people because they might know people they want to share with, but they don’t have the email addresses for those people. People are still generally private about their email addresses which is one reason why social media sites are popular.

2. Share on Google+ to a specific Circle, Circles, friend, or friends. (You can create a Circle of just your Reader friends and share only to them.) To be clear, +1s are always public. So, if you want to share privately with someone, don’t use the +1 button. Unfortunately for people who weren’t already signed up with Google+ when Google Reader’s interface was changed, people were actually missing a way to share the item aside from the +1 button and the ‘Send To’ feature. The ‘Share’ box in the top black bar was missing since they weren’t Google+ users. That likely explains the trouble for most people. Google has made it more obvious how to share on Google Reader now with the new Google+ share button shown next to the +1 button. Some people might still be miffed at having to use Google+ if they weren’t intending on using it. They will have to privately share using email or the ‘Send To’ feature.

3. Use the ‘Send To’ feature to share to a social media site that your followers are using.

Another way you can share items privately with others is through IM. Like email, it seems like people have forgotten about IM. If people are using Google Reader, they all can use Google’s chat feature in Gmail. Copy and paste the url into your chat window to share privately with someone.

Next, I’m going to look at Feedly again in comparison to Google Reader – just in case they don’t fix the missing ‘Mark as Read’ checkbox on already read items. Maybe I’ll also play around with the layout of it. I do admit it looks prettier than Google Reader. Makes reading fun. 🙂

I’ll also go through some more ‘Shared Items’ on my Google Reader and post some of them to my new Tumblr blog. Note to self to find time to do some CSS for my Tumblr blogs.



Searching for a Google Reader Replacement with Archiving Features – Fail!

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 22:37

As mentioned in my previous post, New Google Reader Interface Pushes Google+ Sharing, I mostly used Google Reader’s old ‘Share’ button as a way to archive interesting items I had read in Google Reader. I mentioned that while I liked the ability to quickly share to Google+, I did like having the public ‘Shared Items’ page as an archive.

One of the first things I did was embark on a search for a potential Google Reader replacement that had an archiving feature. There are a ton of feed readers available, both web-based and locally-installed. If all you want to do is read new articles and be kept up to date with a favourite site, any feed reader will suffice really.

Locally-installed feed readers are fairly simple and straightforward. They don’t have any sharing features. Because these feed readers are installed onto a computer, there are no ways to sync between computers – you have to set up all your subscriptions on all computers you use. I use more than computer depending on what I’m doing (I like flexibility in my day-to-day life), so a locally-installed reader isn’t ideal for me.

I did check out a feed reader for my Linux Debian netbook. Liferea is popular and is fairly simple and straightforward. Not ideal for what I want to do. For Linux Debian, you can also use Icedove (the mail client) and set up a ‘Blog and News’ account where you can add your subscriptions. It’s not as nice as Liferea though.

If you use Mac, you can try Net News Wire (by Newsgator). I haven’t tried it, so I have no comments.

Moving on to web-based feed readers, I found a few articles reviewing some.

Top 5 online RSS readers This is an outdated article. Rojo doesn’t exist anymore. It’s changed to, which doesn’t seem to be a feed reader, but a site that ranks blogs. I went to the Newsgator link, but I didn’t see an online feed reader. It looks like it’s only providing locally-installed feed readers, like Net News Wire for Mac.

Top Online RSS Readers Like the above link, this article is somewhat outdated as it mentions Rojo and Newsgator. I’ll comment on MyYahoo, Genwi, and Feedshow a little later in this article.

Top 10 Web Based RSS Readers, Plus Some This article is a little over a year old, so not terribly out of date. Lazyfeed has apparently been down for maintenance for a long time. Some users have tried contacting them, but got no reply. In one of the comments to this article, someone mentioned that Bloglines was going down. As it turns out, it didn’t – it was bought by MerchantCircle.

Now begins another of my rants.

Apparently, MerchantCircle is known to be a ‘data harvester’. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that. Unfortunately, I was a tad tired and decided to sign up with Bloglines “just to check it out” so I could review it. “Besides, I should be able to delete my account afterwards.” Or so I thought. It turns out you can’t delete your account from Bloglines. Not easily anyway. Despite what it says in its Privacy Policy, you have to email Bloglines to close down your account. Seriously? There are better ways to ensure that an account doesn’t get closed down by the wrong person. I really shouldn’t have to email them. And they really should update their Privacy Policy before implementing any changes to how the account can be managed (or not in this case).

I’ve had experiences in the past with companies that would not delete an account except by email, notably Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft. I was one of the first people to use Hotmail, then during some weird updating to their new Hotmail, all my emails were deleted from one or two of my accounts. I still had the account for a while, but had already started moving to Gmail at the time. Later, I decided I wanted to delete my account with Microsoft. That was a nightmare. I could not simply delete my account; I had to go to a variety of pages to find the ‘proper’ account services. I also had used that account with a paid mobile MSN a few years prior (back when there was no data, only SMS), so I had to make sure my ‘billing account’ was properly closed. I haven’t used Microsoft online services since then, really, and that account has, as far as I know, been deleted. I haven’t used it. I created a new Windows Live account after that and now I use it for Xbox aside from IM (I use Pidgin).

Based on my past experiences, I really should have known better about Bloglines. Then again, Google (despite their little faux pas from time to time) has been pretty upfront with how they use your information, how to delete accounts, how to maintain your information, and how to remove your account from one of their online sites. Basically, Google has been, for the most part, fair. (See Google’s Privacy Policy.) I guess I half-expected other companies to be as well, but I guess I really can’t expect that.

I did email Bloglines. I got an auto-reply. *grumble grumble* At least I didn’t give them a lot of information. “Oh, go ‘data harvest’ this, Bloglines! You suck.”

Rant ended.

Bloglines isn’t great in terms of design. Their ‘new’ interface isn’t really better than Google Reader, or a local feed reader for that matter. You can make tab boxes and organize your subscriptions, but there are other feed readers that look better. You also have to remove Bloglines’ cookies from your computer to sign out. Ah well, maybe Bloglines will just shut down its feed reader. It seems like they lost a lot of users anyway, since users thought it was going to be shut down.

Going back to Top 10 Web Based RSS Readers, Plus Some, I briefly looked at the other free feed readers listed there keeping in mind “Oh yeah, I really should look at their Privacy Policies.” No Privacy Policy means I’m not signing up, especially with the services provided by corporations. For smaller sites, it’s important that they have good admin support.

MySyndicaat didn’t seem to have a Privacy Policy. If a link to the Privacy Policy isn’t displayed somewhere on the main page of a site, it kind of says a lot about that site’s attitude towards users’ privacy. About the site’s features – I personally didn’t like the design. The interface doesn’t look like it’d be any better than Google Reader’s. Doesn’t look like there’s any way to archive interesting items.

MyAllTop seems too ad-focused for my tastes. They’ve included “MyAllTop collections” created by “famous/cool friends” for users to see. I don’t necessarily care about this, never mind that I have no idea who these people are: Christina Warren? Fred Wilson? for example. I’m not comfortable with AllTop’s Privacy Policy. To view it, click on ‘Legal’ at the bottom right of their main page. “We retain your MyAlltop account information and the aggregated non-personally identifiable information we collect from you indefinitely. We also retain the comments submitted by users of our blog indefinitely. We do not currently have any purging policy.” MyAllTop does show you how its site works before you sign up, which is nice. See its tutorial page. It doesn’t seem to have a way to archive items either.

Superfeedr isn’t technically a feed reader, that much is clear. As for exactly how it works, I’m a little unclear on that. Seems to have something to do with push notifications. Since it’s not even a feed reader, it’s doubtful it has a way to archive interesting items. Its Privacy Policy is okay – not as good as Google’s though. I can’t find anything precise that makes me say, “Oh dear.” Throughout, the policy makes it clear that if you don’t provide information, you may not be able to use some of their services. (I’m guessing most of their services.) I guess that’s somewhat fair – “don’t use our service if you don’t want us to use any of your information”. Better than not saying anything at all.

Netvibes is partners with MerchantCircle. Run! Okay, okay, I’ll add some more comments on Netvibes. I don’t like using sites that have the “basic features” versus “premium features”. I try to avoid these sites as much as possible, though not all of these kinds of sites are bad. Some do include nice features in “basic” at least. Netvibes is more than just a feed reader. It seems to be like iGoogle or MyYahoo. Unfortunately, you cannot delete a Netvibes account, except by email. It says so in the Privacy Policy, which is somewhat decent. I just don’t like playing email tag in order to try to delete an account. (Here I thought trying to delete Facebook was the worst these days.)

Collected looks like it has potential. The site is relatively new, being only a couple of years old (see Collected’s blog and its Twitter account). There is no Privacy Policy and no Terms of Service or Terms of Use, however. The site allows you to browse other ‘collections’ and that will give you an idea of how it works. The blog hasn’t been updated in about a year, so I’m hesitant to give this site a try. No Privacy Policy, don’t know if I can delete my account, and it’s sketchy how much admin support there is available.

MyYahoo always felt like information overload to me. I used Yahoo in the past when I had a Geocities site. I’ve also used their Groups services before. I still have a Group there that I set up. I’m also apparently still an Owner of a Group I set up for a semi-public community. (I probably should get them set up on their own server or something, but I don’t have the time and haven’t been around that community in a long while. As little as I know about servers and computer programming, I still know a lot more than the people in that Group. I might feel a tad bad for them if Yahoo shuts down Groups or something and they’ll have to find something else.) The other Group I created is pretty much dead because I never had the time to dedicate to it. I also would much rather set up a message forum on the Linode server I’m using for my websites and this blog, but again just don’t have the time to do this. Consequently, I’ve not signed into my Yahoo account in ages. Occasionally, I’ve signed into IM via Pidgin, but that’s about it. As mentioned on Top Online RSS Readers: “MyYahoo can be a great reader. But once you fill up a couple of tabs, it might be time to move on to a true reader.” I probably have enough subscriptions already that reading them on MyYahoo would be more of a headache than the site already gives me. (I think it’s something about the design of it. Too bright for my tastes. I like bold colours sometimes, but sometimes I like subtlety. I think it just feels like everything on a Yahoo page is competing for attention and I can’t just focus on any one thing.) I’m actually surprised Yahoo is still around.

Genwi used to be free – it isn’t anymore. It’s more business focused. Its Privacy Policy is worse than Google’s. I don’t see why I should pay for a service that has a worse Privacy Policy than a free service, especially if all I want to do is read stuff from other websites that happens to be pulled into another site. Here’s a few problematic items in Genwi’s Privacy Policy “We link information gathered using Non-Personally-Identifying Information to Personally-Identifying Information.” Having done marketing analysis before and also having worked in the marketing industry for a time, I know you don’t have to link information to personally-identifying information in order to help improve a service or website. I would like to know what information are they linking. “We may use the Personally-Identifiable Information that you submit for any purposes related to our business.” Any purposes? Uh, no thanks. I’d like details please. Supposedly you can delete your Genwi account at least.

Feedshow is like Collected, except it’s been around longer. It doesn’t have a Privacy Policy or a Terms of Service/Use. It does have a forum, but it doesn’t seem to have recent activity. The link to the blog doesn’t work. I hesitate to use a site if I can’t find admin support for it. With no Privacy Policy, at least have good admin support. You know, someone who actually answers the emails – no auto-replies like Bloglines, thank you. At least Feedshow provides a demo for how their site works. Feedshow looks promising, but it’s possible it didn’t catch on so the site admins just gave up on it. The same could be true for Collected. Sad really, both sites looked promising.

Lastly, there are two feed readers that are based off of Google Reader. You have to have a Google account to use these feed readers.

Helvetireader is not being developed further. Says so on the website. “Sorry!”

Feedly is a browser app/extension that takes the RSS subscriptions from your Google Reader account and allows you to organize and display the articles your way. It can also integrate with your Twitter and Facebook accounts. (Of course, that means Twitter and Facebook will be linked to your Google account.) Simply use a Google account to sign in. While I’m not sure I’m going to use Feedly, some people like it for it’s nice design. There were some privacy questions about Feedly, which have been patiently answered by one of the creators of/people working on Feedly. It’s nice to see good admin support for Feedly. There’s a tutorial on the site and they’ve updated Feedly recently to include the +1 button and sharing to Google+ (read about Feedly6). Doesn’t seem to have a way to archive interesting items though. If you’re interested in Feedly as a design-friendly way to look at your Google Reader subscriptions, you can follow them on Twitter as well for updates.

So, there you have it. A review of some alternatives to Google Reader. None of them satisfy my criteria for a suitable replacement (i.e, decent Privacy Policy or admin support and a nice interface that allows me to archive interesting items.) If you’re interested in looking at more feed readers, you can check out this list of feed aggregators on Wikipedia. I didn’t bother with that list mostly because there’s only so many I can look at before I just don’t care anymore, and that list looks a bit outdated.

Next, I considered different ways of creating an archive of interesting items to share publicly. Read my next blog article if you’re interested in what I’ve decided to do.



New Google Reader Interface Pushes Google+ Sharing

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 01:55

(You might want to read Google Reader’s New Interface first.)

One of the things I liked about Google Reader was the ‘Shared Items’ public page. Prior to the recent update to Google Reader (see above link), you could ‘Share’ an item in your Google Reader and it would then update your ‘Shared Items’ page, which could be made public if you wished. (Mine is CASS 크리스티나’S SHARED ITEMS.) I liked the ‘Shared Items’ page for a couple of reasons.

One: I had a single url I could go to that collected articles I’ve read on the internet that I hadn’t necessarily Plurked, Tweeted, or blogged about.

Two: Not everything I read on Google Reader that I shared publicly needed to be shared with the people I have on various social media sites. Out of a list of articles on my ‘Shared Items’, I could select one or a small number that I thought were most important or more interesting to share that day so that I wasn’t ‘spamming’ people who may not be interested. If anyone was interested in reading more articles that I’ve read, I could share the url with that person. For that matter, I could simply just share the ‘Shared Items’ url sometimes and just keep things very simple.

As someone commented on Google Reader – Social Retrospective:

I’m just a little sad that Reader has now moved to the “intrusive sharing” model. To share stories now, you have to push them into your friends G+ streams. With Reader sharing before, you could share all you wanted, and the person (who chose to follow you for your story sharing) could read, ignore, gloss over, decide by the headline on a single line if they wanted to read…now I feel like I’m spamming my friends who may or may not be interested in the stories.

At the very least, G+ should add a link or selection to access shared stories only if you want to. Like with games. It’s way too hard now to consume large amounts of material.

It’s a sad day when a good feature gets left behind in the name of “progress.” 🙁

Another comment:

What Google have done here is really disgusting. I’ve been using Google Reader for some years, using the ‘shared items’ both as a very powerful archive of things I need to keep in a searchable place, and as a way of keeping the many websites that I work with updated. Using the RSS feed from my shared items page updates loads of websites and email services that I provide to others.

At a stroke, without warning, Google have removed the main tool I use for my work and removed my access to my archive. This creates huge problems for me in my work and I’ve lost a lot of time I’ll never get back. There are weasel words on their site about how I can download by archive in the JSON file, but seeing as there’s not an application that I can load it up into, it’s a useless offer.

Sure – I can use MobileRSS on iPhone for now, and someone has created a Google Chrome plugin that lets me do a lot of what I used to to – but for how long? MobileRSS may even go along with the new GR at their next release. Google have already shown that they’re quite capable of being total pricks and I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.

This is a really nasty abuse of Google’s market dominance (after all, the RSS reader market has been long-since cleaned out by the dominance of GR) and if it isn’t illegal for them to turn off services like this with (almost?) no warning, then it should be.

While you can Read Your Shared Items in Google Reader by subscribing to your ‘Shared Items’ url, I share this sentiment above “I suspect they’ll soon turn off the ‘shared items’ archive and get rid of the legacy ‘shared items’ page.”

While I personally like Google+ and am currently using it, I realize there are those who may not be using it (whether it’s because they’re on other social media sites or because they just don’t like the main social media sites). As a user of Google+, I like the added +1 feature in Google Reader and I admit they’ve found a neat way to integrate Google Reader and Google+. But since this is replacing the old sharing feature in Google Reader now, I can only assume the decision to remove the old sharing feature along with the old commenting feature is nothing more than a way to push Google+ on people who aren’t currently using Google+. It’s a kind of marketing that, even as a university graduate with a marketing major, I personally despise.

When I signed into Google Reader today, I didn’t think they seriously removed the old sharing feature. I thought maybe it was some oversight because I thought they would implement the +1 and Google+ sharing as an addition to the old sharing feature (because it’s obvious they do different things). (Yes, I know you can use the ‘Send To’ to share on other sites – that’s not what people are upset about.)

One can only hope Google reverses their decision on the removal of the old sharing feature. They haven’t removed the public ‘Shared Items’ pages yet, but hopefully they’ll at least consider leaving that as is or find a satisfying way for everyone to be able to access that archive. In the meantime, I’m going to try to find some non-public way to archive the stuff I read, aside from saving links in my email sent to another email account, so that I don’t need to spam the hell out of my social media contacts.

It also doesn’t help matters when Google Reader’s Help pages state that you can share items to a public page when that isn’t the case. Someone needs to update the help pages.

Okay, Google, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here that you’re not only interested in promoting yourself, but still care about what the end users want. Any more faux pas and I’m putting you on my ‘Gates-Zuckerberg watch list’.


Review: Downbelow Station

Filed under: Books — feyMorgaina @ 11:03

Downbelow Station
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m still mulling the story over in my head. Worth reading at least once.

A few things though:

Josh Talley was the most interesting character to me in the novel.

Elene Quen reminded me of Princess Leia.

I empathized with Damon and Emilio Konstantin.

When I get a chance to, I’ll see about writing a longer review.

View all my reviews


Google+ Updates – Redesigned Google+ Android App

Filed under: General — feyMorgaina @ 13:59

Yay! Google finally fixed the sign out issue on the Google+ Android app. Somewhere between the original version of the app and the most recent update (October 31st), they lost the sign out option on the app. For more than a few months (I lost count because it took them so long to fix this), I simply could not sign out of the Google+ app until the October 31st update.

Some things I noticed right away on this update (aside from the new design).

Your circles are listed alphabetically and you can’t reorder them to make it more convenient for you. I noticed this since the main site let me reorder my list of circles and it was reflected in the Android app. I’m now stuck with Acquaintances being listed first. I suppose I could number my circles, but I really shouldn’t have to.

When making a new post, you can select which circles to share with like before, but now everyone is your circles is listed after the list of circles – sorted alphabetically, of course. Since this is a phone app and you need wi-fi or a data plan, I imagine this might take a while to load if you have at least 300 people in your circles. I don’t, but I know some people collect ‘friends’ like other people collect stamps or coins. On the other hand, maybe this is a good thing because it forces people to really think about who to add to their circles. 😉 (Not that I’m complaining about people following me, but I much rather have people follow me because they actually read what I write.)

Some things Google has yet to ‘fix’ (though I guess ‘implement’ is a better word since it’s not in the Android app yet – I’m pretty sure about this since I’ve been using the app since it came out) is the ability to +1 individual comments to a post and the ability to edit your posts. Touching and holding on your comment to a post allows you to edit the comment. However, doing this on your post gives you the option to delete the post, but not the option to edit your post. Someone on my Google+ has also suggested an auto-save feature for posts since Google+ allows us to make long posts (in fact, there is no limit to the length of the post). I agree it would be a good feature to have. It would also make Google+ more like a social blog (Tumblr comes to mind) while having the ability to micro-blog like on Plurk and Twitter.

I guess I can be happy that I can now sign out of the Google+ app. (I occasionally like to sign out on my phone.) For those who are using more than one account, you can now sign out of one and sign in with the other. Hurrah! 🙂


Addendum: In trying to post this into Google+ using its Android app, I noticed that the app doesn’t have an option to quickly add a link to a new post. I came back to my laptop to do this. It’d be nice to have the ‘Add a link’ to a new post on the app.


About Spoilers

Filed under: Books,General — feyMorgaina @ 06:06

Trying to understand this spoiler thing.

Some things are spoilers for me, but apparently not knowing who lives or dies in A Song of Ice and Fire because I read the books anyway even knowing certain characters were going to be dead by the end of book three (and certain not-my-favourite-characters are around in book four). Kind of hard to avoid knowing if you are reading book one and have book three lying around and there’s a list of characters in book three. Besides, I still had no clue what the “Red Wedding” was until I read the book. (“Red wedding”. Not a spoiler people, but a mystery for ya to figure out. :p Consider it a teaser.)

What does spoil things for me is knowing what happened – the exact details – before I read the book, and even then I might just read the book anyway. Frankly the end of the story isn’t always the most important for me but everything leading to the conclusion. A lot of the time, reading for me is just about enjoying how the words come together to form a picture of what’s happening. The same could be said about movies and shows – I simply enjoy how the story is put together. For videos, I enjoy seeing how well the visuals are put together.

Besides, who hasn’t re-read a favourite book or re-watched a favourite movie/show? Since you’ve already read/watched it once, you’ve ‘spoiled’ it so why re-read or re-watch? Arguably, there is some enjoyment to be had in experiencing the story over again (I’m assuming you haven’t forgotten everything that happened in the story.)

(And if you watched Game of Thrones before reading A Game of Thrones, you already spoiled the book for yourself.)

I think I might be delving into A Dance with Dragons very soon. 😉