Friday, September 29, 2006

Google Reader, Phlat and rants on software

I am a product of the web 2.0 generation - I want to not only choose what I consume but I also want to choose the manner in which I consume it. RSS is a big part of my day and I really don't respect any website/service that does not let me syndicate material. Take for example, an RSS enabled website say, a camera review website. They have loads of categories but I am interested only in one/some of them. But the dingbats have only RSS feed to every headline that ever makes it to their website. It leaves me to sort out (from amongst a vast sea of other websites doing the same thing) the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes thats all I do, throw the trash out and mark the posts that interest me but I don't have any time left over and these posts backup. Soon, they loose significance and I may as well delete them. I just wish that every website that categorizes their material has customizable RSS feeds for visitors to subscribe to. Just imagine if you could take a look at the categories I had on this blog (hypothetically speaking of course, since this is blogger and it doesn't have ANY such feature) and specify the categories you would like to read (assuming that you want read any at all) and your syndicator just picks up only those feeds. Take it one step further, the reader specifies tags and ONLY those posts tagged with the user's choice of tags get syndicated. Technorati tags are a start. Wouldn't this be nice to have? I would be thrilled!

Google announced its reader and I imported my opml into it in a flash to try it out. On Scoble's advice they actually made a video and had one of their engineers do the talking. Lamest video ever! Between deciding to focus on the engineer or on the computer screen, the script falls apart. Even if he didn't have a script, the whole point of making a video is to showcase the reader's USP features. Instead, it just wastes my time. That apart, the reader itself is excruciatingly slow in displaying posts from feeds and if you want to try changing the views around, your hair might even gray a bit! Another gripe is that they have all these buttons for the various operations I might want to do with each post right at the end. If I happen to be reading a very long post I would have to scroll ALL the way to the bottom and then click to share, tag etc. Why can't they just put these things at the top too? Its the same with their gmail - the reply, forward etc are right the end. Even the delete was at the bottom before someone had the sence to put a button right up on top. But, what I do love - tags (this is my new mantra), discoverability via their "share" feature and simple UI (its Google!). I haven't figured out this one yet, only some of my feeds are able to retrieve posts from the target site for as long as I kept scrolling down - a sort of infinite scroll bar. This is an awesome feature. I totally loved the scrolling and tags. The infinite scroll bar was a HUGE success for Microsoft (yes, I am afraid they were the first to do it. They do innovate there you know) on their live search.

Coming back to tags, wouldn't you like to tag (if you choose to, of course) the things that you want to visit later on your hard drive(s)? You remember them the way you want to and search for them using your own semantics. You have been unencumbered from remembering on which drive, under which folder your documents, music, videos sit awaiting your exalted return. Fixed, organized directories are a thing of the past! Tags are in, rigid categories/directories are out. Introducing Phlat, it turns your hard drive into a relational database. You specify your tags for how you want to remember anything on your drive. Key in your tags in the search box and voila! Of course, since its from Microsoft it runs on Microsoft desktop search (MDS). For another time - another rant on the lack of inter-operability and the division of the market by walled garden policies. But MDS is a pretty good product so one generally need not be too averse to installing it. I found it totally awesome - I have 300GB of songs/documents/emails/rss feeds/movies. I cannot manually look for anything, in fact I refuse to! Do try it out, I totally loved it. [download link]

I think I am going to start a new series on how stupid and frustrating the software we use today are. Let me start with Blogger - it is riddled with spammers and to take care of spam, the wise ones over at the plex decided to have word verification to prevent bots from trolling. They flipped the switch and all was well with the world once again. But, hang on, whats this? even the owner(s) of the blog HAVE to go through this word verification to reply to comments on their blog even when they are already signed in.

Dumpkoff! can't you see they might spam their own blog.
Yes, that must be it then.

More on its way.

Update [10/02/06]: Google reader has an infinite scroll bar for all my feeds and not just for a few as I had previously noted. I really love this feature, now I can scroll as far back as I like to retrieve much older posts without having to go to the target website and search through their archives.


Anonymous said...

Try RSS Bandit and make your own Tagger. get plugins to save them on Rapidhare, Megaupload and beat the stress of some social networking.

Closet Guy.

Emperor Frost said...

hey anon, what plugins do I save on rapidshare/megaupload? I confess, I didn't quite understand you.

hmmm I know you by name and number eh? I was always sure of that. :-)

Eris said...

Google Reader is just amazing !