Scott Johnson / The FuzzyGroup, Feedster / PHP Consulting / Random geeky stuff / I Blog Therefore I Am.

 Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Any Hardware Guys Out in BlogLand or "How do I get Feedster on my Sidekick / PocketPC / Palm" ?

Hm...  We've had an increasing number of people ask us for Palm / PocketPC / Sidekick / whacky device here support in Feedster and we actually do want to address this.  The real caveat here is that my current Palm is a Palm IIIx (no Internet access there), Francois doesn't even use a mobile device and since we're a teeny, tiny unfunded startup, there just isn't a hardware budget.  All our funds go into our monthly equipment contracts and bandwidth.  So if anyone out there works for Palm / Microsoft / Compaq / Dell / Danger / etc and wants to see Feedster support on your platform, we're happy to accommodate.  Just drop us an email for a shipping address and we'll get going on it.  All we need is a mobile device with a web browser, a detectable user agent and some type of wifi / Internet connectivity. 

So many devices, so little time....

When: 6:26:29 PM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

Feedsterize Yourself or "Your New Feedster Buttons Have Arrived"

Heh.  Hopefully you'll like these buttons as much as I do.  And I know I need to add them to my own blog (note to self).  Still feel free to add them to yours.  Thanks to www.kalsey.com for the button maker UI and Paint Shop Pro for the rest.



When: 4:33:41 PM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

A Mea Culpa to My Mea Culpa or "Maybe I'm Not So Stupid"

With today's round of three blog entries, clearly I don't need any help from the peanut gallery* to tell me I'm dumb -- I'll do it myself -- and then retract it myself.  The issue at hand is encoding binary files in syndicated content.  I've recently learned that Atom allows for this -- and from a pure technical perspective, I'll admit its elegant.  But from a practical standpoint, I think its rife with issues as I elaborated here.  Well in the comments to that blog entry I saw a bunch of feedback and eased back on my position.  The primary reason I did so was Dave pointing out to me that Enclosures are how RSS handles the issue and when I quickly (and poorly) read the enclosure spec, I walked away thinking that RSS did it the same way as Atom and then RSS would suffer from the same objection.  And since that wasn't fair to Atom, I retracted.

Then it was pointed out to me that I was actually wrong in how enclosures work -- they actually work correctly -- pointers to content as opposed to content itself.  And this brings me back to my original position.

So what took so long?  The usual -- I got involved in debugging a really complex bit of string code and that sucked up the morning.  Then lunch.  Then I honest to god stubbed my toe (and almost ripped the nail off).  And that brings us up to date.  So I'm resuming my original position -- encoded content within an Atom feed is just opening the door to a whole bunch of issues.  I understand why they're doing it but I don't agree.

I'd really like to hear an opinion from an aggregator vendor.  Dave weighed in against it but what about Kevin, Nick, Greg and Luke?  How do you guys feel?  You're the ones who have to implement it.  Are my fears valid?

*But heck feel free.

When: 1:39:30 PM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

A Mea Culpa or "Its Wednesday and I'm Stooopid"

Sigh.  I thought I was making a valid point about Atom (and I do still kinda think that) but Dave correctly pointed out that RSS supports enclosures too -- something that I didn't realize.  And, thus, everything I said applies to RSS as well.  Yeah I should have definitely known that -- considering what I do -- and I do know it -- but ....  So this is an egregious example of overwhelming stupidity.  I'm not proud.  So consider this an apology.  I shouldn't have labeled / titled the post as I did.

I'm tempted to just delete the previous post but that would lead to the whole arguments from a few weeks ago about post deleting / editing [Shudder]. 

When: 11:11:58 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

Atom: The Fatal Flaw No One Has Yet Noticed

Now given that atom doesn't really exist yet, it may be early to make a draconian statement like "Fatal Flaw" but this is fairly awful from my perspective.  I was being interviewed for Under the Iron and the interview brought this to my attention.  The (most excellent) question was:

Q: When Atom/Pie/nEcho is officially a spec and people start to use the real extensive metadata possible with it, will you need to adapt Feedster to searching more efficiently? Also, since Atom/Pie/nEcho supports content as sound files, pictures and even video, do you plan to look into those files and index their metadata as well?

For the answer to the 1st part of the question, you'll have wait for the interview.  But the flaw to me was here "Atom supports content".  Now I don't have any problem with content being supported -- but -- Atom supports encoded content.  And that, to me, is a fatal flaw.

Here's the entry from the Atom wiki at: http://www.intertwingly.net/wiki/pie/content?action=highlight&;value=encoding.  And here's a sample entry:

<content type="multipart/alternative">
  <content type="image/jpeg" encoding="base64">
  <content type="text/html" xml:lang="en-us" mode="escaped" rel="fragment">
    <![CDATA[<p>Hello, <em>weblog</em> world! 2 &lt; 4!</p>]]>
  <content type="application/xhtml+xml" xml:lang="en-us" rel="fragment">
    <p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
      Hello, <em>weblog</em> world! 2 &lt; 4!</p>

Now if you notice the "base64" I'd have to assume here that they actually intend to support an image file within the RSS feed.  Now what happens when people start to actually use this.  You'll see issues like this:

  • Every single user has to download that image.  Even if they don't want it. This both increases bandwidth and removes control from the reader.  It makes syndication more like email.  Oh that's a good idea !  Sheesh.
  • Bandwidth usage with increase for everyone -- provider and reader. 
  • There's no way to control who downloads that image (or video or audio) -- its all in the one syndication file and you have to download the file to see it
  • If users are disabled (blind or hearing impaired) they still have to get the media.  That makes sense.  Yeah sure it does.  What was Mark Pilgrim thinking?  He even understands these issues.
  • What happens when someone embeds something illegal or a pirated audio or video clip into their syndication file?  Who's liable?  At least when its linked you can choose not to follow it.  Now you could end up with stuff on your hard disc you have no idea was there.  And don't think it won't happen.  What about pr0n in the workplace?
  • When you're a blog author do you have to choose every time that you want a media item to go in your feed or as a linked item?  Sure there can be defaults but what you really want is your tool to say something like this:

    This jpeg is 1.2 megs.  Your feed is downloaded on average 2500 times per day and this will cause X megabytes of bandwidth to be used costing you $154.37.  Do you want this in the feed where everyone will see it or as a link where only 25% (expected probability) will click on it.

    Shame no one will ever write that dialog box.  Good for hosting companies though.  Sure I want to give them more bandwidth.
  • Let's play "Crash that Aggregator"!  Just wait until someone starts fiddling with encoding options and your aggregator is told to expect a jpg file and gets an EXE instead.  Think email is a security minefield now?  Guess what -- your aggregator is headed the same way if it supports encoded content. 

Atom support for encoded content.  What were they thinking ?  Sounds good in theory but in practice?  Yikes.  Just because you can do something technically doesn't mean you should.

When: 9:34:30 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

More on Colors

Jason has more on colors (I mentioned the matched color picker recently).  Nice stuff.

When: 7:06:39 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

What if Your Product Didn't Work --- And Nobody Told You?

I've been a user of Windows related multimedia files (originally .AVI) since like 1992ish -- back in the CD-ROM days and I just don't get it.  Whenever I'm on the net and I encounter .MPEG or .MOV / .QTW / QuickTime video files they just plain work.  Period.  Rarely if ever does an MPEG file not play.  Same for QuickTime.  Why is it then that I rarely, if ever, can make a .AVI file just play?  I'll see a .AVI file on the net and then I download it and nothing.  I always see "Attempting Codec Download" and then "Error".  And then, utterly annoyingly, Windows makes the less than intelligent decision "I'll just play the audio track".  Sure that makes sense.  After all when you can't show the pictures, just give them the sounds.  Sigh.

Now I'll do what all good bloggers do whenever they enchounter a Windows issue and make the anguished cry of pain!  Scoble ....!!!!

Note 1: Bitching was done in the context of a Fresh Windows XP Pro install and a new installation of Windows Media 9.  I mean I did the damn update last night.  Don't get much fresher than that.  Piffle.  When my clients ask me about streaming media, I guess my answer is here.

Note 2: Oh and why did I say "What if no one ever told you?"  Well what kinds of video files are mostly on the net?  Think anyone would really complain?

When: 7:01:48 AM  | Permalink:   | comment []  |  IM Me About This   

July 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Jun   Aug

Blog Home

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Search My Blog

All Posts

Powered by:

My Businesses

About Scott Johnson

Books I've Written


The FuzzyBlog! © Copyright 2003, The FuzzyStuff.
Last update: 8/1/2003; 5:50:56 AM.