Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Clay Shirky: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

I just want to say that this piece is the first one about the print industry’s problems to make any sense to me.

“When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.”

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Crisis of Credit Visualized

A lot of my friends have really liked this video, so I thought I’d mention it here, the Crisis of Credit Visualized (pointed out on Daring Fireball)

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Nepal photo from Flickr: light show from renjo la

light show from renjo la
Originally uploaded by sikari kukur

I haven’t posted in a while due to busy-ness. I did run across this photo of Makalu mountain that is just beautiful.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Picasa for the Mac

Google has announced in a couple of places that they’ve released a beta of Picasa for the Mac (or in their terms, it’s “in Google Labs”). I’ve downloaded it, and hope to try it out once I have some real time. What I’d really like to see is how well it works with iPhoto. Given how iPhoto and iTunes (among others) integrate with the Mac, that’s really important if something like Picasa is going to survive on the Mac. Once I try it out, I’ll post something here.

So, uh, why care? Despite how nice iPhoto generally is, Picasa on the PC is actually a nicer program. In fact, it’s one of very few Windows-only programs I actually enjoy using, and even want to have ported over.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Google Mobile App Easter Egg

Google Mobile App

I thought this was a joke, but after a little bit of searching around, I managed to find the “Bells and Whistles” option. Don’t believe me? Check out the image.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PHP Markdown Extra + PHP SmartyPants Typographer Text Filter for MarsEdit

This happened over a month ago, but a really nice thing to come along was the release of “PHP Markdown Extra + PHP SmartyPants Typographer Text Filter for MarsEdit.” I still use MarsEdit 1.2.1, well, because I don’t really post enough to justify getting an update. That means some of how this works might be different. But, basically, after you put the folder in

~/Library/Application Support/MarsEdit/TextFilters

there is a formatting option to pick the new Markdown and SmartyPants filter. This means that the preview will now be run with a PHP version of SmartyPants, and the enhanced version of PHP Markdown.1

Blogger doesn’t use Markdown, or SmartyPants, so it has to be converted before being sent. For this, I’ve been using “Translate Markdown to HTML,” from Drew Thaler.2 This has been updated to 1.0.3, which I am guessing probably makes the change even easier. In order to get this to work with my newer Markdown and SmartyPants, I changed two lines.

  1. The first line, near the top, sets the variable markdownPath. Change this to

    set markdownPath to do shell script "/usr/bin/find \"" & marsEditPath & "\" -name \"PHP Markdown Extra + PHP SmartyPants Typographer.pl\" | /usr/bin/head -n 1"
  2. The second line, near the bottom, is the line

    set processedText to do shell script ("\"" & smartypantsPath & "\"" & " " & "\"" & unprocessedPath & "\" | \"" & markdownPath & "\"")

    I changed this to

    set processedText to do shell script ("\"" & markdownPath & "\" < \"" & unprocessedPath & "\"")

    basically processing using the new Markdown/SmartyPants combo.

  1. Which for me, is most useful just to get footnotes, like this one. 

  2. Unfortunately, it looks like his hosting server is down, so for most people I suppose this is academic. 

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Comics without the newspaper

I happen to love newspaper comics, but over the years I’ve either not gotten a newspaper, or not gotten a newspaper carrying all the comics I’d like to read. I know I’m not alone in loving comics; just take a look at Comics Curmudgeon. The people who both read and post comments there clearly love comics, which is half of what makes it fun. Add in to it with some of the cartoonists clearly joining in with the joke, and really its a lot of fun.

The lack of print has made things difficult in the past, but I have tended to get by. The general solution most people use is to go to the online sites of newspapers carrying the comic of their choice, in particular, one that also puts it up online. The more industrious of us use things like the Perl tool dailystrips. Basically, you tell it the pattern for finding a comic of a particular date, and it scrapes the website for that comic. This works, but has some hangups. Most importantly, it means the newspaper is not getting any money for the ads they could be showing you. Additionally, it means the tool needs to run every day, if one can have any hope of following the comics regularly. Finally, dailystrips hasn’t been updated since 2003. It has amazingly worked for the most part,1 but eventually it will stop working.

In the last year, new solutions have been cropping up. The New York Times has a good article detailing some of them.2 I first noticed that GoComics was offering RSS feeds for each of their individual comics. I have about 40 comics I read daily, and this helped me prune down the way I get comics otherwise. It actually fit in with how I get the web-only comics, which of course were using RSS already.

The second change is rather recent; in the last month or so, Comics.com became free. And in addition, they provide a single RSS feed for each user, containing the comics in them. Again, I was able to prune that list.

For one reason or another, this didn’t completely prune my list of comics I had to use other methods for. This is where Comic Alert! comes in. They provide a link in an RSS feed, pointing to the page from a site providing the comic in question. This is different from dailystrips in that you actually go to the page, thus seeing all the ads the newspaper wants you to see.

The very most recent change, noted by the New York Times, is how GoComics now has Safari Mobile-friendly (i.e. iPhone and iPod Touch friendly) pages. This is a nice touch, as I’m often using the mobile NetNewsWire app in the morning. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to make use of any user settings as of yet.3

While it’s nice to see all of this happening, it’s not entirely clear how sustainable all of this is. Comics.com doesn’t seem to be showing any ads as of yet, and it seems unlikely that this will remain the same. Hopefully, when everything settles, some of the good of this will stick around.

  1. Partially due to forum posts on the SourceForge page, where people (used to) update the pattern for finding comics as older ones fail. 

  2. It’s interesting to compare the (probably staged) photo of Stephan Pastis drawing with the process Scott Adams describes (and has a video of). 

  3. Not to mention that GoComics is insistent on pushing the paid “pro” features at every turn, without mentioning at first that they are such. 

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