Today’s lunchtime reading and link clearing brings together a bunch of stories all related to technology in one way or the other:
- It’s Complicated, Man. Have you ever really thought about what happens when you visit a website such as Google. This fellow did, and he summarized it quite nicely. In short, almost anything you do on a computer is insanely complicated, from pressing a key and having it appear on your screen, to having a website with all the fancy bells and whistles. It’s amazing that anything works at all… and even more amazing that we have any confidence in security mechanisms.
- Google Reader Update. An update on the search to find a replacement for Google Reader. For the last week or so, I’ve been trying out Netvibes. Mostly I was happy, but there were a number of things I didn’t like: (1) it was slow to update feeds; (2) marking articles as read didn’t always stick; (3) the buttons to mark articles as read and to open an article in a new window were tiny and hard to click. Problem (2) was particularly annoying — I would have to click “Mark All As Read” multiple times to get it to mark everything as read. So having heard good things about Newsblur, I upgraded my free account to a premium account last night. I have more confidence in the paid service not disappearing; further, this (supposedly) would make it so I could read all my subscribed feeds (as opposed to just 12), and get up to 10x more frequent feed updating. However, so far, I’m not fully impressed. Here, the problems are as follows: (1) Feed updating is still slow (very slow, in fact); (2) their “Mark All as Read” doesn’t always update the screen to indicate everything was marked; (3) there doesn’t seem a good way to force it to refresh and update the “All Articles” view; and (4) the Newsblur site keeps bouncing up and down. Some of these problems may be addressed in their upcoming redesign. [ETA 3/23: Since the maintenance upgrade and the switch to using the redesign, I’m much much happier with Newsblur. In fact, problems remaining appear to be slow updates of some feeds (that may get better over time), and (2) above.] I have yet to find a reader that matches what Google provided in terms of frequency of feed update (Reader seemed to update all feeds every couple of minutes) and ease of use. I’ll keep experimenting with both Netvibes and Newsblur, with the goal of seeing how much of this is just growing pains.
- Go Bears. Cal not only whooped UNLV’s ass, they also whipped T-Mobile. Specifically, some UC Berkeley grad students found and fixed a vulnerability in T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling. I think this is great, and it shows the strength of Cal’s Cybersecurity program. Disclaimer: My daughter attends UC Berkeley, studying not cybersecurity but history.
- Impacts of Technology. The Producers Perspective has an interesting insight on the recent Veronica Mars Kickstarter. This kickstarter has raised almost $3.8 million. The problem: none of these Kickstarter participants are profit participants. They get their DVDs or shirts and go home. The real creatives get to keep any profit. Is this a reasonable or fair model to fund something? This isn’t just a problem for movies: for almost any business idea funded by Kickstarter, the folks providing the seed funding get bubkis overall if their risk pays off.
- Doing the Time Warp. Lastly, tangentially related to technology, I must post this really cool article and picture about the Big Bang Theory principles dressed up in their Rocky Horror finest to perform the Time Warp at a benefit for Brian Glazier.
Music: The Smile Sessions (The Beach Boys): “Heroes and Villains [Stereo Mix]”