web

Where's the "Undo" on Google Reader?

There’s been a bunch of press lately about Google Reader’s new features, most notably the “Friends' shared items” section and Profiles. A handful of people were instantly complaining about the lack of privacy and control, but I don’t really see Google’s implementation as a problem. It seems pretty simple to go to “Manage friends” and hide the contacts you don’t want looking at your shared items, but this really kind of defeats the purpose of using your shared items to begin with. If anything, I think Google’s decision to automatically include your GTalk contacts just makes it that much likelier that I’ll read and see my contacts' shared items. I wouldn’t spend the time to go through my contacts to subscribe, but having them there automatically is great. It’s giving me the benefits of filtered reading list through a social network I wouldn’t have bothered to use otherwise. However, I can see this causing some annoyance in the form of repeated posts. If a lot of my contacts are subscribed to the same stuff I’m subscribed to and decide to share it, I’ll see it twice - once on my own feeds and again when I go through their shared items. This has been annoying me on my Techmeme feed enough to want to consider unsubscribing from techmeme, and so I can see this becoming a bigger problem as I get more contacts who read the same stuff I read. Whenever Google gets around to fixing the duplicate feed problem (and I really hope they do soon), they should also add an “Undo” button in Google Reader. In GMail, anytime you archive, delete, flag as spam, or otherwise move an email from one view to another, GMail gives you the option to undo the operation. This is great because Archive, Report as Spam, and Delete are all right next to each other and easily mis-clicked. Even if Undo wasn’t an option, it would still be possible to manually reverse the change. What really annoys me with Google Reader is that there is no undo option when you click on “Mark all as read.” “Refresh” is stupidly directly next to “Mark all as read,” so I regularly end up clicking on the wrong button. The best you can do is switch over to the “All items” view and hope that you could skim through to see what you might have missed. Maybe I should take this as a blessing so that I can get through my feeds faster. I’m a bit baffled why the smart guys at Google haven’t fixed these problems. Surely I’m not the only Google Reader annoyed by duplicate posts and the inability to undo a “Mark all as read” mis-click.
For a few days now, I’ve been unable to reach http://de.php.net, not because the site has been down but because of incorrect DNS configuration by de.php.net’s Germany host. When you request a PHP manual page, PHP.net does this trick of geo-locating your IP and redirects you to your closet PHP.net mirror. If you take a look, de.php.net is actually a CNAME record for php3.globe.de, which is in turn authoritative at ns1.dns-service.net. The problem is ns1.dns-service.net doesn’t have a record for php3.globe.de: Searching for de.php.net A record at k.root-servers.net [193.0.14.129]: Got referral to d.gtld-servers.net. (zone: net.) [took 48 ms] Searching for de.php.net A record at d.gtld-servers.net. [192.31.80.30]: Got referral to ns1.easydns.com. (zone: php.net.) [took 42 ms] Searching for de.php.net A record at ns1.easydns.com. [216.220.40.243]: Got CNAME of php3.globe.de. and referral to m.root-servers.net [took 76 ms] Searching for php3.globe.de A record at c.root-servers.net [192.33.4.12]: Got referral to C.DE.NET. (zone: de.) [took 36 ms] Searching for php3.globe.de A record at C.DE.NET. [208.48.81.43]: Got referral to ns1.dns-service.net. (zone: globe.de.) [took 46 ms] Searching for php3.globe.de A record at ns1.dns-service.net. [212.124.35.10]: Reports that no A records exist. [took 133 ms] Response: No A records exist for php3.globe.de, and php3.globe.de does not exist. [Neg TTL=86400 seconds] Details: ns1.dns-service.net. (an authoritative nameserver for globe.de.) says that there are no A records for php3.globe.de, and that the hostname php3.globe.de does not exist. The E-mail address in charge of the globe.de. zone is: guardian@globe.de. NOTE: One or more CNAMEs were encountered. de.php.net is really php3.globe.de. Normally when the master nameserver is non-functional, DNS queries should fail-over to slave nameservers and pages are served normally. However, in this case the master nameserver is fully functional - it just doesn’t have a record for php3.globe.de. What’s funny is that the secondary nameservers for globe.de, ns2.dns-service.net and ns3.dns-service.net, have the correct A record for php3.globe.de, which means that the servers' zone serial numbers are off and master->slave propagation isn’t happening correctly. I’ve easily solved my problem by just adding the correct entry into my local machine’s hosts file, but I shouldn’t have to do this (nor does this fix the problem for everyone else in Germany). This just goes to show that DNS can be complicated and even the pros mess up every once and a while. Update It seems to be working today. It took three days after I posted before someone at Globe.de noticed the problem and added the correct DNS entry.

Streamburst is brilliant

I just came across Streamburst via Techcrunch. Within minutes, I was happily downloading In Search of the Valley at a blistering 8-9 megabits per second, probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to topping out my 16-megabit ADSL connection. By the time I finish this blog post, a full DRM-free 1.1 gigabyte DVD-quality movie will be ready to watch, all for $7.99. That’s brilliant. I went to ISOTV’s website, added the downloadable movie to my part, and paid using paypal. I was then presented with three download options: I could choose to download any or all of the three formats, reminiscent of allofmp3.com. The encoding itself is DRM free, and I can choose to play the movie on whatever device I want. What’s the catch? Streamburst prepends the movie with a 5 second clip showing who originally purchased the movie: I’d much rather see my name on a movie than the completely pointless FBI warning on Hollywood releases. Streamburst also supposedly adds some sort of invisible, durable watermarking that is intended to be persistant through re-encodings. I absolutely hate DRM. I hate it so much that I don’t even use some iTunes credit. I think audible.com would be an awesome service if it wasn’t for its DRM. I have 2 audible.com book credits that I’ll probably never use. It’s really that much of a pain in the ass, although admittedly it is probably worse for me being a desktop linux user. Like most people, however, I just want to be able to play my media on any device I want to use. I don’t want to be locked into a single piece of hardware or software to play back media that I’ve legally purchased. Is this Streamburst going to stop piracy doing this? Absolutely not. I can easily clip the 5 seconds of my name and transcode the video into another format easily. However, I did just spend $8 on a movie I was interested in but not enough to purchase the DVD, and to that end I think Streamburst will be successful.

The Family Connection

I recently got married, and one of the results of marriage is that you gain some new family members. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my cousin-in-laws, Jackson West, is writing for NewTeeVee, a newly found GigaOm-network website devoted to web video. It was only a few months ago that I found out Jackson was as much a pyromaniac as I am, as we tried to rig together as many bottle rockets as possible in one go. We both survived unscathed, and now it’s definitely good to see Jackson doing his thing for NewTeeVee. Looking forward to the new gig, Jackson.

jacksonpollock.org

Looking to kill a few minutes? Like Jackson Pollock?. Just move your mouse around at jacksonpollock.org and create your own. Left click to change color, and the rest is natural.