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Saw a post on the RSS Bandit newsgroup about AmphetaRate, a recommendation engine for blogs.

Having worked on a recommendation and personalization engine on a large music community site (now owned by a company with a name you would exclaim if you were to find a huge stash of gold), I think the idea of a blogging recommendation server is compelling and if done right, very useful for finding new and interesting content.

The basic premise is this, you subscribe to a Recommendations feed from the recommendation server. Then, by rating blog items via your RSS Aggregator, the recommendations get personalized to your tastes. Currently, only one aggregator supports this service (RSSOwl).

I wonder if others will think this is worthwhile to implement in RSS Bandit.

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I love this quip from Joel Spolsky’s foreward to Mike Gunderloy’s Coder to Developer.

There’s something weird about software development, some mystical quality, that makes all kinds of people think they know how to do it. I’ve worked at dotcom-type companies full of liberal arts majors with no software experience or training who nevertheless were convinced that they knew how to manage software teams and design user interfaces. This is weird, because nobody thinks they know how to remove a burst appendix, or rebuild a car engine, unless they actually know how to do it, but for some reason there are all these people floating around who think they know everything there is to know about software development.

Spot on Joel! I need to print this out and hand it to everyone on the business side of my company.

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RSS Bandit LogoThe latest version of RSS Bandit (v1.2.0.112) now includes rich support for synchronizing the state of RSS Bandit across multiple computers (such as you computers at work and home). Find out how by reading the online docs here. Click on the item “Using RSS Bandit from Multiple Computers”.

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NPR Reports that Disney is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a Michael Moore film that is critical of the Bush administration. Disney is known for its tight control over the cheery image its theme parks present to world. Unfortunately the real world is not so sanguine.

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Rock The VoteThis weekend I drove up to San Jose to hang out with Mr. Oba and his woman Cara. You can’t toss a rock there without breaking a window of some high-tech company (whoops! Sorry E-Bay). Driving to his apartment, I passed Canon, Hitachi, E-Bay, Bea, Sun, etc….

This was my first time at their apartment which is in a really nice, clean, new building. We took the dog (named “Dubya” for a walk). He was much better behaved than his namesake.

Later that night, Kyle and I drove up to San Francisco and on the way passed a slew of companies with names starting with “Net” or “Inter”. Talk about some uncreative names that violate the principle of timelessness. Sun at least does a decent job with naming. “Sun”, it’ll be a few billion years before that name is out-dated.

San Francisco At Night Our target in SF was 1015 Fulsom to see Paul Van Dyk spin. Promoters are a funny lot. They bill the event as a “Rock The Vote” benefit where a whole 1 DOLLAR! of the ticket price is donated. So how much do they charge for pre-sale tickets? $31.00 of course (where normally this would be a $30 event). They’re really giving back to the community. At least we bought pre-sales: the door cost was $50.

When PVD spins, he always has his trusty IBook (or is it a G5) macintosh handy. I got close enough to see the warm glow of the white apple on the translucent white background while he queued up an album on the decks.

Nonetheless, we had a great time despite the huge crowd and heat. After partying like rock stars till 5AM, we drove back to San Jose to crash.

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Found this on Wired News…

Sure, news aggregators are handy tools, making Web surfing a breeze. But the programs are greedy little buggers that swamp websites with unwanted traffic. Something has to change, and soon. By Ryan Singel.

[Via Wired News]

There’s a corresponding essay in the latest Wired magazine about RSS too which I wrote about here. Dave Winer points out the same point I made which is propely written RSS Aggregators should not cause a large increase in network traffic.

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Google’s IPO is valued at $2,718,281,828. This is the value of the mathematical constant e (2.718281828…). Apparently they forgot to tack on 45 cents.

For the less mathematically inclined e is the base for the natural logarithm. It was chosen to honor Euler, one of the greatest mathematicians ever. It has the unique property such that the area of the region under the hyperbola y = 1/x from x = 1 to x = e is exactly 1.

Here’s a mnemonic to memorize the first 40 digits of e…

“We present a mnemonic to memorize a constant so exciting that Euler exclaimed: ‘!’ when first it was found, yes, loudly ‘!’. My students perhaps will compute e, use power or Taylor series, an easy summation formula, obvious, clear, elegant!”

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Wired Magazine May 2004 I just finished reading an essay in the latest edition of Wired by Gary Wolf entitled “The Return Of Push!” discussing whether or not RSS will realize his prediction made seven years ago. His prediction in Wired 5.03 was that web browsers were about to become obsolete due to push technologies such as PointCast.

Instead, browsers flourished while PointCast whithered. In the essay, he mentions a point that Meg Hourihan, cofounder of Pyra Labs (think Blogger), makes that RSS depends on a “polling” system which she feels is inadequate.

Can you imagine 1 million news readers all checking 300-plus sites every 15 minutes? Or even every hour? It’s no horribly inneficient.

She hopes to see some sort of peer-to-peer solution.

At the moment (and perhaps due to ignorance), I’m skeptical that this is a serious problem for several reasons: 1. It is unlikely that these millions of aggregators will all hit the same site at the same time. The traffic patterns are more predictable and steady than what one sees when a news story breaks on a news site. 2. Many RSS aggregators such as RSS Bandit and web sites implement conditional GET requests so that new content is only downloaded when there’s something new to get. 3. The actual RSS feed is something that is very static in the sense that it is updated rarely and there’s no need to dynamically personalize the content (in general). Thus, it is possible for blogging tools to generate a static RSS file after updates. Static files are served quite efficiently by a web server.

Having said that, the idea of merging P2P with something like RSS Bandit is intriguing. I’m about to throw out some crazy ideas here. The good ones are the result of my evil genius, and the bad ones are due to the muscle relaxants I’m on and the late hour.

If the polling system truly becomes inefficient, perhaps a technology like BitTorrent can be incorporated. In such a situation, I wouldn’t necessarily get feed updates from the source, but rather get it from a P2P network.

In terms of improving the social networking aspects, how about tighter integration with blogging tools. For example, in a very narcissistic fashion, I subscribe to my own feed. Suppose I could configure RSS Bandit with my user name and password to my .TEXT blog so that when someone posts a comment on my blog via RSS Bandit, our aggregators would make a P2P connection and the comment would appear as an IM within RSS Bandit (or MSN Messenger… who knows?). Then I could reply to the comment immediately and the ensuing conversation might appear in the comments section of the blog.

Perhaps when I first get online, RSS Bandit would give my own blog special treatment so that I can automatically see all new comments on my own blog.

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AP - Wildlife experts were stunned this week to see an eagle attack and carry off a bear cub in view of its mother. The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research said it had not been able to find any other such attack documented anywhere.

Yogi Bear[Via Yahoo! News - Oddly Enough]\

Memorial services for young BooBoo will be held tomorrow 10AM at the ranger station despite the fact that his body has yet to be recovered.

Yogi Bear was visibly distraught at this unfortunate turn of events. “Hey Boo Boo! Where are you?!” he was heard to say as he stole yet another picnic basket to console himself. Despite his shaken state, he will attend the memorial services.

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With Visual Studio.NET 2005 and on, you can now reference an exe assembly just fine.

Can you reference an exe assembly? If you answer yes, you are correct. If you answer no, you may also be correct. It depends on which tool you are using. It turns out that VS.NET will not let you reference an exe assembly. However, you can reference an exe via the C# compiler using the /r switch.

This is quite problematic for me as I᾿m a firm believer in the benefits of test-driven development with unit tests (my tool of choice is NUnit). I like to have my unit tests in a separate class library from the code I᾿m testing, and have my UnitTest assembly reference the code I᾿m testing.

However, if I᾿m working on an exe, VS.NET won᾿t let me reference the exe. Thus, I either have to add my unit test fixtures to the exe and have the exe project reference the NUnit class libraries (which I am loathe to do), or move as much of the logic of the exe into an extraneous class library just so I can unit test it. Of course there is a third option which is to use Visual Notepad and the csc command line, but I᾿d lose a lot of productivity that way. Hopefully this is fixed in Whidbey.

For more info on test-driven development in C#, check out this MSDN article.

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If you read my blog in an aggregator, you probably haven’t noticed the little advertisements at the top of the page. These ads are served from Google as part of their AdSense program and require a bit of javascript to display (hence they do not show up in individual blog postings as I intended).

I put them there mainly as a whim since a) It’s free and b) someday when I’m destitute but read by millions, these ads will put food on the table. Admittedly, I am not giving up my day job banking that “b” will happen. However, my wife just informed me that she just noticed the ads them and has been clicking on them all day. :D I let her know that Google probably tracks cookies so that clicking on them repeatedly won’t make us rich, but I appreciate the intent. She’s always looking out for me. A truly lovely person.

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File this one in the “I told you so” category.

“This shows the increase in the past 20 years is almost exclusively carbohydrates and certainly corn syrup consumption has increased dramatically.” \ \ Gross said he was not “picking on the corn syrup industry,” but added, “It is hard to ignore the fact that 20 percent of our carbohydrates are coming from corn syrup – 10 percent of our total calories.”

[Via Boing Boing]

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Geek Life During our internet access drought after moving into our new place, I would check my wife’s email for her at work. Since I had access to her account, I thought I would add my RSS feed to her “My Yahoo” page so that my headlines appear. She thought it was neat, but then complained that my content is pure geek.

Therefore, this entry is authoritatively non-geek. I wont mention the fun I had this weekend generating a class from an XML schema using XSD.exe. Nor will I mention the fun I had playing around with XML Serialization in .NET.

Rather, I will mention that I did play soccer on Saturday while my lovely wife was off to class. We played for two and a half hours and I could barely walk afterwards. It was a nice game in which I scored none, but hit the post three times. That evening, we had an esteemed overnight guest, Maria Estella (whom we call Maria of the Stars despite the fact that estrella is star, not estella. But I digress). My wife cooked up a delicious grilled chicken salad. We rented “The Haunted Mansion” (for lack of better options) and had a good time drinking Boba at Lollicup. My favorite flavor is Sesame Boba. You really must try it.

On Sunday I settled down to watch the Lakers play. It’s amazing how fit and energetic Karl Malone is at 40. I have a newfound respect for this guy. Afterwards I worked on RSS Bandit a bit and watched Alias with my wife. We finally figured out the problem with the HD set-top box so we finally are receiving High Definition television. It’s great!

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Rate This Content Screen Shot\ Scott Mitchell writes about a neat feature he created for .TEXT in this article and this follow up article. Basically, it adds a “Rate This Content” control to each blog entry much like MSDN has for each of its articles. This allows you to let the author know just how much you love or hate the article, and hopefully provides some constructive (or if not constructive, at least humorous) criticism.

I’d love to take this one step further. Currently, when a blog supports one the CommentAPI, RSS Bandit allows you to comment on a post via a “Post Reply” context menu item. It’d be neat to create a “Rate This Item” API so that aggregators can allow users to rate a blog entry if the blog supports a ratings system. What do you think?