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1426  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google data centers on: March 25, 2013, 05:48:36 PM
Content appears to be blocked from Paraguay. Crap. Sad

Try hopping onto this network experiment and then you should be able to access the content no problem: VPN Gate - Univ. of Tsukuba launches Academic Experimental [Crowd] Project.
1427  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: VPN Gate - Univ. of Tsukuba launches Academic Experimental [Crowd] Project. on: March 25, 2013, 05:43:13 PM
...I was interested in their Server List, in particular some of the speeds quoted, my ISP supposedly provides 8Mbps which is considered reasonable for rural areas, some of their servers are showing treble figures...
Yes, I was struck by those performance figures too. Some pretty bad ones, and some very good ones.
1428  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Move from Win. Live Messenger to Skype before April 8 for 1 month credit. on: March 25, 2013, 02:34:03 AM
But be careful. To activate your account, they require to set you up with a Skype Premium Account and confirm your Credit Card or PayPal account. They then credit your Skype account with about 7 Euros or equivalent, and the small print apparently allows them to start charging you a monthly fee to your Credit Card or PayPal account, unless you stop it before 27 days have passed.

This is real Tricky Dicky and shonky behaviour. A bit like unsolicited goods. Might be illegal in some countries.
Here's the relevant text from a letter they emailed me:
Quote
Start enjoying your free trial
Brilliant! You're all set to try the very best of Skype free for a month. We really hope you enjoy seeing, hearing and keeping in touch with friends and loved ones - whether close or far- in even more ways. So don't worry about how long you talk [subject to a "Fair Use" policy], running out of minutes or what it'll cost - the next month is on us.

Love everything you can do with your trial? Great, you won't need to do anything. At the end of your month we'll automatically set up a recurring payment so you can continue to enjoy it for as long as you'd like.

Want to cancel? Not a problem. Simply visit your account within the first 27 days of the trial.

Need some help? Don't be shy. Get live one-to-one customer support, visit skype.com/go/livechat and sign in to your account. Currently available in English only.

A few handy details:

Skype Name: XXXXXXXXXX
Product name: Skype Premium
Total amount charged: EUR0.00
Start of free trial: Mar 25, 2013
Order number: 123456789
First payment taken on: Apr 21, 2013
1429  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Move from Win. Live Messenger to Skype before April 8 for 1 month credit. on: March 25, 2013, 02:11:42 AM
Worth a few free VOIP phonecalls overseas.
Migrate/Upgrade From Windows Live Messenger To Skype Before April 8 And Get 1 Month Of Free Skype Credit
1430  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: VPN Gate - Univ. of Tsukuba launches Academic Experimental [Crowd] Project. on: March 24, 2013, 08:02:50 PM
At the link VPN Gate Client download (for Windows, freeware), there are two download links:
1431  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / VPN Gate - Univ. of Tsukuba launches Academic Experimental [Crowd] Project. on: March 24, 2013, 07:28:40 PM
This project looks like the kind of useful knowledge that some people might wish to be censored or blocked from our accessing it.
Quote
Alex
You know, this was the basic idea, when they first created the internet (protocols) – even during the DARPA days: we are all connected nodes, sharing packets.

The Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan, has just launched the VPN Gate Academic Experiment Project with the aim “to expand the knowledge of Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers.”
You can access and take part in the project from here: How to Provide Your Computer as a VPN Server for VPN Gate (Become a Virtual Internet Service Provider)

For description and background to the project, refer link per post copied below  - sans embedded hyperlinks/images: (also check out the discussion/comments)

Quote
Free Access To Dozens of Anonymous VPNs Via New University Project
Andy
March 24, 2013

As citizens around the world endure Internet censorship of all types, a Japanese university has stepped in to level the playing field. Whether you’re in Iran or China and blocked from YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, or in the UK desperate to get back on The Pirate Bay, KAT or H33T, a new tool from researchers gives instant access to dozens of VPN services. Not only is the system simple to use, but it’s also completely free.

No matter which country you live in there are always people in authority seeking to limit which websites you’re able to view.

Admittedly some sites are quite rightly deemed repulsive to society in general and 99% of the public have few problems with them being hidden away. However, the blocking of ‘normal’ sites is much more controversial.

China is infamous for its Great Firewall and its censorship of anything it pleases from Twitter to YouTube. Iran also has concerns that its citizens’ minds will be influenced by Western thinking via the web. Overall, oppressive regimes tend to see some websites as having a destabilizing effect, so they censor them to maintain control.

In recent times the notion of website blocking has become fashionable in the West too, mainly because certain domains are viewed as offensive to the music and movie industries. The Pirate Bay is blocked in many countries and just this week the UK added another three sites to its ISPs’ filters – KAT.PH, H33T and Fenopy.

But, as mentioned countless times in the past, these filters represent mere temporary roadblocks for the determined and today we bring news of an exciting project that allows almost anyone to access any site they like in seconds. Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to setup and it’s completely free.

VPNGate
The Graduate School of University of Tsukuba, Japan, has just launched the VPN Gate Academic Experiment Project with the aim “to expand the knowledge of Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers.” We’re very happy to help them with that today.

How it works
Volunteers have given the University access to dozens of VPN servers located all over the world which people can access from pretty much any device running Windows, Linux, iOS, Android and more. No sign up or user registration is needed. Once connected the user’s IP address is hidden and switched for one issued by the VPN of their choice selected from dozens around the world.

VPNGate3

Protocols and the SSL-VPN client

Several protocols are accepted, such as L2TP/IPsec, SSTP and the popular OpenVPN, but things get really streamlined for those who select the SSL-VPN option. This requires the easy installation of the Windows freeware client SoftEther VPN but it’s straightforward and only takes a couple of minutes.

The beauty of running the client (which is also developed by the University and will soon go open source) soon becomes apparent. Not only does SoftEther offer SSL-VPN tunneling via HTTPS to pass more easily through NATs and firewalls, it has another trick up its sleeve.

The client comes with a nifty pre-configured plugin which displays a list of all the available VPN servers offered by VPN Gate (see below). This enables the user to activate, disconnect, or switch between VPNs with just a click. This means that there is no need to set up each VPN connection manually in an operating system, although that can be done if the user prefers.

VPNGateList

Unblock any site in an instant

Want to unblock The Pirate Bay, KAT.PH or H33T in the UK? Easy, just select any server that isn’t in the UK and preferably outside Europe. Want to access YouTube in China? Simple, just access any non-domestic VPN server. US citizen who needs to use Hulu overseas? Fine, just pick a United States server. UK citzen who needs to access the BBC iPlayer abroad? A UK server will provide the solution.

Once a server is selected and connected to the client, simply use your regular browser and other Internet applications as usual and traffic will be diverted through the VPN.

Tests

TorrentFreak carried out some basic tests yesterday and got some decent results. We successfully unblocked all of the blocked torrent sites in the UK, accessed Hulu from outside the US, and watched the BBC iPlayer and TVCatchup services from outside the UK.

Also, since the people at VPN Gate apparently have no problem with people using the service for video transfers (they mention YouTube specifically), we conducted some limited BitTorrent runs on half a dozen servers around the world. In each case we connected to a VPN server via the SoftEther Client and carried out tests with a service such as TorrentIP to ensure that our IP address when using BitTorrent had actually been changed. All but one of our tested servers worked fine while another appeared to block torrents.

Performance, logging and offering your computer as a server

As might be expected, performance changed from server to server but in each case browsing and transfer speeds were more than acceptable for a free service. Each server shows its available bandwidth so picking one with more tends to yield better results. That said, we tried a couple of slower ones and they performed just fine too.

While VPN Gate offers anonymity to a point, they do keep connection logs for around three months. In common with most other VPN services they do not monitor your activities but will comply when ordered to do so by the local courts, in this case those in Japan. However, each VPN server has its own logging policy and many appear to delete logs after a couple of weeks, if they keep them at all.

To give an outline of how the logging might affect users in real-life situations, we can look at a few scenarios.

If a US citizen carried out file-sharing on a US VPN server, he might be logged by those carrying out six strikes in the US. However, if that same user selected a server overseas, he would not be monitored by six strikes. Equally, an Iranian or Chinese citizen looking to carry out activities frowned upon by his or her government would be advised to use servers located outside their respective countries.

Finally, please use the services responsibly – respect the volunteers offering their services and consider becoming one yourself. If you have a Windows computer and can offer your bandwidth, click here for more information.
1432  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Reader gone on: March 24, 2013, 05:07:51 PM
Maybe they need the space for their upcoming new dead project.
Har-de-har-har. Very droll.
Musical chairs are fun! - A Rousing Game of Google Musical Chairs
1433  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Average life expectancy of a Google product/service on: March 23, 2013, 07:51:40 PM
...This whole "Can You Trust Google To Keep Your Information?" meme is looking more and more like a cleverly orchestrated PR campaign on behalf of Evernote.
That's right - eggsaggerly! And it is a campaign orchestrated by...
...Google?

I think this could be an example of what is called "Shooting yourself in the foot".
1434  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Average life expectancy of a Google product/service on: March 23, 2013, 06:09:02 AM
Could be this is likely:
Google Keep? It'll probably be with us until March 2017 - on average

Made me smile anyway.
1435  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Calibre - e-Book (Personal Library/Document) Management - Mini-Review on: March 22, 2013, 05:41:24 AM
Calibre has been progressively updated to v0.9.24.
I have put the updated/new features into the Opening Post.
1436  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Use Webservice functions to automatically update Excel spreadsheets (2010/2013) on: March 21, 2013, 10:22:30 PM
I read in the Office.com blog (see post link below) that you can use Webservice functions to automatically update Excel spreadsheets. I didn't know you could do this.
Google had introduced this incredibly powerful and useful feature to their Google Docs spreadsheets a couple of years ago, and I immediately started using it, until Google inexplicably withdrew it - so it is really nice to see it back and this time as an established and trusted function in Excel - which product I use a lot. (I had already ceased to make any new Google Docs spreadsheets about a year ago, and am migrating existing spreadsheets to Microsft's SkyDrive.)
Quote
Use Webservice functions to automatically update Excel spreadsheets with online data
This post on exploring Webservice functions is brought to you by Lee Bizek, a Program Manager in the Excel Team.

Have you ever wanted to incorporate data from online resources into your Excel spreadsheets, such as stock quotes, weather, Bing Search results or even Twitter feeds? With new Webservice functions, now you can.

I used anonymous editing in Web Excel to collaborate with a group to coordinate a 20-person camping trip that required some people to sleep outdoors in tents. Being aware of online weather updates helped us to prepare for the elements and also predict high and low tides because we wanted to go crabbing as part of the adventure.

With Excel 2013 for the desktop, we pulled the latest weather and tide information from the internet into Excel using the =WEBSERVICE(url) function--and the best part is the information updates automatically!

To learn how to use the Webservice function, we'll do 2 things:
    Use a =WEBSERVICE(url) function to get the data
    Use the =FILTERXML(xml, xpath) function to extract a single piece of data from the XML string

(Read the rest at the link above.)
1437  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Keep note-taking app spotted on: March 21, 2013, 09:27:20 PM
This sounds a lot like the complaints heard in these precincts some years ago, after Evernote deep sixed its much beloved stand-alone version (2.2) and forced its users into the cloud, whether they liked it or not...

Yes, that sort of duress/blackmail/coercion is precisely why I shall never use Evernote again, and is a substantive reason that I advise clients of (when recommending that the service is best avoided). If a vendor can take that path with users once, then they can be expected to take it again. The lesson in this is that, from a marketing perspective, this sort of word-of-mouth negative publicity is one of the worst things that any product vendor might wish to create, but create it they did. It's not like it is a new lesson to learn, either.


...Personally, the way I look at it, they had their chance with Notebook, which they killed and broke a lot of hearts.

Yes. I take a very pragmatic view of software and services. If it's useful/reliable, then it's great, but if it's not useful/reliable, then it is to be avoided. The only thing that I found tolerable about Google killing off Notebook was that Notebook was too kludgy to be of any real use to me, so it was a relatively minor annoyance for me when Google killed it, though I did resent the fact that I had invested quite a bit of my own time into experimental use of the product - was time that I would definitely not have invested had I suspected that it was just some kind of a punt product by Google and that they did not intend to support/develop it.

Having become both weary and wary of Google, from the Notebook and other product killings, my perspective of Buzz and WAVE was that they they seemed to be BS from the start and destined to be abortive attempts to invent a Thneed, and their specific usefulness was in any event limited from the start - so their demise was probably to be expected, and I was not bothered by them being killed off by Google. By that time I had become too cautious to invest them with my time. Incidentally, my perspective of Google's g+ is much the same and I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

In the case of Google Reader however, I did invest it with my time and the decision to kill the product has seriously discombobulated me. GR was the second most useful product to me after Gmail - in which I have also invested a lot of my time. Furthermore, I had recommended to clients that both services be regarded as sound and useful for business purposes.

That's all changed now, of course, following the killing-off of Google Reader.  By its own actions, Google has effectively nailed its true and new colours to the mast for us all to see. I would never recommend Google products/services to a friend or a client without a serious caveat emptor from hereon.
As I said above regarding Evernote:
Quote
The lesson in this is that, from a marketing perspective, this sort of word-of-mouth negative publicity is one of the worst things that any product vendor might wish to create, but create it they did. It's not like it is a new lesson to learn, either.

The Google Keep product - if it ever materialises, by whatever name and in whatever form - thus probably has the potential to be dead in the water at the outset, due to Google's inexplicable and seemingly wrong-footed marketing strategy. This could also have an adverse run-on effect to other, new/test products from Google. Trust is an incredibly important factor in marketing, and Google corp. would seem to have blown it. Various similar examples (e.g., including Evernote and Microsoft) are indicative of the truth that this sort of breach of trust can take a l-o-n-g time to repair.
1438  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Keep note-taking app spotted on: March 21, 2013, 08:25:35 PM
...Google... killing one customer at a time by attrition.

Not really. It would probably be  more accurate to describe it as:
Quote
Killing hundreds of thousands of customers en masse
- with actions such as these.
1439  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Keep note-taking app spotted on: March 21, 2013, 08:21:43 PM
^ +1 for what @eleman said.
Agree.
I'm no longer interested in using Google for anything that involves hosted data storage in any way shape or form.
"Burn me once - shame on you. Burn me twice - shame on me."  Cool

...but one thing I would never do is put all my eggs in ANY tech company's basket.

^ Yes, eggsactly.
1440  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Rapidshare - WARNING - some of your data may be deleted in less than 24hrs time. on: March 21, 2013, 07:57:08 PM
Looks like Rapidshare's traffic/business may have been taking a nosedive, and their reaction has apparently been to demand that users now pay a monthly/annual fee for any formerly "free" data over 5Gb, otherwise it gets deleted within 24hrs.
Due to the short notice and narrow time-window, many/most users affected may have no short-term option but to comply with the demand.
Refer: RapidShare Prepares to Mass Delete Free User Data Over 5GB

Some people (not me you understand) might say that the correct term for this sort of thing is "blackmail", but I couldn't possibly comment.
1441  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: silly humor - post 'em here! [warning some NSFW and adult content] on: March 21, 2013, 01:10:42 AM
Lance Armstrong cycling on drugs:
[attach]
1442  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: DOTCOM saga - updates on: March 20, 2013, 04:10:34 PM
Another day, another story: Now it is reported that the same (or more) "documents" were in fact "court documents" obtained by 3 News and/or the Labour party. Quite how/why they were made public first in this way via a news outlet as opposed to being made public directly by formal government announcement/report is a bit of a mystery.

The picture now seems to be that Wolfensohn made the judgement that the spying was legal, when he apparently was in a position to know that in fact it would have been illegal, and then he apparently tried to belatedly cover it up by getting the Deputy PM to sign it into secrecy.
Amazing. I find it hard to believe. On the face of it, this would seem to be an incredibly stupid and unethical series of actions - serial execution errors - for someone in Wolfensohn's position, and with his legal training, to do. Akin to professional suicide. Apparently he was put on "gardening leave" on February 27, 2012 - which usually means leave on full pay. It is unclear as to whether he is still employed in this capacity by GCSB.
Furthermore, they all - i.e., the police and GCSB - apparently knew it was illegal - per a Labour party spokesman.
(NZ Herald news report copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)

Still no word yet on what is being done re the apparent perjury by police.
1443  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: DOTCOM saga - updates on: March 20, 2013, 08:33:53 AM
There is a report by TVNZ 3 News about some "documents" they have that put the police/SS in a bad light - particularly GCSB - in the Dotcom saga. However, after the fiasco we have witnessed, I am skeptical of whether this is anything more than a deliberate newsfeed from government sources intent on crucifying the now-retired head of GCSB (Hugh Wolfensohn, former deputy director of the GCSB) and deflecting blame away from others. It may transpire that Wolfensohn was thrown under a bus. (How would we know?)
The report is copied below, sans embedded hyperlinks/images.

Still no word yet on what is being done re the apparent perjury by police.

Enquiring minds need to know.
1444  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Keep note-taking app spotted on: March 19, 2013, 06:25:56 PM
^ +1 for what @eleman said.
1445  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: DOTCOM saga - updates on: March 19, 2013, 05:47:11 PM
Sort-of off-topic comment:
I'm not sure why a country of 4.5 million people thinks it needs a spy agency at all. Maybe I'm naive, maybe all countries do this, even the small ones. Must surely be a bit of a black hole for spending though...

A big question with a big answer! You will probably be able to understand this:
  • from a quick review of the history of WW2 and the role of the Allied Forces (and including NZ) in that war;
  • from a study of the role of NZ in acting as an ally and aid provider for small independent Pacific island nations, with some of whom NZ shares a special constitutional relationship as a member of the Commonwealth and whose citizens have an atomatic right to NZ citizenship if they wish to come and live/work in NZ;
  • from (especially) following up on the links in this comment:
    ...That post also refers to ECHELON - which is referred to in the Wikipedia article I mentioned in the thread, above - New Zealand–United States relations.
    Wikipedia has a fuller note on it here - ECHELON...

In global politics it is presumably always good to know who your dependable allies are in uncertain times. For example, NZ has always regarded the US as being that kind of ally, and presumably vice versa, though the same cannot be said (say) for France, which evidently sees nothing wrong in committing terrorist acts against those who helped to rescue it twice from German occupation.
1446  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: DOTCOM saga - updates on: March 17, 2013, 06:00:00 PM
New developments per NZHerald report:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
Spy boss left out in cold
By David Fisher @@DFisherJourno
5:30 AM Monday Mar 18, 2013

Hugh Wolfensohn, former deputy director of the GCSB, was with the bureau for 24 years. Photo / Bob Leonard

The spy master who oversaw the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom no longer works for the GCSB intelligence agency as it braces for fresh exposure of its failings.

The high-level inquiry ordered by the Prime Minister into the Government Communications Security Bureau is just weeks from being released.

When it comes, it will be the first big piece of work to leave the bureau in decades without the involvement of recently departed deputy director Hugh Wolfensohn.

Mr Wolfensohn emerged as a central figure in the Kim Dotcom spying scandal; he was the GCSB's deputy director, chief legal adviser and had oversight of intelligence missions at the time illegal spying on the Megaupload tycoon began.

During the course of the month-long interception, Mr Wolfensohn became acting director - one of five people to lead the GCSB in five years.

The bureau is prohibited by law from spying on New Zealand citizens and residents, which meant Mr Dotcom and co-accused Bram van der Kolk should have been protected from the GCSB's high-tech intrusions.

The bureau has claimed it did not realise Mr Dotcom and Mr van der Kolk were protected under the visa they held.

However, the Herald has found Mr Wolfensohn held all the information needed to judge the spying illegal from mid-February - seven months before the Prime Minister admitted his own department had broken the law.

The illegal spying blunder left Mr Key apologising to Mr Dotcom, who faces an extradition hearing in August with three colleagues to face charges of criminal copyright violation.

In the weeks following the admission, Mr Wolfensohn was placed on leave while Mr Key appointed Cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge as associate director of the agency. Her job was to review the agency's systems and ability and put in place new procedures for assisting law enforcement. The initial three-month posting was extended to six months.

The bureau had told the Herald her report is expected in weeks and would be largely made public. A spokesman also confirmed Mr Wolfensohn no longer worked for the bureau.

Mr Wolfensohn has created a detailed profile on the LinkedIn online networking service, detailing his rise to the top of New Zealand's most secretive spy agency.

Mr Wolfensohn joined the GCSB in 1988 as legal officer. He began a steady rise through the bureau's ranks from 1996 and was appointed deputy director in 2000 and led the bureau's strategic policy and corporate services division before being appointed to oversight of mission enablement and chief legal officer in 2010. He lists the end of his employment with the bureau as 2013.

New chief must revive public trust
The job description for the new GCSB spy chief says a key result is making sure the public understands and trusts the bureau more than it does now.

Those applying to be Associate Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau will also be required to make changes identified in a review ordered by Prime Minister John Key.

Green co-leader Russel Norman said the unreleased review overlooks the need for an entire restructuring of New Zealand's spy agencies. He said there was not enough accountability, with spies at the GCSB and Security Intelligence Service answering only to a minister, an Inspector-General appointed by the executive and an oversight committee of senior politicians.

Labour leader David Shearer said he believed a review of oversight for the GCSB and SIS was necessary.

Hugh Wolfensohn
*Studied law at Oxford University in early 1970s before joining the Royal Navy.
*Moved to New Zealand in 1986 and joined the NZ navy.
*Went on to become NZ Defence Force legal officer.
*Worked at the GCSB from 1988, rising to deputy director and chief legal adviser.

By David Fisher @@DFisherJourno Email David
1447  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review on: March 17, 2013, 04:01:18 PM
I have started trialling feedly as an alternative to GR. It looks quite hopeful, but isn't yet in a form that suits my needs. They at least seem to understand about GR users, and they also seem to get the point about some GR users like me who need to quickly and discerningly scan through a large volume of feeds and make selections on the fly and view and speed-read those items selected - first as a snippet/preview, and then in full if of interest:
Quote
Extract from Tips for Google Reader users migrating to feedly
...Tip #0: Importing your Google Reader account
To import your google reader feeds and categories over to feedly, simply login to your feedly using your google account. Feedly will automatically sync your Google Reader account with feedly.

Tip #1: A more condensed view
A lot of Google Reader users use their reader as a research/curation tool and need to be able to crunch through a lot of articles very fast. When you are in a feed or category page, you can click on the gear icon and select the Titles view to get a denser text only experience. If you want assign the titles view to all your feeds and categories, there is a global knob in the preference page...
1448  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review on: March 17, 2013, 03:48:34 PM
How do you get your GR feeds into TheOldReader? GR doesn’t have an export facility anymore; instead it sends you to Google Takeout where you can only download your feeds as separate .json files. No OPML export available anymore. Apparently they killed that off back in November 2012...
Google Takeout gives you an "export" .ZIP file for GR that includes the file subscriptions.xml - this file is the only one you need to import all your feed subscriptions to another feed reader.
TheOldReader will accept this file as an import, and put it into a queue for importing to your account - they have to use a queue as they do not have a humungus data centre. There were something like 3,875 predecessors already in the queue when I joined it last night, so that will take a while (days?) to get there.
If you didn't want to wait, then you could do what @Josh did - put them all in manually whilst online to TheOldReader. I didn't have the patience or the need to do that as I am happily using GR whilst it still exists, and can wait for TheOldReader queue to clear. I have to say thatTheOldReader looks like it might just be the trick for me, but we shall see.
1449  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review on: March 17, 2013, 09:00:11 AM
Well, I shall miss GR - the browser app.
So far, this is my experience with the alternatives:

1. Omea Pro - fantastic potential PIM-type tool; seems to be a dead loss as a feed reader (not really any better than the clunky RSS live feed reader/bookmarks in Firefox); slow as all heck; database gets "stuck" and crashes; does not display feed snippets (you have to be presented with the whole page); a bandwidth and disk space hog. I can see what @Tuxman meant by this:
The interface looks cluttered...

2. OwnCloud - great potential; seems to effectively still be in ß; gave it a miss (no trial).

3. Sage - seems to be a dead loss as a feed reader (not really any better than the clunky RSS live feed reader/bookmarks in Firefox); slow as all heck; does not display feed snippets (you have to be presented with the whole page).

4. Another Firefox RSS add-in - seems to be a dead loss as a feed reader (not really any better than the clunky RSS live feed reader/bookmarks in Firefox); slow as all heck; does not display feed snippets (you have to be presented with the whole page).
If this and Sage are indicative, then they are all much the same, and rubbish as far as I can see.    Sad
1450  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / "Google Reader Gone" or "Is RSS being killed"? on: March 16, 2013, 01:27:45 AM
I think this thread could be an appropriate place to post this:
Maybe it's not so much a case of "Google Reader Gone" as "Is RSS being killed"?
Will the death of Google Reader also be the death of RSS?

For a long time I have wondered about RSS and its use to Google. I mean, Google had this great information-gathering tool called GR (Google Reader), and you could all sorts of add-ons or scripts to it. The net result was something that:
  • Really suited information junkies like me who detested advertising - you get all the information and there was an absence of adverts;
  • RSS feeds were used as a standard delivery link (and GR later had a nifty way of faking an RSS feed if a website didn't have a formal RSS feed);
  • Enabled you to check/read information snippets of what was put up on a website, but without actually visiting the proprietary source website (e.g., it could even be behind a paywall) that hosted that information.
  • Gave you full control: only if you read something in the snippet that caught your interest would you click on the link to the website to read some more.

And it could all be done advertising-free. Perfect.    Thmbsup

Google even developed and published a bookmarklet that let you "subscribe" to a page you had landed on, so that it went into the GR subscription list.
Then Google seemed to drop support of that bookmarklet some time back, without any real explanation as to a solid business rationale for doing so.
Then Google seemed to drop support of the RSS-faking, without any real explanation as to a solid business rationale for doing so.

Now Google is killing GR altogether. Why? Ostensibly:
Quote
In the Googland blog, in the post [G] Powering Down Google Reader, it says:
There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.
There is some irony in this, because it is quite possible that, by virtue of their own Cavalier attitude to users needs, Google have encouraged users to reduce the use/reliance on their products/services, thereby negatively affecting user demand. For example, I have for about a year had serious misgivings about Google's direction, and have been limiting my use of Google products/services - holding back, waiting to see what the next product/service will be that Google will decide to unilaterally kill off without a by-your-leave.
So, Google kills off another product (GR), and again without any real explanation as to a solid business rationale for doing so. (It would not be correct to call the above quote a solid business rationale for killing off GR - it is an unsubstantiated statement).

Google's revenues are inextricably intertwined with advertising. The Google founders essentially invented and implemented or progressively acquired (by purchase) novel web-technological approaches to providing aggregated demographic services to advertisers - services that generated a major income stream for Google.
And that's why I had for a long time wondered about RSS and its use to Google.
You see, if you read web pages via a feed aggregator such as GR, then aren't you effectively statistically excluded from the count of the number of people viewing the web pages? This could be having an adverse effect on advertising statistics and pay-per-click revenues.

I rarely log in to either LinkedIn or Facebook - they are both potential time-bandits - and avoid using either, if I can help it. I also filter and send to Trash all emailed Notifications from LinkedIn or Facebook. There are just too many to read. If I get time, I will scan those items in Trash - usually the LinkedIn ones as they have a work-related and thus higher priority in my mind - before deleting them permanently.
I already get RSS feeds from the LinkedIn Blog and Facebook Notifications, but I read recently that Facebook will block ("not support") RSS feeds of Notifications for much longer. Now we probably know why.
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