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How I feel this morning

I am not amused. Yet another example of the impermanence of cloud services (especially services that you don't, ahem, pay money to receive).

186 Comments

1:

Working fine.

And much how I feel today. First Tweetdeck, now this.

2:

So far the open source project RSSOwl seems like the best alternative to those who subscribe to a huge number of feeds and need a lot of functionality.

3:

Been using it since it was part of Labs and it's the one tab I have pinned open at all times! Ridiculously short sighted and "evil"!

4:

Not sure whether this helps you, but I've been using Feedly for some time now to view all my rss feeds from Google reader and they've put out a statement that they will continue to support the feeds even after reader is switched off.

5:

You think that's bad.

I've had my father using Reader and now have to find him a replacement and export his feeds.

*the horror*

6:

Yep, that announcement left me feeling pretty much the same.

So, where to now?

I've not explored the alternatives much yet, but NewsBlur is looking promising.

It costs a dollar a month to get the same level of service as I got from Reader, but I now see Reader's service is worth enough to me to be worth paying for...

7:

Pretty horrible. And all the other options people have been toting around seem to be built around images, not headlines.

8:

I guess they aren't getting enough ad clicks. Should I start getting worried about gmail?

Would 20NZD a year get me the bigger gmail acct limits AND keep reader working for me? I must ask Larry the next time I bump into him. :-)

9:

I downloaded FeedDemon which seems to work just fine. It even synchronizes with Google Reader so all my feeds came through. No Firefox addon but I guess you can't have everything.

http://www.feeddemon.com/

10:

The biggest problem is that Google replaced the sync architectures other RSS apps were using - I used to be a paying customer of Newsgator with several apps synced through it. By offering the same functionality for free, Google killed that service, and the apps I used migrated to Reader.

A sync hub for RSS meant that my PC, my tablets, and my phones were all in sync. I wouldn't re-read stuff and I wouldn't waste time...

Now it's going away, and already one of the RSS tools I use has said it will be shutting down too.

Hmm. "Embrace, extend, extinguish". Where have we seen that playbook before? It took a decade for Microsoft to reinvent itself. Let's hope Google can do it faster.

11:

Open a GitHub account. Use your fame and powers of wordsmithing to create a community around a clone development project, and bootstrap it.

12:

http://www.feedly.com have announced their Normandy project to continue to support their users.

As I've used it for two years across browsers, iPad, iPhone and android without any issues I would highly recommend it as a rss feed reader.

13:

I really don't like Feedly's design aesthetic. I've been looking at the other alternatives, too. What I want is a back end for FeedlerPro that works just like Google Reader used to. The author of FeedlerPro isn't too keen on going bust and has promised some sort of solution, so I live in hope ...

14:

NewsBlur is utterly useless for someone who might be on a metered data tariff or who roams internationally -- no cacheing!

15:

This is compatible with me writing novels, how?

16:

I feel your pain. Yes, it looks like they're running the bad old 1990s Microsoft playbook at Google: this is not a good sign for the future.

17:

Well, Feedly did say that "if you are a third party developer using the Google Reader API and would like to integrate with Normandy, please send an email to remi@feedly.com. We would love to keep the Google Reader ecosystem alive."

So perhaps your FeedlerPro chappie can make use of that instead

18:

Also check out The Old Reader Google Reader clone.

19:

To me, the perfect replacement is the one that I've been using for years anyway because I didn't like having everything at Google ..

Tiny Tiny RSS Reader is the thing to use if you want to host things yourself (and not very surprisingly, it's website at http://www.tt-rss.org is experiencing heavy load right now). It has a nice Web UI and there's an Android App. So far no official iOS app that uses the API but that might happen now? Who knows.

Like I said, I've been using it in an installation for a small community for a few years now and find it great.

20:

This is off-topic, but does anyone else here think Google's "don't be evil" unofficial slogan is really ridiculous for an advertising company? Advertising is evil, almost by definition.

21:

Google stopped being not-evil when they absorbed DoubleClick, whose previous behaviour was pretty intrusive and ugly. However, they weren't evil by corporate standards until the change of CEO a year or so ago.

Now they seem to be trying to play catch-up with Facebook and/or late Gates-era Microsoft.

22:

Excuse me but what does/did G-Reader actually DO?

Perhapos then I can find out why this is important ....

23:

Just point your fans in the right direction? Wasn't assuming that you'd want to do any actual work :)

24:

I ended up installing Fever on my PHP/MySQL shared hosting. Now that I have some money, I like paying it for things.

http://lpetr.org/blog/archives/migrating-from-google-reader-to-fever

25:

Beats me, I only heard about it from this post, so I guess I dodged the bullet. I still use the old-fashioned method of opening sites by clicking on bookmarks and reading the news there... :-)

27:

I've long ago passed the point where remembering to click on all the sites I'm interested in is in any way useful.

Most of all for sites that update irregularly with sometimes lengthy hiatuses in between. I'd totally forget about them ..

RSS solves that.

28:

Well, maybe I do need to move forward with the times. Just not with Google Reader, I suppose...

29:

I'm not sure whether this is of any help to anyone, but I use the "RSS Ticker" app in Firefox, and subscribe to RSS feeds via the Firefox Livebookmarks. Works okay except for feeds syndicated through Feedburner, which it appears to cough and choke on for some reason.

30:

#metoo ;-)

It's funny how close that video has been to my experience today. Lots of folk recommending things like flipboard which - while excellent in its own way - serve a completely different use case.

NewBlur has been the most common recomendation that looks like it might actually be a solution.

Like you - I face the caching issue - but the code is open source (https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlur) so I'm thinking that a local instance would solve that issue.

However, it needs a non-trivial amount of shit to run on the server side (Django, Celery/RabbitMQ, Mongo & Postgres) - so it probably won't be happy on my netbook :-/ Should be fine on a proper laptop though.

I'm hoping that between now and the shutdown time somebody will pull out a server that just sucks down feeds and supports the Google Reader API, and then I can just point Reeder at it instead of Google and Just Carry On.

31:

Do you have any idea how hard it is to watch this when you speak german and have two lines of dialogue to follow?

As for me, I don't need total syncronisation and do reasonably fine just with liferea. And the one thing any feedreader does is teach that you'll never keep up, anyway.

32:

Do you have any idea how hard it is to watch this when you speak german and have two lines of dialogue to follow?

Yes. ;-/

(I just spend a weekend at DORT.con participating in discussion panels in German, with an interpreter. Trying to pay attention to the interpreter, while stringing together an answer, and speaking synchronously ... did my head in. Different problem, but probably a similar cognitive workload.)

33:

btw, as per some random person on Twitter, Google is apparently also closing down access to calendar via caldav ..

one more reason to use other backends for the synching needs of a smartphone ..

34:

note that any local RSS reader (desktop client or integrated into the browser) can, per definition, not fulfill the role that a reader living "in the cloud" can, namely present you with a synched state on each client you use to connect to it. Namely, you might use a PC at work, some laptop somewhere, a smartphone and a tablet at various times throughout the day to read RSS feeds. What you want at this point is the state of what is read/unread to be synched between all devices.

Google Reader offered this via an API that various e.g. Apps for smartphones could use as a backend.

So as a replacement, you need something that ideally already has apps for mobile OSes (and a web ui) or at least offers an open API so that whoever feels like it could develop said apps.

Again, one solution to that would be http://www.tt-rss.org _if_ you can either host it yourself or have somebody who hosts it for you (and whom you trust).

35:

(replying to myself)

(add to that that even if mobile apps already exist, you'd still want an open API)

36:

I'm not an expert, so I wonder if someone can clarify for me: is it possible, even theoretically, for a distributed search engine to compete with googloids?

37:

I'm going to second (third) the recommendation for Tiny Tiny RSS. It's a self-hosted web app that is usable from whatever browser, and has an API that's usable by mobile apps for syncing and offline usage. There are currently two or three Android clients for it. Since your subscriptions and lists of read our unread articles are all on your web server, your various devices are always in sync. This does a much better job of replacing Google Reader than a desktop RSS client.

39:

There are even more extreme examples.

One of the most interesting episodes of the anime _Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei_ comes to mind... _Zetsubou-sensei_ is famous for being a very Shaft-style anime, with lots of easter eggs and random text on walls or posters which provide commentary on events, so it's unusually hard to follow in the first place.

But this particular episode was a wacky episode where Commodore Perry comes to Japan; what happens next depends on whether you chose to listen to the episode (in which case you got one story to go with the visuals) or whether you chose to read the (Japanese) subtitles (in which case you got a second, different story to go with the visuals).

Fair enough... until you ask how the fansubbers handled this episode. They just translated both the dub and subtitles as two subtitle streams!

So when you were watching it, you were given an information stream totaling:

1. the visuals
2. the background text mentioned previously
3. subtitles translating said background text
4. the audio (dub and sound effects and music) conveying story #1
5. subtitles translating the audio of story #1
6. the original Japanese subtitles conveying story #2
7. subtitles translating the subtitles of story #2

Phew!

40:

Is there a specific reason offline RSS readers like Vienna are not suitable for your needs?

42:

It took me about 5 minutes to get my subscriptions into netvibes, dump out their default feeds, and in list view it looks pretty much the same. It's been so painless that I'm wondering whether something equally painless could free me from Gmail.

43:

That reminds me...

I used to go out with a Columbian girl whose English was not much better than my Spanish. We could both more or less understand the other language, but had problems with vocabulary when speaking it. So I spoke English to her and she spoke Spanish to me. It worked pretty well when it was just two of us, but third parties reported all kinds of problems from trying to switch linguistic gears every ten seconds.

44:

Me too - I think it primarily screws over those of us who like using native newsreaders on multiple devices, rather than wanting to be forced through some web portal. The fact that I rarely used the site probably explains exactly why the product has been killed.

(The unfortunate intersection of the people most likely to be using it being the people most likely to bypass any means of Google 'monetising' their service).

Personally - I think it's something that ISPs should have been providing a long time ago, but my ISP did a crappy migration to Google Mail some time ago.
(IMAP support that deleted mails after 3 months - only spotted when mails I had had locally for years started to go missing. Nice one!! Defence 'IMAP usage is not supported'. So my paid for email is less functional than Gmail proper).

Is there room for pseudo-ISPs???


45:

OK so Google Reader is an "RSS feed" ...
so you can read web-sited easily - isn't that wat the "Favourites" tab/list/drop-down is for?
Will someone please explain why this is supposed to be a big deal?

46:

I read feeds across a triple-boot, as well as on my phone and tablet. I really do need something that can sync my read/unread list across all those devices. I guess I was never huge on Google being the intermediary because I think Google's spying on my habits quite enough already, but damned if I've been able to find any other provider that does it as well and is as well-supported.

I've got an OwnCloud server that I use for filesync, and I think it's got some RSS support -- I might have to look into it.

47:

Greetings. One possible solution to replace the Google Reader and reduce the cloud dependence is the combination of Firefox with the Add-in NewsFox.

A good alternative because imho, feedly is not suitable for my daily dose of news drugs consisting of 300 feeds as well and around 600-800 news items to skim through.

Cheers, Hellekin

48:

I head the news last night and set up tt-rss on a server I own, seems to have all the good parts of reader and none of the aspects I didn't care for.

49:

Somehow that makes me a little less sad that I had no time that weekend! I would have gone *bonkers*, trying to hear what Charlie's saying while he gets talked over in German by some translator guy!

I already hate it with all those TV documentaries and interviews, where they do this all the time (instead of subtitling) - especially if you're actually able to snatch up bits and pieces of the original and realize how sugary the translation is...

50:

No. Google Reader is an "RSS feed reader"

Image you have several dozen websites (blogs, new sites, etc.) that you read. Some of them publish forty or fifty stories a day, others one or two a week. A feed reader gives you a very efficient way to see which sites have new stories and scan the headlines and sometimes the content of those stories without polling each site individually. It makes it much easier to find the stories you want to read and ignore the rest. This saves you time and (if you're on a mobile device) bandwidth since you needn't load the full multi-megabyte horror of the Engadget main page in order to find out that they've still not published a review of some item of tech bling you're contemplating buying.

51:

The Opera browser might work for you - it has a built-in RSS reader and you can synchronize between different computers which I think (but haven't checked) includes synchronising feeds.

http://help.opera.com/Windows/12.10/en/feeds.html

I should stress I don't use Opera this way myself, I just read feeds in Livejournal.

52:

This is pretty much exactly how I feel. I feel like a huge part of my online life has been utterly destroyed by a company that used to be something good. They have successfully kill any chance that I will trust them ever again with anything I care about.

53:

I second (or third?) comments about using your browser's (I use Firefox) built-in feed reader system. And then use said browser's synchronisation features.

Personally I use the Brief add-on, which gives me the whole feed (unlike the live bookmarks system which only gives headlines). I'm pretty sure you can sync add-ons too, so that if you install an add-on on one computer, it will install on the next one. Not so sure of that though.

This solution isn't web accessible, but it does everything I need.

(And this is a great example of why you shouldn't trust "the cloud". Pay for generic hosting, and then you can easily move to another host if needed.)

54:

I've looked at a couple of other web-based services and they all seem OK, but there's now the nagging feeling that anything I choose may also go the way of the dodo. Ideally I want something I can get at from anywhere, but I host it myself.

I do have a somewhat under-utilised VPS I could use for this, so hosting something isn't going to entail any additional expense. I quite like the look of Tiny Tiny RSS, but it's written in PHP, which puts me off. I have used Newsbeuter (memorably described by Zed Shaw as "the Mutt of feed readers") with Google Reader in the past, and I could fairly happily switch to using this on my VPS over SSH.

55:

Greg: Real world analogy.

Clicking on each bookmark to see if there's something new is like going around your town knocking on people's doors and asking them if they have somethng to say.

An RSS feed aggregator like Google Reader is the equivalent of having a letterbox in which other villagers can slip notifications that they have something for you.

I subscribe to about 50 blogs with posting frequencies varying from several per day to once every six weeks or so. Hard-core RSS users may have 1000 or more subscriptions. Clicking bookmarks is infeasible for that.

56:

The Goolge Reader business model (cribbed from an Ars Technica comment, IIRC):

1. Introduce a free service that outcompetes all the existing free and paid alternatives.

2. Discontinue the free service.

3. ???


----
(There is no 4.)

57:

Readerless came I out of my mother's womb, and readerless shall I return thither: the GOOGLE gave, and the GOOGLE hath taken away; $adjective be the name of the GOOGLE.

58:

I do not want a new web browser, much less a proprietary for-money one that IIRC doesn't run on iOS. I'm happy with my current RSS readers of choice. I just want a back-end aggregator/server that isn't going to be cut off at the knees.

59:

Opera is actually free (as in beer) software, and it's very nice technology and I've been using it (on the desktop) for quite a long time. And there is an iOS version. Even if it does not meet your needs. :-)

60:

Opera certainly doesn't meet my needs for an offline-friendly cloud-syncing RSS aggregator! It's like offering someone who asks for a spreadsheet a paint package.

62:

Yes, I think I get that. Just wanted to get the facts straight. Sorry, but i am a quibbler that way... http://xkcd.com/386/
I wish I had a solution, but I can only lend you moral support here.
Would be great if there was a good FOSS solution, you could have someone set you up a feeds.antipope.org (or whatever :-)

63:

Thank you Stuart and I gladly paraphrase for you: NewsFox is a RSS Feed _Reader_ and it works very well for scanning my 293 feeds. Cheers mate.

64:

Netvibes.com

Simple, easy and customisable. I have been using it for years. You can export your feeds from google. An OPML would be good s netvibes accepts those.

The only thing that will annoy me is that "Google Listen" their podcast aggregtor hooks into listen. I hte ll the other aggregtors. All I want to do is have all the feeds I have their most recent un-listened episodes in a list and then a custom ply list that I can add things to, as I see fit. This seems to be an unrealistic goal in the Play Store.

65:

OGH:
It's like offering someone who asks for a spreadsheet a paint package.

Sadly, I watched a borderline computer illiterate person try that in the mid-90s.

66:

If one's RSS reader front end of choice is inclined to take advantage of Feedly's Normandy, then no problemo.

67:

Ah bugger. They're dropping CalDAV support for Google Calendar too. Arse.

68:

Here's an inverse answer to your question.

A feed reader like Google's is totally useless for people like me who find that the big thing about the Web is its potential for serendipity. We WANT what other people consider "useless" stuff.

Of curse, it helps if you're willing to devote 40 hours a week surfing the Web.

69:

I subscribed to Shrook for years, and they just announced recently they were shutting down.

Also

http://corte.si/posts/socialmedia/rip-google-reader.html

via John Gruber at Daring Fireball

70:

An RSS feed reader is really more like having a robot that goes around your town knocking on everybody's door to see who has something to say. But maybe it's OK, they've got robots to answer the door and hand out abstracts for them.

I don't really see that an in-the-cloud aggregator is any different except that it sits in the middle and can send one robot around to do the work for all its customers' readers.

Oh hey! Did the smart cookies at the big G maybe figure out how much Reader is saving bloggers in hosting bandwidth costs?

71:

Pass on TheOldReader - they want carte blanche do play with your contact list at their leisure. F them.

The three I've heard numerous good things about are:Tiny Tiny Rss (you need your own server, thought I doubt it's a problem for Our Esteemed Host), Netvibes (though their mobile sucks if you're not on a full-screen smartphone, and I can't figure out how to hide feeds I'm current on), and NewsBlur (open source, etc, though their servers are sucking Air right now).

72:

"...especially services that you don't, ahem, pay money to receive..."

Sort of like, oh, I don't know, the National Health Service?

73:

Well, we pay for the NHS through taxation. And we pay for 'free' internet services and products through advertising. Vanezzi's undermining the whole basis of our economy with his clever 'Ad blocking'.
Actually, I heard a rumor I just made up that Google has a plan to offer its new glasses free to anyone who agrees not to use Ad blocking. :-)

74:

>"...especially services that you don't, ahem, pay money to receive..."

Sort of like, oh, I don't know, the National Health Service?

Not true at all: I most certainly pay for the NHS. But I do not pay for it at the point of delivery, I pay for it as a bundled service in my tax bill. It's a bit like ISPs who charge you a flat monthly fee that includes bandwidth, and a mail server, and maybe an NNTP server (not so much any more), and some web space: the cost of the mail service is obscured by the other stuff but it's still being paid for.

75:

note that _if_ someone feels like they want to use Tiny Tiny RSS but don't want to host it themselves and instead want to pay somebody (a quite small amount) for it ... give a shout.

76:

Vanzetti not Vanezzi. No breakfast, hitting my first espresso of the day, could have been Venusian.

77:

Your ad-based economy should burn in hell. I'd rather pay for Internet Search than watch ads. But hey, with ad-blocker I can have the cake and eat it, too.

78:

Oh, and thanks for reminding me: I just sent some money to Adblock Plus. It was overdue...

79:

Your ad-based economy should burn in hell.

+1.

But what do you think of this blog? There are no ads on it, because it is an ad -- for me and my writing.

80:

I'd argue that's a bit different. To my knowledge this website doesn't appear embedded in pages that people are trying to read, nor presents itself as an unskippable presentation before a video. Nor is it overtly trying to convince us to part money.

Whilst it is advertising for you in the simple sense that it informs people of who you are and what you produce that doesn't seem to be its primary or even secondly goal. Seems to me to be a place for you to write articles about what interests you to be read and discussed by a largely self selecting community that enjoy the same things.

81:

It seems likely that Google is shutting this down in an effort to push RSS traffic to Google Plus. But G+ doesn't do at all the same thing--broadly, to function as a newspaper on a table.

I'm very struck by the way the silos work so hard to make it harder for us to choose what we read and view, and control how we socialize online. What's the point of the internet if it becomes television with mobs and spammers?

82:

Your blog is not an ad, at least by my definition. I'm not forced to see it while looking for other content.

84:

Your blog might be an ad (for you, the Author of SF novels) for text oriented types such as computer programmers, poets and musicians but for simple visual types like me it sure isn't. The whole thing is in nearly total denial of visual elements. This means that when it is "quoted" it isn't quoted visually.

Of course, this is also true for most authors.

85:

go-capain @ 76
VENUSIAN COFFEE?
Do tell!

86:

Hello Michael,

I would like to reply to that "F them" comment regarding The Old Reader.

First, r/w access to user contacts is required not because we want it, but because of limitations of Google API. Please see https://developers.google.com/google-apps/contacts/v3/#authorizing_requests_with_oauth_20 for more details. This is clearly described in our Privacy Policy.

Second, earlier today we made an adjustment, and contact list access is now only required when you visit the "Find Friends" page rather than when you login.

So, I hope I was able to somewhat decrease the number of people on the internet that you'd like to F.

Regards,
Anton, The Old Reader.

87:

I gave up on reader a couple of years ago, because all I was using it for was to post to Buzz. I kind of hoped they'd clone the Reader bookmarklet to let me post to Google Plus, but instead they killed it.

Don't want an RSS aggregator, it would just encourage me to waste more time reading blogs. The effort of going to multiple news sources keeps my intake under control.

88:

" There are no ads on it, because it is an ad -- for me and my writing. " after which you could, just possibly, go on to say somthing along the lines of ...and an advert for the work of those writers whose work I enjoy and consider would be enjoyable by my readership?

Come to think of it you havent mentioned Seanan McGuires " Midnight Blue-Light Special" - that I'm reading at the moment - in the main Blog. Ah, well, to er is only humanoid, and so forth..

" Discount Armageddon was a fluffy adventure with interesting beasties, a promising start to a fun new series. With Midnight Blue-Light Special, however, Hugo winner and New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire proves that she means business: this is a more serious, meaty novel that indicates the series is not afraid to go to darker places."

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnight-Blue-Light-Special-Incryptid-Novels/dp/0756407923/ref=la_B002R1LJIW_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363376171&sr=1-1

McGuire has probably watched ALL of The Fred Astaire movies ..even the really obscure ones that were made as World War Too ..the Next Big Thing, Buy it Now whilst it lasts .. propaganda.


Come to think of it though ..why arent you a "New York Times bestselling author" or are you one and I've missed it?

I Blame the lack of Instant Publication of the New Laundry Files novel ...and, yes, I have read your painfully acurate analisis of the mudane mecanics of Publishing ..and I say again ..I dont have to Belive It If I Dont Want To!

89:

Charlie, when you say you dislike Feedly's "design aesthetic", do you mean the use of colours, the way windows pop up and down and so on? Or do you mean their trendy (in April 2012) magazine format? Or both?

If it's just the magazine format, they do a perfectly good list format for volume users (hidden away in the options where it won't convenience anyone who actually needs it).

My gripe is that it doesn't support any of my mobile platforms (Win8RT and webOS). But this is hardly a unique occurrence. You shouldn't have any trouble with an iPad.

90:

It puzzeled me too, and in poking about for a reference I came upon ...

http://www.venusianglow.com/2009/01/how-to-cut-down-your-coffee-intake.html

" Beauty issues:

Aggravates rosacea by engorging veins
Yellows the teeth
Helps body to retain fat
Aggravates break-outs
Interferes with a good night's sleep, which is essential to good skin.
Contributes to undereye circles, by exhausting the adrenal glands "

Bloody 'Ell I didnt know that I was causing " undereye circles, by exhausting the adrenal glands "

Wharever next!

91:

I HateHateHATE magazine-style newsreaders such as Zite or Feedly.

I'm a very text-oriented person, and I come from an era when internet bandwidth costs were measured by the kilobyte. The image-heavy "magazine" newsreaders suck down huge amounts of graphics files, including advertisements (I'm with Vanzetti on wishing the advertising industry would die in a fire and we could pay for content we want directly instead, even if 90% of the web dried up and blew away for lack of revenue -- it wouldn't be the 90% we'd miss). Also, a typical daily RSS feed for me includes 600-900 new articles. I want just the headlines, hierarchically organized so I can drill down and look at just the stuff that interests me.

92:

Arnold, wrt. that article you need to learn to evaluate your sources more critically. No, srsly: it's junk.

93:

Is there a way to use Feedly without Google account?

94:

I'm annoyed that iGoogle is going away in November...

95:

The Feedly list view can do all that. Worth bearing in mind if you don't find a better solution.

96:

Once burned...?

I believe that they are currently on a google back end: probably not for the moment.

My deep expertise comes from:
- reading the recommendations on G+ (not a good start from your point of view)
- finding that I had installed months ago it but not used it because I, too, dislike magazine layouts
- tinkering with it for 30 minutes to find the list view
- reading Charlie's Diary in the process
- seeing Charlie had the same needs but didn't know about the list view
- sharing
- The End

They do have a Blog, though. G+ has some vague hints that they are planning to move to their own back end. So there is hope.

97:

Er .. I had Guessed ..hence " Wharever next!" Its fun though, unless ..well the entire AD industry is dominated by Stuff like this - especially the makeup and beauty adverts varients - and, beyond that, I'm begining to be really, Really, irritated by the drive to Monetrise the Internets content.It does seem to me that the pace of the Drive To Monetrise has speeded up considerably over the past few months, but maybe thats just an illusion caused by my loathing for adverts.

Oh, I'm not so romantically unworldly as to believe that the web doesnt need to be paid for but I'd rather pay up front rather than be bombarded with advert stream alongside,say, my e mail page in BT Yahoo ..
" Save UP To 70% on Luxury Travel " Snarl Snrl..KILL!! the Spammers!!

98:

>>>Once burned...?

I never used RSS before, actually. Just trying stuff, since I stumbled upon it here. Not really sure I even need an aggregator, there aren't so many blogs/magazines I read. I just don't want to involve google in everything I do. All the recent and not so recent news make me more paranoid than usual.

99:

Vanzetti, Charlie, I'm not sure you've really thought through your complaints about advertising. It's about much more than simply the funding model.

If the advertisements weren't here to tell you what to think, how would you know which feeds to buy? And if they weren't so neatly targeted, think how much time you'd waste looking at ads for things you might not buy and, worse, actually making choices. You might even defect from a brand which has been cherishing you for years.

And if you weren't exchanging clear signals about how your life is to unroll, how would the manufacturers know which products to produce to make you more capable and profitable?

100:

For a moment there, I thought you were serious. Please add emoticons next time, you just scared the hell out of me. :-)

101:

I'm not.

They are.

;0)

102:

Had a look at the list view. It's still ugly and graphically intensive -- makes crap use of screen space, only showing 4-6 stories in a screen rather than 20+ one-line summaries -- and there don't seem to be any settings for offline caching, digesting text through Instapaper or Readability or similar, or other modern text-oriented amenities.

(I want to read news, not look at pretty pictures.)

103:

Yes. It does all go a bit Dorling Kindersley around date breaks. I get 14 lines of unbroken on my small laptop.

No question about the pictures, though: once you click on one of those lines, you get the full page with pictures.

I do have my old reader offline cache, though I'm not sure how to get more.

I'm guessing that the whitespace around date breaks and lack of a text only mode will be deal breakers. On the other hand, they are developing: by the time reader goes away, it might be usable.

104:

FWIW the offline caching is actually quite straightforward. Hover over the article and there's a bookmark tag at the right of the line.

Nuff Feedly, I think.

105:

But what do you think of this blog? There are no ads on it, because it is an ad -- for me and my writing.

Hm. The first-order advertisement fails with me, as I already read your books. But! Often enough I'll notice something interesting and pass along a note to my own friends: 'Charles Stross is talking about X on his blog.' So it's working at the next level, keeping the name "Charles Stross" in front of the eyes of SF readers.

106:

Great video, I too felt inconvenienced when the news broke, but seriously, Google is not a charity, taking down a free service is not evil when: a. they gave a notice and a way to get your data out; b. there're other alternatives. And yes, I would trade Google Reader for a chance to buy Google Glass or Car any day.

107:

"There are 30301 users in the import queue ahead of you."--theoldreader.com.

108:

Giving a free service at a loss is a form of dumping, IMO.

109:

taking down a free service is not evil when: a. they gave a notice and a way to get your data out; b. there're other alternatives.

You are mistaken about there being alternatives.

Back in 2006 there were alternatives -- lots of competing cloud-based RSS aggregator/syncing services that charged a small fee and provided competing but roughly equivalent functionality.

Then Google bought out Reader. And made it free-to-use.

This killed that particular market stone dead; the only viable competitors had to differentiate themselves by doing something different. If what you wanted was the just-the-headlines text approach, the only game in town was now Google Reader.

Then Google decided to kill it.

Something similar happened in the 1980s and early 1990s with word processors. There was a time when there was a market for spell checkers and grammar checkers -- anyone else remember the likes of Borland Lightning? -- and diagram editors. But then MS decided to roll those functions into Word. They bought one of the spelling corps and one of the grammar checker corps. And they effectively killed the market for those types of software by so doing, because who's going to pay extra for a bolt-on grammar checker if their word processor comes with one? Never mind that the state of the tech was rapidly advancing before MS effectively created a monopoly by fiat, and then stagnated thereafter (because nobody could make money in those fields any more, and with no competition, MS had no incentive to put resources into improving their own feature-checkbox product).

Basically, Google slammed on the brakes on RSS in 2006. And now they're killing it, allegedly because it competes for eyeballs with G+.

(This matter is entirely orthogonal to google glass or google cars -- those are very long term strategies with mass impact; this is a current not-quite-a-cash-cow product with immediate narrow impact on opinion shapers.)

110:

Giving a free service at a loss is a form of dumping, IMO.

Yup. And Google effectively killed the RSS aggregator field by so doing.

111:

I don't know about dumping, but it seem to me that all the Internet companies do this, because the majority of netizens expect Internet service to be free. I don't see why we should blame the companies when they're just following the consumers' wishes.

In this particular case, we get to use a pretty good RSS aggregator for 6 years for free, that's got to count for something. And based on the information in this thread, it looks to me there're plenty of alternatives right now (netvibes, theoldreader, feedly's normandy, and you can always self hosting if you don't trust the cloud anymore), so it's not like we'll have a RSS aggregator gap or something. Now that Reader is about to be killed, Google is effectively giving back this market to these alternative companies, so looks like a win-win from my point of view.

Regarding Google Car/Glass, I'm not sure it's entirely unrelated, in order for these long term projects to succeed Google has to be highly profitable, which means it has to balance the books, killing unprofitable projects seems to be a natural way to do this.

112:

I just don't get something. Is the subgroup of people who would rather pay for a service than have an inferior ad-supported service so small that the pay-for services have no chance of rising?

113:

Couldn't Google make Reader a pay-service at miniscule amounts?
Say a penny-a-log-in ... but with millions of hits .. as in:
"Pile it high & sell it cheap"
Is this a viable model, or would it not work, for other reasons ?????

Why this hasn't occurred to them, or why they have discounted it is another question.
Given the shrieking over their decision, is there a chance of a reconsider? Or not?

114:

>>>I don't know about dumping, but it seem to me that all the Internet companies do this, because the majority of netizens expect Internet service to be free. I don't see why we should blame the companies when they're just following the consumers' wishes.

Usually resources don't just become free because people wish for them to. Otherwise we would have free electricity and free food.

115:

>>Couldn't Google make Reader a pay-service at miniscule amounts?

Couldn't they make all of their services a pay-service at miniscule amount? Probably not.

I wonder what are the reasons. Is it because paying over the internet is still not so easy? Or considered dangerous? Or users tend to undervalue then services provided (because they are free, which leads to a positive feedback of undervaluation).

116:

"Usually resources don't just become free because people wish for them to. Otherwise we would have free electricity and free food.": True, but that's what's good about the Internet and why we love it so much, it's free lunch everywhere.

"Couldn't Google make Reader a pay-service at miniscule amounts?": It's called micro-payment, there were some startups trying this, but it hasn't caught on, based on wikipedia, it seems the main problem is transaction cost.

117:

From the description you're giving, you've tried to get list view in Feedly by clicking 'timeline', which is what I did first, too. This isn't the list view.

The list view is called 'Titles', or, on some menus, 'condensed'. It's a headline-only list, not as space-economical as Reader's - 14 lines of headings on my screen as opposed to 20 - but without much graphical cruft beyond a bit of added space.

118:

>>>True, but that's what's good about the Internet and why we love it so much, it's free lunch everywhere.

I'm not sure if you are serious or being sarcastic. Surely you know TANSTAAFL.

119:

Greg, back in 1995-96 in the prehistory of the web, people were trying to work out what business model could support web-based business. The model you propose is called "microbilling". Back in the era of 56K modems, it turned out that you couldn't economically microbill for transactions of less than about 50p -- which effectively ruled it out. So start-ups turned to subscription-based charges or advertising instead.

These days you probably could make a microbilling system work, because bandwidth is several orders of magnitude cheaper. But there are other, newer, obstacles. You'd need to set up a framework for users to register a microbilling "wallet", and fund it from one of the big five -- Apple ID, Amazon account, Paypal/eBay, Google Wallet, or Facebook. All these corps have huge databases of customers and authorized credit card accounts. Top up the microbill wallet from the designated account in £5 increments, or thereabouts; debit a penny at a time.

Trouble is, Apple is a hardware vendor who just happens to make some pocket money on the side by selling music and videos, Amazon is a catalog sales company, and both Google and Facebook are totally committed to advertising as their core business model. That leaves Paypal/eBay who have their own problems.

It'd take enormous effort to get everyone to plug into an open microbilling system at this time -- the web has expanded to encompass tens of millions of websites and billions of users. Trying to shift business models under it right now would be murderously difficult. Not to mention that the same scammers who send spam and attempt to extract money from web ads via click-through fraud would start trying to figure out how to pilfer punters' wallets ...

120:

MMORPGs seem to do just fine with a subscription system using credit cards.

I think the problem is that while World of Warcraft was never perceived as a free service, Google was never perceived as something you have to pay for.

121:

I don't know about the UK, but here in the USA Google have at least one paid for service. It's a VOIP offering, called Google Voice - I top up my account from a credit card and it lets me call the UK for a penny a minute.

Of course, only the international part involves money - domestic calls are free, so Vanzetti's point still stands, to an extent.

122:

Charlie

Thanks for the explanation re. "microbilling" - I suspected there was a hidden wrinkle or two, or someone would have tried it out.
Pity.

Off Topic, yet partially relevant.
You are in Dun-Eidinn & the psychopathic Weasel has proposed a new VERY strict form of "Press" regulation, that, it appears would include you in its' tentacles.

Any thoughts (printable ones, that is) on this delicate subject?

123:

Some MMPORGs. Far from all. For instance (and taking an example as being by a local company some of whose employees I've known), RuneScape is free to play.

Wikipedia has a list.

But yes, WoW is an example of a subscription-based game that is sufficiently low cost that its players may stop playing for months and yet not feel the need to actually cancel the payments. I'd not played for a year when I finally got round to cancelling mine, having previously wandered off for months at a time.

124:

There's no such thing as free. It's either subscription, micro-transactions, ads or donations. I'm not sure how to call the Guild Wars model. Macro-transactions?

125:
The model you propose is called "microbilling". Back in the era of 56K modems, it turned out that you couldn't economically microbill for transactions of less than about 50p -- which effectively ruled it out. So start-ups turned to subscription-based charges or advertising instead.

I remember that V.V. used to be bugs on microbilling. Are you suggesting the payment model for internet services is yet another example of path dependency? Very depressing, if so - I suspect that the intertubes are one of the few places where free markets exist and work as advertised.

126:

Any thoughts (printable ones, that is) on this delicate subject?

The "psychopathic weasel" did not propose the draconian press regulation for Scotland that's now being discussed. Rather, he proposed a separate Scottish system, then appointed an expert panel under Lord McCluskey, a judge, to report back. The judge then delivered up a turd of a plan, which is probably unworkable. We are now into the period during which politicians circle gingerly around the ticking bomb as they try and figure out how to defuse it without looking (a) soft on the Murdoch press or (b) too damn harsh on everyone else.

It's a classic cock-up: cancelling it or backing off would make Salmond look weak, but following through with it would make him look like a censorious bully.

127:

I was contrasting with your subscription model. Yes, much 'free-to-use' stuff is ad-supported, and there is freemium stuff that gets money out of some players.

I think it'd be possible to have a truly free game, perhaps something started by a KickStarter to get initial funds and then thrown open to all. But absent any actual examples, I don't know how viable that'd actually be.

128:

Kickstarter is really important because it's the first viable framework for implementing Bruce Schneier's Street Performer Protocol, which was designed to provide a business model for performers to earn a living in a universe with ubiquitous, instantaneous piracy of IP.

There will be KS related scandals and collapses, and probably some scams, but KS represents the way forward in the long term for small-to-medium scale content creators.

129:

Something similar happened in the 1980s and early 1990s with word processors.

Oh, yes. Many of us remember using Word Perfect before the millennium. It was not in fact perfect, but it was a fine word processor for the era. (My vague recollections of WordStar remember it as less than user friendly, but Word Perfect had ample help files and a generally sane command structure.) Eventually MS started bundling Microsoft Word along with Windows and the bottom dropped out of the word processor market.

And the kids will all give us blank looks as we old farts reminisce about the DOS era. *grin*

130:

>>>There will be KS related scandals and collapses, and probably some scams,

What do you mean, WILL be? :-) There already are.

131:

>>>I think it'd be possible to have a truly free game, perhaps something started by a KickStarter to get initial funds and then thrown open to all. But absent any actual examples, I don't know how viable that'd actually be.

Ahem.


http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/open%20software

132:

The instant I read” Word Perfect “ My memory - the fractured shards of a once Good Memory - instantly called up HA! How’s about ” WORDSTAR “that was designed by someone who was in the habit of coding by typing with its elbows and the occasional intervention of its nose ...and then you mentioned the vile Thing, thus depriving me of a Perfectly Good Rant!

Curse You Rude Barron! I say whilst doing a Snoopy like fist wave to the Sky.

A friend in Fandom who should have known better...you know who YOU Are! .. Once told me, long before Word ruled the Businessverse, that 'any Word processor will do to learn on Arnold’

And also since the last update of Firefox I cant make the spellcheck in a box work with posts on ' Charlies Diary '

I’m still suffering from post Traumatic Stross Syndrome.

133:

" KS related scandals " ? Kickstarter has always sounded to me to be the next precursor to a Nigerian Spam Scam. Indeed if they had the imagination the Scamsters would have invented it. Give ME/US MONEY for this entirly Worthy Project ...You Just Know that you want to.

134:

I can recommend the Feedreader client from http://www.feedreader.com/ I have used it for years. They have also an online reader. I prefer the offline client, however.

135:

I have products I received from KS in my room right now, so there. :-P

136:


Oh... and I still have a set of Floppy disks that starts with MS DOS before going on to load one of the early versions of Windows. It's on an improbably large number of diskettes that I just can’t bring myself to discard.

137:


Indeed? ... How does the saying go? ' The first taste is always free.'?

138:

You don't actually know anything about Kickstarter, do you?

139:

The app is Windows only, so not suitable for *anything*.

140:


" Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects.”

It just strikes me as being well meaning but exploitable for nefarious purposes once it becomes well enough known. But doubtless working in various areas of Business Education and management consultancy over four decades until I bailed out with early retirement, and what was left of my sanity,just after the turn of the century has left me over cynical/realistic about idealistic projects?

141:

Look, Kickstarter itself is just infrastructure. All the projects on it are independent. As far as I know, _most_ of the funded project deliver what they promise. Also AFAIK, most of those who fail are not scams but victims of overconfidence.

But perhaps I'm biased, because the stuff I funded and received was from creators with reputation.

142:

"I don't really see that an in-the-cloud aggregator is any different except that it sits in the middle and can send one robot around to do the work for all its customers' readers."

I'm guessing a lot of people posting in this thread use the same computer all day long? I have a laptop that runs Ubuntu, a desktop that runs Windows 7, a work machine that I'm not allowed to install software on, and an iPad that I check headlines from that sits on my nightstand. I don't want four independently running apps that don't talk and can't sync what I read on one other other machines.

Anyone who says "what's the big deal about RSS" doesn't follow 200+ sites like I do. Who has time to click on 200 sites a day? I click on one in Google Reader and it's "[scroll wheel] [click] [scroll wheel] [scroll wheel] [scroll wheel] [click] [scroll wheel] [scroll wheel] [scroll wheel] [Mark all as read]". Wash, rinse, consume, repeat.

Most of the "host-it-yourself" solutions seem to be tailored to Linux boxes, so finding one that works out of the box with IIS is proving to be challenging. I hate to throw one more thing on to the "host it myself" pile, but I hate the idea of someone pulling the rug out from under my feet yet again even more.

143:

Oh yes, it really was perfect!

WordPerfect had perfect telephone support. That was their secret sauce.

For extremely visual people like me they had another secret sauce, their "show code" function. You could actually see, understand (by playing around and/or reading the manuals and/or phoning their hotline) and go erase the coding that the software put in when you did things like TAB.

I still can't get things right with "modern" word processing and the conceptual, invisible way they deal with TAB and other such things. We are in 2013 and they have still not implemented true direct manipulation in word processing software.

144:

OOPs I somehow lost the final paragraph, which was ..

You might care to look up " crowd funding frauds "

This, following is one of many. " Melville, who owns Tabletop Arena, solicited the sale of unregistered securities via Twitter, Facebook and his website. It seems the business owner asked young customers of his business and other interested parties cruising the business' social media presence to help him raise a quarter-million dollars to help move and expand the business." ...

http://www.crowdsourcing.org/editorial/the-first-crowdfunding-scammer---on-the-side-of-evil-or-magic/19113

145:

In the 90s, I moved (with employment) from Lotus 1-2-3 (I remember getting single-level undo, wonders!), to Word/Plan Perfect (Revel Codes for the win!), to Excel 4.0. A couple of days of training with VB for Excel (and a background in typing in programs for my TRS-80 LII and BASIC and a bit of Cobol at Uni) and I was away!
I think I used Bloglines before Google Reader, I will wait to see what Digg comes up with before comparing alternatives.
I understand that some Podcast managers use Reader for the back end, whoops. My Android one doesn't, I was planning on checking out another one anyway, something else for the checklist.

146:

It might be exploitable.

But those projects that I've kicked in for have been because I know, or know of, the people making the proposals. In some cases I've met them. They have form. I'm betting that, given the money, they can do again what they've done before.

(So, Amanda Palmer, Boothby Graffoe, Robert Llewellyn, and so on.)

It's a tricky infrastructure to scam, because you need to get people to believe you (a) can do something they actually want, and (b) you are capable of fulfilling it.

None of the projects I've backed have failed. Some have not been completed yet, some aren't due for delivery this year, but none have failed.

147:

"even if 90% of the web dried up and blew away for lack of revenue -- it wouldn't be the 90% we'd miss"
I have to disagree. I hate ads, but I think they are a necessary evil sometimes - PayPal for example doesn't like porn. Now when you run a site that features exposed nipples from time to time (not even primarily about porn, it just crops up from time to time), you potentially can't use PP for donations because any porn affiliated accounts are only a report away from being closed down (happened to a board I post on, now there's a new PP account and you have to ask for its name via email).
Yes there are other payment providers, but they are not nearly as popular and for some hobby projects it means the difference between getting enough money to stay afloat and downsizing/closing down.

148:

I have had a failure of sorts on Kickstarter, but a mitigated one. The short film in question is done, but it will be a great deal of time (at least a couple more months, it was promised in October) before I get my DVD copy, problems with film festival contest rules.

I have gotten to see the film online via a private online screening though, and am quite happy with my 10$ if slightly annoyed at the delay.

149:

Oh yes, it really was perfect! WordPerfect had perfect telephone support. That was their secret sauce.

I never used that. But I do remember sitting down at a DOS computer and finding Word Perfect for the first time. After pecking at it a little I wanted to do something and promptly noticed "Press F3 for Help" at the menu bar. This actually got me helpful help text (which is not always the case these days) and from there I could work it out.

Wordstar was...not so handy. Part of that was that it was written earlier, when people had less experience making things user-friendly, but that was only a small part of its difficulties.

The Word Perfect coders were clearly thinking "Let's make the best word processor we can," and did a good job. The things it didn't do were mostly technically limited. Certainly MS Word hasn't pushed the limits of the hardware that much in a long time.

150:

OK, I've tried out Tiny Tiny RSS.

It works as per the tin, but the default user interface needs attention from someone with good knowledge of typography for computer displays, and UX in general. The main page looks exactly like the screenshot on the project's home page. No search.

But I think I can live with it. (Scaling that to what I have seen of other people's scoring, that's a 9 out of 10.) But I only have a few feeds; your experience may differ.

151:

Neither, I was trying to describe what I perceive as the public sentiment regarding the Internet. Personally I wouldn't say it's free lunch everywhere, but you can get it if you want (for example, when you search through Google without giving out your personal information and blocking the ads), so no, I don't agree with TANSTAAFL.

152:

Look, the free ad-supported resource is as free as the cheese in a mousetrap. You are getting anything at all only because someone agreed to pay to have a chance to show you an ad.

153:

That's due to Paypal and other card processors in the US having to plug into Mastercard, who are allegedly run by blue-nosed fundies from the US Deep South.

There are other problems with gambling, too: the US criminalizes online gambling -- it competes with casinos, who have lobbyists -- and go after gambling sites via the card processors.

(The UK has a less insane attitude to online gambling, and the UK card processing network operates differently -- via the retail banks, who are too big for Mastercard to piss off -- so for a while Datacash in the UK had something like 90% of the English-language online gambling card processor market. This was, ahem, after I left.)

154:

WordStar, lest ye forget, was written to run on an 8-bit CP/M box with 32Kb of RAM. WordPerfect came along several years later and was written for 16-bit DOS boxes with 256Kb or more of usable memory. Hence the lack of help in WordStar.

I actually found WordStar rather user-friendly once I realized that there were about eight crucial mnemonics to memorize for doing various operations -- it's certainly no more internally inconsistent than vi. And it, too, had something not unlike WP 4.2's "reveal codes" if you wanted to inspect the document formatting. Trouble is, invisible embedded codes are a really stupid way to handle text formatting.

WP's big innovation was to be able to edit two files simultaneously and display both of them in a split screen mode. It's function key mapping was, however, a thing of horror. My preferred DOS era word processor was Borland Sprint, a massively powerful editor/formatter combo that resembled EMACS (with a relatively sane function key driven cascading menu interface) for editing and Scribe (the first true semantic markup language, which differentiated document structure from document content. Sprint absolutely pissed all over Word Perfect and DOS-era Microsoft Word in terms of power, flexibility, crash-proofness, and so on; a shame it never caught on. (I wrote several novels using it. Bad ones, alas.)

155:

Charlie @ 153
What happens with famous classical "Art" paintings, then, e.g. The Birth of Venus for example, or do they ban that, like 50's dirty old men tearing pages out of library books?
Never mind [ NSFW ] Courbet's The origin of the world dearie me, pathetic, isn't it!

& @154
"vi" SHUDDER.

156:

But but but ..
VIM is _the_ editor. There are no other editors!

157:

'go-capain @ 76 VENUSIAN COFFEE? Do tell!'

I was trying to correct a spelling mistake and made an error of grammar. I do miss venusian coffee though.:-)

158:

vi is lovely!

You just have to understand that it was written to work on a green-screen terminal talking to a mainframe over a telephone line with a 1200 baud bidirectional modem, so brevity was vital -- refreshing the screen could take up to 20 seconds. Then you have to understand regular expressions. And think of vi as a command interpreter for a text-mangling language. And suddenly it all makes sense ...

159:

I first encountered vi in 1993 doing my MSc - the internet had just started & I was able to use the U's computers for access.
However, as someone used to write / read carefully / compile / run / correct - rinse & repeat via Fortran (since 1979) & some BASIC (VB had not then been invented, I think) even then vi struck me as crude ....
I was using Lotus 123 to write ny dissertation, since it was a better w/p package than Word Pervert .....

160:

Vi was written in the late 1970s/very early 1980s. Its one redeeming virtue is that it'll work on just about any kind of terminal, over a really low bit-rate connection.

Sane vi-users these days use vim, which has sort of accreted complexity around the core of vi until it's an all-singing all-dancing development environment in its own right. You can even remap all the key mappings and add menus via Cream, which makes vim obey Windows/IBM CUA keystrokes (while retaining all its flexibility and power).

161:

The only Microbilling system I know of is in Second Life which had an in-game currency with participants can trade and which, although hedged around by "it's not really money" clauses in the corporate TOS can be converted to and from real-world currency.

But the only stuff which is worth trading seems to be stuff which exists within Second Life, and after one or two payment glitches on the subscription side I am a bit uncertain about whether I can trust the company, Linden Labs

It has never lived up to the hype of a few years ago, and some of the entities that did the hyping have quietly closed down the presence they had. Reliability has been traded for flashy new features, and the microbilling is an incidental to all that.

Allegedly, every L$ is tracked through the system, but there are a heck of a lot of them (1 USD to about 250 L$). There was a scam by a player who turned out to be a well-known fraud-hacker (and who was breaching probation just by being a player). I gather I missed the gambling dens and ponzi schemes and imaginary stock exchanges, but I saw one or two dodgy events. There is a virtual land market (essentially renting server resources, and sub-letting) and I saw one case of a "land baron" making a sudden exit between collecting rents on sub-lets and paying Linden Labs. Last I heard, the guy was pontificating for a virtual newspaper that makes the Murdoch Press look honest.

For all sorts of reasons, I don't think it's a general-purpose microbilling system, but it exists. And people do get money out.

Just don't expect the people who get the money out to always be the right people. And anyway, it's not money, honest.

162:

"WP's big innovation was to be able to edit two files simultaneously and display both of them in a split screen mode. It's function key mapping was, however, a thing of horror."

Ah yes, it had very little internal logic. On the other hand all the versions I used came with cardboard stick-ons that you placed around the function keys. They were the saving grace, for me. They came in different shapes to accommodate different types of keyboards. And they were available in our language, not just in English!

In fact WP was one of the first of the big word processing programs to go into "international" editions, offering several languages to countries all around the world.

We tend to forget now that the WP corporation had global ambitions, years before Microsoft was in the picture, "embracing and expanding" all over the planet.

Before WP came out with its translated version in my language there were several homespun word processing programs available in my city, in our language. They all disappeared within a few years because they could not possibly compete with WP's features and its service, once it had the right language.

That's why we didn't exactly weep when Microsoft's Word clobbered WP. It was just foreigners beating up other foreigners.

163:

vi is lovely!

Yes it is! While not everyone may think so, they overlook the limitations of the art in the 1970s. (A 1200 baud connection, Charlie? Lucky you. I was stuck for years with 300 baud and a dumb terminal.) It hasn't been modern in decades but it's very well suited for anything with a slow connection or little data storage. Some readers might be amused by reading the wiki article.

I hope your elaboration of WordStar vs Word Perfect was helpful to some; I barely mentioned the in passing. The 'two document' feature in Word Perfect was amazing at the time - why, we could just copy & paste text! Heh; times change...

I never used Borland Sprint; it sounds like a good program, but apparently it never caught on over on this side of the pond.

164:

As someone who runs a (popular in it's field, but it's a small field) free to users, but supported by adverts I'm a bit unsure from the comments here how I'm meant to be behaving.

Should I:
1) As well as giving the hundreds of programming hours I already do, also pay for the hardware and bandwidth and electricity out of the goodness of my own heart?
2) Require everybody using the site to go through a convoluted registration and payment service before they even try it - removing it's value to a lot of one or two time users (or which there are plenty who do get real value out of it)?
3) Keep it as it is, and accept that people think that getting enough beer to pay the running costs and a few beers a month makes me eeeeviiil?

I'll stay on (3) for as long as I can. I take the view that the people sophisticated enough to use ad-blockers probably won't follow them anyway. But I still cringe every time I see someone vigorously enthusing about adblockers.

I won't link to the site (as that would be advertising!), but it's a canal and other inland waterways route planning site and fairly easy to find if you care.

And the comment @152 is just sheer, unmitigated, opinion-driven bullshit. I had the site up and running for several years before I put adverts on it. I'd probably keep it running for fun if I didn't. But when the choice was between adding a feature a user has asked for but which I'd never use, or doing some jobs round the house, I'd be a lot less likely to do the same. It's a hobby project. It competes for my time with a lot of other things. The revenue from the ads pushes it a bit up my priority queue.

Kickstarter feels the wrong model for me. I've been building and enhancing just the web version of this program for over 12 years now. The ads provide a nice, gently, revenue stream that - as I enhance the site - grows in response. It doesn't make me beholden to anyone to do anything if I don't want to.

I have a "make a donation" button as well. That used to provide a few pounds as well. When the recession first hit I could see the effect: the £10 and £5 donations went to £3 and £1. I've not had one for a year or so now.

165:

>That's due to Paypal and other card processors in the US having to plug into Mastercard, who are allegedly run by blue-nosed fundies from the US Deep South.

It's true paypal originally got enthusiastically in bed with the porn industry and then got sharply reeled back by the card processors, but mc is a small fish compared to VISA (Well, maybe a 20 to VISA's 80 percent? That's probably not "small") and VISA's regulations regarding content in the adult industry are painstaking, even to the positions performers may be in, where they are facing, etc...

Of course no one worries about the pornographers but when the mainstream intersects with this ruleset occasionally, then things get unpleasant. Saturn's Children would not pass this filter, for example.

Much like the recent Games Workshop Space Marine trademark fiasco I could easily see some VISA drone start getting pissy about the content of the ebooks they are processing for.

The ad supported model can also be depressingly prudish, of course, Adsense pulled from a blog I hosted due to some rather tame photos of cosplayers the writer had taken at a con.

166:

I wouldn't call you evil, as such. You are using the tools that are available to you, in a world you live.

However, in the end, a person looking for the service you provide will find it bundled with an ad she didn't seek. So yeah, you provided a service for free. You also tricked a user into watching something she had no intention of watching.

167:

Vi was written in the late 1970s/very early 1980s. Its one redeeming virtue is that it'll work on just about any kind of terminal, over a really low bit-rate connection.

Yes, just this. I use it even on desktops (my Windows editor of choice is gVim), but vi(m) really shines on my N9 mobile phone. It works either directly from the shell on the phone, or when composing emails.

I'm somewhat of a strange person, and I still read my email on the move using ssh, screen and mutt. It'd be horror using Emacs on the phone, but vim is very good for this.

(Now, if the phone only had a hardware keyboard...)

168:

currently, the only hardware keyboard options (at least in Android-land) for Europeans seem to be the Sony/Ericsson Xperia Pro and Mini Pro. Both quite weak in the memory/CPU arena but at least they have nice keyboards.

Only other option is to hand-import a Motorola Droid 4 (XT894) from the US, which according to various forum-denizens everywhere works fine in Europe, it's just not being sold to us.

Probably will go for that if my Mini Pro keeps annoying me with its slowness .. (and by "slow" I mean that sometimes, it's not able to show me the "incoming call"-app in time so that I can accept the call before it is being rerouted to my mailbox ..)

169:

You missed the bit where vi can still be used in those "I've just made my X-client FUBAR" emergencies that mean you no longer have a screen editor available.

170:

I remember fondly the rant of a lecturer of mine back in the 80's that "vi" encouraged lazy thinking and anybody with a real intellect just used ed ;-)

(for those who don't know http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_(text_editor) )

He wasn't even a developer - a linguist by trade!

171:

@149:
Wordstar was...not so handy. Part of that was that it was written earlier, when people had less experience making things user-friendly
---
Word Perfect used function keys, arrow keys, Insert, Tab, and other keys. It was written for the IBM PC and later ported to a few other platforms.

Wordstar was written long before Word Perfect, when there were many operating systems and a huge variety of hardware, some of it using Teletype keyboards or dumb terminals. The only guaranteed inputs were 10 numbers, 26 letters (some machines did not have lower case) and a space bar.

The guy who wrote Wordstar wasn't a sadist; he was just writing under a much tighter set of constraints than the guys who wrote Word Perfect.

172:

In the mid-seventies the Rand Corporation produced a windowing editor for V5 Unix that showed multiple views of the same or different files. It was begat from the Yale editor, which ran on PDP-10s and which didn't have the multiple window feature. It definitely was nicer to use when you were inside Rand on a 9600 baud line...It's the first multi-windowing editor I know about. Brief, which ran on PCs and was available in the 90s, was a fairly faithful clone.

173:

I'm somewhat of a strange person, and I still read my email on the move using ssh, screen and mutt. It'd be horror using Emacs on the phone, but vim is very good for this.

But if you know Emacs, you can use the macro language to write a vi emulator!

Yes, people have done this. No, it's not practical.

But I'm happy to see how many folks still remember that era fondly. I certainly do.

TRX also wrote: ...a huge variety of hardware, some of it using Teletype keyboards or dumb terminals.

Oh, yeah! Ever use a printing terminal? For the confused, it's just a dumb text-only terminal with a printer in place of a video screen. I got the 'privilege' of using one of these in an pinch, with a roll of thermal paper and a 300 baud acoustic coupler on the back; boy, I was happy to put that away.

174:

Whenever one complains about the lack of letters in UNIX commands (such as ls), it is good to remember that they were implemented in a room full of 110 baud teletype machines, and each and every letter typed (or output) was loud.

I've used such devices, and can appreciate things. Maybe not to the point of dropping the final 'e' in creat, but I certainly would prefer typing "ls" to "list-directory".

176:

Surprised? Once they went after the News Of The Screws and took that down journalistic regulation was pretty much inevitable and the Good and Great can breathe easy again. Have they emailed you with details on how to apply for your blogging licence yet?

177:

I haven't read "Leaky Establishment" yet, no copy, alas, but wasn't there a bit about a game of "Space Invaders"?

On a teletype-like printer?

178:

Yes. Played on a shamelessly under-utilized Cray-1.

179:

No article I've ever read does a good job of explaining what Google Reader actually does, which leads to all sort of fricking stupid suggestions of what to migrate to. Yes, people who use Google Reader know about reader software, thank you. In fact, we're _already using it_.

For the record: People are not upset that a website that they read RSS feeds at is shutting down. There are plenty of other sites they can read RSS feeds at, and Reader exports in the standard format. If _that_ is all people use Google Reader for, they aren't bitching, and if they are they need to stop.

What _currently has no replacement_ is what other people use Google Reader for: Sync.

There are dozens of apps out there that sync read and unread messages with a Google Reader account. People use these in combination with the web site, or, heck, just use two such apps and don't use the website at all. There _used_ to be other companies providing such a service, at least across their own products, but they charged for it, and hence they got driven out of the market by Reader's freeness.

It is not helped that there is actually _no standard_ for this.

If you're not following this, imagine a world where email standards didn't exist, where IMAP didn't exist. But one company had provided a free service that _did_ do that sort of syncing between your webmail and various desktop clients. A service that entire companies had built infrastructure around, where email clients on the desktop and Android and iOS used it. Moreover, this free service had run the paid services out of business.

And they just decide to shut it down. not even give us the chance to pay for it or anything, and it's logically not something that would cost that much money. They're _Google_, they're already sucking in every newsfeed in existence on a regular basis. Is it really so hard to provide us with a goddamn interface to it and keep track of 1000 'read' or 'unread' indicators? (Note all the software 'syncing' through them have to pull in the feeds themselves, they don't get those from Google. It's just 'read' or 'unread' they toggle at Google.)

As a totally unrelated aside, Google did not shut Reader down because it wasn't making money. How do I know this? Because _it doesn't have ads_. They didn't even _try_ to make it make money. (Granted, considering how many things just synced remotely with it, an argument could have been made that ads would not have worked...but the complete lack of even attempting ads makes that rather a moot point.)

Likewise, they didn't shut down Reader to try to move people to G+? Why do I know this? Because _at no point_ has that been suggested to me. I get the notice they're shutting down whenever I log in, and...that's it. No suggestion what I should do. Going to the help area gives helpful information...about how to export your data. There's not a single word in the direction of 'Google provides another service that does some of this', so it seems like a _really_ idiotic way to try to get people to switch.

180:

Many aeons hence, I did my social netwrok stuff at a place called FurryMUCK, using basic telnet on a computer running MS-DOS.

FurryMUCK is still running. There are specialised clients, but the communication protocol hasn't changed much. Telnet will still work.

How many internet services started in 1990 and are still running?

181:

So, Charlie, which service did you pick to replace Google Reader?

182:

So, Charlie, which service did you pick to replace Google Reader?

None, as yet.

TinyTinyRSS is inadmissible -- relies on PHP. (I refuse to allow PHP anywhere near my server.)

The other solutions ... are mostly automatically formatted to resemble a newspaper. If I wanted an image-heavy newspaper I'd subscribe to an online one, thanks. Or don't support syncing multiple devices. Or offline cacheing. Or don't run on iOS and Mac OS X, my preferred platforms.

(I live in hope, however. NetNewsWire are apparently working towards a google-free back-end solution, and FeedlerPro, my preferred iOS client, is doing something similar. Ask me again in a couple of months.)

183:


You haven't read it ?!!! It’s readily available at a modest £7.99. Well worth it at twice the price...all right, and a bit...for the Hard Back...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Leaky-Establishment-David-Langford/dp/0584311672/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0

184:

C @ 182

Or, you never know, "G" may change their mind, given the shrieking?
What are your estimates of the odds for this?

185:

re: microbilling

Bitcoins anyone?

186:

Some people, when confronted with a microbilling problem, think “I know, I'll use bitcoins.” Now they have two problems.

Specials

Merchandise

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 14, 2013 10:34 AM.

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