Exporting RSS subscriptions from NetNewsWire: LimpetWhile I was on the road last week, I really felt the loss of my NetNewsWire subscription information: I had the software on my TiBook, but without my most current list of RSS feed subscriptions, I was left somewhat as a fish out of water. I can explicitly export a subscription list from NetNewsWire into OPML format, but I wanted something more automatic. So I wrote limpet, a simple C program that automates the creation of these OPML subscription files. With an additional script from my upcoming Wicked Cool Shell Scripts, I can now keep an up-to-date copy of my subscriptions list on my server without even thinking about it. If you're a NetNewsWire user, you'll want to check out limpet today!
GIFs, compression standards and patent lawMy friend Jeff Cosgwell was musing about Unisys and its recently expired LZW patents here in the United States and I thought it'd be cool to give him a "bully pulpit" here to talk about it. For those that don't know, LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch) is an ingenious compression algorithm that's built into the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). Ring a bell? Web pages are littered with GIF images - they're the primary graphics format for all images, whether logos, buttons, or even just rounded corners on table layouts. There's a very good explanation of the legal issues at this Geocities site and other than that, Jeff, take it away...
Aborted foetus becomes mother?This is just some really freaky science. Today the BBC Health Desk is reporting the following story: "An aborted foetus could one day become the mother of a new baby by "donating" her eggs to an infertile woman, say researchers. The highly controversial idea has been suggested as one solution to a worldwide shortage of women prepared to donate their eggs to help other women become pregnant."
I rarely am freaked out by the news I read, but there's just something scary about this, a sort of "we're going too far" sense...
Eradicate junk phone calls: the National Do Not Call RegistryThe Federal Communications Commission appears to have finally taken a step towards giving us the freedom to not get junk calls with the launch of its National Do Not Call Registry. It's not perfect (for example, they warn that "long distance companies, airlines, banks and credit unions, and insurance businesses" are exempt) (can you say "lobbyists?") but it's a sure step in the right direction. The Wall Street Journal reports that "about 370,000 telephone numbers were registered in the program's first 12 hours."
A job you probably don't really want...I'm browsing through the local Westside Star, the local paper here at the Lake of the Ozarks, when I see the following (real, untouched) advertisement in the classifieds section:
And what are your fans flinging at you?As reported in This Is True, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones has been complaining that unlike the old days, his fans aren't tossing panties onto stage when he performs, they're sharing their Y-fronts (men's underwear, in case you're not sure) instead. As he says: "I don't know what that says."
Well, Mick, it suggests that you are now appealing to a different fan base, to put it gently. Maybe you need a new corporate sponsor for your tour, to upgrade your stage litter? :-)
Translating Amazon Ranking into SalesBumped into an interesting table on a writers mailing list this morning that I wanted to share. According to research by an unnamed publisher, here's an approximate correspondence:
I'd be interested in any corroborating data, if you have it.
Can Oprah pick my book?Today Oprah Winfrey announced the first book in her resurrected book club, and it was John Steinbeck's depressing but brilliant East of Eden. As Publishers Weekly says: "The book itself had a fortunate day as well - within the hour, the trade paperback jumped from #2,356,000 to #113 at Amazon, while at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., the store sold out its stock of 70 copies this morning." The report continues with the note that "East of Eden sells 40,000 to 50,000 copies in an average year".
My obvious question, then: how do I get Oprah to pick one of my books anyway? :-)
"Deployed in Iraq"Drove through the heartland of America today, central Missouri, and it's sure interesting to get out of the "green" environs of Boulder and see how the other half thinks. Billboards "it's a baby, not a choice", "adoption, not abortion" and a particularly striking one of a pregnancy test device showing positive (but the positive mark, rather than a pink bar, is a pink cross) with the uplifting phrase "pregnant? Now there's hope." Presumably, before the creation of the specific church, there wasn't any hope once you found you were pregnant, but that's another story...
The most thought-provoking sign, one I wish I'd taken a picture of, was a crude home-made board in front of a farm saying "Cpl. John Smith" (or some name like that), his regiment and division, and "Deployed in Iraq"....
Hmmm... Microsoft bails because they can't get inside an OS?A snippet from a CNET news story, by way of lockergnome: "Although Microsoft may continue to provide security and performance updates, no major new releases (of Internet Explorer) are planned, Microsoft Product Manager Jessica Sommer told CNET News.com. Sommer said that, with the emergence of Apple's Safari browser, Microsoft felt that customers were better served by using Apple's browser, noting that Microsoft does not have the access to the Macintosh operating system that it would need to compete."
Hmmm... is it just me, or does anyone else seem to remember Microsoft protesting its innocence when the Netscape/AOL folk were complaining to the Department of Justice that Microsoft was exploiting its knowledge of the operating system to create a browser they (Netscape) couldn't compete with? And now Microsoft bails on IE/Mac for exactly the same reason? Hmmm....
Etymologic!Thanks, Gretchen for pointing to my super-tough, but fun Etymologic! word origins game on your weblog! In fact, if you haven't checked it out yet, you definitely should: Etymologic! is an award-winning word game based on etymology, or word origins. A typical question might be: through what avenue did the word denim enter the English language? (it's a tough game. Be prepared!)
The game came about because my friend Kevin Savetz and I had built a web-based computer trivia game called trivial.net, and since I'd written the game engine, I thought "wouldn't it be cool to have the same engine work with a different quiz database?" and so Etymologic was born. In its first generation it was "Where's THAT From?" but when I moved it to its own domain it was renamed. And that's the scoop!
Wal-Mart oozes into another market nicheThis week in my marketing strategies class we've been exploring Wal-Mart and its dominance in the retail grocery market (did you know that Wal-Mart is the largest grocery chain in the world? Even bigger than Kroger, Safeway and Ahold, all of whom are quite substantial. And six years ago Wal-Mart wasn't even selling groceries. Amazing). Today Wal-Mart announced that its mail-order DVD rental program has gone live after an eight-month test period. This will undoubtedly prove a substantial threat to NetFlix, the company with which I currently have a DVD rental subscription.
Continue Reading "Wal-Mart oozes into another market niche"
My latest book, Solaris 9 For Dummies, is out!I'm very pleased to say that my newest book, Solaris 9 for Dummies is now available in the bookstore and online, and the copies I have look really great. I've built a web site for the book that includes a terrific sample chapter talking about the different email programs in Solaris 9 (with lots of screen shots), a pile of useful Web links, the table of contents, and much more. Check it out at http://www.intuitive.com/solaris/ and let me know what you think!
And if you'd like to arrange for a review copy so you can help publicize the title in a print or online venue, please let me know and we can definitely work something out.
What makes for a good blog?My colleague and associate Debbie Weil, who was attending the recent Weblog Business Strategies Conference, has a new entry in her own blog reporting on the attendee consensus of attributes of a good blog. But I don't agree, in a really fundamental way.
Let me explain...
A brilliant idea for a business, if you don't mind racketeeringI'm reading through my management textbook this afternoon and came across a most amazing comment therein: "The sokaiya commonly disrupted annual shareholders' meetings by jeering unless the firm made payments to them not to attend the meeting." This sounds more like something out of Monty Python (specifically, the Piranha Brothers) than anything else, but digging around on Google reveals that not only do these folk continue to exist, but that they're quite a plague on Japanese corporate life.
It's a rather amazing and intriguing story....
My new book "Solaris for Dummies" arrivesI just checked the Dummies web site and my new book, Solaris 9 for Dummies has arrived, but they list me as David Taylor. Man, don't they read my weblog?!?!? I've already had a rant about this! (and yes, I also sent them quite pointed email on this subject). Perhaps fortunately, I can't tell on their cover shot whether they're still listing me on the cover as "David", but I sure hope that when I get the actual book that they've fixed it! This reminds me of my friend Tara Calishain, who had her name misspelled on the first printing of her best-selling Google Hacks book. Sheesh!!
Calling all digital photographersI still take oodles of pictures with my Leica Digilux camera, with very good results, but I am finally selling off something that's really great for digital photographers on the go: a 10GB Sima Photo Bank It's really a great deal if your digital camera uses CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards, I encourage you to check out my eBay auction and pick up a great bargain.
Cool company: Blue CanopyMy buddy Scott W. has landed a job at a very cool company: Blue Canopy. They're the "integrator's integrator", or, as they say on their site, "Blue Canopy is in the business of solving demanding technology and business challenges for our clients. We uniquely bring together top global industry talent with a structured process and guarantee all the work we do. We act not as a vendor, but as a trusted advisor to our clients." If you're involved with enterprise level projects, check 'em out!
Next generation military weaponryIn the never ending technologically fueled arms war, the U.S. military's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate has apparently been testing quite fascinating (and scary) weapons, as reported in Popular Science. One, called the Active Denial System, the non-lethal pain gun "will fire a pulsed (in brief shotlike bursts) deuterium-fluoride laser that will produce an ionized plasma on whatever surface it hits. That in turn will cause both pain and a kinetic shock, and could literally knock people off their feet."
Not tech enough? How about the Advanced Tactical Laser that produces a four-inch-diameter beam of energy that can slice through a tank from a distance of 9 miles. Nine miles. Think about that.
Booktalk weblog launchedAfter debating different approaches to consolidating the discussion spawned by readers of my books, I have finally settled on a single weblog with categories, one per book, which is now linked to all my book sites. Check it out: http://booktalk.intuitive.com/
If you've any interest, I'd greatly appreciate your popping over and seeing what you think about the layout and organization and even adding a comment or two if you're so inclined. Thanks!
Reader email: What Is this RSS Thing?Email from a reader: "Perhaps you could answer a quick question: What's this RSS/XML thing? I've often wondered how blogs get known, and it seems this is part of the deal, but I am clueless on this "syndication" model and how it works. Is there some way to automate the process of cranking the code to put your blog in that format, on top of the HTML? Or have I really misunderstood the whole paradigm?"
Since this seems like a general interest question, and certainly one I'm interested in exploring further, I thought I'd tackle it here in my weblog!
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