Trying to be a weekly thing.
- have a proper CoverFlow clone that doesn’t lag or rely on Java (like AlbumApplet), and that allows for custom locations of art on the drive.
- monitor folders for new music.
- have an integrated BitTorrent client that puts music from trackers directly into your library.
- jump to the location in a page where the currently playing mp3 was found.
- properly recognize all XML podcasts (a known issue).
- allow you to browse by when albums were added, when they were played (not just last played, but over their entire history), and by hotness.
- submit to Last.fm.
And on that day…
Google Reader, employing Google’s petabytes of storage, archives every feed item it’s ever pulled for you. This has always amazed me, as I’m sure I and everyone else must be using far more in Reader than the 5 gigs we get from Gmail. Still, they don’t have much of a choice; it wouldn’t do anybody good if you could only see the 10 or 20 items present on a feed’s XML file at any given time. And even though they’re probably clever enough to only have to store one copy of every item for that item’s hundreds of thousands of readers, they’ve practically built a third copy of the internet (after their cache).
A nice fallout of this archiving is that whenever content you’ve subscribed to disappears from the web, you’ll still be able to access its (admittedly homogenized) Reader copy, forever; “forever” here meaning “presumably for as long as Google is around.” When (if?) Google dies, will its data die with it? Despite my intuition that Google will long outlast current notions of what computers are and how they work, I still don’t like entrusting important data to other people, not to mention data that is accessible only through the web. I want a local copy.
But they don’t make it easy for you. Reader is all AJAXed out, so even simple page saves don’t work. Copying/pasting would be a nightmare. Screenshots? Too sloppy. Emailing copies of each item? Too time-consuming. Tagging them with a special tag, making that tag’s feed public, then subscribing in, like, Thunderbird or something? Even if that weren’t absurdly roundabout, the public feeds only have twenty or so items.
I’m talking specifically about a blog I loved, but that up and disappeared one day, completely, leaving the only copies of the lost data scattered throughout Netvibes, Newsgator, Bloglines, and Reader. Google searches turned up nothing like a straightforward guide to saving from Reader, which surprised me. But there were clues, and using only a couple tools, I finally got it. It’s actually pretty easy, I was able to save 118 items in about ten minutes with this method. Let me show you it.
You need Firefox, the two plugins Greasemonkey and ScrapBook, and the Greasemonkey script Google Reader Print Button. Then it’s just a matter of clicking “Print” for each item you want to save, which opens it in its own tab, then using ScrapBook’s “Capture All Tabs…” function, which automatically does a “Save Page As, Web Page, complete” into your %AppData% folder for each tab, then finally optionally using ScrapBook’s “Combine Wizard” (in the tools menu of the ScrapBook sidebar [Alt+K]) to put all the items into a single folder with a single index.html file.
The “printing” part is the most cumbersome, but goes by pretty quickly with the repetition of a series of clicks and keystrokes:
- Click “Print”
- Press Esc (to close the print dialogue)
- Press Ctrl+Tab (to get back to Reader)
- Press J (to go to the next feed item)
Do that mindlessly for a couple minutes, and they’ll all be there, waiting to be saved. I’m gonna put the word “disk” in here too so that anybody Googling for a solution might find this.
Only TWO days ago, cinematictitanic.com mysteriously appeared. Claimed to be authored by Joel Hodgson, it goes on to say that he is returning to the making-fun-of-movies thing, along with Trace, Frank, Mary Jo, and JOSH WEINSTEIN. So I think some healthy skepticism wouldn’t be UNfounded.
The first thing you notice is how POORLY the page is designed. You even see a <meta name="author" content="John Stotler" /> in the source, that the domain is hosted at GoDaddy, and is registered through a privacy proxy. Okay, fine, so these people have hired an amateur designer. It’s possible.
But the announcement just resembles too closely every MST3K fan’s wet dream. They’re an easy target for a prank like this. They’ve been chanting Joel’s name continually for over ten years now, begging for him to come back. Pulling one over on people demonstrating such obnoxious behavior would be funny. What if it even made it on Slashdot? Or Wikipedia???
Besides the fact that it would be weird for all five of these people to be simultaneously inspired to beat that dead horse, Joel left the show because he wanted to distance himself from it. In a press release from 1993 he said,
It’s time for me to hang up my red jump suit and move behind the camera. Besides, there’s an old show business adage I once heard Adam West say: “Stay in the same costume and before you know it, you end up signing pictures at an R.V. show.” Maybe it was Clayton Moore, now that I think of it.
I want to become a behind-the-camera guy. I want to get on to the NEXT weird show. I want to be an idea man.
The new site itself is ugly, yes, but more than that, it’s very un-Joel-like through and through. Joel’s a smart, creative, funny guy. Would he really put his name behind such a stale, meaningless name as “Cinematic Titanic”? With this logo?:
Would he really say, “Our first release is at this time a total secret, however â€“ Iâ€™m willing to say it makes ‘Manos the Hands of Fate’ look like ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’ in a car wreck with ‘Eegah!’”? These are the words of a fan, naming his favorite episodes, not the words of a guy who wanted to move on with his life, fourteen years ago.
The site also reads, “Iâ€™ve just been interviewed by Lucasfilm online, in anticipation of Cinematic Titanicâ€™s first live show and world premiere in San Francisco in December.” Lucasfilm online? Why haven’t they been talking about this? Wouldn’t an exclusive, rare interview with Joel Hodgson about his new project be something you might want to mention? Where in San Francisco is this premier? Why haven’t I gotten a confirmation email for signing up for the mailing list?
I fashioned a small pod, mostly out of paper and aluminum, as per the instructions from a kit. The trip there was exciting, until we passed orbit range (it seated two), when it became alarmingly clear that we were in space in a ball of paper and aluminum, and would probably die soon, quickly, and painfully. “Shit, this was a really stupid idea.”
Space travel apparently fosters a kind of delirium, and at one point I almost stepped out of the pod for “my first spacewalk,” eerily placid, until my co-pilot stopped me, thank god.
I arrived in the middle of the night. The moon base was very much like an airport, men with flashlights guiding me to the terminal. Even the insides, filled with rows of grey, plastic seats, mostly empty due to the late hour, but marked by the occasional woman thumbing idly through a magazine, looking up at me briefly as I passed. “Aww,” I thought. “Astronauts’ wives.”
The moon had been colonized for what felt like probably 10 or 15 years. Everyone there worked there, like I’d imagine Antarctica to be. Once outside the station, I found myself in a concrete plaza, with benches, a pedestrian street, some small shops and restaurants, by the look of things. Seemingly desolate beyond a block or two away. Small amenities. Dozens of people out enjoying the warm, artificial atmosphere. I looked up and saw Earth, fully illuminated by the sun.
I was giddy with pride that I had made it here myself. I approached a family eating ice cream, struck up a conversation. “Have you been here before?” “Yeah, you know, a couple times.” Nonchalant. “Would you believe me if I told you I got here in a pod I made myself?” Disinterested, incredulous, polite laughter.
The return trip was a bit more harrowing. I remember it being loud and painful; it required that I sever some wires connected to nodes grafted onto my skin, each snip producing a vague, metallic, dizzy, nauseous kind of pain. Alarms were sounding, I didn’t think my pod would hold up. I must have blacked out, and soon I was parachuting down into the Pacific.
A week or so later I told Ben and Jon about my trip, and invited them on another. We made it up there with no problems, hung out in the plaza in the sunlight. Looking up, construction was being done on a kind of stained-glass balloon, a big sphere in a stylized, color-saturated tribute to Earth, meant to inspire, I intuited, a reverence for all we had accomplished as a species.
Suddenly, a small firebomb was hurled unsuccessfully at a security helicopter, when we realized that the political climate on the moon was unstable, and that we had to leave before things got ugly.
We raced down dark flights of stairs, hurried but not frightened, though I didn’t have faith in my ability to get us back and was beginning to panic. “Guys, I should tell you, sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, but, getting back is kinda hard, I almost didn’t make it last time, I’m not sure we’ll be able to do it, and even if we do I know it’ll be really uncomfortable, I’m sorry.” I did feel guilty. But I guess the adrenaline got me through it, and before we knew it we were tumbling safely down a chute into the basement of some facility back on Earth.
I woke up around 5:30am, still brimming with pride at what I had done.
Firefox 3 is scheduled to be released later this fall; I haven’t really been following its development, but one thing I have heard about and am excited about is its (or, more accurately, Gecko‘s) new graphics library, Cairo.
Later I learned that it will also render fonts more smoothly. I enjoy the soft way pages look in Safari for Windows, the result of a different rendering engine, WebKit, so this is something I’m really looking forward to. Here’s an example of Cairo’s font rendering, as seen in Camino 1.2+ for Mac, via hicksdesign:
There are very specific reasons for the intentional differences in these approaches to font rendering. It’s a matter of personal preference, and I think my preference will be for Cairo. Some are floored by the superiority of WebKit, and designer Jeffrey Zeldman makes a solid, objective case for it; others are horrified.
I would have posted screenshots of my own, but I don’t trust these alpha builds not to eff things up.