Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Google Reader – there’s just not enough hours in the day

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Since I started using Google Reader back in early October, it’s become a regular port of call whenever I’ve got time to browse the Internet each day. As Google Reader has improved over the months, with the odd new feature and stability improvements, so too have I added subscriptions to various web pages I want to keep an eye on. But in turn, the number of posts I’m faced with every time I pull up Google Reader have risen to epic proportions – every morning I discover that bloggers and not-so-bloggers have been updating their sites with new postings all night, ready for me to spend the rest of the day trying desperately to flick through them all and get the number of new posts down to zero.

It never happens. Quicker than I can flick through and decide that the hundreds of new items that have appeared are largely not that interesting, more new posts appear. And then more, and more. Obviously the only true way to cut all this down is to remove some of your subscriptions altogether, but then every subscription I have will from time to time throw up something that actually I DO want to read.

Google doesn’t really have an answer for this eternal problem, but as of yesterday morning when I logged in as usual – what they HAVE done is come up with a rather nice new feature that actually just shows that the problem was even larger than I thought, and also kind of hints at where the future may lie in at least reducing the problem – Google Reader Trends. Google Reader can tell me all about my reading habits: when I mostly read items, which sites are updated most frequently, how many of the posts I actually read (not so useful, as I flick through them all eventually), and which of my subscriptions to sites have sat there largely inactive for extended periods of time. There’s even a nice little tag cloud showing what the most common post tags are in all my subscriptions, and how many of these sort of items I actually read.

So what did it tell me? Well apparently for starters, “From your 219 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 10,565 items, starred 1 items, and shared 1 items”. Turns out I have way more subscriptions than I thought I did, and they generated ten and a half thousand items – yikes. Now, obviously if I really had read all 10,565 items I wouldn’t really have had much time for anything else in my life. But even if you suppose that I only briefly flicked my eyes over most items as I tried to fly through them finding something of interesting, that’s still a heck of a lot of time spent just trying to keep on top of what’s going on in the 219 little worlds I decided to keep track of.

The new Trends area also shows me the odd spikes in days where I ‘read’ more items than usual over the last 30 days – I can pretty quickly spot the days when I returned from being away for a weekend, or when I wasn’t near an Internet connection for awhile. It takes me days to catch up, as more items pile up.

Finally, apparently Thursday is the most popular day of the week for me to read lots of items, and I’m most likely to try and read my subscriptions at lunchtime, or between 5 and 6pm – presumably when I’m waiting for a lift home from work, and need to kill time. I’ve apparently never read an item on Google Reader from midnight through to about 6am, and also very rarely have looked at anything between 8am and 9am (either asleep, still waking up, or going to work I guess).

So how does this all really help me? Well, as it currently stands – not a lot. I mean, it can show me exactly what the biggest offenders are for sheer number of posts should I choose to nuke some of them, and it can show me lots of things I didn’t know about my habits, but I’m probably wasting even more time now on Google Reader, because I’m also looking at my Trends now too.

What I’m more interested in is what this potentially could become. Many people are predicting Google Reader could morph into a digg like site where people can view the most read items by everyone on Google Reader, which while nice, I’d rather see it go in another direction. Down the line in fact, I’d far sooner see Google Reader try and predict what kind of stuff I’m actually most likely to want to read based on my habits so far. Did I just flick past a given type of item with barely a glance, did I click a link to certain types of sites from within an item, and what sort of posts do I spend the most time reading? If it knows that, perhaps Google Reader can also help me find the good stuff in amongst the crap, and perhaps I can stop wasting so much time trying to find it myself.

Still, for now it could be worse – Robert Scoble of Podtech has 483 feeds, and read 25,185 items in the last 30 days – clearly I don’t know I’m born.

The Irn-Bru Snowman Advert

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 The Irn-Bru Snowman Advert

Irn-Bru’s take on the classic animation of The Snowman is well worth a look. Haven’t seen it on TV yet, but having watched it over on youtube, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch the original Snowman with out smiling at the thought of the slightly thuggish boy with the Irn-Bru can.

Oh, and dentists are outraged.

TWiRTftW: This Week in Random Tat from the Web

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

A few things have caught my attention this week, so I thought I’d regurgitate them for you now, whether you want me to or not.

The first thing I wanted to point out kind of leads on from my post about Windows Vista, no not because this post ALSO lacks style or any kind of substance, but because it relates to the many different editions of Microsoft’s new pretty operating system. Microsoft clearly realised that it was all becoming a little too complicated, but rather than just, you know – release one version of Vista, they instead enlisted the help of some cartoon monsters. But of course! If you’ve a spare five minutes of your life that you don’t really mind never getting back, head on over to They Came for Windows Vista for the first two episodes of strangeness.

Moving on, I spotted over on Make that somebody came up with the comical idea of making their own huge Google Earth pin point icon and sticking it in their garden. Genius – the details of how they made it are here.

Whilst you’re in a Google Earth/Maps mood, you might also want to browse through the GoogleSightSeeing list of the top 10 naked people on Google Earth.

Just before I move away from Google Earth and Google Maps, Fredericiana, intern at Mozilla Corporation points out that the Firefox crop circle made over the Summer has made it onto the satellite imagery of both. You can see it for yourself on Google Maps, complete with nearby plane as featured in the rather cool video of the whole thing on Firefox Flicks.

Meanwhile BusinessWeek of all places has an article on the making of Lego, which is a good read. The Lego Group makes 15 billion Lego bits a year, and technically makes more rubber tyres than any other manufacturer in the world, they’re just significantly smaller obviously. Make sure you also look at the photos of the factory itself. I should say that Lego was pretty much my favourite thing to play with growing up, and the sight of so many Lego bricks in one place stil gets me excited. I don’t see any roof bits though in those photos, I never had enough of them to actually meet in the middle…

Catch me if you canCatch me if you can Hosted on Zooomr

That’s pretty much it, except for the above random photo of my cat that I uploaded to Zooomr over the weekend. No animals were harmed in the making of this blog.

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming…

Monday, November 13th, 2006

If you think of Santa Claus as looking a little bit creepy and plasticky looking, then you’re going to love this year’s Coca Cola Christmas advert (or read how Coca Cola describes it on the Media Guardian site (you’ll need to register)).

Coca Cola - Santa Claus 2006

This shot doesn’t really do it justice, wait until you see him moving. There’s a fine line between ‘enchanting’ and ‘plain weird’, and this advert seems to trample all over it until you can barely make out the line for all the dust.

Trick or treat

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

As today is Halloween, the usual procession of small children through to teenagers who should know better, came a knocking.
If you told a joke or two, you stood a chance of getting something for your efforts. If you pranced about like an idiot, not so much.

My favourite jokes of the evening are:

Why did the skeleton burp?
Because he didn’t have the guts to fart.

What do you call a spider with no legs?
A raisin.

And finally, the best of the night (and better than any joke I’ve ever heard a small child tell before now) is:

What’s the difference between a digger and a Giraffe?
One has hydraulics and the other has high bollocks.

I kid you not. I don’t know whether to laugh, or shake my head at the words today’s youth are allowed to use (particularly when their mother is standing right beside them as they say it).

Google reader

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

For quite some time now, I’ve been keeping track of the many websites I visit via Mozilla Firefox‘s ‘Live Bookmarks’ feature. This was fine for awhile, but as I’ve added more and more sites, and as I had no way to know what I’d read already other than relying on my memory, I’ve been considering trying out some of the seperate RSS reader applications.

The final straw was returning from London to find that in three days, just about everywhere I visit had gone ‘post crazy’ – it took far too long to catch up.

As luck would have it though, Google went and launched a new version of their Google Reader site, which on closer look seemed as though it would suit me just fine – if I give it all my sites it will list off any updates for me to look at and keep track of what I’ve read.

Moving all my live bookmarks was relatively easy once I’d worked out there’s an extension for Firefox to allow you to export them in OPML format, ready for importing into Google Reader. After some initial mopping up, rearranging some of them into different folders, and marking recent posts at each site as already read, I was good to go…

Sort of. While Google Reader has certainly sped up my internet browsing, and I do quite like it – it’s still a little buggy (remember it’s still a Google Labs product) as the above screen shows. I’ve added 115 subscriptions, and it can be a little slow at times. There are also sometimes phantom entries telling me a feed has a new post when there aren’t any, but it’s simple and useful enough that I’ll stick with it for now.

The Birthday Cake

Monday, August 28th, 2006

One last post before the day is out. No Birthday is complete without a cake of course – this year’s comes courtesy of Jo(anna) Watt. No relation. She’s just my little sister.

More icing than you can wave a stick at!

My Birthday Cake - 2006 - 1 My Birthday Cake - 2006 - 2

The first post…

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Every blog has to start somewhere. I figured as today is my Birthday, that’s as good a place as any.

Not sure what’s going to appear in this blog in the future – it’s likely just going to be a place of random mutterings, things I’ve done or am working on in Computer Graphics at present, and maybe the odd music-related post.
It might end up being none of the above, or it might end up being nothing full stop. There’s also no guarantees it’ll be of interest to anyone, maybe not even me.

If that hasn’t got you excited enough to visit again, I don’t know what will 🙂