I have some .htaccess rules that are supposed to prevent hotlinking images on the site. Unfortunately, they also (I think) broke images when my RSS feed was viewed in Google Reader. If I'm right, this should now be fixed. Let's see:
And if I haven’t made it clear what I’m talking about, well, we’re starting with an assumption that activities (like the ones in Facebook’s newsfeed and that make up the bulk of FriendFeed’s content) are kind of like the synaptic electrical impulses that make social networking work. Consider that people probably read more Twitter content these days than they do conventional blog posts — if only because, with so much more content out there, we need more smaller bite-sized chunks of information in order to cope.
So starting there, we need to look at what it would take to recreate efficient and compelling interfaces for activity streams like we’re used to on FriendFeed and Facebook, but without the benefit of having ever seen any of the services before.
In other words, how can we make the user the center of gravity again, instead of a bunch of applications that want to own the user.
Since moving to San Francisco and talking to people about joining the tech industry, I've been asked several times "so, what would you find it exciting to work on?" When I answer "feeds - you know, RSS, Atom that kind of thing" I invariably get a blank look. Maybe if I develop my thoughts I'll do a better job communicating my enthusiasm.
I use a feed reader daily. I use it to keep up with blogs that I'm interested in, of course. I've written before about how it changes the definition of a high-value blog, from high-volume to good signal to noise ratio.
That's the canonical geek use case for feeds. It's not going to take the world by storm, even with simpler tools.
But there are other things I use feeds for. I use them for anything that I want to check regularly that has a feed available:
My friends' Flickr photos (based on my Flickr contacts)
Comments on my Flickr photos
Local events (based on my last.fm profile)
Comments on MetaFilter threads that I care about
Trips my friends are taking (through Dopplr)
This is starting to look a lot like Facebook, right? And one way to look at Facebook is a feed reader in a social context. The design is nicer than MySpace's, but what really distinguishes Facebook is that central news feed. "Like" is a really simple method of subscribing to a feed, and becoming friends with someone subscribes you to multiple feeds about their activity.
Facebook's popularity means that hundreds of millions of people are looking at a feed reader every day. Many of the applications built on the platform are only possible because it's such a good interface for consuming feeds. Suffice to say I don't think Facebook is a fad that's going to die out. People's activity online is increasingly going to revolve around subscribing to, consuming and interacting with feeds.
But short of building a Facebook competitor, what are the opportunities for cool new applications? Watch this space.
Sync THL between machines using Dropbox
It's been so long since I've had a reliable internet connection that I have no idea what they're talking about here. Other things that I have never used which confuse me: Spotify, Netflix VOD, Foursquare, etc. A lot has happened in the last 18 months! Or so I'm told.
No need to install software for the one I'm using; just plug in a URL and go. Useful if you, say, want to watch I'm On A Boat feat. T-Pain in a country where it is "unavailable due to copyright restrictions." (I'm surprised Youtube video works, actually, since I'm guessing the Flash player isn't downloading video through the proxy.)
"We’re really excited to bring you forms! Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone with an email address. They won’t need to sign in, and they can respond directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. Creating the form is easy: start with a spreadsheet to get the form, or start by creating the form and you’ll get the spreadsheet automatically."
Offhand I can think of, oh, a zillion ways to use this.
Guy from Elephant Disk is here, they're one of EC2+S3's biggest users. They only use it for non-real time stuff right now. He's terrified of stories about companies that use EC2 as their only web servers.
EC2 instances have no persistent storage - need to code your own persistence solution.
No static IPs - need some sort of dynamic DNS client.
What happens if Amazon pulls the plug or changes something crucial? No SLA.
AWS is actually showing up in Amazon's financials. Helps assuage fears of it disappearing.
Companies built on EC2
The AWS forums have lots of good examples and feedback
Many more companies using just S3
Some companies have started to wrap services around AWS (e.g. RightScale) - check the partners page of AWS.
But: if you have something that parallelizes well, need scalability on demand, and can deal with the constraints, AWS is the shit. "AWS is the perfect startup environment; my credit card loves AWS."
Hey Google! Get your heads right and have Google Desktop sync the files I choose to your servers, so I can access them from anywhere.
And fuck the privacy weenies, this is between you and me ... and the Feds who might conceivably subpoena all that stuff. So maybe you want some kind of encryption? Shit, how would that even work if I want to access stuff via the web?
So as part of the same gig I've had since I moved to LA, I am now doing some work for a webcasting provider called Interactive Video Technologies. They recently rolled out a program called IVT Studio that's used to create pre-recorded video for on-demand streaming, usually incorporating a Powerpoint deck.
The software is polished and IVT clearly put a lot of effort into making it frictionless to use, which - yeah, I'm pushing product here, but I'm serious too - is pleasing to me. Makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Finally someone tackles the central issue: where's the bottleneck? For what it's worth, I think there's too much money in getting bits to and from the user for this bottleneck to last. In the long run we'll all have multiple competing sources of connectivity.
However there's another point: if the bottleneck is in part an artifact of government-erected barriers to entry (rules on spectrum use, rights to lay fiber) than the government has a positive responsibility to ensure that the oligopoly it created is working for the public good. This pattern crops up all the time - eliminating rent control should increase supply, but not if cities prohibit developers from building low-income housing.
"Today there is rough price parity between (1) one database access, (2) ten bytes of network traffic, (3) 100,000 instructions, (4) 10 bytes of disk storage, and (5) a megabyte of disk bandwidth. This has implications for how one structures Internet-scale distributed computing: one puts computing as close to the data as possible in order to avoid expensive network traffic."
Paper claims this situation is unlikely to change: historically, telecoms prices have not declined the same way chip prices have. (But I thought we had all this dark fiber, and it's the last mile that's the problem?)
Use Streamload for big backups
They don't mention on their website, but ftp access is available. For $5 a month you can upload as much as you want. My backup solution has arrived! C'mere prince, gimme a kiss! (Ok, there is a catch ... if you ever need to get at those backups, you'll need to shell out a few hundred bucks to actually be able to download them. But that will never happen surely?)
google as instant web proxy
"I heard of a hack at defcon where you could use Google's translation service to translate English into English. Bingo, instant proxy. Like this. Notice the language pair - &langpair=en%7Cen. So unless your filter is blocking Google, you should be good to go."
Log Format Roadmap
No one's decided anything yet, so what are all these people supporters of? The general idea that it would be nice to have a standard weblog format? "I am a supporter of peace, love, and interoperable content management systems."
Not only do [weblogs'] votes count for more as they each get more traffic, but the heavy cross-linking magnifies the impact of this collective voting machine. This greatly magnifies the Google Power of weblogs.