Blogline's new interface is beta

Bloglines beta screenshot

Bloglines have announced a beta of their new interface, just after I jumped ship to Google Reader. The new interface looks snazzier than the old one and they’ve adopted some of the conventions of Google Reader. Clicking on a subscription doesn’t mark all items as read for example.

The same accelerator keys still work, and “s” still jumps to the next feed, but they don’t have the star and sharing features of Reader. If you’re reading this through a feed reader jump to the front page of ocaoimh.ie and you’ll see an “I like these” list on the sidebar. Those are my shared items. Damn, I found something sticky in Reader that I can’t live without.

bloglinesbeta-views.png

Bloglines now has 3 views of your feed. Like Google Reader you have the Quick and Full views, but a third view, the “3 pane view” looks more like an email client or news reader. Nice, but I’m too used to the full view to switch now.

If i hadn’t already moved to Google Reader I’d be disappointed. The new 3-pane-view is nice but not enough to make me jump back to Bloglines. It’s beta, so hopefully it’s not too late to add a few new features.

How I know who's talking about me

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while but Scott Adam’s post about using Google Alerts to find people talking about Dilbert prompted me to put fingers to keys this afternoon.

When someone anywhere in the world mentions my name in a blog post or even a comment, on Flickr, on Zooomr or anywhere with an RSS feed I know about it within a few hours. Occasionally it might take longer, maybe a day or so, or even a few months sometimes, but that would be unusual.

How? I use a “news aggregator” called Bloglines to track my favourite websites. Bloglines also has a search engine to search through their database. Nothing extraordinary there, but the magic happens when you subscribe to that search. “Subscribing” is just like subscribing to a magazine. You’re sent updated news and information as it happens at the source. When you subscribe to a blog, every time that blog is updated their new post appears in your aggregator. No need to fret about missing the latest news any more.

Instead of having to reload a search page every few hours Bloglines does that job for me automatically. The Bloglines feed list reloads periodically. A quick glance at it’s page in my browser window shows me if someone mentions me. It’s less stressful than checking my email all the time and news is delivered into my browser where I want it.

To be sure I search as much of the Internet as possible I do the same search on Technorati too.

I wonder will Scott find this post or comment on it? Probably not but hopefully someone else will find this useful.

Too Frickin’ Cool

Find new stuff with the image wall

While everyone seems to be running to the new kid on the block, Google Reader, I stuck with Bloglines because I prefer the old-style interface and the sorting options over the new fangled web 2.0ish Google upstart.

At the same time, I’ve lusted after some of the new features of Google Reader but Bloglines have been busy with a new feature I quite like called the Image Wall. The wall is basically a collection of images grabbed from the latest posts that Bloglines sees. The wall refreshes continuously bringing in new content as you’re watching. Clicking on an image leads to the Bloglines preview of that post where you can then click through to the actual post.

It’s not perfect. The images don’t always fade in correctly, sometimes stuttering or suddenly appearing or changing for some reason. That’s only a minor problem compared to the big one. When you hover an image, a popup appears with a large verson of that image, and allows you to mark offensive images. Unfortunately to get to an image in the middle of the wall you have to move your cursor over other images, thus suffering more popups. If you haven’t tried it, image what it would be like to mouse over a Snap Preview powered page full of closely formatted links. Ugh.

Besides that problem I really like the idea. I found a blog with an hour’s worth of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody remakes yesterday because they included a screen grab from that song’s video. Unfortunately my browser crashed shortly afterwards so I can’t share it with you. I can see you’re disappointed.

Just in case you’re worried about such things, you have to click through the following disclaimer each time you activate the wall.

The Image Wall is comprised of dynamically generated images from user feeds and may contain material of an explicit sexual nature or other adult content.

You do read the small print don’t you? Don’t go complaining that you weren’t warned!

bloglines-imagewall.jpg

Edit: Looks like Bloglines have listened to the complaints and have responded.

Effective today, Bloglines will move the Image Wall to its own, new domain at http://www.bloglinesimagewall.com. Now, any school, library, parent/guardian or third party filtering service can add this full domain to their list of restricted domains to be blocked.

Is Flickr under attack by spam?

Has anyone else noticed an increase of spam comments on Flickr lately? I noticed my first spam comment there only last week, complained about it, and the comment and user were both deleted shortly afterwards. I thought nothing more of it.

This morning I got an unwelcome shock when I checked my Flickr comments through Bloglines. More spam comments. There’s a screenshot below. When I clicked through to the photos in question both comments had been deleted but later on another spam comment appeared and I now suspect any comment left by users with usernames starting with “a” with a mixture of upper and lower case characters and digits. Maybe it’s time they invested in an Akismet license for Flickr.com? Thanks Lloyd for the reminder!

Continue reading “Is Flickr under attack by spam?”

Nothing left to read

My aggregator is empty. Things are quiet on the Internet and I’ve finally clicked and scanned through every one of the 230+ blogs in my Bloglines account.

But no, that’s not true. I opened The Dilbert Blog in a new tab for further reading because Scott Adams always seems to have something that will catch my attention and imagination.

That’s the dilemma I face. Many blogs have only one or two posts before I get to read them. Usually I can scan through them quickly. On an (almost?) daily basis Scott writes long lengthy essays on everything from free will, to religion, to the war in Iraq and to hypnotism that I find irresistible so I always skip “The Dilbert Blog” because I know I’ll be sucked in and spend the next several minutes reading and wanting to blog about at least one of his articles. Scott’s posts are gone once I click on another blog, but the rest of them are crying out for attention too! What is one to do?
I put the Online Photographer in that category as well.

A good blog, like a good book, is something you can get lost in and forget yourself in. It tickles your brain cells and gets you thinking. What blogs do you put off reading until you have quality time to really enjoy them? What are the blogs you know you can’t read by skimming over them?