Friday, February 10, 2006

RSS Musings

Day Four of the Alvis ear ache watch.

I took off work again today to sit with Alvis. She is finally making progress. Lavie's parents came into town yesterday to watch her so I could run into work and get my desk cleared off. (Mostly successful). They took her back to our family doctor's office (the best doctor a family could ever wish for!) and got a new anti-biotic since the first one didn't seem to help. And she got some codine to help her with the pain. She slept much better last night. Maybe by Monday she will have this thing kicked. Nothing can make a parent feel so helpless when their child is in pain and you got the meds but they just have to have time to do their thing.

So while Alvis was parked on the couch watching Disney, Dad here did some house cleaning chores, cooked up some lunch, and surfed some web. Later we caught some episodes together of Azumanga Daioh. We laughed--and took turns napping as well. The rain was coming down. Could a rainy (sick-day) Friday get much better? Only if Lavie was here instead of at work!

Blog Tweaking
I spent some time doing some more updates to the template layout of the Grand Stream Dreams blog. First thing I did was to reogranize the Links sidebar and add some subject groupings. Then I added a few more favorites. Hopefully that will make it easy for visitors to navigate--and speed things up when I'm in the field and need a quick link.

I also played with the body font size some more. I kicked it down from 12.5px to 10px. Toni over at Kaonahsi Ga Suki gave me some positive feedback about my original font size, but I just had to tighten it up a bit. Hope it isn't too small for you all.

Lastly, I added a cool RSS icon to compliment my RSS Feed link. I think it looks pretty snappy. I got the icon from a package over on FeedIcons that Matt Brett developed. Snazzy!

RSS Reader Watch
I'm continuing to play with the GreatNews RSS (standalone) feed reader. I am now really conflicted about it! I've gotten so used to having Sage in my Firefox that I just can't leave it, but GreatNews is sooo much faster. I have the sinking feeling that I'm going to be switching over to it full time. For example, it can run on your USB stick (or even a copy of it)--so you don't have to leave it at home. I was getting pretty frustrated with it (for a moment) because all the feed items were not showing listed in chonological order, so the most recent post might not be at the front. I couldn't believe it was this way on purpose. I couldn't find any help on how to sort the silly GreatNews articles. Finally I clicked on the menu bar "View" and selected "News List." displayed a list of the posts with a column format. On a hunch I clicked the "date" column and the posts were sorted by date; both in the News List and in the Main window view. Brilliant! Now I need to figure out how to turn off sorting the Channel feed view alphabetically as I want to re-organize my items by interest, not by letter.

I use Microsoft Outlook at work and currently use Sage as my RSS feed manager there. Although I may be switching over to GreatNews at work as well, I was curious if any Outlook plugins were available for RSS feeds as well. A quick search turned up four canidates. I haven't tried any yet, but some look promising: Attensa ($-for Outlook, free for web version), NewsGator ($-for Outlook, free for web version), blogbot (now free/open source), and RSS Popper (free). I'll let you know if I try any of them out. For a comprehenive list of RSS readers, try the Wikipedia's list of news readers.

XP Themes-International Style
While over at Lifehacker, I spotted a post on "Give XP a facelife". Jonaric points to a revised XP theme called "Royale." Now I must confess, I love Microsoft's XP system well enough, but I can't stand their XP theme. I have to roll it back to a modified version of "Classic" desktop theme style. I checked it out and found a related link there that had quite a few nice desktops--including this beautiful desktop I seen on a few Linux desktops as well. The site is actually Microsoft New Zealand. This got me the Microsoft sites for other countries have any hidden gem desktop themes we might not normally see here in the States? I did a little focused Google search and found the following offerings. Disclaimer--I haven't tried installing any of these yet. And I would probably see if I could strip out the background files from the files instead of using the entire theme. Proceed at your own risk! All are on Microsoft websites.

1) Themes on the Microsoft Customer Outreach page (15-including the beautiful Chinese New Year Theme 2006).
2) Images of Ireland Desktop Theme, and
3) Microsoft's XP Desktop Enhancements page.

Winter Olympics 2006 Watch
We are geting ready to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Google's blog posted a few of their resources; including an updated satelite image of Torino with a really clear and detailed view. Torino2006 website.

Tech-bit Odds and Ends
Build your own Google maps []
Essential freeware utilities for your laptop [] I really like their picks.
Laser Turntable for your vinal records []
USB Dongle-squid style [] This could come in handy for laptop users.
nLite Windows Installation Customizer - Free []
BackTrack live linux CD (beta) [] -- for pen testing and forensics work.
Repair your Windows Installation with Knoppix [] - good stuff to know.
Process Explorer version 10 released (free) [] - all sysadmins should have this one!

Must Read Blog Post of the week
Google Desktop 3 raises privacy questions [] Dwight Silverman collects a number of thoughts regarding Google's latest Desktop search tool. He isn't wooed by the Google's offer/ability in its Destop Beta v3 version to "access your data anywhere" feature. I really like Google, but the possibilities for "data-abuse" are kinda unnerving (goverment or otherwise).

See you in the skies.

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