September 27, 2007

Blogger is Buggered?

Well, three posts in a row about Blogger is a little unusual, but I think this is merited.

From time to time I amuse myself by following the "Next Blog" links to get an idea of what was going on in the blog stream. If today's experience is typical then about one blog in three is complete spam, obscured by a pop-up ad window and full of links to pornographic sites. It seems clear that nobody is exercising any kind of critical control over Blogger content, and frankly it's got to the point where I am no longer sure I want to be associated with it.

I've been a web use for a long time, and it saddens me to see a potentially fantastic medium ruined by the swarms of lowest-common-denominator advertiser scum. If this is "what the people want" then they are welcome to it. I really don't think Blogger are doing themselves any favors by letting this situation continue.

September 18, 2007

Blogger Hoses Notification Emails

Just to underline my feeling that Blogger is the poor relation at Google, the confirmation emails that come through to let me know that people have made comments have recently been mangled badly.

Formerly I would get a properly-formatted text email saying something like

ScW has left a new comment on your post "Innovate and Get Sued by Apple?":

Now instead I see stuff like:
New comment on  Blogger
Behind the Curve?.
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Doug Napoleone has left a new comment on your post "Blogger Behind the Curve?":
I don't know what's happened, but I am pretty sure I haven't made any change to my email system that might be responsible. Of course, we never have, have we? I suppose it's possible I might be responsible, but I'd much rather blame Blogger. If nobody else is seeing this, however, then perhaps it is me. Am I alone, or have Blogger screwed up by inadequate testing?

Blogger Behind the Curve?

I am sure I wasn't the only one who greeted Blogger's acquisition by Google with enthusiasm. At last, I thought, I will be free of the editor applet, which has become rather tedious to use.

Alas not, though. While much has changed, and the AJAX-based layout editor is a great improvement, we are still left with a content editor that creates horrible HTML and whose toggle buttons easily lose synchronization with the editor's state.

A recent post by Paddy also highlights the fact that there is inadequate support for posting code. I realise this probably isn't a majority interest, but in this day and age you would think the the world's leading web company could do better.

September 15, 2007

ReStructured Text to Anything

I stopped using the "How'd I Get Here" Firefox add-on when I had to reload Windows last time, so I don't remember where I saw this, but there's an interesting new service that lets you convert your ReST documents to HTML or PDF with a choice of styles. Worth a look.

The authors give credit to many open source products including Docutils, Python, Django, MochiKit, LaTeX, ImageMagick, MySQL and Ubuntu.

It's good to see great services coming out of the Python community, and this is a nicely put together example of what you can do with open source.

Stock Quotes in Python

Corey Goldberg has been publishing some interesting blog posts lately. Today I spotted one that uses Google Finance to get a current price on a stock given its four-character ticker symbol. Good work, Corey, keep it up!

September 12, 2007

Innovate and Get Sued by Apple?

Yet more evidence came to light this week in my EFF newsletter about Apple's lack of will to compete. In fact, make that Apple's determination to stymie competition in any shape or form. They have never been an open systems company, and it appears now that they don't see any advantage in helping others to expand the market for iPhones. No sirree, that's Apple's territory, and Apple's alone. If you believe Apple, that is. But if Henry Ford had taken the same attitude to free market innovation that Steve Jobs does we would probably still be riding round on horses.

There was a major battle around the ability to have your iPhone load ringtones that you didn't pay Apple 99 cents for. The ModifyMyiPhone site detailed how to download "unauthorized" ringtones using two different pieces of software, iFuntastic and iRingtoner. Just before Apple's recent announcement of additional products including the iPod Touch a company called Ambrosia announced a product called iToner that also allowed the download of ringtones.

Apple's response? Version 7.4 of iTunes automatically deleted any non-approved (i.e. not purchased from Apple) ring tones. Ambrosia figured a workaround for this update, which iTunes version 7.4.1 again defeated, and so on.

Another battle is over video output. Presumably because they can, Apple has locked the video output on recent versions of the iPod classic and iPod nano. Vendors who want to provide compatible accessories are required to buy licensed chips from Apple and pay a fee of 10% of their wholesale price. Apple are charging $49 for a kit containing a video cable that has the activation chip along wiht a power supply. That sounds suspiciously like gouging to me.

The next laptop suddenly looks less and less like an Apple. How can we be for open source and yet condone this kind of behavior in the marketplace?