Archive for the 'Tech' Category


Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

A java based newsreader and platform-independent, RSS Owl can be downloaded by almost anyone on Windows, OS X, Linux or Solaris.

I’ve seen the RSS Owl user agent in my logs from time to time, but only by one or two IPs. I’m not sure why the lack of adoption, perhaps it is becuase of a paucity of publicity about the newsreader.

Agent: RSSOwl/1.2 2005-11-06 (Windows; U; en)

[tags]RSS, RSS feeds, newsreader, RSS Owl[/tags]

Yet another Sony PlayStation User agent

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

This one is for the official Sony media software that manages music and movies on the PlayStation. It even has podcast and video podcast support.

Agent: PSPRssChannel-agent/1.0.0 libhttp/1.0.0

[tags]Sony, Sony PlayStation, media software, podcast, video podcast [/tags]


Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Want a cutting edge version of Firefox just for Linux? Try Swiftfox.

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; es-ES; rv: Gecko/20060201 Firefox/ (Swiftfox)

[tags]Swiftfox, Firefox, Linux, Web, Web browser[/tags]


Monday, August 28th, 2006

FeedPass is a service with a novel idea, to act as a RSS publisher’s subscription page. The information provided on FeedPass is dead simple and easy to understand.

As a publisher, all you need to do is to submit your feed URL to FeedPass and a customized RSS subscription page is created for you. Just link to your RSS subscription page and you’re done. See the cleverhack RSS subscription page.

This FeedPass subscription page features your RSS feed in human readable format, links to various RSS readers and aggregators allowing one click subscriptions via RSS, RSS via email subscriptions, instructions on how to subscribe manually to a RSS feed, a basic explanation of tagging, a basic explanation of RSS, etc.

So, in conclusion, a big thumbs up for the idea behind FeedPass.

However, I also need to give a thumbs down for the current execution of FeedPass…a good number of the one click RSS subscriptions are not operable or give errors. For instance, FeedPass is throwing a “Not Found
The requested URL /jscript/autoselect.asp was not found on this server.” when trying to use the drop down menu options in the one click subscriptions section. FeedPass creators need to go through their RSS subscription links and clean them up.

Update: I’ve been notified via a comment to this post that the broken FeedPass links I mentioned have been fixed. Excellent.

[tags]FeedPass, Web 2.0, RSS, RSS Feeds, RSS reader, RSS aggregator, RSS subscription, Tagging [/tags]


Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Webwag is yet another Web start page. In a twist that is bringing attention to Webwag, the project has been headed by an ex-Googler.

The beta site (which needs the follwing login U:wagyour P:webexperience) looks ok. At least the page elements appear ok, if not underwhelming a bit. I’ve tested the site on Camino/OS X, Firefox/OS X and Safari/OS X - and surprisingly, Firefox/OS X had the worst user experience.

The working parts of Webwag included:
1)The page elements are designed and render ok in the browsers I tested.
2)You can add a new page to your Webwag and name that new page easily.
3)You can edit and resize a pre-existing page module.

The not so great parts about Webwag are the following:
1)New page rendering takes too slow.
2)Content within the pages modules also loads slow for certain types of modules.
3)I have no idea on how to add a new module for content.
4)I never got the View Mode to switch view modes in the browsers I tried. The View Mode toggle doesn’t appear in Firefox/OS X.
4)No user instructions/help.
5)No working informational links, i.e. About.
6)No links to a contact page or a blog.

According to the comments in this blog posting, Webwag is apparently going out of beta tomorrow. Heh. Unfortunately, it needs to stay there for a while longer.

[tags]webwag, Web 2.0, web start page, googler[/tags]

the meaning of software beta

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Because I’ve started reading and reviewing Web 2.0 sites, I’m starting to receive requests from marketing type people to review some of them. Which is great. I get such a kick out of the process.

Recently, I received a request to review a site and after checking out the site on two different computers, asking others to take a look at the site and soliciting their reactions, I have nothing nice to say about the site. It was that bad. After thinking about it, I’m not going to name the site. However, it did make me start to think about the concept of software beta testing and Web 2.0 in particular.

A software beta is generally described as a feature complete and a time during the software development cycle where bugs and minor feature tweaks are addressed. Many products, including software releases and Web services go through this step including the much maligned Windows Vista and the still in beta Gmail.

My problem with software beta releases is when a programmer or a company releases the beta, and the beta has major issues with common software configurations. As an example, the site I looked at did not handle well (pages rendered slow and horribly, there was debug code which flashed on each page, accessing data took too long, page elements were misaligned, etc.) on the latest stable Firefox on Windows XP. We’re talking about a site which is only going to attract a technically savvy contingent in the first place. In this day and age, that’s just inexcusable.

To add fuel to the fire here, it was for a Web site that a)is actively soliciting people to use it and b)has at least 5 or 6 competitors (including the huge portals like Google and Yahoo) in the space that already has nicely finished products.

Now, can I ask about the logic behind a Web 2.0 services site going to beta that isn’t all that usable with competitors already in the space? Because in this scenario, all that is going to happen once you get that coveted visitor to play around with your site for a bit, is for him to get frustrated because something isn’t working well, and then leave. Just because you call it a beta, that word isn’t necessarily going to save your ass from the guy who clicks off of your site and says “forget it”. All you’re doing is reinforcing Darwin’s law in the software world - and your product won’t survive.

And I shall submit here for consideration for you Web 2.0 folks out there, if you are going to release software or a Web service, it better not just be “super cool” with “value added features” but it had better work for folks using common configurations. Especially if you are running up against already established competitors. Think about it this way, there have been glitches for Gmail but have you ever lost data in Gmail during the beta phase?

Repeat after me, the word beta does not allow you to release half finished crap to the world.

[tags]software, beta, Web 2.0[/tags]

Apple PowerBook / iBook Battery Recall

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

As much as I ripped Dell about their battery exchange, Apple’s battery exchange Web site just went online. It seems that they are using Akamai to compensate for the traffic.

Also, my September 2003 era battery is not affected.

[tags]Apple, PowerBook, Sony battery recall [/tags]

network troubles

Monday, August 21st, 2006

This has not been a fun Sunday evening. At about 4pm or so, my network went down for about 15 minutes. At first I thought it was just me, but as it turned out nearly all of my wifi neighbors dropped off of the face of the earth too - with only two left standing. The two left standing are not using Comcast.

What happened was that I got a new IP address that actually makes sense considering the geographic number system that Comcast seems to use in this area.

Unfortunately, it seems that my Netgear router kicked it when the network came back up, so no wifi through Netgear for me. I do have an Airport Express (thanks a certain Apple store in NYC) and I’ve been trying to configure that to be my network router. There’s some setting I’m missing since I’ve been playing around with it for the past 45 minutes and it seems not to be able to connect to Comcast at all. I can see the Airport Express and configure it. It just can’t communicate with the cable modem - and yes there is an Ethernet cable connected between the two.

If I sit next to the cable modem connected through an Ethernet cable, obviously I can connect to the Internet as I can write this. Hrm.

Update: I’m up. But only after a whole heck of a lot of rebooting and reconfiguring and cursing. Basically, it seems that I needed to powercycle the cable modem (several times repeatedly) with the AirPort Express already on and configured. I lost the link I was looking at, but the theory is that the cable modem would grab the new-to-the-cable-modem MAC address of the Airport Express.

[tags]Wifi, Netgear, Airport Express, Comcast, DHCP, DHCP lease, hardware, cable modem, I hate configuring hardware when I’m not in the mood for it [/tags]


Saturday, August 19th, 2006

A reader using Firefox on Linux (can’t immediately tell what distro) on a machine with a 64-Bit processor. Harness that power baby!

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686 (x86_64); en-US; rv: Gecko/20060728 Firefox/

[tags]64 bit processors, Linux, Linux kernel, hardware [/tags]

Dell Battery recall

Monday, August 14th, 2006

According to the NY Times, Dell is recalling 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries made by Sony and installed in laptops sold between April 2004 and July 18th 2006.

If you own a Dell (I can think of a whole heck of a lot of people off of the top of my head who could be affected, including my own Mother and certain bloggers), then go to to check if your laptop battery is included in this recall.

Heh. I just checked (at 6:53PM Eastern time on 8/14/2006) and there is nothing about the recall on the Direct 2 Dell blog.

Update1: Oh My. This keeps on getting better. The site is currently unreachable (7:04pm Eastern on 8/14/2006) and the Google cache dated 8/09/2006 for contains an earlier Dell Battery recall program. So, either the NYTimes got the url wrong or Dell is not ready with their Web site yet.

Update2: A visitor from Dell corporate clicked through to this entry from Technorati and surprisingly enough, Dell has responded on their blog. And they even mentioned that the recall Web site will be live after midnight Central Time tonight.

[tags]Dell, Direct 2 Dell, Dell Recall, 4.1 million is sure a lot of batteries [/tags]

ninth cleverhack podcast

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

The ninth cleverhack podcast is now posted for your enjoyment. This podcast covers spam and discusses a recent Wall Street Journal article about empty spam and the concept of greylisting with your MTA. Enjoy.

Update: I have created a new image for the podcast album art…fear my photoshop skills…or not…

cleverhack podcasts

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Mozilla Firebird

Friday, August 11th, 2006

Mozilla Firebird is redesign of the Mozilla browser, component similar to Galeon, K-Meleon and Caminoâ„¢, but written using the XUL user interface language and designed to be cross-platform.

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.4b) Gecko/20030516 Mozilla Firebird/0.6

[tags]Web, Mozilla, Web browsers, What ever happened to Mosaic?[/tags]