Recently in internet Category

@FriendFeed

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Who knows when I'll get up the nerve/time/patience/interest/huevos to post some lengthy post here again. If interested I'd suggest checking out what I'm doing at FriendFeed. It nicely pulls together my Twitter tweets, Flickr photos and whatever else I deem worthy of linking into that soup.

I was going to start piping my FriendFeed stream to this page and RSS feed but I haven't quite figured out the right blend yet.

Now back to my regularly scheduled absence of blog posts.

Email DOT com

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Having one's email address appear plaintext on a website is something most people try and avoid. Spammer's actively harvest email addresses from the public web and very few want their address on yet another spam list. In situations where it is unavoidable, people often use techniques like spelling out their address (Eg. user AT example DOT com) or adding in extra text (Eg. user_NOSPAM@example.com) or a variety of other approaches. Unfortunately these are easily detectable and extractable with some simple regular expressions and don't do much more than maybe prevent copy-and-paste of your address for legitimate users and maybe force spammers to add another regular expression to their script.

Some quick searches with Google shows how common these approaches are and also how easy it is to detect such patterns.

A slightly better approach, although not always feasible depending on the input restrictions, is to use JavaScript to write out the address. Something simple like:

<script>
document.write("us");
document.write("er@ex");
document.write("ample");
document.write(".com");
</script>

If a spammer were to process each scanned webpage with a JavaScript engine before extracting the addresses then the above wouldn't work, but the overhead (technically and CPU) is such that I don't see this happening anytime soon.

Google Translation API

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A quick post to try out the new Google Translation API. This API allows web developers to do dynamic text translation from within a webpage. Specify some text, set the language to translate from/to and then display the text that Google returns. Let's see if it works on this very appropriate Richard Feynman quote. You can also check out the Official Google blog post announcing the API. Note this won't likely work if you are reading this within a feed reader.

English
There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you 'play' with them!

French

Spanish

Japanese

Efficient Feed Reading

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I subscribe to over 150 blogs and until a few months ago I had them categorized by subject and context. I had a 'work' set, a 'play' set, a 'tech' set etc. With so many feeds and such a crude organization it often meant I would get overwhelmed with input and eventually click 'Mark All As Read' every few days. Although this removes the glut, it also removes items I would have liked to have read if I could have found them.

Back in 2007 Jason Kottke and Matt Wood had posts describing their own feed reading organization and I've since adopted something similar and it has made all the difference. The idea is to organize feeds by how you read them instead of the subject of the blog. Here is my current set of folders:

  • MustRead - Friends, family and blogs where I never want to miss a post. Around 5 - 30 posts a day. I check for unread items multiple times a day.
  • DangGood - Blogs I love to read but if I fall behind a few days it is no big deal. Around 20 - 100 posts a day. I check for unread items around once a day.
  • RiffRaff - Blogs I like but if I never read them that is ok. This set includes high-volume blogs and there are currently thousands of unread items in this folder. I typically end up reading this group in desperate moments of boredom or long plane trips (yay for Google Reader offline mode).
  • Perhaps - Only a handful of blogs in this folder. A staging area where the blog is new and I'm not sure where it should be categorized yet. I could likely merge OnTheFence and Perhaps, but the separation is somewhat useful.
  • OnTheFence - Only a handful of blogs in this folder. Blogs that I'm considering removing get moved here. If my interest doesn't increase, they get removed.

Tags in Google Reader Since adopting this posting structure my feed reading efficiency has increased drastically. No more is the feeling that I am missing posts that are hidden in the pile. It allows me to keep on top of the people I really like to read, and it means I always have ample reading material for down-time and plane trips.

Site Metrics

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From small-time bloggers to large-scale corporations, everybody with a website at some point wonders how their website traffic is doing. It may be for personal interest, desire to improve the site or to provide accurate numbers to advertisers defining how much you'll get paid. Straight hit-counts are meaningless. Individual page view numbers are better but not ideal. Unique user counts are pretty much the best we have right now but in Pageviews are Obsolete Evan Williams explains how RSS, AJAX and widgets are making even unique user counts a metric that isn't showing the whole story.

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