To help with good Rocky’s revival


We’re well and truly thawing out this morning. Not only is there a river running down the middle of the street, but the face to the right glared down at me from a tree in our back yard when I was outside with the dogs this morning. I briefly glimpsed eyes inside the tree as well before they scampered further into the darkness. Seems like Rocky is a family raccoon.

It’s a good thing we had the chimney caps installed. Otherwise we might be getting to know Rocky Raccoon more closely than we want to some dark night…

Valentine’s Day = Duck

Or at least it has for us for the past eight years. I proposed to Lisa eight years ago after a meal of duck and angel-food cake. This year the variation was in the sauce, and the source of the duck. The duck breasts were from Wilson Farm (I think technically from Maple Leaf Farms), and the sauce was a blood orange sauce courtesy of the Boston Globe. I think the blackberry and maple sauce was better, but Lisa really liked the blood orange sauce. So now we have options. And, once again, we learned that angel food cake from scratch, while romantic, loses something compared to the kind out of the box.

Popping the Bubbler

Five Across, which is headed by the guy that headed the teams that created iPhoto and iMovie, launched a new blogging system today, called bubbler™. It’s available for Mac OS X and Windows.

I took it for a spin. You can read my Bubbler test blog to see my discoveries, but the bottom line:

  1. No permalinks (at least, not ones that are exposed)
  2. No good way to create hyperlinks (other than pasting the naked URL into the post)
  3. No ability to add an image inside a post
  4. No RSS feeds. Or Atom feeds. No syndication feeds at all

Summary: This isn’t a blogging tool. It’s a nice home page builder.

That said, I do like the reporter feature, a streamlined UI to create postings that are automatically datestamped—awfully handy if you liveblog. And of course, this is beta one. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Chairman Dean

I’ve been pleased to see Howard Dean step up to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. Like him or laugh at him, he’s espoused some solid stands on things that matter, not centrist waffling, and has proven that he can energize at least some of the base. Of course, I also note that the media continues to replay the Scream clip every time they talk about this, no matter how long it’s been debunked. Oliver Willis is also keeping an ear out for bias in the way the coverage is handled, including a less-than-up-and-up blind quote question in the press conference.

You are tearing me apart

This has been sitting as an open tab in NetNewsWire for so long, it’s got a new design since the first time I opened it. What Goes On – The Beatles Anomalies List is a listing of all the apparent goofs, flubbed notes, patches, studio chatter, etc. that can be heard in every recorded Beatles song. Nice place to come check if you’re losing your hearing, or that really is someone belching during “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).”

Link roundup

More stuff:

Hating your customers: customers hate back

Boing Boing: Angry remix of “You can click, but you can’t hide”. This is what happens when you take heavy handed legal action against customers who are doing something that may or may not be illegal—you embolden customers to go out even further on a legal limb.

Update: Why do we object so much when copyright enforcement gets heavy handed? Take a look at this story about confiscation of private property, including data files and work material, in a Manila airport in the name of “stopping piracy.”

Newsburst day 2

Got a very nice comment from John Roberts at CNet on the last post, responding to a few points I made about NewsSource and pointing out an important omission. First, the easy one: import OPML is in the “Add Source” tab of the application, and it supports importing from a local file or a public URL. Which is cool. My 347 subscriptions got imported—even preserving my groups!—though there were a few time-outs, which manifested as 404s, along the way. The latter is perhaps unsurprising given the number of sources I asked NewsSource to handle. (I fed it my full OPML list.)

Second, and more importantly, I did what I often do, which is to fail to pause and reflect on how cool NewsSource is before I start making grand points about what it says about the marketplace. It speaks extraordinary things about CNet that they are making this investment, and preserves their place both as early proponents of linking out and as innovators in syndication. (They were among the first “big media” guys to get RSS.) It also says good things about them that they are setting the bar for other news sites in this way, saying, “You want transparency and the news from a dozen different perspectives? Here it is. Go get it.” Bravos.

Other RSS stuff

More goodies from the aggregator list that never ends:

RSS business value: content portal

With last week’s launch of branded online RSS aggregators from CNet (, it looks like everything old is new again when it comes to RSS. Remember the first application for XML content syndication? Yeah, Newsburst looks a lot like My Netscape. Only there are about 3 million times more potential news sources now than there were then.

John Roberts, the developer at CNet who was responsible for the portal, notes that it does OPML import-export. Which is good—if you don’t believe in being locked in (*). But it points to an issue with the RSS content portal business model.

In 1999, there were no alternatives for content aggregation—it was My Netscape or the highway. It’s 2005 now. If an aggregator (web based or traditional client) doesn’t work for you, you can take your subscription list with you and move on.

And if you’re banking on RSS to provide your users with a daily reason to come back to your site, and banking on saving a lot of money by not having to develop the content yourself… better think about banking some money to keep adding features to your aggregator. Because as you start falling behind your users’ other options, they’ll take their subscription lists and go.

It’s not a subscriber lock-in model. So where’s the incentive for a news site to add it? Simply put, it may be that you have to because everyone else will (see Steve Rubel on Dave Winer’s assertion that RSS and the news business is tightly bound). This is, maybe, the natural outgrowth of the increasing sense that all news is biased, and customers are increasingly going to demand to see all sides of the story—as well as declare that you show your own biases. Triangulation.

Update: So has anyone figured out how to import OPML into NewsBurst? I was really looking forward to putting 347 sources into it and seeing how well it held up…

Photos: “Thaw”

half a boston city seal, at the public garden entrance

We have so little good light these days that it’s taken a few different photo exhibitions to get a good gallery full of post-snow photos. Call it the “thaw” batch—more because the weather has been mostly above freezing than because the snow has gone anywhere.

The latest gallery spans a chronology from the 25th of January, right after the storm, through today when we walked around the Public Garden a bit. Along the way the Patriots won another Superbowl and we visited the National Heritage Museum, which gives a uniquely Masonic view of local history in Lexington but also has some good exhibits of general interest including a fantastic Paul Revere exhibit. (Look in the gallery for an original Peanuts strip with a Paul Revere connection, as well as an empty Moxie bottle from the turn of the last century).


Salon launched Audiofile yesterday, the new MP3 blog of their music critic Thomas Bartlett (and the replacement for the Wednesday Morning Download). Nice bonus feature of every MP3 the feature has pointed to since it was the WMD.

Note: I’m a Salon subscriber, and I don’t know whether these features are generally accessible with a day pass; apologies if they aren’t accessible.