Friday, April 23, 2010

Lifehacker and truncated RSS feeds in Google Reader

If you use Google Reader extensively, you've probably noticed a feed or two that won't display the full contents of the articles.  Instead, some sites give you just enough of the text of an article to try to hook you and lure you to their site.  Presumably for the purpose of driving up the hit count and generating ad revenue.  Not necessarily a bad cause - sites you frequent deserve your support.  But it is really disruptive to the Google Reader experience to hop out to other sites in the middle of reading your feeds.  It's awkward and inefficient, and frankly I think it generates some ill will towards those feeds.

Interestingly, LifeHacker.com is one of those sites that has that problem, but in an interesting twist, today a post from LifeHacker shows some ways to fix it.  I picked the "Google Reader Full Feed Changer" option, which involved the following steps:
  1. Install the Grease Monkey Firefox plug-in
  2. Install the Grease Monkey script for the Reader hack
  3. Click "Manage User Scripts..." in Grease Monkey and edit the .JS script
  4. This step is different depending on which sites you're going to fix.  You need to know XPath and how to 'view source' on the desired sites, but it's not too tough.  I fixed LifeHacker.com and ArsTechnica.com with the following edit to the script:
var SITE_INFO = [
  {
    url:    'http://arstechnica.com',
    xpath:  '//div[@class="body"]'
  },
  {
    url:    'http://lifehacker.com',
    xpath:  '//div[@id="wrapper"]'
  }
  // etc, etc...

Once you hop back into Google Reader, the whole article will appear.  Very handy.

Thanks to Grease Monkey, the orange button can be replaced with the full article itself...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Unconstitutional

This would be really funny, if it weren't so true.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou

One of my least favorite things to do is to put on a DVD for the kids.  We don't typically let the kids watch very much TV as it is, but sometimes in a pinch the TV makes a nice babysitter.  Unfortunately, putting on a DVD for the kids is a major time waster as you have to skip, and wait, and fast forward, and wait, and skip, and wait some more... Until finally you lose your mind and punch every blasted button on the remote to just get to the point when the movie will actually play.  Bah!  BoingBoing had a nice little graphic a couple of months ago highlighting this, and Life Hacker posted some tricks to help bypass the headache recently.  Maybe it's worth it to rip all our movies to my DVR's harddrive just to avoid the hassle.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bye, bye underscores!

Though I code in VB.NET everyday, and have even named this blog after some VB-ish syntax, I code in C# for my personal projects and I maintain a mental "Top 10 things I hate about VB" list.  Near the top of that list is that VB code cannot span multiple lines unless you use an underscore as a line-continuation character.  It's syntax dating back to the earliest days of VB, and it's evil.  It makes the programmer jump through hoops to tell the compiler something that it should be smart enough to figure out anyway.  It was mostly annoying when using class/property <attribute> syntax, but with the addition of Linq syntax in .NET 3.5, the problem grew out of control.

Well, no more!  Today my company has upgraded to Visual Studio 2010, which is somewhat amazing since it was only just released this week.  And one of the great new features is the removal of the need for the underscore in many cases.  The compiler will now do what it should have done all along.

One of the first things I did today after completing the upgrade was to run a find and replace in my project, and I removed 918 underscores from the attributes decorators on classes, most of them for Linq-to-SQL markup.  Here's the regex find-and-replace dialog so that you can do the same!



Just one more goodie in the long awaited VS 2010!  I love being a .NET developer.

Tobasco

Is it wrong that I prefer Frank's RedHot to my own namesake sauce when it comes to tobasco?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tweets are for the birds

I'm not on Twitter. It appears I may be the only one - especially in the tech world. It is really very freeing to type more than 140 charact ...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax Day

I do my own taxes, and I do not cheat.  I do everything I can to be sure that my filing is as accurate as possible, including reporting the $3.80 in interest made off my savings account last year.  It's really difficult though with our overly complicated tax system.

When I finished our taxes this year, I was shocked.  We, as a family, paid more in mortgage interest last year than we did in federal taxes.  Now, I'm not complaining - given sales tax plus property tax plus federal/state/local income tax, we still pay more in total taxes than any other expense as a family.  I had to go back and double and triple check the numbers, but our software was accurate.  As I watch our national debt spiral out of control and the creation of more and more entitlement programs and the unemployment rate sticking steadily at more than 10%, I can't help but wonder how the federal government can really pay for all this.

If I'm honest with myself, I think we paid less than was fair.  Or rather more accurately, I think that other families in our income bracket and life situation paid less federal tax than was fair, and by extension so did we.  Our country's economic policies are unsustainable, and I cannot see how nearly half of all households benefit from government programs with zero tax liability.  But what do I know?  I'm only in the 1% demographic of this opinion poll.  But apparently I have some unlikely allies who share my belief.

Then again, it's not like receiving more in tax revenue would actually cause the government to pay down its debt - it seems creating more entitlement programs and bigger government is the name of the game.  With more money, they'd increase spending - there's no doubt in my mind.  The news just came out yesterday that our deficit spending was only $1.3 trillion instead of the expected $1.6 trillion, and we're supposed to celebrate this like the Titanic is taking on slightly less water than expected.  If I ran my household like this, we'd be living on the streets for sure.  Or perhaps, off the backs of some other taxpayers somewhere who simply must be footing the bill.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When money trumps safety

It looks like there's a good possibility that if you get a ticket from a red light camera, it may be because the timing of the yellow light has been shortened.  The goal of this of course is to increase ticket revenue at the expense of public safety.  I know I've been in a situation where I've been doing the speed limit, but that light turns yellow at just the wrong moment and you have a split second to decide whether it's safer to hit the breaks hard, or go on through when the light is, what I like to affectionately refer to as, "rorange".  With all the factors that our imperfect mental math needs to consider - the car we're in, the speed we're going, the distance to the safe stopping point (not the light itself), the weather, our tire traction, how close someone behind us is following - it's pretty despicable that the light could be set up to increase the probability of an accident for the purpose of increasing ticket revenue.  Aren't traffic laws supposed to promote safety?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Random thought of the day

Why is it that my keys are always in the wrong pocket?  It always seems that whenever I'm carrying something to the car in one arm, my keys are in the unreachable pocket.  Or perhaps they're in the pocket with my phone or iPod threatening to scratch the screen.  I've had this problem enough that you'd think I'd have solved it by now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's RSS feed reader bankruptcy day...

I read someone's blog recently where they called marking-everything-as-read in your RSS feeder "declaring feed bankruptcy".  The concept is that if you haven't looked at your feed reader in awhile, there's just too much there so you need to nuke the whole thing and go back to zero.  Today, April 1, is my annual "mark everything as read" day.  Not because there's too much to read, but because everything on the internet today is a ridiculous waste of time.  From the spaghetti tree to OMG! Ponies, join me in marking everything posted on the net as read, and then read a real book.