Looking for a Google Reader replacement – like everyone else

Google ReaderI, like the rest of the internet, was shocked and annoyed tho learn that Google is planning no shutting down the Google Reader service.

I’ve been looking for an alternative, Here is a rundown of the options I looked info:

  1. The old reader – Lots of promise in the name, couldn’t get my feeds imported yet, I’m 22-thousnad-something in the queue…
  2. NetVibes – Dashboards suck, The reader view looks ok, but you can’t change the sorting to begin from oldest, also the key-bindings are strange.
  3. NewsBlur – Not free. Also the UI is very strange, looks like an upside-down mail reader. If I wanted my RSS reader to look like  mail reader I’d use Thunderbird.
  4. Baz Qux reader – Only one display mode that looks like Google Reader’s “Expanded View” totally useless for reading large amounts of feeds.
  5. TT-RSS – Open sources PHP APP I’d need to host on my own – but the UI looks nice from the screen-shots and it seems to have nice mobile support. I’m planning to look further into this.
  6. Feedly – This is what I use currently – not completely happy about it  since it uses a browser plug-in rather then being an independent site, so I wonder about its portability and support for my mobile phone. The UI is very flashy and wastes a lot of screen real-estate but it can be made useful with the Firefox Sylish Plugin and a custom condensed style. One additional plus for this service is that the key-bindings are compatible with what the reader had.

Finally, here are some links to various call to action sites and petitions:

  1. savegooglereader.org
  2. bringgooglereaderback.com
  3. Petition on change.org and another one and a third

Tatja Grimm’s World, not up my alley

Tatja Grimm's World paperback front coverI’ve finished reading Tatja Grimms World an acclaimed novel by Vernor Vinge, a much acclaimed writer a couple of days ago. I’m afraid to admit that, while entertaining, this book didn’t quite cut it for me.

Spoiler warning: I am going to discuss features of the story in depth.

As far as world building goes, the book is pretty good, wondering about how a technologically advanced world with little to no metal resources would look like is quite an interesting experience.

Where this book falls flat is in the department of character development, I just couldn’t overlook the heavy use of mary sue elements.

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I got a letter from Amazon/Audible

Having heard them being promoted aggressively on almost all the Podcasts I frequent, and having recognized the practical comfort of audiobooks, I’ve been wondering about purchasing some audiobooks from Audible. However, I’ve heard that Audible uses DRM, even worse, they mandate the use of DRM even when the book author wishes otherwise. I find this to be unacceptable.

Therefore I was happy to take the opportunity offered by this page to make my voice heard.

I’ve followed the instructions on the page and and send a message to Amazon stating that while I’ll be happy to purchase audiobooks from Audible, I will not spend my money on such books if they are encumbered by DRM technology that by its very nature will limit my choice of audio players and operating systems (on the very least it will most probably not support the cheap mp3-only players on the market).

Today I got a reply from Amazon, I’ve posted the full text below.

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Howl’s Moving Castle, a charming book

Being an avid Anime watcher, I obviously took note of Miyazaki’s Howl no Ugoku Shirow, and watched it as soon as I could get my hands on it. It is, as all Miyazaki’s movies are, a charming and entertaining movie, however I found it to be slightly inferior to other Miyazaki hits such as Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa and Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa.

I did have vague notion that the movie was based on a book, but I’ve never really paid much attention to it until I heard it being recommended by Gili Bar-Hillel, the Hebrew translator of young-adult fantasy hits such as Harry Potter at the Haifa University’s Fantasy and Reality convention. While I’m much less then a Harry Potter fan, she gave such an excited recommendation that I thought, “what the heck”, and ordered the book from Amazon.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones delivers a charming, compelling story, which is much more intricate then anything a two hour Anime could deliver, with interesting, complex characters and breathtaking scenery that even Miyazaki somewhat fails to convey.

This book is a gem, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Fantasy and Reality convention: Day 2

Since I pretty much enjoyed myself yesterday, I decided to go ahead and attent the second day of the Fantasy and Reality convention at the Haifa University.

I was quite pleased with the way the first day was organized, therefore I was quite disappointed to realize that today they decided to take a similar route that other conventions take and have multiple lectures taking place side-by-side rather then stick with the first day’s format of having only one lecture going on at a time.

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Fantasy and Reality convention: Day 1

I’ve spent my day today attending the Fantasy and Reality convention at the Haifa University, I must say it was quite interesting and joyful.

The convention is composed of a series of lectures by various speakers as well as a marathon of fantasy movies projected in a hall nearby.

Since I’ve already seem all the movies projected (The Never Ending Story, Blade Runner, Disney’s Fantasia and The Fifth Element) and movies being a mere download away, I attended the lectures instead.

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Transmetropolitan Issue #1 CoverI’ve been reading Transmetropolitan, the excellent comic series by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson, and enjoying it tremendously.

The comic is very well written and well drawn, portraying our world 20 to 30 years from now, but like any good science fiction, it actually discusses the present rather then the future.

The setting may be of the 2050s but the ideas and plot, it seems to me, are from the 1960s.

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