Google’s Tips for Feed Publishers

Publish an RSS feed? If so, Google wants to help you make it more popular by suggesting best practices for feed publishers. The section about how Google is counting feed subscribers is most interesting.

Google Reader – Common Questions:

Users on the web increasingly consume their favorite content through feed reading applications. If you’re a website publisher, we’re here to offer you techniques and recommendations to make sure your feeds provide the best possible user experience to your users.

Via Download Squad

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Murphy’s Law: How Microsoft Vista Helps Terrorists

Obviously the benefits far outweigh the risks, but this is case in point that the sword has two edges.

Murphy’s Law: How Microsoft Vista Helps Terrorists:
Rarely does sensitive information on missing laptops find its way to the wrong people. The exception is the missing laptops in a combat zone. There, too many people know that any stolen laptops can have valuable data on them. For that reason, military and government users were glad to see Microsoft include strong data encryption (BitLocker) in the latest version (Vista) of its operating system. The bad news, at least for intelligence personnel, is that the bad guys will have convenient access to this easy-to-use encryption technology. There has been encryption technology like this available for years, but it was hard to install and use. BitLocker is designed for non-geeks. Apparently, there is no “back door” (easy way for the government to read BitLocker encrypted data). However, Microsoft may have shared technical data about Bit Locker with the NSA (National Security Agency, which handles American government and military cryptography), to make it easier to crack.

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Living in a Socialist Economy

This story on Bloomberg had the standard issue dryness for what is really a fascinating story unfolding in Venezuela. This is what the economist interviewed for the story had to say about Chavez’ plan to control inflation by lopping 3 zeros off the currency.

“He has a funny understanding of the problem,” Alberto Bernal, a Latin America economist with Bear Stearns & Co., said in an interview. “Cutting a number of zeros from the bolivar is irrelevant in the end.”

Allow me to translate into non-economist speak for those among us not so fortunate to hold a degree in economics:

“This guy is a fucking nut case”

Now for the not-so-funny part of the story. If you want to see a real life example of what happens in a centrally managed socialist economy where incentives to produce are stamped out and people lack the will to invest and invent, look at Venezuela. Once you have done that, think about what is happening in that country every time some politician (on either side of the aisle) talks about windfall profits taxes (oil companies), price controls (energy), and limits on executive compensation. I’m not suggesting that we should live in the wild wild west, but in each of the above cases history teaches us that bureaucracy is the hobgoblin of all that is good about capitalism and that the after effects of disastrous policies long outlive the policies themselves.

Teqlo Turns a Pipe into an Application

Rod posted on the Teqlo blog about how he built a Yahoo! Pipe widget that fed a Teqlo application. This is a great case study for how loose coupling of services and focus on data flow rather than programmatic flow can result in quick innovation with low risk.

We actually saw the precursor to Pipes about a month ago and didn’t even think anything of it until it came out last week. As would be expected, a lot of people said 1) jeez, what does that Pipes thing mean for you guys, or 2) wow, this mashup thing is really growing up! It wasn’t enough for us to simply use that standard line about how “well those guys are really complimentary to what we are doing, they’re not competitive at all.” In some cases it may be adequate to build a Pipe instead of putting together a Teqlo application, and the fact is that we don’t have all the feed manipulation pieces they do so there will be times that we build a Pipe as well.

I asked Rod and Andy (one of our Top Gun engineers) to take a look at it and see if we could either submit an input to a Pipe or take an output for our own stuff. Imagine my surprise when not even 24 hours later they showed me a rough working example. My next question to them was “great, but can you give me a use case in which someone would want to do this and we could make it easy?”. I got that on Tuesday. Never before have I seen an engineering effort around integration go so quickly and smoothly, and while I put a fair amount of credit to the fact that we have seriously good engineers I also can’t ignore that from a development methodology/ideology, loose coupling is really really fast and reliable. I can only imagine the catalogs of applications that enterprise IT has on backlog and how a platform and approach like we have would dramatically improve the situation.

We’ll get this rolled into the production system ASAP, but be patient with us because we have a bunch of other priorities ahead that we really have to get done.

Teqlo Turns a Pipe into an Application | Teqlo:

To the end user, the Teqlo application looks simple, and was easy to build. It includes two widgets. The first is a Form widget which is used to call the Yahoo! Pipe and pass it search criteria. The Form widget gets the REST response back from the Pipe, and converts the response into Teqlo’s microformats. In this case, traffic information has been converted into the Location Microformat.

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