Long Live Reading

With Google Reader now buried, and
my preferred reading app NewsRob with it, I figured I’d share how things shook out in my quest to keep reading…

My targets:

  • content-focused web app, keyboard navigable, and somehow able to theme it dark (y’know, light the content, not the room :)
  • responsive mobile app with good caching, plugin support, and also dark-skinnable

On the web service side, I tried and found:

  • Yoleo – ok, but strange UI, and no mobile app!
  • The Old Reader – UI similar to Reader, but much too basic and slow
  • CommaFeed – almost perfect clone of Reader’s UI, and great features (including custom theming), but somewhat slow
  • NewsBlur – fast UI, but focused on its own slickness, and bad keyboard accessibility
  • Feedly – (originally NO web client, but they made one for Reader fans!) – fast UI, but missing +/- to zoom text.

For mobile apps, I tried:

  • CommaFeed – too little/late. Alpha released 2 days before Reader buried, and didn’t even have caching.
  • Feedly – too dog slow to be at all usable.
  • GReader – very sophisticated (and better performance than my previous try a year ago)

My friend Sean McCabe (who really needs a blog!) enlightened me that GReader supported Feedly, and that Feedly also imported Reader’s Starred Items. I have 6 years of Starred Items that I didn’t want to use, so that sealed the deal: Feedly+GReader it is!

Feedly’s only cons: missing +/- zoom, and themes only cover navbar — I figured I can handle that… But I just remembered the Chrome extension Stylebot, which can inject your own custom CSS into any page. I’ve just used it to create a black AND zoomed theme for Feedly. Perfecto.

Keep on reading!

Standing Desk, day 6

Previously, on Standing Desk: Day 1 and Day 2

Well I’m over a week into my experiment.  Here’s what I know:

  • Standing all day definitely gets easier.  My feet aren’t really sore anymore, or maybe I’m just used to it.
  • BUT, a bad night’s sleep is a lot more noticeable.  I had a couple rough nights, and standing around really made me want to crawl back into bed (more than a chair would).
  • I’m not noticing any general energy improvements yet.
  • But I do feel generally more Ready and Present while I’m working.  37 Signals’ Jamis says it better:
    My attention span improved, too. I noticed an immediate increase in my ability to focus on a problem for longer, and with greater clarity. When I was blocked by some problem, I was able to just walk away from the desk, whereas before the effort of getting up from my chair often made me prefer to just sit and stew in my frustration.

  • I’m getting used to it. Walking up to my desk doesn’t seem unusual anymore. Nor does the various fidgeting, dancing, pacing it allows. I didn’t even think about it today until I was walking out to my car.

So I think it’s a good thing and I want to continue.  My next thought is about getting a real standup desk (“real” as in no cardboard boxes required).  Apparently, IKEA’s Jerker is Undisputed King of Standup desks.  It does look great, but I can’t seem to find it.  More news as it happens…

Standing Desk, day 1

Today I took a plunge with a standing desk, for a few reasons.


Health
I often sit all day long, and rarely make the time to exercise.  Humans weren’t made to sit.  I think this sums it well:

Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. You burn more energy by chewing gum or fidgeting than you do sitting still in a chair. Compared to sitting, standing in one place is hard work. To stand, you have to tense your leg muscles, and engage the muscles of your back and shoulders; while standing, you often shift from leg to leg. All of this burns energy.

For many people, weight gain is a matter of slow creep — two pounds this year, three pounds next year. You can gain this much if, each day, you eat just 30 calories more than you burn. Thirty calories is hardly anything — it’s a couple of mouthfuls of banana, or a few potato chips. Thus, a little more time on your feet today and tomorrow can easily make the difference between remaining lean and getting fat.

Olivia Judson in the New York Times

Productivity
Not that productivity is what humans were made for either, but if I’m taking time away from my family and Life to go work, I should use that time well.  Too often my train of thought is “I’m sitting in front of a computer, now what can I do with it?”  rather than “For what purpose am I standing in front of this computer?”

Peer Pressure
A friend and
several bloggers I respect have made the switch, and had good things to say.  I’m a big fan of reviews and anecdotal evidence.  :7

…So this morning I put some cardboard boxes under my keyboard, mouse, and monitors.  (It’s ugly, but a cheap way to try before I buy a real standing desk.)

Some things I’ve already noticed:

  • It’s hard.  Everyone says the first 2 days are brutal.  Yup!  They also say around day 3 it gets easy and then it starts paying back with better energy.  Here’s hoping…
  • With the right tunes, I catch myself dancing!  Yes, I’m sure you’d like to see that.  I checked and am relieved that google says I’m not crazy (or not alone, anyway).
  • Moment-to-moment priorities are easier.  For a couple years I’ve had a sign reminding me to “Decide Standing” when I pick my next tasks.  The opposite is true now – I can now take a 2-minute sitting break to pick a task.  This comes much more naturally!

Wish me luck.

Driving Oblivion

“People should be ashamed when they are passed on the right”

I’m not a bumper-sticker person.  I really have never had one, and probably never will.  I guess my soapbox-ish feelings have never overcome my greater aversion to more visual pollution.  …Except when it comes to driving considerately.  If I saw one, I’m sure I would buy and apply a bumper sticker along these lines:

keep right (except to pass)

Driving considerately depends on awareness.  If you’re oblivious to what’s going on around you, yes “mental auto-pilot” might keep you personally safe (somewhat), but it interferes with the effective flow of traffic. 

This “driving oblivion” is essentially a form of laziness.  People should be ashamed when they are passed on the right, and should feel the need to apologize somehow, perhaps by flashing their lights in acknowledgement of the inconvenience they may have just caused the passer.  But of course they’d have to notice that too… 

A similar symptom of driving oblivion is failure to indicate: just drift on over to wherever you feel like being, with no consideration for other drivers.

I guess flow and being considerate are big with me these days.

A not particularly-related frustration, but one which also breaks flow, is traffic waves.  I think I mentioned once that I’d meant to write about it as a form of compression wave, but fortunately someone beat me to it.  Traffic waves are actually not a symptom of laziness, but rather one of greediness — never allowing enough space in front of you that someone else might be able to cut in line.  In the process, your foot ends up back-and-forth between pedals, magnifying the compression waves and actually slowing the flow.  (Imagine a sink drain that burps, back with the air, forth with the water).

(Normally I’d apologize for venting, soapboxing, etc.  But lookee there at my name up top!  Speaking freely is a blog’s “why”.)

Hey, Scripting Guy!

I’ve bugged the Microsoft Scripting Guys to make a feed for their great daily Q&A.  “Coming soon” was the most I ever heard (and over a year ago)…

I don’t know what the holdup is, but it doesn’t matter to me now.  Thanks to etc., I just found Yoktu.com Feedmaker.  A moment later, I had the feed I want.  Sweet!

One note: Feedmaker has a Word Filter option.  Unfortunately it doesn’t do positive filters, so “?” hides all the links I want, instead of the generic ones I don’t.  No big deal (I’ll choke doen the extras), but hey Yoktu, how about a googlish syntax like “+?” for specifying what to include?

Links for 2007-01-04

Busy?  Oh yeah.