EPG at last

Seems that the TV networks in Australia are finally telling us what they'll be playing, something they've refused to do in the past. They've even sued one EPG provider for providing independently-created data about upcoming shows. And lost.

I had used IceTV but was kinda resentful of having to pay so much for something so basic. Eventually when my subscription expired I changed to shepherd, which does a bunch of screen scraping and downloads of free information to compile a guide. It works brilliantly and has a very clever architecture.

I'll check it out tonight, but in the past there have been criticisms of the on-air EPG because it sometimes says useless stuff like "AFTERNOON MOVIE" instead of actually naming it. We'll see!

Make blog is gone

I've been reading the Make magazine blog since it launched, but recently I've found myself hitting "mark as read" for it. The problem is one of volume and repetition. I just don't have the time to read 20+ posts a day from a single blog. What's more, when they show a single item they often then include every possibly vaguely-related post in that blog entry.

So it's with heavy heart that I must unsubscribe. I've enjoyed the blog, with lots of very cool projects shown, but until they have an "edited highlights" version with less than 3 posts a day, I just can't keep up.

WTF is this Plaxo crap?

I just received a message from some social networking crap called "Plaxo".

Subject: John added you as a connection on Pulse

I'd like to connect to you on Pulse.

Pulse is the easiest way to stay up-to-date and share photos, contact info, recommendations, or just about anything from the sites you already use (YouTube, Flickr, Digg, etc.) with the people you know.


To accept this request and see what I'm sharing: http://pulse.plaxo.com/pulse/invite/?<removed tracking code>

Though member-sent, this e-mail contains promotional content. If you would prefer not to receive such mailings in the future, click here. Plaxo's office is at 203 Ravendale Drive, Mountain View, CA 94043.

So someone who is only identified as "John", and I don't know many of those wants to connect with me in some vague social networking bollocks? And to opt out I have to follow their process to stop receiving their spam?

Spam! At least Facebook lets you permanently opt out with a single click. These guys, I have no idea who they are and don't care. I won't be following their multi-step process for "opting out" (or rather, verifying I'm a real, live human).

Planet Feed Reader bug

I've been trying to post to Planet's development mailing list because I've found a bug. It moderates posts from non-subscribers, and I can't see any other way to report a bug. So I'll report it here, and hopefully someone will spot it. I've asked Jeff separately to approve the post, but haven't had any luck -- he's a bloody busy guy, so fair enough.

Here's the bug report:

Hi folks.

For some time I've noticed that feeds slurped from planets, which are
in turn using my old-format, link to non-existent URLs.  For example,
if you look at planet.slug.org.au and grab the RSS, you get this:

<title>Simon Rumble: Crazy Egg rocks</title>
<description>[snipped for clarity]</description>
<pubDate>Mon, 22 Oct 2007 05:13:13 +0000</pubDate>

Now the contents of the <guid> element is just plain wrong, if
used as a URL.  The contents of <link> are, in fact, correct.

Now if you look at the RSS 0.91 I'm sending at
http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi?flav=rss you see this:

      <title>Crazy Egg rocks</title>
     <description>[snipped for clarity]</description>

Or if you grab the RSS 2.0 I'm sending at
http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi?flav=rss20 you see this:

      <title>Crazy Egg rocks</title>
      <description>[snipped for clarity]</description>
      <author>Simon Rumble
      <pubDate>22 Oct 2007 05:13:13 UTC</pubDate>
      <guid isPermaLink="false">Crazy_Egg</guid>

Now if you look at the spec, guid is meant to be a unique identifier.
If the "isPermaLink" property is true (or not specified),
it's also the URL that can be used for the item.  So the RSS readers
are interpretting this correctly.  However, I don't know how Planet is
concocting these guids, and they shouldn't be putting the isPermaLink
property on regardless.

The blog software I'm using is blosxom -- so I suspect this isn't an
isolated incident.  You can also see this same example manifest in the
RSS 2.0 of planet.gllug.org.au

I'm not on this list, so if you want any further details, copy me in.

Crazy Egg rocks

Crazy Egg

Part of my job involves maintaining some of the reporting bits of various web sites. We use a combination of Google Analytics and WebTrends. I've just now discovered an amazing, but very narrowly targetted, tool.

Crazy Egg uses a little JavaScript include to track and report where users actually click on a page. It's designed to help you optimise your most important pages. It shows this information in a number of different ways, but the visual overlay "heatmap" is probably the most obvious. It shows you exactly where users clicked.

The shot shown here is of my contact page over the last weekend. Not too much data, but you can clearly see how people progress through and from the page. This would be really amazing stuff if you're optimising ordering pages or the like. It should give some interesting insights into our users.

One of the sites I look after has a page with about 2 million pageviews a month, mostly from people who've used the install disk and don't know how to change their home page. This is a demographic I don't really understand that well, so I can't wait to test out this tool on that page!

iPhone is very impressive

One of the gadget freaks with too much spare money at work bought an cracked an iPhone to work in Australia. I just had a little play with it and have to say it's mighty impressive. Simple things like the automatic rotation when you rotate the device, the gesture multi touch user interface are very impressive. Just goes to show that Apple are very good at focussing on making the UI good.

Quite impressive. Most importantly, it'll give all the other providers a solid kick up the arse. Given I won't be buying any Apple products after being stung years ago, I'm keen to see how Nokia respond.

Lunch at the Googleplex


Ben invited me over to have lunch with him at the Google Sydney offices today. Nice place to work it would seem: stunning water views, make-your-own pizzas, free food and drink, a day a week to work on anything you like. Wow! Mind you, I had to sign an NDA just to visit!

While I was there, I ran into Gordon. He's enjoying the job there too.

Thanks for the lunch Ben. I'd offer to reciprocate but lunch around Forest Lodge is shite.