Archive for January, 2004

You’ve Got Mail

(Via The Tao of Mac) Mail.appetizer shows a preview of new mail via a translucent window, so you can decide if you want to go check your mail right away. Sure wish they I had this for Outlook at work.

Understated Elegance

As I’ve alluded to, I’d like to revamp my site layout a bit, but I’m not a designer. Changing the look would also give me another reason to make time to experiment with Fletcher’s new blosxcss project for reusable Blosxom site layouts.

I am on this topic because today I ran across a site that made an immediate visual impact, one of understated elegance. That site is dugh’s sp.ookee.com, a member of the ookee.com network. Sp.ookee features a fantasticly minimalist layout, but doesn’t look plain or unstyled. Plenty of negative space. Font sizes all seem appropriate to the task. No demarcation between content and sidebar, as none seems needed. The site tree at the top of the page is compact and eminantly useful.

I think my favorite part of the layout is the date headers. The are reverse-indented, which is to say, everything else on the page is indented. They use dots instead of slashes in the dates, which combined with the large-font-sized, bolded Georgia (numbers look fantastic in Georgia), seems very sophisticated. Best of all, the letter-spacing is expanded quite a bit. It doesn’t scream “elegance”… because it doesn’t need to scream.

He’s even using my moreentries plugin. Talk about classy ;)

It’s 12:00… Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

I just tried to read catch up on my news/blog feeds, via Bloglines. As I’ve commented before, Bloglines is a web-based aggregator, and the only aggregator I use anymore.

But this time I couldn’t read my feeds. Instead, I saw the following message:

Bloglines has suffered a major hardware failure with one of the main database machines. We are working quickly to fix the problem. Please visit later. We apologize for the inconvenience. We currently estimate that the outage will last one hour.

Now, this is no knock on Bloglines. Hardware failures happen. And Bloglines is a fairly new, free service. I’m sure they have a revenue model in the works, but I’m also sure they have no revenue yet. So it’s no surprise that their systems aren’t completely redundant. I have no plans to stop using Bloglines.

But this did get me thinking about web services and data. In this case, my data is my list of feeds, and the information about which posts I have already read. What if Bloglines were offline for days? What if they never returned? Granted, my blogroll isn’t the most critical data in the world, but the problem exists in any web service model where some data that you “own” is kept and maintained by someone else.

In the case of Bloglines, my list of feed subscriptions can be exported to OPML. I have such an export saved on my system, but it’s not completely current. The list of what posts I’ve read is not exportable, but is also much less important. In the future, I’ll probably schedule a job to download my latest OPML file once a week, or something like that. I’ll also pay more attention to any other data I maintain in a web service that I don’t control.

Jamming with RSS

In the days following the announcement of GarageBand, a number of websites have popped up devoted to the new product. There has already been some convergence; garagebanduser.com has joined forces with gbusers.com. Now the combined site has been rechristened MacJams.com, and will focus on mac-based music making of all types. Although they don’t seem to be linking to it yet, they do provide an RSS Feed.

The other GarageBand site I’m currently subscribed to is SonicCat, which provides an RSS feed as well. If you know of any others active sites, especially that provide feeds, please leave a comment.

How to Lose my Business

Compusa (no link provided, you know who they are) has lost my business. Forever. Want to lose my business too? Learn from them.

At Christmas time, my wife asked me for a list of gift ideas, and hinted the Compusa’s web site was offering free shipping. I sent her links to three items on the Compusa website: A firewire harddrive, a firewire DVD burner (from LaCie), and a Griffith Powermate. She got a little carried away and bought all three.

Before I ever opened the DVD burner, I learned that Apple’s iDVD only works with Apple SuperDrives. Since I wanted to use iDVD, I decided to return the LaCie. I’ll get by burning Video CD’s for a while, and by a new Mac sometime in the next year (G5. Mmmmm.) This is good news for Compusa, since they are the closest Apple retailer. By far. The nearest Apple store is an hour away. Also, I live in a tax-free state, and the Apple store is in the next state over… so I’d pay tax there. I bought my 15″ Powerbook from Compusa less than a year ago.

However, Compusa has a 14 day return policy. As in, 14 days from the date on your receipt. Even on web orders, which means you effectively have less than 14 days. Even though the item was a gift. Even though it’s never been opened.

Congratulations, Compusa. The $3000+ I will probably spend in the next year on a G5 Desktop will not be spent with you. Good work.