Google Blogsearch & Webfeeds

At first look there are no orange XML/RSS chicklets in Google Blogsearch. But if you look at the bottom of the page just above the pagination there’s this line where you can subscribe to either an Atom or RSS feed for the search results.

E.g.: “Thinklemon” search results in Atom and “Thinklemon” search results in RSS.

This is great stuff for some ‘egosurfing‘. 🙂 But I have to give it to MSN Search. As a search engine they were there first.
If it weren’t for Firefox’s Live Bookmarks I would just have missed this option.

Update: It seems that the feeds are ordered by relevance per default. You’ll need to sort your results on date first (top right) and then subscribe to get a feed ordered on post date.

Google Blogsearch

Google launched a dedicated blog search engine today.
You can read the FAQ here.

It seems that Google also uses the engine for their free Blogger weblog service. Which makes me wonder how they will sift out the splogs, as Blogger is/was not willing to take down spam/autogenerated/offensive weblogs.

Of course it’s beta. Need I mention?

[Via The RSS Weblog]

Google Earth: Impact Structures Top 25 (was 10)

And here it is! My first public experiment with Google Earth.

Vredefort Impact StructureSome time ago I stumbled upon the Earth Impact Database. A table with all 172 confirmed impact structures on earth’s surface. Putting one and two together I figured it would be nice to see those impact structures visualised inside GE. I also figured it to be a nice side-project to learn PHP, KML and XML on the way. After some trial and error, some code-borrowing, testing and hacking I present you:
A top 25 of the largest confirmed impact structures on earth.

If you were impressed by the dinosaur extermination power of the Chicxulub crater off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Wait till you see the Sudbury and Vredefort ‘dents’. 😉


Download the impact structures top 25 kmz
(Google Earth required). Or click the picture to see what you’re missing.

Continue reading “Google Earth: Impact Structures Top 25 (was 10)”

Mozilla Firefox 1.5 beta 1 is out

As stated on the Mozilla.org Firefox projectpage:

Firefox 1.5 Beta 1Firefox 1.5 Beta 1 is now available for download. This is the first Beta release of our next generation Firefox browser, to be released later this year, and it is being made available to our developer and testing community for compatibility testing and to solicit feedback.

Note: This is not the final release of our Web browser, it has been made available for testing purposes only, with no end-user support. If that sounds scary, you’d probably be better off with the latest version of Firefox 1.0.

Installing it on a production environment generally is a bad idea as it will break a lot of your extensions. But if you’re dying to take a look, do so here.

The roadmap states there will be a Firefox 1.5 Beta 2 following in October. So it should be safe to say that the final 1.5 will be available before the holiday season? *knock on wood*
Surprisingly *the other browser* is due for release around ‘Mid-Late Q4‘. Are the fox and the e about to clash at the end of this year?

Progressive layout

My website definitely needs an overhaul. I’ve been using the default ‘Kubrik’ theme too long. Surely I could download and run another theme. But, being a webdeveloper/designer, that is beneath my standard ;-).

Last may I stumbled on this concept of ‘Progressive layout’ by Alessandro Fulciniti. The concept is simple, build a ‘liquid’ or scalable layout using CSS and use a piece of JavaScript to limit the display-width of the layout. E.g. Whenever a browser window is at it’s ‘maximum’, make it a fixed width layout. When the browser window is scaled below a boundary value, change it to a ‘liquid layout’. Even below a set threshold change it back to a fixed width layout again. See Alessandro’s example of a 3-column layout with and without the concept in place. (Open up and resize your browser! See what is happening to the width of the layout?) This is something I’ll probably want with my layout. (Degrading nicely for old browsers, mind you)

Ever since the inception of the internet people had the choice of fixed or liquid/scalable layouts. Each one had their pro’s and con’s. But this has never been combined before (I think). Looking at and testing Alessandro’s code I found something that annoyed me. When you load up the above demo’s and scale them, the margins are variable. This got me thinking and testing myself. Scalable below a certain threshold using the liquid layout, above the threshold fixed width. And here’s my demo.
It currently is a ‘proof of concept’. Whenever the browser window is smaller than a 1000 pixels (960px + 2 * 20px) it changes to a liquid layout. I’ve tested it in IE6, FF 1.0 and Opera 8.0 and it works. IE5 has some trouble switching to liquid. So before I’ll release the script I’ll have to do some testing. 🙂

(Feedback is welcome)

Apple iBook. On Second Thoughts.

Apple iBook 12" It’s officialy a month ago since I bought my 12″ Apple iBook. Coming from a WinTel world I must admit, it has been an overall positive experience. But there also have been some quirks I haven’t got used to.

So here’s a short list of things I hate or love about my Mac:

  • Dashboard is overrated. I’ve looked at it maybe 3 times. The concept of widgets is OK, but it’s on the edge of geekiness a.k.a. ‘who’s using it?’.
  • No Delete-button. There’s only ‘Backspace’. Why? As with the rest of OS X, it’s too keyboard centric, meaning I have to use Command+… everytime I want to get something done. Like switching applications. The dock, despite it’s coolness does NOT replace the Windows taskbar. I’ve got to hand it to Windows, where I’ll be operating my mouse all day and occasionally using the keyboard.
  • Killing applications. I still do not fathom the concept of killing all windows and still have the application running in the background. Please tell me why I want a memory hogging app running in the background without an apparant GUI?
  • Microsoft should learn about this installer alternative of ‘packages’. Installation is just a matter of dragging a package to your ‘Applications folder’. That’s it. No questions asked. It’s there. Use it.
  • The same with de-installation. Just drag it to the bin and you’re set. It’s gone. (Apart from some deep-hidden settings that you did not get away, even with using ‘regedit’ on Win. In fact it brings back the good ‘ol DOS days, drag’n’drop this time. :-))
  • Exposé rules! Besides patent-issues, this could make Windows great. For all you MS people, imagine this: Just press one button and see every app running as a thumbnail and seeing what it is doing at the moment. Imagine having several Mediaplayer windows open and seeing them playing all at the same time, while checking your downloads progress. (Again: Why not a mouse-button somewhere in the GUI?)
  • As for default browsers. Safari RSS is not all that. So I’m sticking with Firefox + extensions. I could not imagine living without.
  • It is when I switch to my Dell that I sorely miss the trackpad with scrolling capability. Trackpads have been around for ages, why didn’t they come up with the idea of using two fingers to scroll a page before? It is like the scrollwheel on a mouse. Once used to it you can’t live without.
  • Standby = Standby (or Sleep as it is called on a Mac). Meaning, whenever I close the lid of my iBook it does what I want. Namely, go to sleep (or standby) in a moments notice. And here’s the big part. Whenever I decide to open the lid, the OS springs back to life, sub-second.
    (In fact I just did it just now. Just for fun. :-))
    I noticed this, while waiting in vain for my Dell to come back to life from a standby. It never did… and it’s not exemplary for this Dell. Be it hardware or OS, it’s not working on Wintel.

So here it is. My list of quirks after one month of Mac. 🙂

(Added: trackpad with scroll)
(Added: sleep/standby)

Katrina + CNN + Google Earth

Makes for some interesting first.

I’ve been following the Katrina aftermath this week and today, watching CNN, I noticed something familiar. One reporter used Google Earth, live, in his report of what happened to downtown New Orleans. Highlighting, zooming in, several parts of the stricken city to discuss what has happened. In the mean time swapping between GE & current footage.

Amidst the human tragedy that’s still going on, this was one of the things that struck me.

(Sorry, no screenshots.)

Update: Google Earth Hacks has a special page with all the ‘Hurricane Katrina and Flooding’ placemarks. There’s also a forum discussing all the material that’s available in GE.

We will attempt to keep these files updated with the latest aerial photos showing the flooded areas of New Orleans, to help residents of the area to stay informed.

Update 2: Via the Google Blog I found these additional links. 1. The special Katrina page at earth.google.com with overlays for GE. Some instructions here. 2. For people without GE there’s this special Katrina Google Maps page. (Originating article.)
Furthermore there are the Flickr Katrina & New Orleans tags showing related pictures.

Comparing Apples and Lemons*

So how do you compare an Apple running OS X with a Windows based PC? Many a flame-war has started over this matter. Just a few examples:
Win vs OSX

  • Apple geeks will tell you any PowerPC 0wnz Intel. But it seems Intel 0wnz Apple soon.
  • Microsoft alledgedly has copied the Mac interface, in fact it was a Xerox first. (On a sidenote: How come I can spend a day just clicking around on Win, while having to resort to keyboard on OSX? Just stick with “the Aqua eye candy is no match for the Luna Theme“.)
  • Apple hardware is more expensive than your generic Dell. Well, that is a fact, but the jury is still out on on the verdict of lemons.

In short: The MS camp stands squarely at the Apple camp. And vice versa.

Back to the question: How do you compare an Apple running OS X with a Windows based PC?

Continue reading “Comparing Apples and Lemons*”