Google Reader “Next” Bookmarklet Fail

One of my peeves about using various Google products is that sometimes bugs can sit around unfixed for ages. Like this one: Google Reader provides a bookmarklet that allows you to easily skip directly to the URL of the next unread item in your reading list, bypassing the Reader interface completely. It is nice if you like to read blog entries and stories with full formatting, rather than just the feed content. It is also nice when you subscribe to feeds that only post a summary, and require click-through to get the full content of an article.

However, when using it, sometimes you get this:

Google Next Bookmarklet 403 Error

Sometimes using Google Reader's "Next" Bookmarklet Causes a "Forbidden" error.

This problem has been reported in Reader-related forums for months. It has something to do with viewing other people’s shared items, and you can work around it by going into Reader and reading the next item there. Still it’s very annoying.

Now, I develop software too, and I recognize that every team has a long backlog of work, and some things fall to the bottom, but it seems like a long-standing, customer- user-facing bug like this would eventually offend some developer enough that he or she would just go and fix it out of pride.

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Rina Ferrarelli, Poet and Translator

Thanks to my sister, my mom has a working website again: www.rinaferrarelli.com.  Actually, the new site has been up for a couple of months, but I just got around to updating my sidebar links.  I thought I’d throw her some link love from the main page as well.

Posted in Art, Web. 1 Comment »

Al Qaeda Developing Killer Daleks! Run!

Killer Daleks! Run!In the made-my-day department: Fox News recently ran a story on the possibility of Al Qaeda attacking the west with killer robots, complete with a photo of a Dalek from Dr. Who!

As robots.net points out, the whole thing stems from a speculative statement in a robot ethics talk by Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield.

Tracking the San Diego Fires on Google Maps

KPBS in San Diego has created a great tracker for the San Diego fires using Google Maps. It’s very impressive, and for those of us who are on the other side of the country it’s much easier way of seeing what’s really going on than listening to the lame, repetitive coverage on cable news. The annual meeting of Society for Neuroscience is scheduled to start in San Diego in just over a week, and I know that attendees from all over the world want to know what’s going on. The network and cable news has been surprisingly vague about the actual location of the fires. Apparently capitalizing on tragedy by reporting live from burnt-out neighborhoods is more important than actually informing us about what’s happening. The Harris fire is about 10 miles from downtown at its closest point.

BTW, to get a real view of the extent of the fires, download the KML file (link in the upper right on the Google Maps page), and open it in Google Earth — zoom in on San Diego and change your camera angle to do virtual flyovers. It’s stunning, and the number of residential streets inside the perimeter of the Witch Creek fire is astounding. It’s very sad.

Update: Here is another good Google Maps view, with slightly different information.

Update: Another blog is also wondering what’s up with SfN. There’s no info one way or another on the web. There’s still a week until the first pre-conferences start. That’s a long time in a situation like this. I assume the conference organizers will wait until the last minute to make a decision.

SciVee: YouTube for Science

The San Diego Supercomputing Center and PLoS have created SciVee, a YouTube-like website for scientific presentations. It seems like a potentially great vehicle for disseminating and promoting research. Right now the content is mostly in bio, but I would love to see more CS up there. It would be great, for example, if the major CS conferences videotaped their proceedings — or at least the major talks — and published them on SciVee. Another great use would be for departments to use SciVee to publish their various invited lecture series like FAI or the CMU Machine Learning Seminar Series.

SciVee itself seems like it still has a few of bugs that need to be worked out, but it’s new and I’m sure they’ll get them worked out. One particularly annoying one: the interface provides a vehicle to allow the producer of the video to provide text notes that are synchronized with the video. The problem is, the notes pop up over the video frame, interrupting the flow of the video and obscuring the screen and it doesn’t have a close box (though it is possible to close the boxes, if you search hard enough). I’m not sure exactly how this feature is supposed to be used effectively, but every instance of it that I saw was annoying to the point of ruining the video completely. Not only does it cover the screen and ruin the flow of the video, but it’s impossible to read a box of text and listen to a speaker at the same time.

I hope these kinds of things will be worked out as more people use the site and give feedback, and overall this seems like a cool way of advertising your research.

Posted in AI, Science, Web. 6 Comments »

Hiding email addresses from spammers

The Center for Democracy and Technology just published this report showing that obsuring your email address in web pages by HTML-encoding the characters as ASCII character codes effectively reduces spam. Here is a little CGI script that will make an encoded mailto link, that can be cut and pasted into a web page.

Second Superpower Redux