Category Archives: Tech

Can I Make Facebook Stop Hiding Content From Me?

I logged onto Facebook this morning, scanned the newsfeed, then popped over to a friend’s profile to leave her a wall post. While there, I saw that she had been tagged in a note from one of my other friends, which had not shown up in my newsfeed. I checked back, and sure enough, Facebook had decided to filter that note from me. And it was a great note. Is there any way to make Facebook show you everything? I’m not a fan of their arbitrary filtering. I like noise. I want noise. I don’t want to miss anything because some automated filtering algorithm decided I shouldn’t see it.

I have all of the sliders on the newsfeed preferences page set to the top (which filters the least), but apparently that’s not enough to convince Facebook I really don’t want things filtered at all. Anybody know any way to get everything? And yes, I do subscribe to the Notes RSS feed (as well as the status updates feed, and I can tell that the newsfeed is only giving me about 3/4 of those), but it always takes several hours for them to hit GoogleReader, and also, it’s the principle of the thing. Ultimately, I want to subscribe to the newsfeed in an external reader, too, because who knows how much stuff I miss by not being able to, I don’t know, PAGE BACK in the newsfeed when I’ve been away from my computer for a while? Seriously.

Slight Changes on the Blog Front

I replaced the normal WordPress comment system with comments powered by Disqus. Disqus is a centralized comment management service that keeps track of all the comments you make on Disqus-enabled blogs – basically providing you an identity that follows you to different sites, making it easy for you to comment and keep up with the threads you’ve contributed to. It also allows threaded comments (I can never decide whether I prefer threaded or non-threaded comments; right now I’m on a threaded kick), video comments powered by Seesmic, and comment voting, which isn’t necessarily a huge thing with as small a blog as I have, but hey. Disqus is also the comment system of choice for Tumblr, which doesn’t have native comment support, and I’ve had it enabled on my Tumblr since I found that out.

If you don’t comment on a lot of different blogs (particularly tech/early adopter ones, which is where Disqus is the most popular so far), don’t worry, you won’t have to sign up for an account on Disqus if you don’t want to. You can continue to just put in your name and e-mail address (and website, optionally) if you want. If you want to sign up for Disqus, just click “verify my comment” when you comment the first time, and it’ll give you the option to log in or sign up. The next time you comment here or on another Disqus-enabled blog, it will remember who you are. The Disqus comments will only replace the comments on new posts and on older ones that didn’t have any comments already; comments that you’ve made here in the past will remain.

We’ll see how it goes; I’ve waffled back and forth on whether I wanted to do this, and I may go back eventually after all. A lot of negative feedback on Disqus has centered on how it removes a certain amount of control from the blogger (I can accept or reject Disqus comments, but I can’t edit them, as I could edit WordPress comments – I never actually did that, though), and also doesn’t support trackbacks when other people link here from their blogs. I do sort of hope Disqus comes up with a solution for the trackback issue, but as far as comment control, the debate seems to center on whether the blog owner or the commenter “owns” the comments and the content in the comments. And I’m feeling very democratic lately, and I think the commenter should own their comments. Moving to Disqus shifts control to the commenter rather than the blog owner. So there you go.

Oh, the other thing I changed was just to put three Twitter entries in the sidebar in text rather than the Twitter widget. It’s just cleaner that way.

Video on Flickr, Oh Noes!

It’s funny to me how upset some people seem to be over Flickr’s recently implemented video hosting.  I really don’t get what the big deal is.  For one thing, this is only new news in implementation.  It’s been rumored that Flickr would be adding video soon for like a year now.  And people keep talking about how Flickr will turn into YouTube.  At least according the current upload constraints, Flickr will only take 90 second videos.  That’s not really going to compete with YouTube (or any of the other video-sharing sites).  And if the fear is that all the crazy people from YouTube (and judging by the general intelligence level of the comments, many of them are) will invade Flickr, which seems to have a higher sanity quotient, I think that’s unlikely.  People already using YouTube will probably keep doing so, and Flickr has a strong community that probably won’t break down because of adding video.  The first example of Flickr video I’ve seen is on, and I’m highly impressed with the quality — I can see a good opportunity for brief videos that are really an extension of the personal photography niche that Flickr has always served (a perception backed up the announcement on Flickr’s blog).  If they stick with the 90-second limit, Flickr’s not really going after the hardcore video-sharing market.

But ultimately, if you don’t want to upload video, don’t. Voila! It’s not like Flickr’s going to require everyone to upload video to keep their account – in fact, only Pro accounts can use the feature, for now at least. Just because a service offers extra options doesn’t mean you have to use them. (One complaint is that the site has been slower/unavailable since the video feature went live, which seems to be true, but is probably a temporary server overload problem. It’ll get sorted out as people get over the newness and Flickr gets everything to scale properly).  So the point of this post?  Eh.  People amuse me.

New Site!

I have a million things I should have done today, including research a paper, read Portrait of a Lady, watch Black Books with a friend, watch Jean-Luc Godard films for a paper, look for jobs, look for apartments, get off the couch, etc. (I did get laundry and dishes done, and watch a lot of Deep Space 9, but eh.)

Instead, I did this: The Frame. Which is now a repository for articles and longer-form reviews and such that I’ve written, mostly school stuff. I found the WordPress theme that underlies it a few days ago (here), and couldn’t wait to see what I could do with it, and after spending most of the day fiddling with the code and posting stuff (some of which was already there from earlier experiments), I’m now officially in love with it. IN LOVE. Definitely one of the best CMS/magazine-style WordPress themes I’ve found, and also easier to modify than most.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m moving over there or anything like that; it’s got a completely different purpose to this blog. Some content might be doubled, but that’s it. I did just post up the paper I wrote for Critical Theory earlier this semester, dealing with last year’s unplanned pregnancy films. It’s currently my favorite paper I ever wrote. Largely because the professor told me it was excellent, and that tends to improve my reaction to my own writing.

Anyway, I don’t know how many things I’ll actually post over there, but as I said, as of right now I love it. I love it so much I sort of want to make other people join me and start some sort of film/literature article/review co-op site.

Xbox360 Media Center Indeed

Microsoft updated the Xbox360 software in December with the ability to play Divx-encoded .avi files (previously, files had to be in Windows Media format), but I didn’t get a chance to test it until today, when I got back home where I can connect the 360 to the internet. But this is the most awesomest thing EVER. Most downloaded video files, like TV shows as an example, are encoded with divx (or xvid, which is also now supported, apparently–I was worried it wouldn’t be), so while I’d gone through the hassle of converting a couple to WMV to stream to my TV through the 360, it wasn’t really worth it. Took forever and quality went way down. But now. Oh, now. Just point the 360 at the .avi file on my computer, and it pops up with virtually the same quality it is on the computer.

So the few shows I missed over the holidays and my DVR ran out of space? I can still watch them on the TV rather than the computer. And my downloaded episodes of Australian Idol? I’m watching them on the TV right now! I’ve never been able to watch them on TV! It’s so exciting. Really. Maybe you have to be me to be this excited about it.

Now it’s just time for Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix and a member of Microsoft’s board, to get video streaming from Netflix to the 360 and my TV so I can use Instant Watching on my TV. Come on, guys. It’s only a matter of time, so let’s do it sooner rather than later, k?

Oh, speaking of Idol shows, I don’t think I’ll live-blog American Idol this year like I did last year. It got to be quite a hassle by the end, and I don’t think much of anybody read it while it was going on anyway. I’m thinking about Twittering throughout the show, though, and then posting those Twitters at the end of the show all at once. That way, if you were on the computer during the show, you could see the Twitters live if you wanted, but you could also just read them all at the end if you’d rather. And Twitter is made for that sort of short-form writing, while it was kind of a pain to be constantly updating the WordPress post and having to keep track of the timestamps and stuff.