Post to Google+, Automate Your Shared Items, And Other Super Syndication Techniques

Before Google+, all was grand in Jon’s world of Super Syndication (Much to Jason Dunn’s chagrin). I posted things straight to ping.fm, and it sent it everywhere I wanted. I hadn’t found a really good way to archive my ping.fm statuses, but did have a pretty awesome way to share posts from Google Reader simply by pressing the share button.

Then Google changed everything, and while I like Google+, it just didn’t fit. It lacked some basic things – no RSS feeds out, no automated posting interface, no email posting, and in no hurry to add any of these things. But It did have instant photo upload, a pretty nice client, and a few other niceties.

So I had a problem: I wanted to keep things nicely automated and easy to use, but needed some features. Principally I needed to be able to post to 1 service and have it go to all 3 big social networks (FB, Twitter, G+), I needed it to be platform independent (So no browser plug-ins), I hoped it could be easily automated, and I needed an easy way to share things out. Along the way I hoped to pick up an easy way to automate storing things I shared with others. I’ve now accomplished all of this, and will reveal the magic to you! Continue reading “Post to Google+, Automate Your Shared Items, And Other Super Syndication Techniques”

Keep your Android Tablet Up To Date Daily With Increased Battery Life!

Recently I found that I had a problem with my Samsung Galaxy Tab (Although you might have the same problem with your Xoom, G-Slate, or any other Android / Droid device!). I would keep the WiFi radio turned off when I wasn’t using the device to save battery life (and since I didn’t have a data plan / cell connection, the battery life was amazing), however this meant that when I did connect back up, the initial sync took forever. Since Android has a bit of a problem doing anything else other than Synchronization, this meant that I had to wait a long time for pages to load, etc.. while using my Tab (at least for the first 10 minutes). I tried turning off auto-sync, however this meant that I never remembered to turn it back on while using the Tab, and missed important emails or messages since my hands were looking at a tablet, not my phone.

So to fix the problem, I wrote a few Tasker tasks and profiles that have been working quite well.

If you don’t know about Tasker, it’s pretty much the jack-of-all-Android-scripting-trades, and has some amazing functionality. My scripts aren’t too complicated, but you’ll see they all work in concert to accomplish the following goals:

1. Keep a semi-up-to-date gmail/calendar/contacts on my Tab, so that synchronizations every 2-3 days didn’t take forever.

2. Save battery life by doing things that I sometimes forgot to do (Namely turn off Wifi when I was done using the tablet)

3. Save me the trouble of turning WiFi on when I unlocked my tablet.

Step 3 was the easiest to accomplish: I simply set up a task to turn WiFi on, and a profile to run that task after the device was unlocked. Simple and effective.

Step 2 took a bit more effort. I wanted to have my Tab turn it’s WiFi off after itself, but didn’t want to wait for it to completely power back on if I put down the tablet, then a moment later realized I needed to look up one last thing. So I wrote a delayed WiFi turn-off task:

I then set this task to run after power-off. If you turn the device off then turn it back on, you can usually pull 1 or 2 pages before it turns the WiFi off, and by then if you’re going to browse for longer you can simply turn the WiFi back on again. You can also customize this with a longer time-out, say perhaps 5 minutes.

Finally, the last step was to build the nighly Sync task. This task waits until a certain time at night, turns on Wifi and just waits for a bit. The Tab automatically syncs up in that time. The script then turns off Sync and goes back to bed. Running this each night and using my tab regularly, I can usually get about a full week off of one charge. Fine by me. Here’s what it looks like:

Putting it altogether and you have a Tab that’s smart enough to turn on Wifi for you, smart enough to turn it off, and smart enough to keep an up-to-date copy of your info so that when you use it, you don’t spend hours waiting for a sync to finish! I’ve exported my scripts – if you want them, here’s the link!

AppleCare at the Apple Store Is Better Than Mediocre

Last week while sitting in Studio F on Microsoft’s Redmond campus, I knew something was wrong with my Macbook Pro. The computer would lock up periodically, wouldn’t reboot, wouldn’t stay working, and had somehow found a knack for annoying me on a day when I should have been having fun with friends while learning about super secret stuff I can’t write about. After dismissing the “Bad gas” explanation (well, it was powered by a power outlet owned by Microsoft), I did a few diagnostics, and nursed it through the rest of the day. The next day I didn’t use it much, but still had problems, and by the time I was sitting in Seatac Airport with Don trying to show him Bible Fruit, it was stuttering worse than something non-offensive that stutters a lot. Over the weekend, I brought it home, re-installed OS X, and it seemed like it had started to work again. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I should mention at this point that I absolutely hate fixing computers. I’m pretty good at it, but I really don’t enjoy working with computers when they’re broken. I don’t enjoy the “hunt” for the problem, and I don’t find working with other people’s computers in any way “exciting”. I sold all of my tower and desktop systems years ago so I wouldn’t have to deal with the temptation to upgrade, and I buy $300 service plans that include “accidental damage” whenever I buy a laptop. I don’t want to be bothered by repairs, I’m a busy man. So when I got to work on Monday, ready to start a brand new week of exciting psychological stuff, I was really annoyed to find that my Macbook wouldn’t work for more than 20 minutes every 3 hours. I reluctantly made an appointment at the Genius bar for 2:15, and took out my “spare” machine at work (an IBM Thinkpad that, while it was under warranty, was at the shop 3 times to fix the same issue!).

Now I’m the sort of guy who is always expecting a problem with my computer repairs. Mostly because I’ve been through the routine before. A bad hard drive to experienced technicians might be interpreted by script-readers / novices as “Eh, maybe it’s the OS, let’s wipe it, reinstall, and send him home with it” (Which of course just brings me back more irate later). The next step might be even more asinine and onward until they finally deem it’s time to install a new Hard Drive. I really hate when my errors aren’t easily reproducible (This one wasn’t – the device would boot if powered down for an hour or so, then stop working 20 minutes later, so at a glance it looked fine). But I figured maybe the Geniuses would take pity on me. After all, they were quick to swap out my iPad when my first-gen got a stuck line of cyan pixels a few months back.

So at 2:07 I arrive at the Apple Store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, only to be greeted by a 20 minute wait PAST my appointment time (I was not happy when one of the techs started calling 2:30 appointments while I stood there, something he realized when one of the “coordinators” in front of the desk walked up to him and told him). I finally got seated across from a nice young Genius named Frances, who spoke quickly and gave me the impression that while what I was saying made sense (i.e., it was English), she wanted to make her own diagnosis. Thankfully after 5 minutes, she realized her diagnosis was the same as mine. And here is where the real magic comes in – she set up the repair at 2:45 and I was able to pick up my freshly hard drive replaced Macbook at 3:50. No problems to report on it yet, thankfully. So in this case, while I wasn’t 100%  thrilled with AppleCare service at the Apple Store (I did have to wait 20 minutes, and Frances did look pretty forlorn as I told her what I’d observed – of course it was at the end of the day, so that’s to be expected), it was a lot better than it could have been with other companies / services (Definitely better than my experience with IBM Service Hell in November 2007). While some people claim that Mac users give praise to Apple out of blind loyalty, I gotta hand it to the Geniuses – they are genuinely friendly, seem well trained, and know how to make a computer geek happy – by getting his machine back to him, fixed, in just a little over an hour.

Why Am I Paying For Needless Post Office Renaming?

So here is an interesting thing about our government – they do some strange things out of the public eye that cost taxpayers money. Some of these things are nefarious, and others are just a bit exorbitant but otherwise harmless. Case and point? Renaming post offices.

Each year, Congress finds new and innovate ways to congratulate people. Recognize someone with a special day, or name something after them. Recently I’ve noticed a lot of bills passing that have renamed post offices in honor of people (Specifically, 104 times the 111th Congress has passed such a bill).

Let’s take one in specific, H. R. 4840 which designates the post office at 1979 Cleveland Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, the “Clarence D. Lumpkin Post Office”. This bill is fairly benign. It was introduced by Congressman Patrick Tiberi and co-sponsored by 16 other house members from Ohio, all of whom apparently really liked Clarence Lumpkin.

Now I don’t have a problem with my government patting someone on the back. Perhaps with a Mayor giving a nice certificate to someone, or a small affair back home where people can gather and honor someone for their achievements. What I do find strange is that 104 times these past 1.5 years, congress has had to go through quite a time-consuming process to name a building after someone. I don’t know about you, but I think my lawmakers could actually put that time to good use with laws that I may actually care about, or that might actually affect me. Clarence Lumpkin is a civic activist in the Columbus area. What he did probably affected those people greatly. It never affected me as a person living in either Marcy Kaptur’s or Dennis Kucinich’s congressional districts. It never affected me working in New York City. I’m sure the man made noble achievements but renaming a federal office?

Now I realize this is a bit small to rant on – but it sorta annoys me. Congress members can dangle things out there like this to their constituents without realizing how ludicrous it looks to the people who care. My congressmen should not be spending their time renaming post offices – they should be evaluating flawed government systems, regulating/deregulating as needed, and protecting my interests.

And I’m sorry Reps. Tiberi, Austria, Boccieri, Driehaus, Fudge, Jordan, Kaptur, Kilroy, Kucinich, LaTourette, Latta, Ryan, Schmidt, Space, Sutton, Turner, & Wilson, but even if I were living in the Columbus area, renaming a post office doesn’t “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, and doesn’t show “true faith and allegiance to the same”.

Please stop wasting my money, spent on your salaries, with useless political grandstanding and get to work fixing the problems this country has.

Money for Thought

I recently read and posted on my Facebook a USA Today story (Using The Chronicle of Philanthropy as their source) that Walmart, Beloved Low Price Supplier or Hated Evil Corporation (depending on whom you ask), topped the list of charitable cash contributors, donating $288 million last year. AT&T was second at $240 million, BoA third at $209 million, and down the line (source). A friend of mine from Grad School posted the following comment:

I thought this was an interesting question, so I ran some numbers. Walmart made about $14 billion in profits last year, and donated $288 million in cash, roughly 2%. AT&T, by comparison, made about $8 billion (Info from here, taking income and removing re-investment and dividend payments), donated $240 million in cash, roughly 3%. It’s undeniable that Walmart could donate more, however the difference between 2% and 3% isn’t so huge as to be a glaring difference (e.g., it’s not like Walmart donates 2% and AT&T is donating 6% or 10%), and these are huge numbers here to be sure.

One thing I thought was interesting was that Walmart seems most interested in providing for those who need food, as the article cites, pledging $2 billion over 5 years to combat hunger. This seems to me like one of the best uses for corporate donations today – to help people who desperately need help on a basic level. Donations helping stop hunger, and advance education and personal growth, all rank highly on my most deserved cause list. Donations to political campaigns however? Those aren’t too high on my list.

I bring that up because another philanthropy related piece that came up this week involved Target & Best Buy giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a politician, Tom Emmer, who isn’t very friendly to pro-gay causes (some might even label him a Bigot). Whatever your view on gay issues, I find it deeply disturbing that companies donate so much money to politicians in general, especially polarizing ones such as Emmer, all in the name of supporting candidates who “seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives”. Now to be fair, Walmart also shells out a lot of money to politicians, and I’m sure some are just as unsavory as Emmer appears to be. So where do I shop? Do I go to a store with low prices that some feel are set on the backs of their underpaid and poorly treated workers? Do I go to stores with higher prices that aren’t afraid to support a possible bigot in the name of profit? Do I just not shop at all?

Well, obviously the last one isn’t an option. I need to buy toilet paper somewhere. In the end I guess it comes down to price, for good reason. Shopping at Walmart let’s me keep more of my own money, that I may donate to causes I agree with. It’s less money that I’m giving to them to control and spend, and thus less money going places I potentially might not want it to go. If I shop at Target or Best Buy, I’m spending more money for products that I can usually find of equal quality at Walmart, and more money goes toward issues that I may or may not agree with. In the end, I’d rather control my money philanthropically, so I can be like this guy and freak people out by donating to causes I choose.

Thoughts?

Explain The Appeal of Wrestling / UFC to Me

I had an interesting realization about myself today: I really don’t enjoy watching two people fight each other in any way. And given the popularity of things like UFC / MMA / WWE / Action Movies, I’m wondering what it is I’m not “in to”.

Don’t get me wrong – the point of this post isn’t to bash those who do enjoy watching a good fight, a consenting adult watching two other consenting adults beat each other up is fine in my book. And the point of this isn’t to condemn violence in general – I’m not opposed to using violence when forced by the complete and utter failure of peaceful measures. The point of this post is to merely dissect what people may find appealing about fighting, so that I can try to understand why I, myself, don’t find it appealing. Comments are welcome, especially by my friends who do like to watch fights. Think of this post 50% for me, and 50% to inspire thought in others.

So the best I can tell, people watch fights for a variety of reasons:

  1. They feel a rush, similar to a true adrenaline surge, by watching.
  2. They see it as a competition, with the most competent fighter showing superiority over his or her opponent.
  3. They see it as a call to better themselves physically. Fighters must be in good physical shape, and it is this shape that may inspire others to exercise, eat right, etc..
  4. They enjoy seeing fantastical versions of normality (e.g., action movies)
  5. They just like physical violence in general, and enjoy watching it.

Now I’ll take each of these reasons and explore them a bit.

Rush
A true adrenaline rush is a pretty powerful feeling, as anyone who has ever had one (which I’m assuming is most people) can attest. I suppose it is possible to receive a ‘lite’ version of one by watching others fight, although it would seem to me that if watching fights were to engender anything, it would be an aggressive attitude in the viewer. Watching others, especially in high school, talk about watching WWE, I sometimes saw an aggressive form emerge, which was probably pretty appealing to someone who was smaller in stature, or not as physically confident about him or herself. I totally get this – If I’m self-conscious about myself and my abilities, immersing myself in a televised fight may give me a glimmer of what it is like to be physically dominant over another person. For the 5′ 7” crowd and lower, that is probably pretty appealing.

I’m not physically small though – and while I could really stand to lose some weight in my midsection, my arms and legs are fairly powerful. If I were forced to fight someone, I don’t have any doubts about my ability to put up a good fight against the people I come across on a regular basis (Since I don’t normally run across professional fighters, they’re not any of my concern). Perhaps this is why I don’t feel any sort of rush while watching a fight.

Competition
Competition in wrestling is fairly obvious: The better athlete should win the fight. However I personally believe that you lose a bit of respectability in competition when you can physically prevent others from competing. This is probably why I like Baseball better than Football. In football, one can physically prevent the opponent from competing – in baseball one cannot (e.g., you’d never see the catcher kick the legs out from under the batter as the pitcher pitches, or the guy covering first base physically run toward and tackle the base runner after a hit). I suppose in my mind, competition is best experienced when all sides have an equal chance to perform proactively, not in a reactive manner. Perhaps that’s why I don’t see fighting as an exceptional form of competition.

Physical Betterment
This is probably the easiest for me to dismiss personally. Seeing finely honed fighters popping muscles I didn’t even know I had is pretty damn impressive. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a really effective motivator to lose weight personally. It’s sad to say, but I’m being honest – I don’t exercise often and I eat poorly most likely because nothing I’ve run across yet has motivated me sufficiently to overcome barriers (e.g., the joys of sleep, traveling and paying for a gym, etc…). Watching an extreme fighter hasn’t motivated me in this regard, so I don’t seek it out.

They Enjoy Seeing Fantastical Versions of Real Life
In real life, if someone insults you, it is pretty bad form to haul off and hit them. You’ll get in trouble, laws will be broken, parts of you or the other person may be broken, etc… However the world of wrestling and fighting on TV lets you escape from this and imagine a different world. Action movies do the same. For me though, these fantastical versions must be really extreme for me to enjoy them. For example, I don’t enjoy seeing a man strike another man, and the second man fall to the floor. I do enjoy seeing Neo punch Agent Smith through several walls in The Matrix, because it’s SO far out there it really captures the imagination. I suppose for me, it must really be extreme to count as entertainment. I also think this reason explains why WWE is so appealing – it places events into a soap opera-esque story line, which further blurs the line between reality and television.

They just like violence
It’s sorta sad, but I assume some people just really like violence, and the idea of hurting other people. I don’t think I have to explore further their motivations or how this doesn’t apply to me other than to state that I’m mostly a peaceful person, and I don’t wish violence or pain even upon my enemies.

So those are my theories on why fighting is appealing to others, and why it doesn’t appeal to me. I’m really interested in hearing how it appeals to you, and why you watch it (if you do). I don’t really have any desire to be converted, I just am wondering why people find it so attractive!

Yes, an AT&T GoPhone SIM Will Activate an iPhone 3GS

Hey, so no one could provide a definite answer and all of the stuff I found was way out of date, but here’s the proof straight from my own experience. If you have an iPhone 3GS that you somehow killed the activation on (e.g., it’s stuck on the “insert SIM” screen / Emergency Calls only) you CAN use an AT&T GoPhone SIM to activate it. I don’t know if it will work for data/voice, but at least it will get you back to the springboard!

Working as of June 23, 2010. More Info.

Jon’s Life Philosophy and The HD2, Nexus 1, and iPad

I recently did something a sane financial decision maker would recommend: I started saving money for the devices that I knew I may want this spring. Starting with some money I got when I walked in graduation last year, and for Christmas, I have amassed a bit of a warchest now that could finance a few devices. This is in stark contrast to my usual “I know I’ll have the money to cover this in the next month, so I’ll buy it now” theory of operation. However this has led me to some heavy decisions regarding geekly gadget purchases. I’ve figured it’s time to go with something new, and for a few months I thought that was the HTC HD2 when it hits T-Mobile. Now I’m not so sure. The point of this blog post is to look at the pros & cons of the three gadgets I’m considering, and then weigh them in terms of my life philosophy I’ve tried to implement over the past few years.

Jon’s Life Philosophy

This section is a bit long, but I think it’s important to include for two reasons. First, it’s the life view you can take when looking at the devices I’m deliberating. Second, it pushes my resolve to keep working on this life goal!

So sometime in 2007 I started listening more to Jimmy Buffett. A perennial favorite of my mother-in-law, I found that in the winter of 2007-08, Buffett’s music was the only thing that successfully kept me warm. One of my favorite songs in his catalog is One Particular Harbour which contains the following lyric:

I used to rule my world from a payphone. Ships out on the sea. But now times are rough, Oh, I’ve got too much stuff. I can’t explain the likes of me.

For whatever reason, this lyric struck a chord with me. For years my father had been talking about how things eventually own you, and that we underestimate the trade-off between material possessions and the flexibility to experience life as we wish. Looking around at a massive amount of stuff I had acquired, I began to wonder how much of it was what I owned, and how much of it owned me. So I started rather regular cleaning binges which I still do every month or so, continually going through subsets of my possessions and asking myself if I’ll ever need what I am keeping again. I estimate I’ve cut about 35%-40% of my personal “stuff” in the last 2 years, and my goal is to eventually get to the day where all of the stuff I keep in “storage” (e.g., not actively using on a daily basis) decreases to 1 closet full). I’m still a bit aways (currently at 2 closets and various spots both in NY and Ohio), but it’s something I’m striving for.

This reduction in “stuff” also filters down to my daily life. While my macbook pro has been an indispensable travel companion for me since getting it last summer, I don’t take it to work on a daily basis. My rationale is that since every file is replicated over all my laptops, why should I lug one machine to work when I already have another laptop there waiting for me. Once you stop carrying the laptop, you also stop carrying much of the bloat that goes with one, including chargers, cables, cases, bags, etc.. While these things do still come with me when I travel, they get to stay at home most of the week. In case you’re wondering, here is what I take to work on a daily basis:

  • Cell phone & spare battery
  • Headphones & iPod Touch (For reading & music)
  • Vial of Advil & Claritan (For unexpected aches & allergy attacks!)
  • Bluetooth Headset
  • Pen or Sharpie fine-point
  • Moleskine notebook (Which I started using to organize all my paper-based thoughts in one spot, rather than numerous scraps of paper I’d eventually lose or feel compelled to keep; Just like getting an expensive pen, I figure an expensive notebook will keep me committed to using it all the way through, rather than ditching it for scrap paper).
  • Wallet & Money clip
  • Keys
  • Sunglasses

I try not to carry a bag, so most of the time the above things are either in a SCOTTEVEST, or in my gadget geek holster/utility belt (Which I figure I can get away with since most days I wear green or black BDU-style cargo pants). I can’t tell you how much this system has made my life better – I’m no longer lugging stuff around I don’t need, and I’m way more mobile at work to say, go straight from a meeting to the train without having to stop at my office.

Around the office I’ve also tried to implement my philosophy by only printing things out if absolutely necessary. If It can stay in electronic form, I keep it in that form. I’ve started doing things such as marking up PDF documents virtually instead of printing and scrawling notes in the margins.

Returning to the Gadgets at hand…

So the overall goal of this piece is to see what gadgets currently on the market would help me in my goal of stuff reduction, not hinder. So let’s look at the pros/cons for each of the three devices I’m considering:

HTC HD2

Pros: Pretty sweet device from the ones I’ve played with; premium interface and quick responsiveness; an OS I’m very comfortable with; Moderate hackability; T-Mobile 3G

Cons: Last iteration of a dying OS; Not that exciting of an experience; Not too different from the experience currently on my Touch Pro 2

Philosophy: Would probably not be a primary cell phone, as most of the apps I want are on Android now, not WinMo (Sadly), Would probably only want it to admire, not to actually use – which is way too materialistic for my “new” philosophy.

Google Nexus One

Pros: Would jump my android-ness up a notch from the G1 (the current daily driver); has the apps I’m looking for; hot platform; great reviews.

Cons: Price is pretty steep; No physical keyboard

Philosophy: Might replace the need to take the iPod touch to work each day when the Kindle for Android is finally released. Could also use for music. Potentially could cut down on number of things I take to work daily.

Apple iPad

Pros: Cool device; Might further replace Paper in my life; Apps will probably be a huge deal once the device hits the market.

Cons: Price for the 3G model is pretty steep (largest of all) and I’d have a monthly bill for something that isn’t an essential device; No physical keyboard; First Gen-early adopter woes.

Philosophy: Might replace paper around the office, but would probably schlep it back and forth from home to office for no good reason. Can’t see the day I’d take a trip with just the iPad and Cell phone without the MBP in tow.

Sadly, I think I’ve reached my conclusion…

So the only thing that seems to fit with the life philosophy argument is the Nexus One, as it may allow me to cut down what I take on a daily basis to and from work. The iPad and HD2 do have extreme geek temptation to them, however, which is the sucky part. The geek in me really wants them, the rational decision-maker in me can’t justify them. Man, changing your life from a “buy it all” to “reduce, reduce, reduce” mode is a real pain sometimes. But I guess I should just rejoice in the following moments that make it all worthwhile:

  • The person at the office who says “You don’t take a bag with you!?! Wow… wish I could do that”
  • The periodic brisk-er than usual pace I can adopt to catch a train since I’m not weighed down as much.
  • The satisfied mind feeling one gets from not losing things habitually; not having to move so many things when moving; and not worrying about possessions breaking that one does not own!

So after a few more days of deliberation, I’ll probably end up with the Nexus One, and save the rest of the money for something down the road. If you’ve got thoughts on this whole long rambling piece, or my life philosophy, feel free to post a comment!

Add Facebook Friend’s Birthdays to your Calendar Automatically

Lifehacker recently published an article detailing a few ways to help remember the things you actually care about, as opposed to those you don’t but remember anyway (such as the MVP of the 1996 All-star game). One of the little gems that was tucked in the article was the application fbCal which integrates your Facebook Birthdays and events with the calendar of your choosing. I have this now set up on my Google Calendar and am extremely happy as it’s A) always up to date and B) putting information where I’ll actually look for it, not where I don’t look (e.g., a sidebar on facebook.com)

To get it set up, all you need to do is install the fbCal application to your facebook account and allow it offline access (So you’ll have two prompts to hit “OK” to when installing):

image

Once it’s installed, you can then choose how to export your calendar. The tool exports in the standard iCal format, so it’s easily imported into desktop PIMs like iCal on the Mac and Outlook on the PC. It not only includes birthdays, but can include events as well:

image

Since I use Google Calendar, I clicked on the Google Calendar link and was taken to my calendar, then asked if I wanted to add the new fbCal calendar to my list of calendars. It adds as a shared calendar, which means that it will automatically update whenever I add a friend (Or I guess if a friend changes their birthday!). It gave a very long and annoying name to the calendar, so I changed that by drilling into settings and changing the name:

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Now on my Google Calendar main page, I have the FB Birthdays calendar, which I can toggle on and off as desired:

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All of this took around 10 minutes, and the feed took about an hour (for some reason) to show up in my calendar. Now it’s working just fine and I thought it was cool enough to share here! Happy calendaring!

Get Off Your Lazy *** and Set up Google Reader!

I often talk with people who spend just as much time as me (or more) surfing various blogs and sites to keep up on news in a broad array of areas. One complaint is usually that people miss material, or material is posted so rapidly that they feel overwhelmed. A solution to this is to use an RSS reader, a favorite is Google Reader, to read your news. When I mention this, I often hear  “No, that’s too much work” – quite a funny statement since once it’s set up, the RSS reader will actually save hours and hours of time wasted surfing to pages and refreshing them.

And it isn’t even a lot of work in the first place – you can be up and running with Google Reader in under 10 minutes, and here’s how.

1. Get a Google account if you don’t already have one.

2. Log in to Google Reader

3. Once in, it will look pretty empty. However never fear – you’ll soon have your news and blog posts show up. Click the “Add Subscription” button and enter the web address of the page you want to add. Most blogs and news websites now have their RSS feed links set up so that Reader can automatically find it:

image

 

Once you hit “Add”, you’re done – the news items from that site will now appear. Occasionally you may need to track down a specific feed address (for example, some larger sites have feeds just for certain news items, like Science news or Entertainment news). If you need to find those, go to the site you’re reading and look for the RSS icon: image  – clicking on it should take you to the RSS link. You can then copy and paste it from your browser’s address bar to the Add a Subscription box in Reader.

Once you have reader set up, all you need to do to read your feeds is log into reader, and click All Items:

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It will then display all items from all of your feeds in the right hand reading pane. You can spend more time reading and less time loading pages.

 

I estimate it would take a medium-to-heavy blog reader around 15 minutes to add all of their feeds to reader, and then most likely save them about 5 minutes per day in page load times, bookmark clicks, and such. So after 3 days, reader’s setup has paid for itself time wise, not to mention you’ll sound cool since you can actually tell everyone all of the cool things you’ve read – not have them say “Hey, didn’t you see that article on X blog about…”