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Comment iGoogle vs Google News (Score 1) 107

I have an iGoogle page with a number (25 at the moment) of selected RSS feeds in boxes (but no hamster gadget). Several of these are news feeds (general news, NY Times, BBC, Al Jazeera), some are tech (slashdot...), others are just interesting stuff (metafilter...). I guess this is customization (as opposed to personalization) and it works for me.

I used to have Google News open more or less permanently in a tab, but since their new look this summer, it has become less than useful for me and I don't think I've looked at it more than twice since they changed it (once was just now to see if it had become any better). I suspect this was personalization. (Well and twittization with the "popular" cruft and adization with the "spotlight" cruft.) To echo that New Yorker cartoon - "I say it's spinach and I say to hell with it."

Comment Re:From TFA (Score 1) 138

The hyperinflation certainly pushed things along, but I suspect that it helps to look at things as being a long war starting essentially with Napoleon, with smaller and larger shooting wars more or less interrupting a long period of arms building, Germany was falling apart by the end of the the first world war and the Versailles treaty didn't help, but I find it hard to see it as being the the most important factor. But I'm not a historian by any means, just someone who finds that flow of events interesting.

Submission + - Google News has controversial new look (blogspot.com) 2

dpletche writes: Google News, historically one of the most powerful and versatile news aggregation sources on the internet, has been completely redesigned for customers in the USA. The new site appears to substitute a Facebook-like activity stream for the earlier topic-based sections. It also includes a number of mandatory new sections and comprehensive monitoring of user behavior. Reaction from the user community has been energetic, if not at all positive.

What other alternatives exist for users who aren't satisfied with the new design?

Comment Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (Score 1) 780

This year in Washington state there are more than 50 initiative petitions filed. To actually get on the November ballot, each such petition needs 241,153 valid signatures. Most of these are unlikely to get anywhere near that, but if even a half dozen do, that leaves a million or so signatures to be verified between July and whenever the ballots are finalized (September?). Surely making these public would help remove invalid signatures, do it quickly and well - and how is this a bad thing?

Comment Re:mustard is a chemical agent? (Score 1) 249

If you read very much about German preparations for the war (which they seem to have been working towards, though not in quite the same brutal way as the Nazis did a couple decades later) and the way that they (certainly Wilhelm and probably Moltke with Krupp stage managing more than a bit) managed the first few months of it, you may think differently.

Comment Re:Great Literature != good read for most (Score 3, Insightful) 272

This is one of those things that many don't seem to realize. A book (or movie or whatever) may be great without you actually liking it. You see this in reviews all the time : "Worst movie evar! I was bored all the way through it." Reviews like these conflate the writers opinion with some kind of consensus opinion that has formed over time and usually built from thoughtful consideration of the subject. We all do it to some extent, but with time and education (good self education counts), we can separate out our personal reaction from a considered critical reaction.

For example, I quite like the movie "Jumping Jack Flash". But I also know that it is far from being a great film. On the other hand, "Rashomon" is a very very good film indeed, but I find it difficult to watch and don't like it all that much, though I can appreciate why it is considered great.

Comment Re:One place where they could mess up... (Score 1) 139

PDFs are pretty bad for reading in many ways. All the paging bits (numbers, margins) takes up space and the margins and flow tend to be inflexible, so resizing a PDF reader window tends to just chop off bits or add whitespace on the edges. Worst are double column documents which (especially in PDF readers with noisy toolbars and on monitors that don't have lots of vertical resolution) often mean you need to scroll to read the bottom of one column, then back up to get the top of the next one, then down again. Aaarggghhh! (I just read a 130 page document like this, would have printed it, but it was just a draft).

Be nicer to have them in a well designed xml markup (I know, I know...) with support for real semantic markup (this term gets indexed, this one goes in the glossary, this refers to court decision X, this sentence refers to this marker in document Z) and a toolset to produce PDF, HTML and other formats as required. Support for reader generated annotations could also be useful.

Comment Re:simple reason. (Score 1) 427

In the comments to TFA one suggestion is that the patent office people may not be allowed to modify the submitted forms in any way (which seems a good idea in general to prevent fraud) and that even a simple rotation of the text could be interpreted as modification, so they can't rotate the text. Taking a good idea a step too far, I suspect, but such is the nature of bureaucracy.

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