Reading 400 Feeds with Newsbeuter
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I posted a few years ago about looking for a good Linux feed reader and a reader’s email reminded me to revisit the topic. It’s time for another blog post where I talk about how I overthink some part of my daily routine but it lets me do in a few minutes what I could otherwise waste a few hours on.

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Redirecting Users’ URLs
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I got an email in response to an old post on how I designed NearbyGamer‘s discussion URLs. It asked how to create readable URLs for a community site where users might edit those URLs. What happens after users have made lots and lots of edits?

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Small Plans
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My last day at the Post is Feb 20, and I’m headed to Chicago on the 22nd. I’ll be helping a family member recover from surgery, so my schedule (both day-to-day and how long I’ll be in town) is pretty vague, but I’ll be around at least a few weeks before returning to DC.

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Greasemonkey Scripts: Gamasutra and Arlington Library
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I signed up to userscripts to share a few of the GreaseMonkey scripts I’ve written. If you’re not familiar, GreaseMonkey is a way of reprogramming websites for your own convenience, and userscripts is where folks can share what they’ve done.

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RailsRumble Postmortem
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I failed to launch my Rails Rumble project ConfReader. Why?

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I’m participating in RailsRumble this weekend, from 8 PM Friday to 8 PM Sunday. The goal is to build a web application in Ruby on Rails in 48 hours, and I welcome the change of pace of a small project. It’ll be a fun weekend crunch to build it, and I hope it will be a long-term resource for the development community.

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WWW Will Never Die
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ICANN is moving steadily to enact a fast-track process for gTLD creation (where “fast” here means “months instead of years”), so there could be a few more competitors for .com, .net, .pro, and the rest of the gang in a year or two. Some of the early candidates are .bank, .nyc, and .paris.

What this means, of course, is that www will never die. When a website could be advertised at “” or even just “google”, there needs to be something to indicate to the viewer they should go type this into their computer. It’s not going to be “Hey, now that you finally get that .com isn’t some kind of stutter, type this into your computer:” and it’s sure not going to be “http://”. It’s going to be www, and it’s going to just barely be the lesser of several evils for a long while.

Free Shipping From Amazon Merchants
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I read a post today about a guy who bought a camera from an Amazon Merchant and left negative feedback after it was shipped poorly (via BoingBoing). They offered to refund the shipping cost ($75) if he’d take down his negative feedback. This caught my attention, because it’s happened to me.

A few months ago I bought from Amazon Merchants for the first time, getting three things from three different merchants. Everything arrived fine and within the same two days, so I went to leave feedback for all of them. They were all small, easily shipped, reasonably-priced, and they arrived fine, so I just gave them all three stars and got on with my day.

Within the next few days, all three vendors contacted me and asked me to remove my “negative” feedback. Well, not so much negative as “average” when I could have chosen “superb”. One looked like a form letter. All of them offered to refund my shipping if I’d delete my rating to stop pulling down their average rating.

It sounds like Amazon Merchants believe that even the smallest amount of feedback that’s not a 5-star rating hurts them significantly. I don’t know if that’s correct, if they’ll be explicitly punished by Amazon or just don’t want to risk having a lower total rating than their competitors, but they would all pay to remove my imperfect ratings. (I didn’t mean to harm them, so I just pulled the reviews without getting refunds.)

Perhaps it’s just chance that all four vendors offered to refund shipping to remove less-than-glowing reviews, but I have to wonder if Amazon’s feedback system is too strict. Buyers won’t see real negative feedback because Merchants are paying to have it removed. If Merchants can’t shrug off a few reviews now and then, unscrupulous buyers could leave negative feedback to bully Merchants into giving discounts after the sale.

Painless Upgrade to Rails 2.0
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I spent a dead-easy 2.5 hours last night updating NearbyGamers to Rails 2.0. My svn commit message read (with links added here for convenience):

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Because Internet Explorer is a Failure, That’s Why
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About once a month since Firefox came out and was promptly recognized as a six-gallon bucket of awesome I read a blog post about how developers are lazy, shiftless bastards because they don’t want to support Internet Explorer anymore. Most recently I read Brian Reindel make this claim, so I’m going to pick on him while I rebut this insult.

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