Goodbye Google Reader and Hello Tiny Tiny RSS

Right before I started typing this post I removed the Google Reader bookmark in my bookmark bar. And my life.

When you use something for 7 years and filter through 210,000 pieces of content using it, it really becomes part of your life. I used Google Reader more than any other single piece of web technology. I’ve been using Gmail since July 2005 because it is the best. I was using Reader because it was the best at aggregating content and dumping it in one easy to consume place. None of that mattered once Google announced they were shutting it down. This felt like a long term girlfriend breaking up with me and saying “it’s not you, it’s me”.

Feedly and The Old Reader came out as initial front runners, but:

  • Feedly – Nope, interface sucked, couldn’t consume fast enough, mobile app restarted and lost your state if you clicked out to an article in browser
  • The Old Reader – Great concept and have their heart in the right place, but not ready for primetime, interface and speed issues, longevity questionable without revenue and high server costs

After The Old Reader finally imported my feeds so I could at least pilot the service, I saw this post on Lifehacker: How to Build Your Own Syncing RSS Reader with Tiny Tiny RSS and Kick Google Reader to the Curb. It looked promising from the get-go and I was no stranger to hosting my own web apps like I do with WordPress. It was very promising indeed.

I fired Tiny Tiny RSS up on my shared host and got my feeds imported. It was just as fast and easy to use as Google Reader. It is more customizable than Reader and there’s a ton of potential for it to grow. Want to add some functionality, plugins. Want to change the look and feel, custom CSS. I’ve already taken CSS tweaks from other users and adapted them to my own taste. This is my feed reader how I want it. It’s awesome.

So my search for a Google Reader replacement is over. Tiny Tiny RSS will be serving up my RSS feeds until the Internet figures out a way to make RSS obsolete. Plus the $2 Android app is really good.

If you want to try it out let me know and I can give you access to my install.

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2012 California General Election

Will keep it short and sweet.

  • Prop 30 – NO – Our sales tax is already high and trying to soak the higher income earners with 1-3% more in income taxes won’t help our spending problem.
  • Prop 31 – NO – Moves state to a two year budget and creates more bureaucracy (good luck figuring out the new system that transfers up to $200 million in state sales tax to local governments’ “plans”). Some stuff sounds nice, but the two year budget is stupid. Our stupid legislature can’t project revenue and spending for one year so why the hell would we want them trying to guess for an additional year?
  • Prop 32 – YES - This is actually pretty big. In 2008, my SEIU Local 721 PAC spent 10% of its $56 million revenue on political contributions and activities. I can guarantee $0 of that represented my political views. Prop 32 stops unions and corporations (but really only unions since they’re the only ones who do it) from using payroll deducted dues for political purposes. Good step in the right direction as the union would have to ask for voluntary contributions. Wouldn’t see any reduction in dues, but nice to know some of it isn’t being funneled to Democrats.
  • Prop 33 – YES – Kind of a no brainer. Insurance companies can give you a discount for maintaining coverage with them, but are prohibited from giving the same discount to new customers who have had continuous coverage from another carrier. This seems anti-competitive and makes it less attractive for people to shop around auto insurance so Prop 33 is a welcome change. The opposition’s argument makes no sense as those who have lapses in coverage already pay more and this allows for a proportional discount of the last 5 years.
  • Prop 34 – NO – Would abolish the death penalty in the state. The only argument for abolishing the death penalty is that we execute so few people because of the appeals process that it is hardly worth the effort. Kind of like throwing the baby out with the bath water. So instead of getting rid of the death penalty why not fix the system to make it more likely that the scumbags on death row will actually get executed in a timely fashion. Bring back the chair, gas chamber, firing squad, gallows, etc… while you are it.
  • Prop 35 – YES – Increase penalties on human trafficking scumbags? Sure.
  • Prop 36 – NO – Three Strikes is fine as is. The media trumps up the sob stories, but there is quite a bit of wiggle room to begin with from the prosecutor and judge to avoid increased sentences.
  • Prop 37 – NO – This one is just a big piece of crap. Seriously, genetically modified food is awesome. Science has given us better food at lower costs. Just more worthless regulation on business. “Organic is a grocery term meaning twice as expensive.” – Jim Gaffigan
  • Prop 38 – NO NO NO NO NO - We already pay the highest taxes in the country and we aren’t going to pay more. Education is important, but we already spend vastly more per student than other states doing much better. Spending more would change nothing.
  • Prop 39 – NO – Tax grab on businesses this time to pay for stupid energy projects. Why not just reduce taxes on business and not spend more money.
  • Prop 40 – YES – Approves the State Senate districts as drawn by the voter approved Citizen Redistricting Commission. Why establish the commission if we don’t use what they produced. I flipped through the maps and they seem fine without crazy gerrymandering  Would be interesting to see side by side comparisons.

LA County Measures – No on all.

Sony NEX-5N Wins My Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Shootout

Commenter on another post asked me about mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and I did some research to help suggest what to buy. Here’s what I found taking the approach of having a reasonable budget (under $1000) and wanting the best bang for my buck in this market segment.

Mirrorless cameras borrow from DSLRs (bigger sensors, shooting speed, lens selection) and point and shoots (small form factor, simpler controls). For the most part you get the best of both worlds without giving up too much. Yeah they don’t fit in your pocket, but they’re easier to carry around all day then some of the heavier DSLRs.

The ~$1000 market is made up by Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, Pentax, Nikon and Sony. I was expressly interested in the smaller models that bridge the DSLR and P&S gap. Some mirrorless cameras aren’t that much smaller than DSLRs so they were excluded from my search.

I went through a very unscientific and ad-hoc elimination process where I looked at the current offerings of each manufacturer. Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung didn’t really move me or stand out as good bang for your buck cameras. I eliminated Nikon based solely on high ISO performance with their smaller sensor. Canon is coming out with their first attempt at mirrorless, but it looks slow and unpromising. Pentax and Sony have very similar offerings with APS-C sensors.

So my gut and personal preference tells me the Sony NEX-5N is the best mirrorless interchangeable lens camera for the money right now. Sony recently discounted the camera with kit lens to $500. I’m assuming this is in preperation for the release of the NEX-5R and NEX-6.

Buying right now? Sony NEX-5N for $500: Amazon or B&H Photo

Buying for Christmas 2012?

Sony NEX-5R for $750: Amazon or B&H Photo

Sony NEX-6 for $999: Amazon or B&H Photo

Good Screen Protector for Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The Galaxy Nexus has an awesome screen despite what all the “pentile displays suck” people say and it deserves to be protected from scratches or overzealous cleaning. In the past I always bought the cheapest screen protectors I could and end up frustrated after a little while. I spent the extra money on a really nice protector for my new baby: Seidio Ultimate Screen Guard Protector.

They cost about $15 for a pack of two, but the are really nice protectors. They are really clear pieces of plastic and I couldn’t see any negative impact after applying it. They are hard and have about the same amount of slickness as the screen’s glass. Fingerprints clean off real easy.

There are a bunch of different listings on Amazon so check out this search page for the cheapest in stock offerings: Search for Seidio Ultimate Screen Guard Protector. I ordered mine off this listing for less than the going rate.

My Review of Galaxy Nexus Diztronic Translucent Smoke TPU Case

I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Nexus directly from Google the day they started selling it. I never used a case with my G1 since it had a keyboard and the case had a nice matte coating that made the phone easy to hold on to. The GN is thinner and lighter which makes it a bit harder to hold on to so I looked for a case that would give me a better grip on the phone without much bulk and protect against bumps and drops.

The Diztronic Matte Back Translucent Smoke Flexible *Revision 3* TPU Case was exactly what I was looking for and only $9 to boot.

Looks: I went with the translucent Smoke colored case so you could still see the Google logo on the back and it is fairly close to the color of the back and side panels. I think it looks great and the solid black case would probably look just as good.

Grip: I can actually use the Galaxy Nexus one handed now without risking a drop. The sides of the phone are fairly slick and had it almost slip from my hands a few times in the first week. The rubber on the case definitely adds grip and just gives you a more solid hold on the phone.

Pocketability: The case does not add very much bulk and it still fits nicely in a front pocket. The GN is pretty thin to begin with so I didn’t mind a bit of thickness added to it.

Protection: The case creates a little lip around the edge of the screen which helps keep it safe when placed face down on a surface. In a fall it should help protect from damage, but I wouldn’t trust any case to fully protect a phone from a hard fall.

Verdict: Buy it. If you are looking for a case for your Galaxy Nexus I highly this Diztronic which is a steal for $9.