Monthly Archives: July 2013

My RSS Wish

UPDATE: On second thought, this isn’t what I really want. What I want is a Twitter style feed, or as Dave Winer calls it, a River of News, which predates Twitter. I don’t need a complex sync mechanism, or a read/unread count. What I really want is a central place to see my river of news with a simple bookmark. Nothing is marked as read. When I open it in another app it takes me to my last bookmarked location. Super simple.

My original thought is below.

Guilty. That’s right, I’m guilty of the same desire as everyone else when it comes to RSS. I want my feed to be available on all devices (easy), I want it to aggregate to one location (less easy) and I want it to be in sync when I move devices (darn.)

Most people think of RSS as Google Reader. It’s not. Google Reader was the gorilla that made RSS its own, killed off and industry, and left us hanging. RSS is so simple it’s elegant. It’s nothing more than a format for syndicating news. Simple, right? Google Reader went so far beyond that no other RSS reader has come close. Not Feedly, not Digg, no one company has managed to do more than offer a simple reader that syncs. It’s a great start, but I digress.

Yes, RSS is simple, but in this ever connected world, social media world we want it all and we want it now! So, to do that, people took a the idea of a distributed network format and put it all in a central location. A single point of failure, can you say Google Reader? Fine. You want it all in one spot, I get it. How do we make that happen and not rely on a single vendor to provide us with a service?

A wonderful boquet of flowers.First we need an open standard for centralized RSS (man, that sounds wrong.) This way people writing tools can push and pull data to and from a service. I’ll bet Digg and Feedly have their own implementations of such a thing, that are nothing alike, but do what they need. Pulling together the feeds is the easy part, that’s been solved. It’s the availability on all devices and sync that’s a bit more difficult. That’s where the standard, or open, format or API, comes in. Sure, we have the browser, but it’s not exactly all that useful on all platforms. I’d like to host my own RSS aggregator service, on my hardware, and have the ability to tell that service I’ve read something and make sure the last item is bookmarked so I can pickup where I left off, possibly on another device. Yeah, I want the ability to use Reeder, or NetNewsWire, or the browser.

That’s the bottom line. Think self hosted WordPress, but for RSS reading. Sure, you can use one of the many new services springing up, that’s great, but I’d like to host it myself and make sure it works with other services to make it mine. If there were an open implementation of a centralized RSS aggregator we wouldn’t have to worry about a single vendor destroying an ecosystem and abandoning it. We’d be able to rely on each other for help and benefit from a community of like minded people. The other upside to an open solution would be the ability to extend it to make it exactly what you want! Meaning you could implement code to give you your favorite Google Reader feature and share it with the world.

Better JSON to Object Serialization

Duct Tape, fixer of all things!Krzysztof ZabÅ‚ocki: “I don’t like passing around JSON so I write parsing on top of native objects like NSDictionary/NSArray. If you get data as JSON just write a simple category that transforms JSON to native objects using NSJSONSerialization.”

Here’s a nice hunk of code that will save you some time when you write your next iOS App that talks to a web service. I don’t like passing around NSArray or NSDictionary either, or even worse the raw JSON you get back from a service. I’ve written a few times about transforming JSON into an Object, and it’s not hard to do, but it’s so “boilerplate” it feels like a waste of time. Time you could use elsewhere. Krzysztof provides a nice way to get past all that boilerplate code and get automagic serialization of JSON to Object. It’s definitely worth a look and worth understanding the pattern.

Apple Developer Center Breach

Full text of the email every registered Apple Developer received.

“Apple Developer Website Update

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.

In order to prevent a security threat like this from happening again, we’re completely overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database. We apologize for the significant inconvenience that our downtime has caused you and we expect to have the developer website up again soon.”

I know people love a good scandal, and being breached is a decent story, but nothing sensitive was compromised. It’s a major bummer they were hacked, but as far as the developer community is aware no app keys or credentials were stolen. No, our apps won’t have to be resigned and resubmitted.

Facebook to buy Dropbox

That’s right, I’m calling it. Facebook will acquire Dropbox in the very near future. How do I know this? History is on my side.

Designer Tim Van Damme has a unique superpower. His companies are acquired by Facebook. He was with Gowalla when they were acquired by Facebook, so he left for Instagram. Not long after Van Damme arrived at Instagram, that’s right, you guessed it, they were acquired by Facebook.

The first thing I thought yesterday when I read Mr. Van Damme was leaving Instagram for Dropbox? “I wonder when Facebook will acquire them?”

Has anyone set the line?

The Advantage of App.Net

Steve Streza: One other cool benefit of using App.net for the backend is that the data specification is publicly available. This means other developers could build apps that recognize your journal. So, if the developer of your favorite camera app adds support for Ohai journals, they could save those photos into your journal. Then, the next time you open Ohai, those photos are available. Other developers could build journaling apps for other platforms like Android, or even write competitive apps for iPhone. You as the user would not have to export your data and re-import it; it would just all appear when you logged in. It’s a wonderful deal for customers to have no lock-in at all, with open data standards for interoperability.”

Ohai, Steve’s new app, is an app for keeping track of life moments. Similar to Vesper, from Q Branch, but this application has storage in the magical cloud. Not only does it make use of cloud technologies it’s using App.Net to do it. I think this is important because most people think of App.Net as a Twitter clone. It’s way more than that. It’s a set of API’s and infrastructure that allow people to build deeply connected applications. App.Net, the social network, is one example of the infrastructure and API’s. Ohai is another. Steve even points out that others could create other applications that can have access to the data. Why? Well, it’s your data. You decide who gets to see it.

Very cool app.

Blockbuster Death Watch

Forbes: “But at such a high cost, with little evidence that the project would connect with audiences to justify it, a $220- $250 million Lone Ranger will now struggle to break even if it does the unlikely and crosses $400 million worldwide.”

This is a bit frightening if you’re a fan of movies. A few weeks back Steven Spielberg warned how close Hollywood is to collapse.

“That’s the big danger, and there’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown. There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”

I hope this doesn’t happen, but to read an article outlining how a $250 million film is a flop is a bit of a drag.