Monday, October 7, 2013

iGoogle Reader Shut Down

If you are reading this post it is probably because you used iGoogle for aggregating your news feeds and the various blogs and websites you regularly visited. It is/was quite handy for putting all the new posts and news from those sources onto a single page that was easy to scan and then pick which stories you wanted to read. Today (10.7.2013) iGoogle said 25 days to shutdown. I am assuming that you have exported you current iGoogle settings in a XML file and now are looking for a site to upload them to. Sounds easy, but this has been a few months for me of trying different solutions.

Google stated that usage had declined and that was the reason they were pulling the plug. I really liked the ease of use and how it saved me time gathering updates from multiple sources. So, I looked at many, many blogs and websites that recommended various substitutes.

After trying many of them and getting pretty frustrated by multiple issues like: 1) Google exports your iGoogle page as a XML file and most of the replacement sites want OPML files to import your current settings 2) XML to OPML converters don't work 3) renaming a XML to OPML and trying to use it does not work 4) the replacement site did not update my feeds or 5) Replacement sites did not support uploading a list (XML or OPML) at all, I settled on

uStart was able to easily upload my iGoogle XML file. It was fairly easy to modify columns and look/feel, though not the best. And, well, it just worked.

Ighome had looked like the winner for a while but then stopped updating the feeds even though I had configured to update every 10 minutes. It also seems to be overloaded with slow web page loading problems. It could be a viable alternative down the road but did not accept my XML file either and forced me to load the feeds one at a time - I was part way through that when the performance and reliability issues started.

I tried ighome, netvibes, and myYahoo in earnest. I looked at several others and did not even try because they did not allow for importing your current settings or provided a daily list and did not use containers for segregating feeds which I like visually. I did not want to start all over setting up around 75 different feeds. For me, the simplicity of made it the winner so far. The other nice thing about it was I could import my iGoogle XML file with all my feeds without even registering an account - that was nice!!! I could see right away that everything was there and then registered for an account.

If you want to check out various sources for ideas here are some.  Good luck and hope you don't start pulling your hair out and wanting to rip your own face off like I felt a few days working through this Google induced pain.

Edit 10.9.2013 - one of my friends found info that said had been involved in some kind of browser home redirect issues back in May 2013. And, there are some virus detection software sites that warn people about uStart. I have been using it several days now and have had no issues. Apparently it is a French-based company and several French software companies have been involved in this kind of thing in the past. Whether this was guilt by association or uStart was actually involved I don't know. I can only vouch that at this time everything is fine. I will post an update if any issues develop. Right now, performance is good, I have not been asked to download any browser extensions or any other files, and everything is fine. I have not experienced any increase in SPAM that might be related to uStart having my email address.
Edit 10.14.2013 - still no issues with hijacking my browser, requesting me to download extensions, or causing any computer mayhem.A couple of kind readers made suggestions that I checked out but did not switch to for the same reasons mentioned in this post.
Edit 11.20.2013 - uStart has not done anything to me yet and I consider it a decent alternative to iGoogle. It was certainly the easiest one for transferring my feeds to from iGoogle. I have gotten used to it and don't think about iGoogle anymore except when I see this post.
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Saturday, October 5, 2013

How the shut-down will likely end

The latest from Brin and surprise - he is quoting a Fox News article and not to bash it! These are strange times. From Fox....  
"'Compromise,' to these demagogues, is to mandate that Democrats scrap President Obama’s signature domestic legislative accomplishment, which was passed by Congress, signed into law by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court and ratified by voters who returned its architect to the White House last November."

"Senate Democrats, of course, had been begging for a budget compromise for months – ever since the Senate passed its budget last spring. But Republicans rejected this attempt at compromise 18 times, refusing to allow the Senate and House of Representatives to go to a budget conference to hammer out a deal that would have put an end to this cycle of continuing resolutions," writes Julie Roginsky.
If you watch the news the last couple days and listen to the Pubs complain about the unwillingness of the Senate to have a budget conference, and have not really followed the story before, you could be forgiven for thinking the Pubs are the only ones wanting to compromise. In the end though, the Tea Party and those who have signed the Norquist Pledge have one thing on their mind and that is "....the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Anything else said contrary to that is political maneuvering. They are not kidding when they say their goal is to get rid of the government completely by drowning it. If you want to return to feudal times with warlords, princes, kings and such and have your AK-47 ready to defend yourself 24/7, then these are your folks. Am I exaggerating for effect with that statement? Make up your own mind. Listen carefully to what these people are saying. They are extremely emotional, not willing to listen to reason or science, and believe their righteousness justifies any means - that is a dangerous mindset to me.

I hope Brin's predictions on breaking the stalemate come through. We need Congress making changes that fix problems instead of just sitting on their hands like little kids taking their ball and going home. And, all this total BS about the shutdown saving money. In the last shutdowns, Congress voted to provide back pay for all federal workers so the shutdown turned into extra vacation time for federal workers. Tell me how that is a good thing except if you are a federal employee. So all Federal workers, have a nice paid vacation thanks to the Tea Party and radical Pubs! In the meantime, we taxpayers get less work out of the people paid to run the system for us.

CONTRARY BRIN: How the shut-down will likely end: Before I get to my forecast of how the Great Big US Government Shut-Down of 2013 will end... let's start with this surprising commentary...

Link to SojkasCall..........

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Real Story About The Washington DC Shutdown

This is incendiary talk from David Brin:
Despite all the pundit-ravings about a "civil war within the GOP," The 21st Century Republican Party remains (for now at least) the most tightly disciplined political force we have seen in American political life since the "solid south" of the old Dixiecrats, seventy years ago. Pundits tell us that discipline and the Hastert Rule are maintained by fear of Tea Party insurrections in next spring's GOP primary. Don't you believe the pundits. In fact, nothing happens in the Tea Party without say-so from Fox News. Fox is co-owned by Rupert Murdoch and several Saudi princes who have made their agenda clear. The government of the United States of America, which has functioned -- overall -- far better than anything else the world ever saw , helping to lead a consortium of other free nations and peoples to transform civilization for the better... that government and even the concept of "government" must be undermined, discredited and ultimately destroyed. It is the core, consistent narrative and one that a third of U.S. citizens now swallow as eagerly as babes do mother's milk. And hence, amid this re-ignited civil war, it is only proper to evoke Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, one more time. Recite it to your neighbors enthralled by the Murdochians. Watch them wince. So. Do not let the appearance of internal GOP strife fool you. All -- (or nearly all, so long as the Hastert Rule applies) -- is choreographed. Were these sane days, it would take just twenty House GOP members to break off and form a Grownup Conservative Caucus -- taking their chances with the inevitable Tea Party vengeance in their district primaries, next spring -- in order to negotiate with moderate democrats, as used to happen all the time, back in the 20th Century. They would do this for the sake of the nation, out of courage and love of country… and love for a version of conservatism that Barry Goldwater might recognize. (A deal to make entitlements more efficient, in exchange of elimination of some fat-cat tax breaks, has been on the table for two years. Those twenty are all it would take.) Alas, Rupert Murdoch and his partners have made clear their agenda to destroy Goldwater Conservatism in America… and thereupon all meaningful discourse.
For those not familiar with the Hastert Rule read this op-ed piece from CNN that explains it very clearly.  Read Brin's entire 10.1.2013 blog as he is on fire today and not taking any prisoners. Watch the linked video clips to get the full perspective.

Brin has done a masterful job of pulling together many stories that are in the news today. I have been trying to get more information on how and why the Saudis tried so hard to pull the US into conflict in Syria and have been largely unsuccessful. Brin provided a missing piece of the puzzle regarding Fox, The Tea Party, and the current promotion of taking the government apart with the Saudi ownership at Fox info. Maybe some other day I will figure out a little more about how Saudi Arabia influences US foreign policy decisions.

This has been a very interesting day that out of the ashes of my negativity regarding the government shutdown has come a wealth of understanding about how things really work. Read and watch all this a couple times if you are not familiar with the perspective. Cross-check the info and make up your own mind. Stop listening to the pundits and listen to your own analysis and see if you can push away any fear creeping in long enough to make your own decision.

On the positive side is the info Brin provided from his friend and one of the  investment advisers I follow and had read his writeup last week regarding an American economy emerging into a new upswing. Maudlin is not the only one saying this. Look at the data on that too. You might hate fracking and the ecological damage it has wrought in certain areas. There is no denying it is helping our economy.

Link to read this post at SojkasCall and comment.

Is Drifting Bad?

While looking for something else on a website, I came across this video and thought  it might make a good analogy for what is going in Washington DC yesterday and today. Being "adrift" seemingly was a bad state of affairs in my mind.

After watching the video I realized that being adrift can be a good thing. This took me back to the time in the late 70's when my wife and I first moved to the Bay Area and we saw islands floating in the sky when riding along Skyline Blvd and looking back over the foothills towards the ocean around the Page Mill intersection. It was one of the things that made that time in my life so magical.

Adrift can be a peaceful place and full of joy. Let's enjoy adrift and let the fools continue on their time and not ours.

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Government Of The People

Today there was a post over on David Brin's blog asking people to reread the Gettysburg Address and ponder the last sentence. Here is the last sentence: It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

For most of us, the part resonating today is ...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Has it perished here in the USA? 

When our politicians in Washington DC behave like they did yesterday it makes one wonder.