Category Archives: No category

Bye, bye Google Reader

Tomorrow is the end of Google Reader. It’s being shut down, upsetting hundreds of thousands of active users, me included. I really do love Google Reader; its web user interface is great, the mobile apps are great, it’s quick, responsive, and gives a good overview of all my feeds. Now it’s time to find an alternative.

Google’s competitors got quite a boost after the shutdown was announced. Feedly, one of the major ones in this regard, reported 500 000 new users over 48 hours (!) after the announcement [1]. NewsBlur reported over 50000 new users being added to the existing 1500, basically crashing the site [2]. A third candidate, The Old Reader, is also in the running but lacks a good mobile interface. So what to choose? Well, here’s the quick and dirty overview.

Feedly is the most popular of the three. The mobile app looks really smooth, and since a few weeks back, it’s also got a web interface. Importing the data from Google Reader was very straight forward, and can be done from either the app itself, or the website. One thing I noticed is that when you click on the link to navigate to the article on the website in the mobile app, it’ll actually open the site in the app itself. This convenience did not exist in Google Reader, so for me it’s an upgrade.

NewsBlur is not purely a free service like Feedly; you can use the free version if you don’t have too many feeds (less than 60), otherwise you’ll have to pay for the premium subscription of $24 a year. NewsBlur also supports importing your data from Google Reader with minimal effort, but the import did not seem to keep the “read/unread” flags from Google Reader. So if you’ve stacked up a lot of unread articles that you’d like to go through sometime, be aware of this. The website looks a bit more old fashioned than Feedly, and so does the mobile app. Functionally though, it seems to work smoothly.

The Old Reader is aiming to be more like the good, old Google Reader. However, a big killer for this service is that it does not have a mobile app! It’s possible however to write a third-party app for it, as it exposes an API for doing so. Also, importing the Google Reader data is more inconvenient than the other two services above. You actually need to export the data manually first, it’s not a one-click operation. Of course, it’s a one-time operation, so it can be forgiven. Like NewsBlur, The Old Reader does not keep your read/unread state of your feeds when importing. The web interface is functional, and does have a lot of similarities with Google Reader. I feel the Feedly website is a bit fresher and modern.

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier for you to choose a replacement for Google Reader!

[1] http://blog.feedly.com/2013/03/15/priorities-keeping-the-site-up-and-adding-new-features/
[2] http://blog.newsblur.com/post/45632737156/three-months-to-scale-newsblur

Gravistroids

I just made my first game in Javascript! :)

Find it at http://hallgeir.org/Gravistroids/index.html .
I’ve tested it in Chrome and Firefox; it performs better in Chrome, though.

This is Asteroids, but with gravity. :)

Controls:
Up: Accellerate
Down: Accelerate backwards
Left; Turn left
Right: Turn right
CTRL (Control): Shoot!

A few notes:
- There’s gravity; try not to fall off the screen.
- If you fall off the screen, you die.
- If you crash, you die.
- If you die, start over by refreshing the page.
- It’s not optimized AT ALL. Expect some choppyness on low-end systems.
- There’s no sound. Maybe it’ll come later :)

King of absentedness

So it’s been about 2 years since my last post. So here’s a quick update in approximately chronological order:

  • I came back from the US after a year as planned
  • I got together with my girlfriend, Shauna, who comes from the US (Love you! <3)
  • Worked at CERN for a summer
  • Finished my master’s degree at NTNU
  • Started working as a software engineer at Software Innovation in Oslo
  • Bought an apartment in Drammen

Only good things, in other words. :) So yes, I’m still alive (just to ease the minds of those I’ve met up with after my last post; no, I was not a ghost). I can’t promise being very active on posting here, but we’ll see!

Oh, I’ve open-sourced the plugin I developed for use in my “Programming” page for showing off my software projects. It’s basically just a shortcode that spits out a formatted project entry given some attributes and a description. I figured it might come in handy for someone. You can find it here: https://github.com/hallgeirl/Project-shortcodes-for-Wordpress and in my programming page.

HAL online!

So I finally got my internet connection where I live. AT&T was quite slow to deliver, but I got it in the end. :P

Anyway, I just want to say that I’m good here in San Diego. Nice city, nice weather (most of the time), nice people. I haven’t done much useful the last weeks since my school doesn’t start before September 16th, so basically I’ve been on vacation and getting settled in. I’ve actually bought a car as well (for $1600 or ~10000 NOK) because the public transportation here is…  not that great and it’s so fun to drive here. :)

This weekend I actually went on a little road trip to Mountain View (close to San Fransisco) to visit a friend (Torbjørn, a norwegian classmate) who works at Facebook for the summer. I got to see the insides of their headquarters as well and it was awsome. We also had a trip to San Fransisco, which was a really nice city.

The rest of the days I’ve been here I’ve tried to learn to surf (which is quite fun) and snorkeling (which is awsome because of all the life in the sea around here). I’ve been swimming with leopard sharks, stingrays and a lot of other sea creatures.

Anyway, pictures will come soonish I hope. When I can get arsed to resize and post them ;)

Oh, by the way… you won’t reach me on my old phone number. But I can be reached on (+1) 619-397-8175. Or online from now on.

See ya all.

Macro smackro

For some  time I’ve been experimenting a bit with macro photography as you might have seen on my flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hallgeirl). A technique I’ve read about earlier is about actually reversing the lens of the camera – that is, put the lens’ front end towards the camera with its butt pointing at the subject. Today I tried it out a bit, and I’m amazed how huge magnifications I get.

Here’s a couple of samples. The blurring is due to me not being able to hold the front lens steady, and the redicilous narrow depth of field – it’s hard when working on this scale. The items may also be slightly out of focus because, again, it’s hard to hold things steady at this scale.

This is actually one of the millimeter marks of a ruler. The whole picture spans about 2 millimeters. Given that the sensor size is about 21mm in width gives a magnification of over 10:1.

And let me present to you a grain of salt. The picture is not cropped (just scaled down). You can also see the reflection from the surface.

I realize the sharpness isn’t all good. This is due to the fact that I manually had to hold the lens in front of the camera while taking the picture… and, because I had to do that, I couldn’t use a smaller aparture (and thus I get a ridicilous narrow depth of field). However, I’ve now ordered reverse lens adapters from ebay (for 35 NOK each, around 5-6 USD). I’ll be sure to get back with some more goodies when I get those parts. ;)

PS: Just in case you’re interested, the equipment used is:

  • Canon EOS 450D DSLR
  • Canon 55-250mm lens attached to the camera (Fully extended to 250mm of course)
  • Canon 18-55mm kit lens at 18mm reversed and handheld in front of the 55-250mm.

This should give a theoretical magnification of 250/18 = approx. 13.9X. That is, something 1 millimeter in size in real life should be imaged as about 13.9mm on the image sensor (which is a little over half the sensor width of my camera).