Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some New Computer Stuff I Ran Into, and One Oldie

This is by no means a tech and computer blog and I am not a geek by a longshot. But I do like to keep one eye open on that stuff in case something comes by that is fun and useful or, preferably both. Since I am running late on my next post, which again deals with my problems with Judaism, I thought I would fill in the time with something a lot more easygoing and superficial. So here is some stuff I ran into lately.Not everything is completely brand new, and one item is really old, though fascinating i think.

Netvibes Newsreader:
It used to be that you had to bookmark a site and then go visit it every once in a while to see what is going on there. But that was then. Today we have feeds – a tech thingie (I hope that’s not too technical) that lets you subscribe to a site, and you are alerted of new content, which is also sent straight to your computer. That means you don’t have to go check the sites you like all the time, and you can always be updated with the news that is important for you. In order to read the updates you need a newsreader, and the question now is – what newsreader should you be using.
When I first encountered this amazing possibility I looked for a firefox plugin. I settled on the Wizz RSS News Reader. That was nice but not completely comfortable to use. Not all of the feeds were getting updated properly, and I did not like reading the feeds in the side bar, in small print, so I was looking for something else that would be free, and not involve subscribing to a corporate site like yahoo or google.
Then, a couple of weeks ago Ghacks recommended Netvibes. I have tried it for a few weeks and I like it enough to pass on the recommendation.
Netvibes is free and aesthetically pleasing. Basically it allows you to make a startpage that contains your feeds. You can make as many pages as you like, each one in a tab of it’s own, just like firefox tabs. Adding feeds is pretty easy, especially if you use the firefox netvibes add-on, and you can customize how many items you see, and whether to read the content on netvibes or on the original site. Hovering over the title of a new post you get the first few lines and can decide whether you want to read further. Every feed, and every tab updates constantly and displays how many new items there are. This way I keep the netvibes tab open while browsing elsewhere and by glancing at the tab I see if something new has come in. I made a separate page for each of my different areas of interest, and I am very pleased with how quickly I can view everything, and filter out irrelevant content.
If you are interested, I recommend starting with Masey’s excellent Netvibes tutorial – in ten minutes tops you’ll understand all you need to know to make yourself a very useful web-based newsreader.
And finally – if you know of a better newsreader – I’d love to hear about it.
If you do not want to try this out, but you still want to enjoy the benefits of getting updated feeds right to your browser then, if you are interested in Israel and read Hebrew – then someone has thought about you.

MiniBox Israel
This is a new idea which I encountered at 6initiative who gives a short description of the project, and I quote: “MiniBox was build and designed to help the Israeli audience navigate easily through the various sites around the net and to help everyone use the benefits that RSS feeds gives them, without even knowing they used it.”
If you know Hebrew then you might want to visit this amazing site – I doubt you will need to surf anywhere else. These people have aggregated feeds in various fields like news and sports and culture and so on so that you don’t have to, together with some international content like youtube most viewed videos. The layout is very convenient and you can easily jump from one item or page to another. This is really like having Israel at your fingertips and some of the world as well.
If you have done visiting the Minibox site then you maybe thinking to yourself that it sure seems like we have come a long way since the beginning of the internet. Well, we have come a long way indeed, and here’s proof:

Look How Far We Have Come

More popular pictures at

This is a picture of a 5Mb hard drive that weighed a ton - Fifty years ago. Today such a small amount of memory is simply irrelevant. We regularly use DVD discs that hold 4.7 GB of memory – nearly 940 times more memory than the 5MB harddisc, and immeasurably smaller and can't even buy such a small amount of memory because nobody makes it anymore. Who knows how different our future will look?
That picture really made me stop in my tracks and think.
you can check out the original picture with further details here

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