Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Back with some rants

Not bad...less then 3 months of laying low. And I'm back with some rants. So let's get into it...

Before my trip to India, I set up Google Reader as an easy way to go to a single page and catch up on news and interesting sites which I like. I used it a bit while vacationing, but in reality, I don't really care about news & blogs when I'm chillin' on a river in Kerala. Know what I'm sayin'?

By the way, if you're not familiar with Google Reader, it's an online service that lets you aggregate RSS feeds and read them in a single view. Read up on RSS here. The basic idea is that websites can publish their content in a standard format which is understandable by a RSS reader.

So last week I finally got back into G.Reader (as I have named the bookmark in Firefox) and I'm addicted to it. I save so much time by not having to go to multiple sites to read up on the latest blog posts. But there's one big drawback: News sites. They publish their headlines via RSS so they show up in my reader, but that's it. If I want to read the story, I still have to go to the site. That's understandable since they want to ensure you're getting the full experience they have to offer and they make money off the ads they place on their site. But the major news sites don't seem to get it with RSS...they publish ONLY the headline. Nothing more. And the headlines are such that you can't really tell if the story is anything interesting until you read the first few sentences. Why not just publish the first paragraph of the story along with the headline? That'll pull me in so I know it's something I want to read, and if it's interesting, I'll go right to your site to read the story and potentially even read more on the site directly rather than jump back to my RSS reader. But instead I just get a lame headline. NYTimes, CNN, ESPN, Yahoo, Slate, blah blah blah. You're all guilty of this and because of that I've taken them ALL off my subscribed RSS feeds. In fact, I actually go to those sites LESS now since it's more of a pain to click onto their website. Rather than visiting the sites every couple of hours, I head over to them just once or twice a day. Your loss, not mine.

Just more examples of big companies not trusting their users or readers and thereby alienating them.

Okay, so the next annoyance I have is with a subset of Mac users. Nothing new there. Mac-o-philes tend to be a little crazy to begin with. Most of it is due to simply being accustomed to certain ways of doing things. But sometimes I really wonder about them when they do things which just seem to make life harder.

So recently, Adobe came out with a huge update to all of their main software apps. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc, etc. Among all of the changes, they also changed the icons which the Mac uses to represent the applications. The old icons used to be a variety of colorful natural objects like feathers, leaves, flowers, etc bound within white boxes. I was used to them, but I always found myself trying to remember if the feather was the icon for Photoshop or for Bridge. I got it wrong about half the time and ended up waiting for the wrong app to open. Nice looking icons are cool and all, but when similar applications have similar icons, it's just a waste of time trying to remember which icon is which. So with the version of the apps, I think the Adobe people realized this and decided to simplify everything. So they made icons with two letter abbreviations for each icon. Nice and simple. More importantly, meaningful. Photoshop's icon says "Ps" on it. Bridge's icon says "Br" on it. At a glance, I quickly know which icon is which. They're not exactly beautiful, but they make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

Okay so Adobe did a good thing. Meanwhile, Mac-o-philes obsessed with cool looking things, decided they still needed icons which look good on their docks. So they created replacement icons which have no tie-ins to the apps at all. Why? They look cool?

This is the subset of mac users which I find really annoying. They do things JUST BECAUSE they look or feel cool. They like a disc-burning app called Disco because it has black smoke coming out when you're burning a disc. Cool? I suppose. But seriously...smoking apps? In the time it took that developer to add in the smoke, I'm sure something more functional could have been built into the tool.

And these Adobe icons? I'm thankful of the genius that figured out the utility of putting an application abbreviation on the iconset. SO useful. And yet, we have people who dislike them so much for reasons of beauty that they have to replace them.

Go figure.

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