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Tag: New York Times

Suggestion to Major Blogs and Websites

If I can make a suggestion to American TV studios to move towards a miniseries system, why not more?

image I recently spent a couple of hours organizing and pruning the many feeds that I follow in Google Reader. It’s become something of a necessity as my interests and information needs (and the amount of time I have to pursue them) change. But, this time as I found myself trying to figure out which news sites to follow, I found it easier to drop websites which didn’t have sub-feeds.

Most major blogs and websites today use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to let subscribers know when the site’s been updated without having to check the site constantly. While this is extremely convenient, the enormous number of updates that major websites like the New York Times issue per day make subscribing to their RSS feed an exercise in drinking from the firehose.

So, what to do? Thankfully, some major websites (the New York Times included) figured this out and now provide sub-feeds which provide only a fraction of the total content so that a subscriber can not only avoid RSS information overload but get a focused feed on the information that matters to him/her. The New York Times, for instance, allows you to only get RSS updates from their tech column, the Bits Blog, or even just the Venture Capital section of the New York Times’ Dealbook coverage.

Sadly, not every website is as forward-looking as the New York Times. Many sites don’t offer any sort of sub-feed at all (much to my dismay). Many sites who do offer it, offer a very paltry selection with very limited options.

And, given the choice between an information deluge which I mostly don’t want vs an alternative information source which gives me only the information I do want, I think the answer is obvious. As a result, with the exception of two feeds, I dropped from Google Reader every blog which posted more than once a day which didn’t give me a targeted sub-feed option.

In a world where its getting harder and harder for publications to hold on to readers, you’d think these sites would learn to offer more flexibility (especially when such flexibility is practically free to support if you have even a half-decent web content management system) in how their content is pushed.

But, I guess those sites weren’t interested in keeping me as a reader…

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It was a dark and stormy night in the data center

One of my favorite aspects of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts are Snoopy’s attempts at novel-writing and his classic opening sentence:

It was a dark and stormy night…

This was, of course, immediately followed by some comically ingenious sentence which made it immediately obvious that Snoopy, although quite creative (and talented! how many dogs do you know who can use a typewriter?) would probably never realize his dream of being a published beagle.

Well, Snoopy, you shouldn’t give up, because bizarre story settings actually do get published! Popular mystery author Michael Connelly not only convinced a publisher that he could write a mystery novel set in a data center (about a killer who actually works in a data center), but convinced enough people to read it that it’s now ranked #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list (at least as of June 18th, 2009).

Cloud Computing/Data Center blog Data Center Knowledge has an interesting interview with Connelly on his use of some of the most mysterious and unusual settings to ever grace a novel:

Data Center Knowedge: What led you to choose a colocation center as the workplace for Wesley Carver?

Michael Connelly: [My researcher] sent me a link to a video tour of a colocation center. I was impressed by all the security and hardware, how the center was located underground and how it was protected from forces of nature as well as electronic intrusion. It was a fortress and these sort of things always interest me because it always comes down to people, who you have inside the fortress is the most important thing.

Interestingly enough (although I haven’t read it yet), the novel relies on a few real-life technical features in many data centers including cutting edge fire suppression systems, VESDA smoke detection systems, and man traps. Very impressive, considering how few people know what goes on in data centers (which is a shame as data centers are a driving force in the web/computing space, and are massive contributors to jobs in under-developed areas and local energy concerns).

To the uninitiated who don’t realize how bizarre and amazing data centers can be, check out this video of a data center in Stockholm built in what looks like a supervillain’s fortified hideout. As it was built in the Cold War, it is even said to be able to withstand a direct nuclear assault!

Now, can we make the next James Bond movie in a Google data center?

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