Dear Google, here’s what I want for the next Olympics …

… I hope that in accordance with your missionto organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful“, you will make that tiny little green “Live” word into a YouTube link, where I would be able to watch the game, without caring about in which country I currently am or which device I currently use.

ice hockey

Google Calendar wishlist

Google Calendar team recently ran a survey, asking users what is it that they like and dislike about the product and how to make it better.  Of course, I submitted my opinions, but, as always, better thoughts come after the action has been already taken.  Here is my two items wishlist for Google Calendar.

  1. [Update: not true anymore, see comments] SMS notifications for additional calendars.  Google Calendar only supports SMS notifications for your primary calendar.  But if you want to have a separate calendar for work and personal life, then you’ll have to choose which of these will send you messages to the phone.
  2. Related events.  Quite often I get into a situation where I need two related entries in the calendar.  For example, I might have a birthday party event and shopping for presents, or a beer session at the pub and table reservation.  Having just one event and a tonne of reminders for it doesn’t really work.  Having two events however makes it more difficult to manage them.  If the party was rescheduled, I’ll need to update my calendar to reflect the change, but I’ll also need to find and update the related event.  It would be so much more convenient if I could just relate one event to another and when I move one (a couple of days later, for example), the related event would reschedule itself as well.

What are the features that you want to see Google Calendar?

Hope to see more language controls in Google Reader

If you read this blog even for a short while, you probably know that I depend on many Google tools, such Gmail and Google Reader. As a power user, I believe I know pretty much everything these services have to offer. I also know a few things that these services don’t have on offer yet, but which I’d gladly welcomed.

I already mentioned a sharing of interesting items in Google Reader with your contacts. That’s a really nice feature. And you can even control which users you see shared items from. However, one important thing is missing in that functionality – language control.

You see, I don’t have that many friends who are using Google Reader and share items, but even those few that I have speak a total of 7 languages (Russian, English, Greek, French, Ukrainian, Dutch, and German). Not only they speak this languages, but they also share a lot of items in those languages. That is sort of useless, since I only know two languages – Russian and English. These two are enough to provide the common ground for communications with all of my friends.

So, what I would really like to see in Google Reader, is a new setting which would let me filter my friends’ shared items to only those languages that I can understand. I know this can be a bit tricky to implement (how does the system know in which language the shared item is? or, even, what should it do if shared item is in more than one language?), but it would be really helpful functionality. And a huge time saver too, since then I wouldn’t have to go through all those items that I have no understanding off and marking them as read.

Should such a feature appear, I’d like to see it taken to extreme. I should be able to automatically tag or do searches on content in specific language. This will give me a useful tool of comparing hype about the same topic in different language communities.

del.ishli.st – my wishlist is back

Long time ago I used to have a wishlist on this site.  If I remember correctly, I even had a few.  It was a rather helpful piece of information for the times when I was doing online shopping, as well as for my friends and family before the big holidays (hint: presents).

There were two problems with keeping up a wishlist.  One was rather small – people couldn’t find it easily, since it was hidden in the archives.  And one big – it was a lot of effort to keep it up-to-date.  I kept losing it myself all the time, and I was always forgetting to update it.   These two problems caused it to finally be lost in the sea of other posts on this blog, and, probably, never to be found again.

I’m glad to say though, that a better version of my wishlist is back.  It’s something that I wish I had years ago.  It’s dead simple, easy to see (no registrations required or anything of such non-sense), and it’s also extremely easy for me to keep updated.  This new wishlist is on del.ishli.st.

The name sounds good, but the link is impossible to remember, much like the original del.icio.us one.  del.ishli.st is a very simple, yet very smart way of wishlisting.  It utilizes my del.icio.us account and the “wishlist” tag, which is something very natural to use for tagging items of the wishlist.  And so that I won’t try to remember the URL, or, even worse, attempt to type it, or lose this wishlist in the history of posts once again, I decided to make a big and important link to it, at the top of the site.  Yes, that’s right, you can see it together with the rest of the main navigational menu.

Gmail filter activity feature wish

Since my Gmail account gets all my mail from all my email address, I have a huge list of filters configured to sort all that mail the way I want.  After reading this post, I got a bit worried and went to check if there were any filters in my account that I haven’t created.

That was the moment when I got this idea for a new feature – filter activity report. This should work similar to how feed activity works in Google Reader.  With a tiny bit of statistics it easy to drop inactive feeds to clear up the  list of your subscriptions.  The same way, it should be easy to drop old and inactive filters from Gmail.  It should be pretty trivial to do.  Even interface-wise it should be pretty easy with something like “Last used on [insert date here]” indication near each filter in the filter management screen.

Firefox feature wishlist : tab groups

I wish Firefox (or any web browser for that matter) had a nice and easy way to group tabs together. If I could just move or copy tabs between groups, color them differently together or one by one, collapse and expand groups, search for tab, link tabs together (close one and linked one close together, move one and others will follow), etc.  Considering the amount of time it took for tabs to go mainstream, I am not sure I’ll live long enough to see a solution for grouping…

P.S.: Yes, I am aware of

  • grouping related tabs in several browser windows,
  • ColorfulTabs plugin for Firefox,
  • using bookmark groups to save tabs and open them later with one click,

but these aren’t solving my problems.  Not as they are now at least.

Looking for a notebook

I’ve never particularly liked notebooks. They are clumsy, uncomfortable, hot, slow, weird, and hard to fix or upgrade. And expensive, of course.

But circumstances are changing now in such a way that I’ll need to have a notebook pretty soon. We can’t manage on a single computer nomore, and there is no place to put a second one. Plus I am way too often moving around.

I am not in a hurry yet, but I can’t delay the purchase for another six month. Tha gives me enough to time to study the options and compare the prices.

So far I haven’t done any research what-so-ever. And with this knowledge I am looking for the following:

  • IBM ThinkPad T41 notebook (I’ve heard lots of positive comments about this particular line of products, and it supports Linux pretty good too.)
  • Fast CPU is not an issue. Even 1 GHz will be enough.
  • RAM is good, so I’ll need more. 1 GByte is pretty close to perfect.
  • I don’t want an elephant in the bag, but I want something bigger than my mobile, so the ideal size of the screen is 15″.
  • Well-supported video card – NVidia MX-series or something similar.
  • CD/DVD/DVD-RW is a must.
  • USB is a must.
  • WiFi card, supported by Fedora Linux 4 or later is a must.
  • 10/100 (or maybe even 10/100/1000) Mbit Ethernet adapter is a must.
  • Soundcard with line-in (read: Skype) is a must.
  • Battery life is not essential – if it can live and work for 2-4 hours, then it’s good enough. Usually, I am pretty close to power lines.

That’s pretty much what I have thought of at this moment. Any suggestions, ideas, or pointers are very welcome.

P.S.: The system will be running Fedora Linux and Fedora Linux only. No dualboots to Windows or anything crazy like that.

P.P.S.: Notebook can even be second-hand, if in good condition.

Long time no order

With me not buying anything off the web for a long time now and holiday season approaching, I decided to make myself a present. The top of my wishlist is occupied by photographic equipment – all sorts of expensive lenses and a flash unit. I reviewed my wants, needs, and the financial status and decided to readjust things a bit. It will be some time until I will be able to buy expensive Canon lenses, but I have gaps in the coverage of focal length spectrum, so I thought I should do something about it.

After some Googling, I made a choice to buy Tamron Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS (is it the longest lens name or what?). This lense has a good range of 27-75mm, which covers my needs pretty good. It is a rather fast one with f/2.8 aperture at all focal lengthes. The price of approximately $360 USD is affordable. And it has excellent reviews on the web. What else can I ask for? Well, I can ask for a lot of things actually, but that is irrelevant now.

And since I was already ordering something, it was a good thing to add a few smaller items, like a 128 MByte memory stick duo for my mobile (finally!) and few other small items.

I wonder if the package will make it here before Christmas.

Generating ultimate movie wishlist with Perl and IMDB

One of the things that will go into history with the year 2005 is the number of bad movies produced by Hollywood. IMDB says:

Hollywood is mired in its biggest box-office slump in over 20 years.

With all those bad movies around, finding something worth the time and effort becomes increasing difficult. Luckily, there are these two things that can make our lives easier – IMDB and Perl.

Combining the two all sorts of interesting things can be achieved. Particularly, an ultimate movie wishlist can be generated.

If you are here just for the script, than here is the movie_wishlist.pl. If you want just the result, than here is wishlist.html. Otherwise read on for the explanations on how it works and how you can make it better.

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Bloglines feature a few updates

The other day I noticed a few updates, but not all of them. Bloglines announced all the recent changes in this news article and it turns out that I noticed only the small subset.

The biggest and most welcome change – keyboard navigation. Now, instead of scrolling feeds with a lot of items and switching between feeds while moving the mouse all over the screen, one can use keyboard shortcuts. ‘j‘ and ‘s‘ are my two favourites. By pressing ‘j‘ it is no possible to jump to the next item in the feed. No scrolling. No mouse. Simply go there. By pressing ‘s‘ it is trivial to go to the next feed with unread items. Again, no mouse involved. Just these two keyboard shortcuts speed up reading a lot. And I needed the whole two seconds to get used to them. Amazing!

Continue reading “Bloglines feature a few updates”