Scripting News for 7/23/2007

Apache on the Mac, day 2 

Thanks for all the great advice on configuring Apache on the Mac.

After wading through all the options, many of which included mastering system options that I don’t care about, and have nothing to do with the problem I want to solve, I decided to give MAMP a try, and so far so good. It’s doing what I want to do, without having to enable root access.

I love Fresca 

Why Feedburner is trouble, day 2 

Saturday’s post about Feedburner was much-discussed, and that’s good. The most common rebuttal was the user’s ability to opt out. If you don’t like it you don’t have to use Feedburner. But that’s not any kind of a rebuttal. Let me illustrate.

First, I don’t use Feedburner, never have, never will.

However, if Google ties Feedburner to Google Reader that still hurts people like me, because my feed doesn’t work as well with Google Reader.

Now let’s take a deeper look at “doesn’t work as well.”

It could end up meaning “doesn’t work at all.” It’s quite possible in the second or third iteration that Google drops support for non-Feedburner feeds. It wouldn’t be unprecedented, far from it. Google Blogoscoped has a list of Google products that “prefer” other Google products. I’ve never seen Google not do this when they had the chance. The instant they bought Blogger they tied it to their toolbar. If they had used an open API the toolbar would have worked with all blogging tools. Google just doesn’t think that way, sorry to say.

The ability of one user to opt out would do absolutely nothing to stop or even diminish the negative effects of monopolistic tying. And users show no inclination to do anything for the benefit of the Internet as a whole, so there’s no reason to believe any of them would withhold their support of Feedburner just because it screws with the benefits of a level playing field in the RSS ecosystem. Certainly not enough to persuade Google not to tie the two products.

And if you still think opting-out is some kind of answer, consider that the whole point of tying is to penalize people who opt-out.

Note that I’m not asking anyone to do anything, and I’m not even saying Google is doing anything wrong. However, it could be that there are people at Google who understand the benefits of keeping things open, and if I can help them argue inside Google, then I feel I’ve done something good.

Betsy Devine has opted out of using MSIE, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to deal with sites that only work with that browser (it isn’t even available on the computer she uses).

Check out this comment by Kevin Marks. Hey works at Google.

Jeremiah Owyang explains how Google may favor Blogspot sites in the search engine.

9 responses to this post.

  1. To nitpick: Google Toolbar has an open API.

    Back to the actual point – I’m sure there WILL be some sort of added Reader-FeedBurner integration/preference, but do you think Google Reader could actually survive as a product if it accepted only FeedBurner feeds? Conversely, do you think FeedBurner could survive as a product if it only worked in Google Reader? How do you prevent the customer from simply using the content in one of the hundreds of other feed readers? That new AOL Feed reader ( ) shows how easy it is to emulate Google Reader’s current feature set and UI.


  2. The nitpick about Google Toolbar is not germane — when they did the tying between Blogger and the toolbar they didn’t have it, and it’s not in the right place. The time and place to put it was under the Blogger icon, and allow the user to specify the location of their blogging software. The Google people offered the same excuse, but it’s just that, and no more relevant than the ability to opt out of Feedburner to the tying issues. That’s how the tech industry likes to deal with users Jeff, by saying things they know confuse the issue but don’t address the point. Let’s not do that here, okay?

    RIght now Google Reader may not be strong enough to sustain an exclusive tie to Feedburner, but they could tilt the table and get away with it, and if it ever achieves the kind of market share that Windows had, and that seems like a possibility, they could start to exercise control of feeds. And since Google has admitted that they help governments censor their citizens that’s a lot more dangerous than just foreclosing diversity in technology, it could be used for real bonafide repression.

    All around not too savory, imho.


  3. People with Mac computers can “opt out” of using Internet Explorer. What we can’t opt out of is web pages created by Microsoft tools optimized for their rotten browser.

    If I had a penny for every online form to be filled in “from your browser” that just didn’t work from a browser that’s not IE–I’d have be able to clog up a whole bunch of wishing wells somewhere. Sometimes this problem can be dodged by using Firefox–sometimes it can’t.

    Complicating this further, there is no current version of IE for Macintosh.

    So, in order to get a visa for a large country which I don’t want to embarrass by naming it here, I have to borrow a PC to fill out the online forms because the online forms were built with Microsoft tools and there’s nobody who understands enough HTML to go back and repair their Mac-blocking problem.


  4. Posted by Travis on July 23, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    This conversation makes me think about web browsers before they were–sort of–web standards compliant.


  5. Looking at MAMP, I’m assuming the PRO version is based on their own management software vs. the gpl stuff.


  6. Adam from Google stopped by my blog and left a comment, worth a read.


  7. Also worth looking a XAMMP.
    Great package of LAMP for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux with easy installer.


  8. Posted by Neil on July 24, 2007 at 10:36 am

    For the record, I do make decisions based on what I think is best for the internet as a whole…and you can just see the effects I’ve had… =\

    That’s my biggest problem with the “vote with your dollars(/page hits/etc.)” mentality…you really need a lot of people to be doing it, and most aren’t motivated enough…


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