Scripting News for 11/20/2007

Hanging with Loic 

I’m here in San Francisco hanging out with Loic Le Meur of Seesmic. We just read an announcement on TechCrunch that Mike Arrington has invested in his company. Now seems like a good time to say that I too have invested in this excellent multimedia startup. Good luck to all of us.

I also did a brief interview with Loic where he tells who else has invested. You have to watch the video to find out!🙂

Photo: Whit is editing Seesmic Daily.

Solving the TinyUrl centralization problem 

Following up on yesterday’s bit about centralizing and TinyUrl, this is one of those vexing problems that actually has a solution!

Every web app that produces long urls should provide a built-in url-shortening facility. The user interface would be similar to the one in Google Maps they call “Link To This Page.” You click on it, and up pops a box containing an address you can use to point to the page. Screen shot.

But look at the size of the url that Google gives you. It should be short. Why not something like: http://goog.us/8uj9oj.

In other words, why doesn’t Google have a built-in shortnener?

When blogging software gives you a permalink, it should be short. It’s okay to make the user ask for one, why clog up the system with shortened urls no one uses.

Another key point, when they give you a shortened url, it should point back to the software that gave it to you, so the shortened link will be exactly as long-lived as the thing it’s pointing to. In other words, the URL shortener wouldn’t contribute any extra link rot, to use an old term coined (I believe) by Jakob Nielsen.

It’s a mistake, in hindsight, for Twitter to give us TinyUrl urls, because the link depends on two companies and two servers. It would be better if it just depended on one, less likely to break.

Now that URL length has become an issue for users, it might be even better for designers to view URLs as part of site design. Look at the address for the page for the Wii at Amazon. Wouldn’t it be easier to find if the address were:

http://www.amazon.com/wii

Try clicking on it — it actually works!🙂

Why should a user ever see the longer crappy url?

In other words, url-shortening isn’t just for Twitter users, it’s for everyone. Maybe most people don’t look at the urls, but some do, and maybe more would if they made more sense?

Update: This reminds me, I have my own url-shortener, as I mentioned earlier, but it’s a dynamic app, and that bothers me. I’d much rather put a static file in my web server folder that would be understood by a browser as meaning “redirect to this location.” I know there are htaccess files in Apache, and other mechanisms in other servers, but I keep coming back to this. I know that there is a <meta> option to redirect, maybe I should use this for a all-static url shortener. Hmmm. I wanted to do one of these conventions for RSS, but I couldn’t sell it to other aggregator devs.

I did a test, it’s not nearly instantaneous. The source.

Kindle’s most interesting feature 

The most interesting thing I’ve heard so far sbout Kindle is that it is untethered. It does its own synching, it doesn’t depend on a computer to do it, eliminating the chief hassle of iPods.

Can it subscribe to a podcast feed? Can it play audio? I don’t know.

Kevin Marks says that Kindle requires DRM. “It makes things do less and cost more, and means they will break suddenly without warning when the service inevitably goes bust.”

David Rothman is an eBook expert with a blog. I’m subscribed. Apparently he’s been following the development of Kindle for a long time. Thanks to Amyloo for the pointer.

Apple’s most annoying feature 

I don’t use a Kindle (see above) and I suspect I never will, I couldn’t get myself to spring for the $399, which is relatively cheap for a new device with EVDO built in. There’s something about Kindle that creeps me out, like reserving a seat on an airplane in row 13. It feels unlucky.

I don’t feel that way about Macs. I use them all the time. I’m typing this on a Mac, for example.

Until yesterday, the most annoying feature of a Mac was that it automatically launches iPhoto, a program which I loathe, every time I connect my iPhone or digital camera. I seem to remember, vaguely, giving it permission to do this, but where did I do that, so I can go back there to turn it off.

I did figure it out, but it took a few Google searches. It’s in one of the stupidest least obvious places. It should be in the System Preferences app, since it’s a system function. Another place I looked was in the prefs for iPhoto.

Post your theory in the comments for this post. If no one gets it in an hour or so, I’ll post the answer here. But I suspect you guys already know, cause you know so much about Macs!🙂

A Mac user you don’t often hear from 

Here’s a comment from a photographer who is new to the Mac.

“I’ve been thrilled with the Mac so far and now Leopard just threw a major stumbling block in the road to getting a really simple task accomplished.”

It’s a must-read for people who who think that most people find the hidden features.

One response to this post.

  1. Dave, what do you think about using your n800 as a book reader?

    Reply

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