Jump to New Feeds in Amphetadesk

Amphetadesk (http://www.disobey.com/amphetadesk/) is a great RSS feed reader. I use it to track 20 or so different news sources a day. However, I mostly subscribe to feeds that include copious content, and once I determine there are no new entries on a feed I still have to scroll down fifteen screens worth of old content to see the top of the next feed.

To speed the process I make a quick 5 minute template hack that provides a "jump to next" link in the title banner of each entry and a corresponding anchor in each title. Since the jump link is always in the same place relative to the start of each new feed listing, I'm able leave the mouse in one place and check the top of each feed w/ just a series of clicks. Like I said handy, but trivial.

Attached is the diff for index.html to add this little hack. I created an ugly 13x13 next.gif in the icons directory which is also attached.




Why not just have AmpDesk display most recent first? This is how News Monster (http://www.newsmonster.org) sorts your news by default. I lick it. -- Gabe Turner

Yeah, I never understood any Amphetadesk doesn't do that. So nearly as I can tell it sorts by "most recently polled first" without paying attention to whether or not a change happened on that poll. I'm running an older version, and it might be better in newer version. -- Ry4an

Now if only Morbus would keep working on Amphetadesk and fix this problem. I really want to be able to delete weblog posts. -- Luke Francl

Half Baked Ideas I've Had

Half Bakery (http://halfbakery.com) is a website where people can post poorly thought out ideas so they can be commented on, criticized, and (occasionally) praised by total (and generally snarky) strangers. It's a clique-y place that's often unkind to new arrivals, but I was lucky enough to get generally favorable reviews for a few of the ideas I've posted there. Here are a some of the entries I've created there in the past.

Locking Clothes Dryer http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Locking_20Clothes_20Dryer

Designed to prevent laundromat theft and vandalism this idea involves a key or pin that has to be used to open the dryer after the drying cycle has started. This allows the human operator to leave the laundromat without worrying about the clothes left behind. Optionally dryers left unattended for too long could automatically unlock so rude peoples' clothes can still be dumped on the floor.

Non-Integer Page Numbers http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/non-integer_20page_20numbers

I thought this one up about ten years ago. I'd like it if books had their page numbers expressed not only as sequential integers but also as whatever fraction of the book has been read at that point. The primary benefit of this system would be making citation page numbers useful across different editions. Page 202 is very different in hardback and paperback editions, but page 34.35% is approximately the same place in both.

Secret Off-Shore Bank http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Secret_20Offshore_20Bank

Pure silliness. I want a bank with a name more exciting that Wells Fargo. It can be based in Nebraska and be boring as hell, but so long as my checks said "Secret Off-Shore Bank" I'd be happy.

Right-Sized Serving Platter http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Right-Sized_20Serving_20Platter

Right before the guests show up at a cocktail party the food table looks as good as its going to all night. The hors d'oeuvre platters are arranged nicely and have no gaping holes. However, ten minutes after the first hungry visitor arrives the serving platters have big gaps making the spread look a little sad. Replenishing works so long as one still has food reserves, but as the party winds down barren looking appetizer platers are almost unavoidable.

If, however, one had a serving platter whose area shrunk with the food quantity one could avoid this unsightly result. Stupid idea? Of course, that's what the half-bakery is all about.

I'm running out of old ideas to post to this list. Soon I'll have to either think of something new or shut-up, which I'm sure my one subscriber wouldn't mind. Hi Gabe.


Looks like the halfbakery suffered a catestrophic disk crash without backups this past October. My ideas are still there, but all their positive votes are gone. -- Ry4an

Perseverance as Measured with Google Hits

I was eating outside a few weeks ago and saw a sign for the 2nd Annual Cabanna Boy Contest at a local bar. I wisely decided not to enter the contest, but then started to wonder if they had called their first one the 1st Annual Cabanna Boy Contest. That's pretty optimistic. I then started wondering how likely it is that a 1st Annual leads to a 2nd Annual to a 3rd Annual. Being a modern geek I figured google would know the answer if I asked right.

I searched for each each of "1st annual", "2nd annual", "3rd annual" though "15th annual", the cardinal numbers, and "first annual", "second annual", "third annual" through "fifteenth annual", the ordinal numbers, and recorded the hit count for each. The raw data when plotted looks can be found here: https://ry4an.org/perseverance/

While years (x) is >= 2 it looks like an asymptote headed toward zero. Something in the y = N/x form give or take a translation. It wouldn't be too hard to find a fit curve, but that'd be too geeky even for me.

Text to Speech Tuning with a Polygraph

Text to speech programs do okay on words they know, but on longer words not in their 'dictionary' they have to sound them out phonetically which seems to be a really hit or miss operation. I wonder if one could hook up text to speech software and a polygraph sensor together to monitor the listeners reaction to the words being read.

I know I cringe when I hear something mis-pronounced and surely something in my mental wince is externally measurable. If the software detected a negative reaction to the way it pronounced a word it could try an alternate pronunciation the next time. Granted it would be a highly iterative process -- requiring many listeners for a each text sample so that the most-favorable response for each word can be found, but how many people listened to Harry Potter as a book on tape.

I suppose that portions of the text cause a negative response anyway (bad happenings for the protagonist, etc.) would have to be ignored or treated differently, but still maybe there's something do able there. At any rate, it has to be better than reading the whole dictionary into a computer.

Blogging 1990s Style

My good friends Luke (http://justlooking.recursion.org/) and Gabe (http://twol.dopp.net/) are working on a project that archives mailings lists to blogging software. Essentially something that subscribes to lists and gateways to posts in a blog. I politely told them the idea didn't make sense to me and instead advocated just putting a blog-look onto existing mailing list software. This is my attempt to put my money where my mouth is.

Vanity mailing lists are nothing new, and I subscribe to quite a few of them. Usually they're just one person talking about whatever pops into his or her head. One of the best belongs to Kragen Sitaker and can be found here: http://www.canonical.org/~kragen/mailing-lists.html .

Some of the advantages of a vanity mailing list with a blog veneer are:

  • Push-model available for those who want to subscribe
  • Threaded discussion is integral to the system
  • Can create blog entries from any location without special software

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • Hard to edit old posts
  • To make HTML blog entries I'd need to use a HTML compatible mail client -- which I won't. Long live mutt.

I'm sure there are other benefits and drawbacks that I've yet to identify. I'll mention them as I find them.


Hallo - Could you share your mhonarc resource file and any other tools you used to make this system?

Thanks -- Sean Roberts

I've attached a tarball containing all the files related to the unblog. You'll notice the add.sh script is effectively short circuited because incremental message adding wasn't working for reasons I never documented well. In fact, there's no real documentation at all, but most of it is pretty straight forward. I'm running with MHonArch v2.6.2.


I am working with a group of friends to maintain a non-profits computer systems. Only problem is that half the team is non-technical, and the other half is "Microsoft Technical" (if you get what I mean).

We currently use a mailing list to communicate, it works wonderfully.

Now I need some way to track all of our work (to keep documentation up-to-date). I want a simple log (or blog) of work, but it must be seemless to add to (no one likes documenting). Can't be ugly and have sucky threading, like mailmans default archives. So a mail list based blog that doesn't require any special marking up of the email to get it into the blog. Oh, and no need to setup a "new post notifier", mailman already does that.

Now off to defeat the evil '.doc' attachment they love to send.

Thanks -- Sean Roberts

I noticed that you only use "Subject" as a reference for comments. Why not use "In-Reply-To" or "References" ? Let me guess... most junk emailers fail to properly use those headers.

I will take idea's from your work and add some other things I have thought of. Like a recent comments sidebar. That would just be a date order listing of posts that aren't in reply to anything, or I could slack and just have the most recent posts by date.

I am still shocked that a full fledged journal/weblog hasn't been built around mailing lists rather than web or blogger API input.

-- Sean Roberts

In-Reply-To and Referenced are used. In fact, they're the only thing that get message firmly linked in the Thread index (https://ry4an.org/unblog/threads.html). Notice how your messages are below the '<possible follow-ups>' marker. That indicates the Subject line indicates they're probably replies, but that no In-Reply-To or Referenced headers were found to link it conclusively with the original. You seem to be using squirrel mail and at least the message to which I'm currently replying is missing them.
> I will take idea's from your work and add some other things I have
> thought of. Like a recent comments sidebar. That would just be a date
> order listing of posts that aren't in reply to anything, or I could
> slack and just have the most recent posts by date.
> I am still shocked that a full fledged journal/weblog hasn't been
> built around mailing lists rather than web or blogger API input.

Yeah, I don't get it either. Most of the modern blogging software includes email -> post gateways, but there's no similar accomodation for comments. I'm actually beginning to suspect the Usenet-style NNTP might be the perfect marriage of posting, coments, archiving, reading, etc.

-- Ry4an

I was referring to how your "Post a Comment" are controlled. Just the "Subject". e.g.
<a href="mailto:unblog@ry4an.org?subject=Re: Diplomacy at Sea and a
Templated Evolver">Post a Comment</a>

-- Sean Roberts

Ahh, If the mailto: protocol supported setting the In-Reply to and References: header I'd definitely use it to set them in the replies. Then then comments would be better attached. As it is, only people who reply to the actual messages on the email list end up with their comments being firmly attached (as opposed to "possibly" attached). Unfortunately, there isn't a mailer I know of that'll let you set anything but the subject and body in mailto: links.