Hosting your own calendar and contacts directory

Apparently there is a thing called ownCloud which lets you run, amongst other things, a calendar server and a contact directory, both of which will sync with your android phone and here is a writeup of doing just that. I’ve not tried it yet, but any option to prise the data away from Google and to something I own has to at least an option worth trying.

Google Currents

At first blush I didn’t know what to make of Google’s new iOS and Android app, Currents, other than it is an almost infinitely better way to consume The Guardian than their own Android app.

After a few hours I’ve got a much better idea, and broadly, I’m not impressed. No URLs, No view-source and half the content I’ve read seems to be partial with a link through to the source website, but within the app so still no URLs or view-source. Very unsatisfactory.

When the iPad came out it got slated for being a consumption device and nothing more. That’s been shown to be false, but Currents takes that thought and runs with it. It’s the antithesis of what reading on the web should be about.

Importing blog posts and comments from Blogger to WordPress

bloggerpressI tried this a year ago only to experience epic fail.

I tried this yesterday and it was a marvellous success.

Around this time last year I was locked out of my Google account and decided to move what I could over to my own server (a process I’ve still not completed!). As part of that move I used BloggerBackup to export all of my blog posts and comments and tried to do an import into WordPress, which didn’t work. I was resigned to writing some script to import it but ran into a WordPress date parsing bug which I had trouble tracking down – however since my old blog was still available as static HTML on my server, I wasn’t really that worried about it.

blogger import Last night I tried the built-in WordPress import from Blogger. It uses OAuth to authenticate and then allows import of your posts and comments from the comfort of a couple of clicks in the WordPress admin interface. All very smooth, all very easy (apart from the slightly worrying disparity between the number of imported elements and the totals). I’ll have to move my images, but that’s no real bother.

My archives now go all the way back to May 2002 when it was a co-blog with my housemate of the time who is now an arty-philoso-programmer in Australia. Before that I maintained my blog by hand and I’m not sure I have copies.

A quick “thanks” to my colleague Tom Natt who helped me fix my .htaccess changes so that old links and Google searches still work (also thanks to Mark Pilgrim’s Cruft-free URLs in Movable Type which I could rather tragically remember as a useful post from five years ago).

Google Chrome

(because one more whiny blogger’s opinion can’t hurt)

  • nice, fast. 
  • I see ad people
  • a single google doc in an application window feels nicer than the Prism alternative
  • masses of the standard Firefox keyboard shortcuts work
  • find-as-you-type requires CTRL+F
  • find-as-you-type doesn’t select links
  • NO FEED SUPPORT AT ALL 

I look forward to the first Linux build which runs Chrome as its window manager.

HOWTO download your Google Reader starred items

How to create a backup of your starred items in Google Reader, should the need ever arise:

A screenshot of the Google Reader settings page

  • Log in to Google Reader
  • Click ‘Settings‘ in the top-right of the window
  • Click the ‘Tags‘ tab
  • Check the “Your starred items” box
  • Click the “Change sharing…” dropdown box and select “public
  • Now click on ‘View public page‘ which has appeared to the right of “Your starred items” (this will open in a new window by default)
  • In the right-hand column there is a link to a feed. Right-click it and save it to disk.

Congratulations, you now have an Atom feed of your starred items to do with as you wish. With any luck it will even be valid.

Google-be-gone

So, my Google account is still disabled a week later and I still haven’t had a response to the two mails I’ve sent the accounts team. My blog was powered by Blogger. I’ve switched to WordPress and hope to import all of my old blog sometime this week (I’ll have to screen-scrape my own blog archives).

In related news I was using Gmail to power my email, but was using my own domain to forward it, so I’ve currently switched that to forward to my work account. Not having access to the past three years’ worth of emails is a pain, but not as much as having no address book, which is much worse than you might think.

I am still somehow logged in to Google Reader but have exported my feeds and am now running my own copy of Venus (lots of pruning to do which Google Reader was hiding from me – and that’s after removing all the dead feeds).

The blog uses the default WordPress theme. I’ll get that changed at some point but at the moment the priority is extracting all the data I can from the Google services which I still have access to and finding alternatives to things like Google Browser Sync.

I am not particularly pleased.

Downtime for a global service? Tell me when in UTC!

If a service with an allegedly global audience, say one run by Yahoo or by Google has some scheduled downtime, they always give the time when it will be back, or the time when it went down, in PST. Now I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t give a flying fig about when the downtime began on the other side of the entire planet. What I do care about is what that means to me as a user. I want to know when it went down for my timezone, and when it’s going to be back. It’s not as if there aren’t services which do exactly this and it’s not as if it’s beyond the scope of global behemoth-like IT businesses to do this themselves, but it what it gives everyone outside of the US is short shrift and two fingers up.

Making a blog post about your downtime isn’t enough. Giving out useful information is. As it is, thanks a lot, for not helping anyone out except yourselves.

It’s good to know I’m not the only moaner who finds this annoying