Week 2: Album covers, Terry Gilliam, and Gate's books of 2013

Chase Jarvis on shooting award winning album cover art

Chase Jarvis interviewed Mario Andreoni on how a musician chooses cover art for their albums:

So I was flattered — and immediately on board — when Mario Andreoni of !!! (pronounced/also written Chk Chk Chk) asked if they could use the above image for their album cover, Thr!!!er.

It's a good interview and the answers are interesting. The cover is a great photograph, and Chase shares a link in there with some goodies.

Terry Gilliam interview from 1970

This week I came across the interview above. I'm a fan of Terry Gilliam's films (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Brothers Grimm, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, etc.), so I really enjoyed watching this video where he explains his process to create a short film he did back in the 70's.

Books Bill Gates read in 2013

Bill Gates shares the books he read in 2013. I like how he introduces the list:

Each of the books on the list below taught me something I didn’t know. How shipping containers helped cut the cost of moving goods between Asia and North America by roughly half. How refined tools for measurement laid the groundwork for the invention of the steam engine. How we’re dangerously overfishing cod, tuna, and other species.

More generally, these books tell amazing stories of human ingenuity. It is this ingenuity that helps explain why the world keeps getting better, and why at the end of each year I look forward to the next one with hope and optimism

It's always interesting to see which books people choose to read.

My RSS reading setup after the death of Google Reader

Tomorrow, Google Reader will be shut down. When the announcement was made back in March, I mentioned I couldn't think of a good alternative. Since then, several developers have stepped up to the challenge and today we have a handful of options. Unfortunately, I still haven't found the ideal replacement.

My RSS reading setup up, until yesterday, consisted of the following:

  • Sync via Google Reader (I never used the website).
  • Reeder for iPhone, iPad, and Mac to read shorter articles and/or send elsewhere.
  • Longer articles got sent to Instapaper.
  • Articles I wanted to "action" got starred and an ifttt recipe emailed them to me. Then a mail rule in iCloud dropped them into an Action folder so they never appeared in my Inbox. These were articles I wanted to blog about or research further, for example.

It was perfect. In fact, it was so good that I didn't even think about it. It was just part of my every day.

Sadly, I haven't found a setup that works as well for me. Either it's a free service (I don't like free services), or the apps are ugly, or it's too much work to set up, or it doesn't have an ifttt channel.

I'm sure in a few months we'll have much better RSS reading options, but for now they all seem to be almost there, but not quite there yet.

After a lot of research and trials of several services, I've settled with the following RSS reading setup:

  • Sync via Feed Wrangler. It's the closest to my ideal. It's $19 a year (so has a real business model), offers a 3rd party API for developers to integrate their apps, and the smart streams feature is innovative.
  • For apps I'm using the Feed Wrangler ones for now. They're not even close to Reeder and there's no Mac version, but they'll have to do for now. I do like the Instapaper button though, only one tap and done.

Reeder is adding Feed Wrangler support to Reeder for iPhone, albeit without smart streams. As soon as it's available I'll give it a go and will likely switch back. Reeder for iPad and Mac will get it too, but it seems it won't be any time soon. Not perfect, but getting there.

What I'm still missing is a way to quickly flag articles I want to action. ifttt doesn't work with Feed Wrangler, so I'm not sure what to do with that one.

It's still a work in progress. In an ideal world, Reeder will add full support for Feed Wrangler to all their apps and Feed Wrangler becomes a channel in ifttt. With the smart streams this will be even better than before. Hopefully it won't be long.

Google shutting down Google Reader (and other bits) ➦

Google just announced they're shutting down Google Reader, the RSS service that so many of us use. I can't say I'm surprised, but I'm surely not happy about it. I still use RSS more than anything else to get my news via the excellent Reeder for iPhone and Reeder for iPad.

Maybe in the long run this will be a good thing. Silvio Rizzi (developer of Reeder) is probably (hopefully) thinking about an alternative, as well as most developers of RSS apps. This will foster innovation. I expect great things to come.

Unfortunately, right now I can't think of a good alternative.