A few more short-takes (in lieu of actual posts that take time or energy to compose!) — consider this fair warning that they’re all a little on the geeky side.

  • Holy crap, the folks behind the kick-ass app Parallels have released a new beta version for the Mac (download here) that takes things to a whole new level. You can now interleave Windows and Mac windows on the same screen, modify shared folders while a virtual machine is running, and drag and drop between the Mac and Windows installations, and it looks like a slew of interface issues were fixed as well. It looks like you can also boot from a Boot Camp installation of Windows, but from the comments in that discussion group thread, there might be dragons so it might be worthwhile hanging back and waiting to see how that works itself out. (Thanks to Dan for letting us know about the new beta!)
  • I’m a sucker for a programmer weblog that focuses on issues of usability and logic rather than the nitty gritty insides of some technology or language. (Think Raymond Chen’s Old New Thing or Joel Spolsky’s Joel on Software, both of which are like crack for me.) Because of this, I was happy to discover today that the authors of the Head First line of programming books have a weblog, Creating Passionate Users, that solidly fits into this same mold! I’m a fan of their books, and am glad to be adding the site to my reading list.
  • Speaking of weblog reading lists, earlier this year I switched to using the web-based feed reader reBlog, and was ecstatically happy about its general level of hotness. Over time, though, it’s demonstrated a bunch of flaws — such as suboptimal parsing of pages and feeds (at times leading to feed lists rendered so poorly that the app’s own control buttons become totally nonfunctional!), feed items showing up dozens of times as new despite having been archived, and keyboard commands that randomly shut off — all of which have made me eagerly anticipate the release of a new version that incorporates bug fixes and whatnot. We’re now nine months later and no new versions have crossed the wire, so I decided to post in the forum asking about the status, and learned that the authors aren’t working on it anymore and there won’t be any more versions. That’s sad; I have a lot of data locked up in the archives of my reBlog installation, an app that’s becoming harder and harder to use with any reliability, and no real path forward… time to start looking for options.
  • And finally: my feet are famous! (Mine are the ones in the Apple socks; Alison is a good friend of ours, and the socks were a thank-you gift for some computer work I did for her.)

Sorry about the complete silence from the Land of Cheese lately — Real Life™ intervened (a dying patient, a push to secure my post-fellowship future, a semi-urgent need to upgrade the lifeblood of the Queso network, and a baffling attempt to understand the world of home financing). Things are slowly returning to normal, though, and I hope to be as chatty as ever soon!

In the mean time, I have to say that one recommendation I got over the past week that’s served me incredibly well is Matt telling me to give reBlog a shot. It’s a website syndication aggregator, built on the codebase of one of my favorite (but increasingly neglected) apps, and it’s just frickin’ amazing. (Matt authored a review, complete with a screencast, over at Lifehacker today.) Because of the aforementioned system upgrade, I actually uncovered a wee little bug in reBlog, but the code was easy enough to read that I banged out a fix for it over the course of a night and I’m now pretty much sold on the app. If you’re in the market for a web-based aggregator, go set up an account on the online demo app and see what you think.

Oh, wow — with the unleashing of RSS 3.0, there are sure to be some interesting fireworks. (For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you should thank goodness that you have lives and normal blood pressures.)

I’m sorry, but this is one outright lie I can’t resist correcting. Anyone who’s prone to believe Dave Winer’s claim (here’s a screen grab of the post) that FeedBurner doesn’t have a service agreement or a privacy policy should know that both documents exist and are clearly linked at the bottom of the FeedBurner home page. (The terms of service are here, and the privacy policy is here.) Talk about being too lazy to do a little research of his own…

NGPOD FeedBurner counter
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my addiction to National Geographic’s Photo of the Day, and soon thereafter, I realized that I’d be a lot happier if I could get the photo in my syndication feeds. After a little unsuccessful hunting for a feed on the NG website, I emailed the webmaster asking if there was an unpublicized feed, or if the organization had any interest in a feed that I’d help them build. I never heard back, so after another attempted email, I just built an app that sets the feed up for me. (Ugh, I’m not a fan of screen scraping!) Over the past week, I’ve ironed out enough of the bugs that I think the feed is robust enough for a little broader use, so here it is: the National Geographic Photo of the Day, syndication-style. The feed is hosted at FeedBurner, a service I’ve never used but hear great things about.

Let me know if there are any problems; I’m anticipating one or two, since I’ve already run into a few HTML errors on the NG site that then find their way into the feed when the scraper grabs the various bits of data about each photo.