Blog Reading Tools

There are many tools on the web and for our desktops to help us find and read blogs. Some of these tools are based on the RSSv1, RSSv2 or Atom syndication protocols, some are blog search engines and some are listing services. I won't try to evaluate any of the tools out there, but I'm posting this as a convenient list of links to reviews and sources available on the web.

  1. From Wired, we have "A Scan of the Headline Scanners", which reviews four products.
  2. PCWorld looked at 18 readers and published reviews on five plus some blog listing sites and search engines in "News on Demand".
  3. About.com has a review of bloglines and articles on five aggregators.
  4. Robert Teeter has a very good article on RSS and Aggregators at Interleaves.org.
  5. And no list would be complete without looking at the Wikipedia entry on wiki(News_aggregator,Aggregators).

I use the following in various situations.

  • NewsGator provides an online news aggregator service for free, a variety of premium services, and a $29 Outlook add-on that allows you to read feeds in Outlook, arrange the feeds into Outlook folders and even post to your blog from within Outlook. I particularly like the fact that I can synchronize my subscriptions between the online services and the Outlook version, and that I can read my feeds on my Palm via the mobile and wireless Webpro browser and Newsgator's mobile version of the feeds. I also use the browser toolbar that allows me to subscribe in Newsgator to any site using RSS or Atom. Mostly I use the NewsGator Outlook add-on when I want to quickly scan headlines and briefs from news articles and blogs. But it is also useful in that I can forward the article or brief as though the post were an email. Very handy. And, since the Outlook add-on has plug-ins for many popular wiki(blogware) APIs, it allows you to blog about something you just read, using a very familiar interface.
  • Blogrolling.com is a great service. They have free and paid versions. I really like the Blogroll Panel that I can activate in Firefox, IE, or whatever browser I'm using. Again, I can subscribe via a browser toolbar plugin. One advantage to this service is that you can subscribe to a site even if the site doesn't use a XML syndication protocol. From that aspect, I guess that Blogrolling.com isn't strictly a news aggregator or RSS reader, just like a wiki(bookmarklet) only different. You can arrange your links/feeds by category - essentially, in the premium version, creating multiple blogrolls. I generally use my blogrolling panel in Firefox when I really want to read the blog and get it the way the author intended.
  • I've also been using the beta RSS feed reader addition to My!Yahoo. More of a matter of convenience, really. 'Tis a great addition to your My!Yahoo pages.

Many aggregators allow you to export your list of feeds and links in a variety of ways. So, you can easily add a list of RSS or Atom powered links, headlines or a blogroll to a web site or blog. All-in-all, these tools are a great addition to the collaboration kit of anyone living the TeleInterActive Lifestlye.

Feeds not Lists

William Vambenepe writes in his HP blog article "32K ought to be enough for everyone" about his frustrations stemming from limits in MS Outlook's Rules. My answer: use RSS instead.

I find that subscribing to news feeds (RSS, RSS1, RSS2, Atom) rather than email lists has made for a much more manageable stream of information. Wherever possible I've dropped my email subscription and signed up for the feed instead. I'm also lucky in that I use Newsgator, which provides an email address I can use for information I want that is still only offered through email lists. The email goes to that address and Newsgator turns it into a feed, that I read in Outlook or via Firefox (my browser of choice) or on my Palm's browser.

Managing the feed is easier than dealing with Outlook Rules and server-side rules that I used so that email lists didn't go to my main inbox, and the information is available wherever I need it or have the time to read it. Great stuff all around.

Car Donation Tips

Tax deduction was one of the considerations I had for donating my car. To avoid tax trouble, I did a fair amount of research. Here are some tips:

1. Read the IRS Publication 4303 - A Donor’s Guide to Car Donation. This can be downloaded from http://www.irs.gov

2. Choose and Research on eligible charities. Read Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations described in Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. This provides list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. One can also search the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96136,00.html
If you are unsure of the charity, call the IRS Customer Account Services division for Tax Exempt and Government Entities at (877) 829-5500. From my experience, the IRS Customer Account Services representatives were very helpful in giving tips once you have explained that you are donating your car and want to make sure that you are following the IRS guidelines.

3. Contact your chosen charity. In my case, the charity sent me the paper work to fill up. They arranged for a tow company to call me to arrange for a pickup.

4. On the day of the pickup, write up something that the tow company driver can sign for that the car was picked up and that all the filled in documents that the charity sent you are in the car. This is for your documentation purposes.

5. Send in to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV Notice of Release of Liability (REG 138) - DMV Form REG 138. I did a Post Office Certified Mail Delivery for my records.

6. The most important of all tips are: Photocopy and keep all your documents for your records. Photograph your car to show the IRS, if you are audited. If your deduction is for $250 or more, you must obtain a written acknowledgement from the charity. You don’t have to include it with your tax returns, but keep it in case the IRS has questions. If your deduction exceeds $500, you must fill out Section A of Form 8283 when you file your tax return. If your deduction tops $5,000, you must obtain a written appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

I took pictures of my car, Mitsi as we fondly call it, as it was being towed away. I felt a little sad to see it go, as I have been attached to that car. It served me well. I hope contributing Mitsi, can make a difference and assist my chosen charity Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation, help children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, fulfill their wishes this holiday season.

What's a Blog, Again?

Haley Suitt's "How to Build a Blog" and this article by Steve Cooper, "Blogger's Block", which led to Debbie Weil's blog on business communication, has me once again thinking about what truly constitutes a blog, and why is there so much controversy about it.

There are many slants to this question as well.

Some relate to content. Are blogs journalism? Are they personal journals? Is a blog "pure", i.e. no commercial agenda such as advertising or business related? Halley Suitt is planning to look at blogs that are little more than links vs. blogs that are mostly original material.

Some relate to purpose. Are blogs for communication to a general audience, to a specific audience, among members of a group (no matter how far flung)? Are blogs for voicing one's opinions? Are blogs another form of advertising? [Also see "Blogs as Viral Marketing"] Are blogs an online newsletter?

Some relate to the technology. Are blogs discussion forums on link steroids? Is blogware another form of content management software?

Being a mathematician and scientist, my first tendency is to think about the technology. Being an executive and an entrepreneur, my first tendency is immediately followed by thinking about the purpose and use. Being a philosopher, generally merges those tendencies into thinking about the process.

wiki(blog,Blogging) allows people, representing themselves or an organization to share their interests. wiki(Blogware) is the tool. The wiki(blogosphere) is the medium. And I doubt that anyone agrees that this qualifies as definitive. I'll be looking forward to the results of Ms. Suitt's [May I call you Halley?] analysis.

New Clean URI (URL) for Our Blogs

This is somewhat of a sitewide announcement for The TeleInterActive Press. We've reconfigured a bit to get the cleanest URL/URI possible for our blogs. You may need to delete your current subscription from your RSS/Atom reader or news aggregator and resubscribe. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

The TeleInterActive Lifestyle is now

http://press.teleinteractive.net/tia_life

Yackity Blog Blog is now

http://press.teleinteractive.net/yackity

The Cynosural Blog is now

http://press.teleinteractive.net/cynasuralog

And, if your a member of this Bunkey's blog

http://press.teleinteractive.net/bunkey

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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