Romey's Ramblings

Random musings of Jeromey Balderrama

May 29, 2014
by Romey
1 Comment

Feedly v Craigslist 3–Maybe RSS is the problem

Well Feedly and Craigslist are at it again: broken now for another month.  I’ve tempered my whining because I’ve been using Newsblur, where Craigslist still (mostly) works.  Once again, all communication on this is dead silent, with no blog post, acknowledgement or answered Tweets – until early this week, when I took to Twitter to whine about it again after Newblur’s polling temporarily broke.

To their credit, Feedly did respond and engaged me in a conversation, of which can be found here.  However there hasn’t been any other movement on any front and I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Craigslist feeds in Feedly probably won’t ever work again.

I would say that Craigslist bears most of the blame.  Taking Feedly at their word, for them to cut their polling down by a factor of 10 and yet still get blocked doesn’t make any sense.  Craigslist feeds still work with other readers such as Newsblur (which did come back later that night), and the Old Reader.  Craigslist is squarely blocking Feedly.  Craiglist can complain about being inundated, but they never pulled these tactics when Google Reader was the 800 pound RSS gorilla.  This smells like a pistol-whipping of Feedly. What makes things worse is that Craigslist doesn’t make it easy to lodge a complain or raise this as an issue.  I don’t understand how an internet company doesn’t act in their best interests to drive traffic (in this case, 2.5 million hits) to their site.  Craigslist has history of being jerks with RSS, as they went from having a full-text feed to a summary feed and required users to click into their site to view virtually any post.

Feedly isn’t blameless either.  They’ve been deathly silent, despite people bringing up the issue on their blog (commenting on the “we fixed it” post) and tweeting at them. Feedly also does have some options at their disposal to decrease their Craigslist load (such as not allowing subscribes for search feeds, or making Craigslist a Premium feature) – but they don’t want to go that route, opting for a scenario where no one can access Craigslist feeds through Feedly. Unless there’s some super-secret plan to counter this that is not being shared, Feedly is simply ignoring this issue.

Ultimately maybe RSS is to blame. Despite being a great solution to syndicate large quantities of content, it doesn’t seem to have any kind of following. Craigslist is visited by millions of people, but virtually no one complains about this efficient consumption method being shut off.  I’m coming to grips with the fact that despite a few savvy geeks who treasure this functionality – no one really cares about this issue. Either people enjoy going to a static web site and manually tracking posts that interest them, or they simply defer to a catered information source like Twitter of Facebook and let other people choose on their behalf.

Regardless, this inaction on both sides frustrates me, to the point where I’m canceling my Feedly Pro subscription. I only wish there was a way to vent my frustration to Craigslist, but they don’t care – and there unfortunately isn’t a better source to find bands that need drummers out there.

I just miss Google Reader, and long for a time when RSS was respected.

April 30, 2014
by Romey
0 comments

I Came Crawling Back [What I Use]

I had been meaning to write a post for a few weeks now about how Verizon had been negligent in pushing updates to seemingly flagship devices.  After getting bait-n-switched as a Droid Bionic user, I went with the Galaxy S4 in large part that I wanted a flagship device that was seemly going to get some love when it came to system updates.  In all the time I waited for the Bionic updates, I blamed Motorola for their haste – but now I’m convinced that it’s really Verizon that’s the problem. They’re too busy loading all their crapware into these phones to be able to push out timely updates and ultimately were the last ones at the “Galaxy S4 KitKat” party.  However last Friday I finally got the update pushed to my phone and… it failed.

A support chat and a complete restore (from the software, not just a factory reset),my S4 was able to receive the KitKat update, but it appears that any semblance of my phone’s previous configuration was gone.  As far as the Play Store was concerned, my phone was a different device.

For most of my purchased apps that I restored; this wasn’t a problem. However, one app – EasyMoney – which I bought back in 2009 – wouldn’t work. I’ve used EasyMoney to track our expenses for the last five years, putting A LOT of data into it.  Back when I bought it, you would install the trial version and then buy an upgrade key on-line (which was $10 – lot in the early days of mainstream Android).  They serial number uses the phone’s ID to generate itself, which is how the key is tied to the phone. When I got my Bionic I got a new key from support, then got another one when I switched to my S4.  Now that I have my refreshed S4, I’ve exhausted the limit of only having 2 replacement keys. I’ll have to buy the app again.

I was pretty pissed. Any app you buy through the Play Store doesn’t have this problem.  I’m not sure whether Google implements a device limit on app purchases, but I’ve rebuilt my tablet so much and have never had a problem – yet HandyApps, EasyMoney’s developer has a draconian policy of 2 replacement keys?!?  My third replacement wasn’t even going to be a true replacement since it was on the same device.  I was pissed and while I should admit that I did not contact support (which I’m sure would have helped me) I wanted to protest the principle of the matter and take my expense tracking elsewhere.

I then went on a expense-tracking frenzy, downloading apps from the likes of AndroMoney, Expense Manager, CWMoney Expense Track, Coinkeeper, and easyBudget.  A lot of these apps packed some great features that EasyMoney didn’t have like cloud backup and sync, as well as having a nicer interface, which looks great until you start entering expenses into your expense-tracking app. A lot of these were a huge pain in the ass that would drive you nuts if you had to enter more than 3 expenses.  A lot of those apps wouldn’t have a field for a payee – which makes absolutely no sense for an expense-tracking app. Don’t you want to know where you spend your money?

Two hours and six apps later, with my tail between my legs, I was paying the $10 to buy the Play Store version of EasyMoney.  I’d like to think that I’m not too rigid to move away from an older app, but I can’t be the only one who wants some of these obvious things when using an expense-tracking app for your finances.

So yes, whether I’m happy about it or not, I’m using EasyMoney – which I liked so much that I bought it twice.

April 20, 2014
by romeyinfc
0 comments

Two Drum Covers in Two Days

After a busy couple of weeks, I finally got the opportunity to sit down and do some meaningful drumming and recording some new covers.

I went back to the John Butler Trio well again and brought up my favorite JBT songs: I Used To Get High.

With this cover, I went ahead and played around with some new angles. I turned my kit around 180 degrees and moved the main camera to capture the view from the front. I took my second camera and placed it next to the floor tom looking up.  I then took my little web cam and placed it on one of the overhead mic stands to capture a view of the  hi-hat and snare.  After going through the whole recording process, I ended up only liking the angle that was on the lowest-quality camera (the overhead). I still had a lot of fun recording the cover and decided to go ahead and post it.

On Saturday I had some alone time after my daughter went to bed and did something that I had been wanting to do for sometime: drum while she was sleeping.  It turns out that she slept through the whole evening of my drumming, which made me happy – thus I decided to cover “Happy” by Pharrell Williams to celebrate my opportunity to drum some more:

I did some more tweaking of the camera angles and was a bit more satisfied with the result.  I’ll need to continue to adjust things for the next video a bit, as it looks like one of the cameras had a tough time focusing.

I’d love to get any feedback on the covers, the video, or anything else: I’d definitely love to hear from you.

April 12, 2014
by Romey
0 comments

Vacation Photos

Over Spring Break we took a trip back to Kansas to visit family and spend some time at the Miles Family Farm.  We had a wonderful trip, especially getting a lot of quality time with Clara and capturing some fun moments. Outside of that, I got to tag along and photograph a pasture burn.  I got a lot of practice and towards the end of the burn I felt like I really got things dialed in.  Despite a thorough cleaning, my camera still smells like smoke – but the pictures were definitely worth it.

Here are a few of my favorite ones:

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PastureBurn1

PastureBurn3

PastureBurn4

There are a lot more pictures over at Flickr. We also got some really fun pictures of Clara throughout the week as well, which are also on Flickr.

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March 24, 2014
by Romey
0 comments

New drum cover and more YouTube problems

It’s been nearly a month since I posted my last drum cover, and the busyness of work and life interfered with my goal of posting one drum cover per week.  I was definitely anxious to get another one out there and build momentum, but with the YouTube copyright troubles this one has given me, my momentum is all but dead.

I went and covered one of my favorite Muse songs, “Time Is Running Out”. I nailed it in the third take and am now to the point where editing the video has become the easy part.  I started the upload to YouTube only to find that my version got blocked in some countries – actually one country – the United States.

Confused, I searched for other drum covers of “Time” and found quite a few of them out there.  On one of the more successful ones, I noticed that he raised the pitch of the recording. I went ahead and tried the same thing and made Muse’s Matt Ballamy sound like a woman, but I was hopeful that I’d be able to get my video posted.  No such luck, it got blocked in the US again.

Frustrated, I was about to delete my video, but found that it was already getting a few views and even a comment from users in other countries, so I decided to leave it be.  I’m trying to dispute the blocking on the video, on the grounds that this video is for educational purposes for other drummers, but I’m not too helpful that my dispute will be successful.  We’ll see.

Look, I get that Muse’s record label and publisher is acting within their designated rights here, and that these drum covers are on pretty shaky ground.  What sucks here is that there’s some kind of double-standard with the same freakin’ song.  After already being burned by my Kanye cover, I’m pretty leery about putting in the work of practicing and recover a song, only to have it immediately flushed.  Seeing the number of “Time” drum covers that I can see, I assumed that the labels saw this as a promotional vehicle for their music and were happy to collect ad revenue from the videos. It looks like I was wrong.

I guess for now I’ll stick to the more obscure songs or spend some time which researching which labels are cool about covers.  However in the meantime, this process is royally broken.  By the time you discover the end result, it’s too late and you’ve already wasted your time.

Luckily my original video has found a home on Vimeo:

Vimeo has a really nice platform and some great tools, and my video may still be up because of their “security through obscurity” model – but YouTube is where I’ve been trying to grow my channel.  However, with half of my videos now crippled by these blockings – I don’t have much to show for it.