For weeks now, there've been a number people on Twitter and blogs expressing disappointment with Google over leaving out iPhone when it comes to many of their key properties. One such article, by social media rockstar Wayne Sutton, does a pretty good job of summing up the feelings of many in the iPhone community, but unfortunately, manages to completely get the wrong end of the stick. He seems to be under the impression that Google just doesn't feel like putting out apps for iPhone, forgetting that it's Apple themselves who are both the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper when it comes to what iPhone users get to run on their handsets.
Meanwhile, just yesterday Google "finally got around to" -- if you listen to the chatter on the Internet, anyway -- releasing their Latitude for iPhone app -- which is actually not a native app at all, but instead a web app that runs in Safari -- along with a lengthy article on their mobile blog which makes it crystal clear that it's Apple with whom we should be disappointed, not them.
We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles.
I've been saying all along that it was Apple's 3-month+ wait approval queue, and/or the nature of Maps.app as a "core" app (that can only be updated via a firmware update) that's the holdup, but it never occurred to me that Apple wouldn't want Latitude on iPhone at all, which seems plainly clear now.
The brewing speculation suggests that Apple's $99-a-year MobileMe service, which has some location aspects to it now, is going to be expanding to more directly compete with Latitude, Loopt, and other such social/location apps, and thus doesn't want the early -- not to mention free -- competition from Google. This is purely speculation, but it's based on the past times that Apple has rejected iPhone apps with features that they themselves were planning to implement, so I'm going to place my bets squarely on that being truth. We'll have to wait and see.
This rejection now makes it pretty clear that the other native Google apps that people like Wayne are eagerly awaiting are simply never going to come. Sorry, Wayne :(
The upside to all of this, though, is that, judging by the comments on Google's Latitude for iPhone announcement post, iPhone users and developers alike are starting to become more aware of how bad an idea it is to tie themselves to a platform that's actively stifling the innovations its users want. How much time and money did Google spend writing a native Latitude app for iPhone that will never see the light of day? Now imagine it was your time and money down the crapper. Fun.
If you're dying for a native Latitude app on your iPhone, you shouldn't give up completely; Apple does have a bit of a track record of caving on stupid decisions under pressure from large vocal minority groups, so it's possible that they may one day let Google put a native maps app on iPhone. It's not very probable. There is only Zuul.
Yesterday there was much buzz on Twitter regarding "the case of the disappearing George Orwell," in which it was discovered that Amazon had deleted users' purchased copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from their Kindles, refunding them the purchase price rather than continue to let them read it. The idea that's spread through the Internet like wildfire is that this was an action at the behest of this publisher, who decided on a whim that they didn't want to publish it through Amazon any longer, and that Amazon caved and did what they asked. (This particular bit of speculation, which was repeated by even the mighty New York Times, was sourced to 'some guy on an Amazon forum.' Now THAT's journalism.)
In any case, due in large part to the irony present in a media giant secretly deleting the works of George Orwell, this story caught the ire of many people; there's the anti-DRM crowd (in which I'm a member), the anti-Amazon crowd (in which I'm often a member), as well as the pro-Kindle crowd (in which I'm sometimes a member). Several of these crowds began blogging/twittering about it, which caused a feedback loop of other people (who aren't members in any of those groups, but who blindly retweet whatever they see) and it's now being reported pretty much every where.
The problem, though, is that most of what's being spread around the Internet on this subject is misinformation. It's the type of misinformation that, when intentionally distributed by folks like Microsoft as a scare tactic, is referred to as FUD, or 'Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.' In this particular case, the misinformation in question doesn't appear to have been designed with an intent of malice, but more by of a sense of people not really understanding what's going on.
Anyway: in a nutshell, the following is an attempt to explain what exactly it is that happened. This is not really designed to be in defense of Amazon, but more because I prefer it when the things that people believe are actually true. If they're not, I like to try to rectify it.
Firstly, very few people really have an understanding of how Amazon's Kindle Marketplace works. (Including -- until yesterday, anyway -- me.) Anyone can sell books through Amazon's Kindle Marketplace. If you're buying a book via your Kindle, there's a very real probability that Amazon has nothing to do with the book at all, other than being the means through which it is delivered to you. The people publishing Kindle books include actual publishing companies as well as individual authors, all of whom simply upload their books at which point they're for sale. There have recently been a few cases where people managed to become a Kindle seller, and then uploaded bootlegged copies of the Twilight books priced at $0.99 in hopes of getting rich quick. Obviously the douchebags in question lacked the legal authority to be selling Mrs. Meyer's masterpieces, and Amazon rightfully stepped in and shut them down. I don't think anyone had a problem with this.
Yesterday's George Orwell fiasco, on the other hand, drew the attention and outrage of the masses, and many people (myself included) quite vocally expressed their problems with it.
The thing is, though: as it turns out, the situation is EXACTLY the same as with the bootleg Twilight books.
See, in most (if not all) non-US countries, Orwell's works fall under the public domain, and the publisher in question deals almost exclusively in public domain works. They sell them in other countries, and I suspect that their selling them here just sort of slipped through the cracks. Bottom line: the publisher did not have the legal right to be selling those books in the United States, and when the publisher became aware of this, they removed them from all the different eBook distribution companies through which they publish here in the US, the most famous of which is Amazon. There was no malice, and nobody was trying to cheat anyone; it was just a mistake born from the fluctuating publishing rights in various countries. This was not a result of Amazon "caving" to pressure from a publisher.
The idea that's spread through the Internet like wildfire is that this was an action at the behest of this publisher, who decided on a whim that they didn't want to publish it through Amazon any longer, and that Amazon caved and did what they asked. That's just not what happened, and it's rather unfair to Amazon for people to continue to spread the misinformation that says it is.
Granted, caving to publisher demand is something Amazon has done in the past (see: Kindle 2's text-to-speech function that ultimately got disabled due to whining publishers), and attempting to use patents to bully their competitors out of business is one of their go-to tactics, soanother bit of douchebaggary is an easy thing to believe. Like as we see with companies like Microsoft, there have been many deservingly negative things said about them, all which contribute to making it easier to jump to these sorts of ideas.
In conclusion, regardless of how one feels about DRM or the capability for a centralized bookseller to remove files from your device, I think most of us will agree that most of what's being said on the Internet on this subject is misinformed hogwash. Maybe you can help fix that.
I pretty frequently monitor what people are saying about Android on Twitter, and something I've seen recently is people lamenting the imminent death of Android now that Google's apparently shifted their interest over to a newer, shinier platform that might directly take on the behemoths in more oft-used hardware platforms, namely 'netbooks.' I've got a few thoughts.
1) Android is not under any threat of extinction as a result of this. One of the common things people are saying is variations on the theme of "Android hasn't had a chance to become successful, and now they're replacing it." That's just silly.
Android is, by practically every metric, a rousing success for the little time that it's been on the market. Worldwide, there's like 3 different phones available running it, most available for fewer than 3 months to date. The oldest Android phone is like 6 months old. Already a variety of carriers have committed to 18 different Android devices on the market before the end of 2009.
Has there EVER been a year that 18 different handsets have been released running Blackberry, Windows Mobile, MacOSX, or ANY other 'smartphone' operating system? Even if you combine all those operating systems together?
The relative clunkiness of HTC's first Android phone (the HTC Dream, which T-Mobile sells in the US as the 'G1') hasn't stopped it from being amazingly successful, outselling any other T-Mobile device. (I know, faint praise...) The HTC Magic (or T-Mobile 'myTouch 3G') is poised to more directly compete with the likes of iPhone in form-factor, sexiness and speed, and it comes out in like a month. It's already been successful on other carriers outside the US. Also, HTC's been making waves with it's new 'Hero' device, featuring a significantly sexier new 'Sense' UI [youtube] atop Android, and Sony Ericsson just released a peek at their new 'Rachel' UI [youtube], also running atop Android. Both of these UIs are eliciting squees of praise on Twitter, many people declaring that they'll ditch their iPhone for them in a second. (Check out those linked videos, maybe you'll see why.)
The Android world is just beginning to heat up, but it's already pretty hard to say that it's not a success, and that there aren't people dying to get their hands on devices.
The preponderance of dedicated apps to read the content from popular sites like Digg, Reddit, MetaFilter, etc., in both Android and iPhone's application stores, is testament to this. It's simply faster to pull down a limited feed containing only the data and render it using a native applicaton than to try to let a web browser display the whole page. Even iPhone specific pages are often slower and more cumbersome to use than a native iPhone application dedicated to the same purpose. That's just the way things are now.
3) In even the best case scenario, adoption of ChromeOS is going to be extremely slow, at least to start. I mean, how many people do you know that have even installed Google's Chrome Browser, let alone an entire new operating system? I just don't see the average Google user -- fanboy or not -- completely switching to a OS that only runs all the web apps they're already happily using on Windows. It's just not going to happen.
4) Where ChromeOS stands to make waves, however, is preloaded on hardware. Low-cost netbooks and laptops that are already installed, already configured, without having to include the cost of a windows license, or worry about viruses or any nonsense like that will benefit greatly from having Google's name attached.
There's been much talk of netbooks pre-loaded with Android, but at the current state of things, that's just not really feasable. Most of the Android applications in existence are designed for use on small, touchscreen devices without keyboards. The web browser is a RELATIVELY capable browser for a MOBILE browser, but you're not going to want to run Google Docs in it.
My netbook currently runs Linux, I'm using Chrome right now, and I do all my work in Google web apps. It works fantastically well. Except for one little thing:
5) The Linux version of the Chrome browser is a LONG-ways from ready for general use. It's very fast, does many things very well, but can't do most of the things you'd expect from a browser. You know, like bookmarks, printing, stuff like that. Looking at the state of things now, there's simply no way they're going to parlay the Linux version of Chrome into a full fledged operating system any time soon, let alone tackling the other things people are going to want to do, be it printing, scanning, etc.
Android is a full-fledged operating system RIGHT NOW, and there will likely be 20+ devices -- not even limited to phones -- on the market by the time ChromeOS even begins to be seen by the public. So don't go abandoning your Android development any time soon; there will be plenty of need for your apps for a long while to come.
Greetings from Bellingham Washington.
We decided this morning that the best thing we could do to celebrate the 4th of July, our country's day of independence, would be to spend it in Canada. We poured the kitties, ratties, birdies, fishies and piggy some huge-ass piles of food and water (the fishies have a whole other tank), threw some clothes in some bags and headed northward.
After driving all day and timing rush hour in Tacoma, Seattle, Everett -- really an place along I-5 that might have a rush hour -- JUUUST right to maximize the amount of time traveling 60 MPH below the speed limit, we decided to call it a day about 20 miles from Our Neighbors to the North. Tomorrow, after a continental breakfast, we'll be off to one of the other countries with the unfortunate distinction of sharing a landmass with us. I hope they won't judge us too strongly for that.
Priority #1 is not hearing any freakin' fireworks. Based on the rumored politeness levels of the average Canadian, their long wait times for medical care, and laws prohibiting anything that's loud, smelly or illuminated, that shouldn't be a problem.
Priority #2 is to acquire some Mountain Dew -- and not just because it rhymes. I may have been making up the laws in the prior priority, but one that I'm NOT MAKING UP prohibits translucent soft drinks from containing caffeine in Canada. Which means that Mountain Dew has none. Crazy.
Oh, yeah: Priority #1 was ACTUALLY to make sure we turn off roaming on our Android phones so that we don't rack up 11K of international data charges, because, even combined, we don't have enough Twitter followers to qualify for the "50K followers so the rules don't freakin' apply to you" discount that Adam Savage gets. We'd actually have to pay our bill, so we're smart enough to take action to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Today, after some tinkering, I accomplished something of which I've long dreamt: placing a Voice-Over-IP call, from a real phone number to a real phone number, from my Android phone, using only my 3G/EDGE data connection. No plan minutes or hosted PBX phone service involved.
Here's a brief how-to (that's not even dependent upon having an Android phone):
1) Get Google Voice. (This step is going to be kind of a buzzkill for most people, as Google is still in some sort of indeterminate closed beta with the Google Voice system. I'm not exactly sure how I ended up with access, so I don't know what to tell you to do to get it too.)
2) Create a free Gizmo account.
3) In your Google Voice settings, add the 'SIP' address that Gizmo gives you to your Google Voice account, selecting 'Gizmo' as the type of number. (Detailed instructions.)
4) Install a Gizmo-compatible client on your phone. The folks at Gizmo have written clients for many popular phones. You can get one at http://gizmo5.com/pc/products/mobile/. If your phone supports 'J2ME,' then chances are they've got you covered.
(On Android, I installed 'sipdroid,' which isn't a Gizmo-specific application, but one that can handle any Voice-Over-IP service. (You can find sipdroid in the Android Market, but that version only works via wi-fi. Get the full version which supports 3G/EDGE calling via their site.) Configure it using the info from the Gizmo support page.)
5) Use Google Voice's web interface to tell it to call whatever number you want, selecting your Gizmo number as the one to ring when connecting. (Gizmo offers incoming calls for free; telling Google Voice to initiate a call and ring your Gizmo is technically an incoming call, even when you're calling a friend.)
6) Tell the Gizmo client on your phone to answer the call. You're now connected, and you're not using any minutes.
A nice side-effect of this Gizmo compatibility is that you can run Gizmo clients on any computers you have around. When someone calls your Google Voice number, all the computers will 'ring' as well as your cellphone, so you can answer it from one of them instead. More minutes saved.
UPDATE: If you only want to place/receive calls from your computer, here's how to do it from GMail/Google Talk instead of Gizmo.
One of my favorite movies is Steve Oedekerk's High Strung. Chances are you haven't seen it, because it wasn't released theatrically, was only available as a rental, and the company that put out the VHS tape went out of business. You may occasionally run across a copy at ye olde video shoppe, but it's pretty unlikely since most rental copies have since been stolen.
Over 10 years ago Steve Oedekerk's official website reported that they had finished the video mix for a DVD release, and all that needed done was a 5.1 audio mix and menus and extras and whatnot. About 3 years ago I ran across a VHS copy, digitized it, and made a torrent of it so that more people could have a chance to see this gem of a film -- and maybe increase demand for the "any time now" DVD release in the process.
It's been a couple years since I've checked for an update on the DVD release, but yesterday I came across a copy online purporting to be a "DVD rip." So I downloaded it. Turns out that it is a significantly higher-res copy than the one I put up, and even wide-screen to boot, but still pretty obviously VHS-sourced. It smelled fishy, so I pulled out my copy and compared them side by side.
So, as you can see, someone simply cropped and stretched the full-screen VHS copy and pretended as if it were a 1.78:1 wide-screen-sourced copy. Since it is cropped down, it means that there's even LESS of the film visible, and since it is scaled it means everyone has put on a good 10 pounds. It also means that there is still no DVD.
(Until a DVD does get released, you might want to check it out here: http://thepiratebay.org/details.php?id=3464649. It makes me very happy that 3 years later there are still seeds on that torrent.)
I'd like to take a second to commend this dude: http://www.thepirategoogle.com/
Essentially he just proved that the "Google Defense" is, in fact, a perfectly valid argument.
From the site:
The intention of this site is to demonstrate the double standard that was exemplified in the recent Pirate Bay Trial. Sites such as Google offer much the same functionality as The Pirate Bay and other Bit Torrent sites but are not targeted by media conglomerates such as the IFPI as they have the political and legal clout to defend themselves unlike these small independent sites.
UPDATE: Google has blocked this site from searching Google. How retarded is that?
Google's Latitude just got cooler.
Now, in addition to sharing your location with your contacts via your phone's maps app and your iGoogle page, you can embed your Latitude location into any page, enabling ANY CRAZY PERSON to stalk you with near-realtime accuracy. The neat thing is it defaults to automatic zooming, using your positional accuracy to determine how detailed the map is. With GPS turned off, using cell towers for location info, it zooms out to a city view with a blue "somewhere in here" circle. Turn it on and it zooms down to street level. Very awesome.
It looks like this:
The map atop my blog has long been non-functional due to the hassle involved in keeping it updated, but IT LIVES ONCE MORE, thanks to the fact that my phone is always updating positions with Latitude. Thanks, Google!
If you're interested in using Latitude in this way, head on over to http://www.google.com/latitude/apps to get your embed code. Assuming, anyway, that your phone is compatible.
Here's a handy list:
* All Android phones.
* Most Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones.
* Palm devices with Palm OS 5 and above.
* All color BlackBerry devices.
* Windows Mobile devices with Windows Mobile 5.0 and above.
* All 3G Symbian devices.
* Not iPhones. Pbbt. (I'm guessing the 3.0 update will have Latitude support. Still -- suck it, iPhone.)
Here's a little demo of 'youtube Sleuth," my second Android app available in the Android Marketplace.
Unlike the first one, this app will be beneficial for most Android users. Like with iPhone, Android lacks Flash capabilities, and thus handles YouTube by using a stand-alone player app. When a user clicks a YouTube link, the YouTube application fires up and immediately begins playing the video, full-screen. (If you can really call a phone's display "full-screen.") This means you don't have the luxury of seeing any information about the video before you play it.
My app solves this problem rather handily. Instead of sending YouTube links immediately to the YouTube app, they go through my app first, causing a popup with title, description and thumbnail image. And then a button at the bottom which will send the video to the YouTube app if you really want to watch it. If not, just hit back or the 'ignore' button. No more Rickrolls.
Like with my first app, this one is available both as a paid app and as a free app for the cheapskates. My logic is that the more people actually get benefit from an app, the more likely they'll EVENTUALLY be to throw me some cash. If they have to pay upfront, very few people will even try it.
(For the interested, this logic has proven to be very, very flawed; after 48 hours in the Marketplace, the free version of youtube Sleuth has well over 1,000 users. The $0.99 version has 9, and one of those was D. (Unlike on iPhone, you can "refund" apps you don't like within 24 hours of purchase -- but the catch is you can only do it once. If you install it again you are stuck with it. I was testing it and accidentally "bought" it from myself using D's phone one too many times.)
My first foray into Android app creation has come to fruition. NZBdroid is live in the Android Marketplace, both for $2.00 $0.99 and also COMPLETELY free. It's up to the user whether they want to buy it or not, which seems to me to be a pretty cool way to do things.
What NZBdroid does is allow the user to click on .nzb files in the Android browser (or in any app, really) and have that .nzb file sent off to your 'net-connected instance of SABnzbd+, where it will be downloaded and ready for you to access it when you get home.
(My rambling tutorial about downloading from Usenet via SABnzbd+ can be found at Easy Auto-download of Recurring Content from Usenet)
Anyway here's a little demo of the NZBdroid in action, clicking a link on tvnzb.com (but keep in mind, the Android emulator runs really slowly on my computer):
Statement reproduces President Obama's response regarding opposition to his veterans' health insurance plan.
The beginning of Snopes' response:
This item is another entry difficult to classify as either "true" or "false." It's false in the literal sense that President Barack Obama did not utter the words attributed to him above; this piece is an excerpt from a form of satire that makes political or social points by putting outrageous words into the mouths of others.
However, even if the words aren't literally true (i.e., they're not something Barack Obama actually said), the issue they reference is not, as in most satirical pieces, a fabrication or a highly exaggerated version of reality.
Ah yes, the old "in a literal sense" conundrum.
The point here is that the claim they're addressing is whether the words actually are Obama's. They come right out and say they're not, but then go on a huge rant about policies of which they're obviously not fond. Many people are outraged by this. I'm guessing it's because everyone has always thought of Snopes as the last bastion of unbiased truth on the Internet. Everyone but me, that is.
A few years back I saw Snopes' analysis of an anecdote that Tony Blair allegedly told at a dinner party that regarded George W. Bush's widely known vocabulary... issues. Despite the fact that nothing in the article is substantiate-able, they jump to Bush's defense claiming it a big red 'False.'
This is bothersome to me because many Snopes-checkers rarely read past the green or red 'True' or 'False' indicators on any given subject, trusting that Snopes knows what they're talking about. In this case, their declaration of it as 'False' is not justified by the actual evidence they've presented.
Now, I'm not saying that Tony Blair did tell this amusing anecdote at a cocktail party, but the only "evidence" they have regarding its untruth is speculation from a man whose job it is to make Tony Blair look good -- a man that wasn't even present at said dinner party in the first place. In legal dramas on television, I believe they'd call that "hearsay." And I object! It's the word of someone who was present against someone who wasn't. Not exactly fair reasoning. (It is my claim, however, that had Tony Blair's press secretary been present, and had Tony Blair actually said it, the secretary would still say he didn't. That's his job, afterall.)
With evidence like that, Snopes could, at best, only classify the story as "unverifiable." After discovering this, I spent several hours going through all the George Bush articles on Snopes.com looking for bias. Granted, my results clearly showed my own confirmation bias -- I'm just going to pretend like that's not a problem. Suffice to say, according to my research, the statement that "Snopes is generally favorable towards Republicans whenever blatant evidence to the contrary doesn't make it impossible to do so," is a big fat "True."
So anyway, if you rely on Snopes to determine whether or not the things you hear are true, then you need to -- at the very least -- actually read their evidence for whatever determination they make and then use your own skills of deduction before you go snidely emailing it off to whatever poor sucker repeated it as fact.
You might not actually deserve the smug, self-righteous feeling you get when you do that.
I've noticed a new trend on Twitter lately, one which bothers me a great deal. I'd like to share my thoughts about it now so that you all can help nip it in the bud.
People have been 'retweet'ing pretty much since Twitter's inception; that is, they post something on their stream that they saw someone else post. The defacto standard format for doing this is to say 'rewteet' (or, more commonly, 'RT') followed by the username of the person who originated the message, then followed by the message. Like this:
RT @TeddTheodorLogan Remember the time I asked Missy to the prom?
Lately, however, people have been trying to popularize a new format for retweeting -- one which has been largely employed in the blogging world. This new method is to just post the message, followed by (via username). Like this:
The only thing I know for sure is that Joan of Arc is NOT Noah's wife...(via BillSPrestonEsq)
The problem with this is two-fold: firstly, it takes up more characters. More importantly, it's misusing the word 'via.'
See, what "(via so-and-so)" actually means, is "I heard about this content by way of so-and-so," and has been used for years to denote that the link I'm blogging about came to my attention because someone else blogged about it, and is designed to sort of give the person who found the content the credit. This is only used when you're linking to a story that's written by someone other than the person you heard about it from -- to give sort of 'scoop' credit to someone who found it before you did.
When you retweet, in almost every case, you are simply quoting the person who said something. You didn't hear it 'via' them. Your readers are hearing it 'via' YOU. (Granted, if you are retweeting a retweet, then 'via' could be properly used -- but you'd have to say it's 'via' the person who originally REtweeted it, rather than the person who tweeted it -- which is of no information to the reader.)
If you really don't like the 'RT username: message' format -- and for this I don't blame you; it's clumsy and non-intuitive -- I suggest you do it the same way people have been attributing quotes since the dawn of written language. Like this:
"Four score and seven BEERS ago..." -abrahamlincoln
With your help, perhaps this gross misunderstanding of the Latin language can be wiped from the face of twitter.
There are things on Usenet that you want to download regularly. Doing so is a time-consuming chore that'd be better accomplished through automation. This guide aims to show you how.
The problem with Usenet is that, even with the requisite utilities, you still find yourself manually extracting RAR files, applying PAR2 files to regenerate missing chunks, and then disposing of all the compressed/encoded files after extracting your media file. Not to mention seeking out and downloading every episode of everything you want to download. It's not for the faint of heart.
Here's where it gets awesome, though. There's a free, open-source application called SABnzbd+, available for every platform, that does all that for you. Even awesomer, it can monitor RSS feeds and watch for user-defined strings in the filenames to facilitate the automatic downloading, unpacking, repairing, renaming and moving of files into your media library with zero intervention on the user's part. After setting up SABnzbd, the content you want to download is magically downloaded FOR you, with no intervention on your part. This is the future, and it is AWESOME.
To get started with your magical new life of automatic content delivery, you first need a Usenet account. And, you're probably going to want a 'premium' account, meaning that you'll have to spend some money every month. There are many different options when choosing premium Usenet providers, but I recommend Giganews. They even have a free trial, allowing you to see how awesome this whole thing can be. You can sign up for your free trial by clicking the nifty banner below. (We'll supposedly get referral credit or something if you end up being a paying customer.)
The next thing you need to do is install SABnzbd on a computer in your household. On Mac/Windows it's a super-easy installer, and it runs using a web interface rather than a GUI. Upon installation you'll need to specify the username/password for your Giganews (or other Usenet provider) in the Config tab.
The next stop is giving SABnzbd one or more RSS feeds to monitor looking for things to download. There are many different options for sites that provide RSS feeds of nzb files. A quick Google search can help you find one that has the type of content you're looking for. Once you add a feed, you can enter in names/words in filenames to either 'accept' or 'reject.' SABnzbd will then periodically check the rss feed, and when it finds an nzb that matches your rules, it queues it for download.
You then configure the Folders option to specify where you want finished downloads to end up. That's really all there is to it. Now your computer will periodically check any configured RSS feeds for things it should download, and when it finds something, it just does. And then it decompresses, repairs (if necessary), and then gets rid of the compressed stuff. No muss, no fuss. Set it and forget it.
An average 360meg file downloads in about 2 and a half minutes. But you don't care how fast it is because it'll just be there waiting for you automatically.
An added perk, is the SABnzbd Firefox extension , which gives you a constant indicator of things that are downloading, right in your browser's status bar -- and also the ability to click on any nzb file from any nzb search engine and have SABnzbd automagically start downloading it, even if you're surfing from a different computer than SABnzbd is running on. Very awesome.
UPDATE: I've now written an app for Android phones that will allow you to queue nzb files on your SABnzbd installation: NZBdroid
One of the downsides to using an operating system that doesn't require you to reboot it all the time is that you occasionally find something open on another desktop that you've completely forgotten about.
About a month ago, I spent 5 minutes before work roughing out a stupid idea I'd had while half asleep. Then 31 days passed, and I forgot all about it.
I've since lost interest in the idea, but figure I'll share the rough version anyway:
(Aside: do you know how hard it is to find high-quality Horton artwork that ISN'T from the recent movie? Hard.)