Quick RSS Feed Note

Yesterday I deleted access to the ‘articles only’ RSS feed, so if that’s not working for you that’s why. There were about 400 of you using it, sorry for the lack of notice. With the increased length of my linked listed posts and the subsequent decrease in post frequency I no longer find it necessary […]

Yesterday I deleted access to the ‘articles only’ RSS feed, so if that’s not working for you that’s why. There were about 400 of you using it, sorry for the lack of notice.

With the increased length of my linked listed posts and the subsequent decrease in post frequency I no longer find it necessary to offer an articles only feed. Also I believe now that it is equally important to read both post types.

I deleted it yesterday and did not set a forward. The reason there was no forward set was simple: I feel that it is within my rights to remove things without your permission, but not within them to add things to your RSS reader without your permission. Redirecting, forwarding, or changing the RSS feed instead of deleting it would have added things to your feed and I wasn’t ok with doing that.

This is the main and only (non-member) RSS feed now: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheBrooksReview

(dv)’d

I spent all night working to get this site migrated from a Grid Server (gs) to a Dedicated Virtual (dv) from Media Temple. I managed to do this so far without any support calls (particularly proud of this). If you are seeing this then the DNS changes have made it through and we are now […]

I spent all night working to get this site migrated from a Grid Server (gs) to a Dedicated Virtual (dv) from Media Temple. I managed to do this so far without any support calls (particularly proud of this). If you are seeing this then the DNS changes have made it through and we are now on the (dv).

I hope we all notice some improved load times!

Survey Results

As part of the OmniFocus giveaway I asked that entrants write in with ideas about what they want to see more of on the site. More than a few people expressed concerns that I should not bend to the will of readers and I should do my “own thing”. Reader Bas Hintemann wrote in to […]

As part of the OmniFocus giveaway I asked that entrants write in with ideas about what they want to see more of on the site. More than a few people expressed concerns that I should not bend to the will of readers and I should do my “own thing”.

Reader Bas Hintemann wrote in to say:

I don’t think the writer / curator of a weblog needs to ask his audience what to do more, or what to do less: the author is what makes the weblog great. He posts what he has on his mind, what is bothering him, what is making him tick.

I agree with this completely and my goal with the survey was never to change anything on the site. The goal was to see how my readers interests align with my own interests.

I think we line up pretty well from what I can gather, here is the full break down of the results:

graph.png

This graph is pretty meaningless without the key, but what it tells me is that there are three types of posts that people really like (in order of most votes):

  1. Reviews
  2. Perspectives
  3. Workflow

There are some other little surprises that I learned:

  • Most people like it when I rant on about a particular topic.
  • People want all sorts of interviews to be done.
  • There is a need for better archives.

What I can say is that I am right there with all of you on everything but the interviews. I am not big on interviewing and quite honestly it is very time consuming to get them lined up and then to actually perform them. There are many other great sites that already have some good interview series happening so I will defer to them on that one.

There are a couple of neat interview type things I am working on outside of the iPad Life stuff, but that is a still a ways off in the future and not as involved as some of the suggestions that were emailed in.

Reviews

More reviews and specifically more software reviews was the most requested thing. I am not surprised by this given how many reads each review gets. I am always working on more reviews, but I want to point out a few things to help put in perspective why reviews are not a frequently featured thing:

  • A good review takes a lot of time learning the product your are reviewing. You can’t download an app use it for an hour and then write a good substantive review. I often don’t feel good about writing a review unless I have used something for at least a week.
  • Reviews are a major drain on my productivity if they are of a tool that I don’t currently use and have no plans on integrating into my workflow. I use OmniFocus, but if I wanted to review Wunderlist I would have to stop using OmniFocus for a week or more and switch to Wunderlist. Which means that I would spend days getting used to it and having the new program slow me down — even after the adjustment period I may not ever be as fast as I am with my normal tools. I do plan on working on more reviews, but only on stuff that I try in hopes of regularly using it. I just don’t have the time right now in my life to write, read, and work while trying new tools that slow me down. Please bear with me on this one.
  • I am going to be doing some reviews on some software that is older and trying to intermix that with some of the software that is hitting the market in the future. My goal is to review the stuff I use and the stuff I have tried or am trying to use.
  • A few wanted me to do more hardware reviews, specifically cellphone reviews. To be honest as much as I would love to do this, don’t hold your breath. Switching to a new cellphone is a disaster for anyones productivity and again I don’t have the extra time to take such a productivity hit right now. That said if there is a phone that I find compelling enough I may got get a review unit to check out.

Perspectives

Perspectives are what I love writing the most — sharing my ideas and getting feedback from all of you is amazing. Expect to see a steady stream of those.

Workflow

I really didn’t know so many of you wanted to know about my workflow and sharing my workflow actually helps to improve my workflow. Expect to see more of these, but I am going to take some time to carefully craft these so that they are interesting and informative.

This will also be a part of reviews that I am writing on some of the older software I use. Think of it more like a hybrid review-workflow type post. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Best Contest Entry Award

Before I end this I want to share with you the best contest entry email I received and award this reader a platinum level reader account.1

Reader Dev Benegal writes:

Perspectives for our minds.
Reviews, perhaps the best.
Occasionally, rants which needn’t be kind.

Thanks for that awesome email.


  1. Which is a title only award. 

Quick Blog Note

Please let me know if you have any problems with the RSS feed over the next few days, specifically if you click to view an item and get a 404 error. I installed a new plugin that enhances a few things, but I have had trouble with it in the past (though I seem to […]

Please let me know if you have any problems with the RSS feed over the next few days, specifically if you click to view an item and get a 404 error. I installed a new plugin that enhances a few things, but I have had trouble with it in the past (though I seem to have it working this time around).

Thanks

TBR to the Future

When I started this blog back in April of this year my only goal was to get my blog out there and to do my best writing. Turns out that I have started on a good path with the first goal and I think my writing has only improved since day one. What I didn’t […]

When I started this blog back in April of this year my only goal was to get my blog out there and to do my best writing. Turns out that I have started on a good path with the first goal and I think my writing has only improved since day one.

What I didn’t expect was to get some of the amazing emails I have gotten. Perhaps the most amazing thing that happened was that I have made some great new friends along the way — to all of you I want to thank you for your kindness and I look forward to our continued friendship.

That Was Last Year

Twenty-Eleven

I want to make 2011 even more bad ass. I look forward to forging new friendships and starting new debates. Please don’t ever be shy about emailing me — even when I get overwhelmed by the amount of email I receive, I always crave a bit more.

Most of all: tell me when you think I am wrong. I am always happy to debate, or even change my mind.

There are two major changes that I am pushing right now to the blog:

  1. Ads: I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have been invited to join the Fusion Ad network. I had been reserving virtual space to get one ad on the site when I found the appropriate network and I think Fusion is that network. I look forward to joining the ranks of some outstanding blogs and I hope I can live up to the reputation associated with them.

  2. Logo: Until today everything on the site had been designed by me or adapted from other themes. Today though, TBR has a new logo designed by an amazing graphic designer and all around great guy: Aaron Mahnke of Wet Frog Studios. I took advantage of an offer he made on Twitter and decided that TBR could use a better logo. I am very happy with what Aaron came up with and I hope you enjoy it too.1

Miscellany

A couple people send me links to stuff they think I might like and I would like to encourage all of you to send me tips and suggestions. Even if you just want to know what I think about something, or have something you think I should review — send them in.

Thanks for a wonderful 2010.

One last thing if you don’t see the new logo refresh again or dump your browsers cache and you should get it. Thanks


  1. As a side note be sure to get in touch with Aaron if you have any kind of graphic design work you need done — you won’t regret it. 

Instafixed

A huge thanks to Marco Arment for not only fixing the bug mentioned earlier, but for doing so quickly. Marco Arment: Users affected will need to tap the grayed-out stories in the iPhone/iPad app and select “Redownload” to fix them. Sorry about that.

A huge thanks to Marco Arment for not only fixing the bug mentioned earlier, but for doing so quickly.

Marco Arment:

Users affected will need to tap the grayed-out stories in the iPhone/iPad app and select “Redownload” to fix them. Sorry about that.

InstaFavor [UPDATED]

[Updated: 12/29/10 at 11:23 AM] Thanks to all that emailed me — this looks to be a widespread problem for more than just my site. If you are seeing this please feel free to continue to report it and also report it to the developer of the apps that you are using. Thanks. [Updated: 12/29/10 […]

[Updated: 12/29/10 at 11:23 AM] Thanks to all that emailed me — this looks to be a widespread problem for more than just my site. If you are seeing this please feel free to continue to report it and also report it to the developer of the apps that you are using. Thanks.

[Updated: 12/29/10 at 11:27 AM] Marco Arment the developer of Instapaper emailed to say that he is working on the problem. Please don’t flood his email box anymore. Thanks for your help.

To all readers using Instapaper for iOS could you please do me a favor and try to add this post to Instapaper by whatever means you usually do this. Once you do this can you sync your Instapaper account to your iOS device and let me know if the article shows up.

I have been getting scattered reports that an article (not linked list items) are showing as “unavailable” in Instapaper for iOS. This of course annoys me to no end and must be incredibly frustrating for you — the reader.

Shoot me an email to comments@brooksreview.net and let me know if it works for you or not and the steps you took.

Instapaper appears to work just fine for the linked list items.

Thanks!

Save Yourself Some Typing When Visiting TBR

I have for a while now owned the URL ‘tbr.co’ but due to how long it took me to get that URL I had already purchased ‘tbr.mx’ to use as a URL shortener. Well tonight Ian Hines helped me out and showed me how to get everything pointed at ‘tbr.co’ to redirect to the same […]

I have for a while now owned the URL ‘tbr.co’ but due to how long it took me to get that URL I had already purchased ‘tbr.mx’ to use as a URL shortener. Well tonight Ian Hines helped me out and showed me how to get everything pointed at ‘tbr.co’ to redirect to the same page at ‘brooksreview.net’.

So if you want to go to the TBR archives you have two options:

http://brooksreview.net/archive

or

http://tbr.co/archive

The latter will just redirect you to the former. So why the two? Easy, you save typing 10 characters and when you are doing that on your phone it counts. This should work with every page BTW.

All New Archives

I have been working the past few days to get a better archive page up, with 100% less crap in it. I am happy to say that I have done just that, now instead of looking by month or by category just click the Archives link to the right. What you see is all my […]

I have been working the past few days to get a better archive page up, with 100% less crap in it. I am happy to say that I have done just that, now instead of looking by month or by category just click the Archives link to the right.

What you see is all my posts, minus all of the links posts. They are not gone, you can still search for them. I just felt that those links posts are not as important to have cluttering up the archives.

Let me know if you have any suggestions.

TBR Goodies for Your iPhone

I was a little bored yesterday with the snow slowing down western Washington, so I decided to finally make a new homescreen wallpaper for my iPhone. I made a TBR themed homescreen for my iPad a while back and really like it (not really ready to share that yet, needs a bit more tuning), but […]

I was a little bored yesterday with the snow slowing down western Washington, so I decided to finally make a new homescreen wallpaper for my iPhone. I made a TBR themed homescreen for my iPad a while back and really like it (not really ready to share that yet, needs a bit more tuning), but I really like the way the iPhone one came out – they are sized for the iPhone 4’s retina display.

The light version looks like this (click the photo to download the background image):

photo 1.PNG

I am clever enough to know that not everyone loves me as much as I do – so if you just fill your homescreen with icons you don’t have to see the TBR logo.

Now I really like the light version, but for those who like things dark I made this one also (click the photo to download the background image):

photo 2.PNG

Enjoy.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

I just got a review unit of the Samsung Galaxy Tab from Verizon, I will be working on a review of it over the next week. Please email me if there is a specific something you want me to address in my review and I will do my best.

I just got a review unit of the Samsung Galaxy Tab from Verizon, I will be working on a review of it over the next week. Please email me if there is a specific something you want me to address in my review and I will do my best.

Facebook Distaste

I got a couple of emails over the past week that asked why I never update my Facebook page, and encouraging me to do so. The problem though I that I deleted my Facebook page oh so long ago so needless to say I was really confused. Turns out that I only deleted my personal […]

I got a couple of emails over the past week that asked why I never update my Facebook page, and encouraging me to do so. The problem though I that I deleted my Facebook page oh so long ago so needless to say I was really confused.

Turns out that I only deleted my personal Facebook profile that whatever else was associated with that account. When I started The Brooks Review I made a Facebook ‘fan page’ for it on a completely new account so that it need not be linked to my personal account. It was that page that was still active on Facebook.

I have now corrected that oversight.

(That means I deleted that page too, because I loathe Facebook.)

Instapaper Buttons

Just a quick note, you should now see “Read Later” links at the top of every non linked-list post, clicking this will send that post to your Instapaper account. This is of course a free update for all my readers.

Just a quick note, you should now see “Read Later” links at the top of every non linked-list post, clicking this will send that post to your Instapaper account. This is of course a free update for all my readers.

Quick Blog Notes

If you haven’t already be sure to subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed in your feed reader of choice (mine is Google Reader on the Mac and Reeder Apps on iOS device) the RSS feed can be found here. [http://brooksreview.net/feed/] If you are too new age for RSS feeds and you prefer Twitter I can […]

If you haven’t already be sure to subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed in your feed reader of choice (mine is Google Reader on the Mac and Reeder Apps on iOS device) the RSS feed can be found here. [http://brooksreview.net/feed/]

If you are too new age for RSS feeds and you prefer Twitter I can help you out there too as Brooks Review can be found on Twitter: @brooksreview and if you are so inclined you can follow me on Twitter: @benjaminbrooks

As mentioned on the Suggested Reading page you can check out my Instapaper starred items by joining Instapaper and adding my starred items (username: Benbrooks) and if you don’t already know how to do that see the instructions here.

Last be sure to drop me a note either on Twitter or via email if you disagree with or agree too much with anything I say.

Thanks for reading.

New Site Feature: Suggested Reading

Just published a new page called ‘Suggested Reading’ where I am pulling my latest five starred items from Instapaper into the page. You can click on them to see what I find worthy of reading. To do this I am using Bill Israel’s excellent ‘Give Me Stuff I Starred’ javascript. Go get that here.

Just published a new page called ‘Suggested Reading’ where I am pulling my latest five starred items from Instapaper into the page. You can click on them to see what I find worthy of reading.

To do this I am using Bill Israel’s excellent ‘Give Me Stuff I Starred’ javascript. Go get that here.

What I Carry – Fridays & Weekend Bag

Continuing on from my pockets to my lightweight weekend and Friday bag: Case: Booq Boa Push Apple iPad 16gb Wi-Fi Verizon MiFi Bose Headphones Sharpie Pen (blue) Sharpie Liquid Pencil Mini Moleskin Business Cards All in all a pretty light and ultra-mobile setup that I try to use on Fridays and the weekends (only if […]

Continuing on from my pockets to my lightweight weekend and Friday bag:

What I Carry Fridays - Sunday

  • Case: Booq Boa Push
  • Apple iPad 16gb Wi-Fi
  • Verizon MiFi
  • Bose Headphones
  • Sharpie Pen (blue)
  • Sharpie Liquid Pencil
  • Mini Moleskin
  • Business Cards

All in all a pretty light and ultra-mobile setup that I try to use on Fridays and the weekends (only if needed).

What I Carry [Updated]

Patrick Rhone has a what I carry Meme going on right now, here is a shot of what I carry. I keep my car key and house keys separate because I can’t stand the jingling when I drive. The wallet is a Holstee that I just got. All I keep in it is ID, credit […]

Patrick Rhone has a what I carry Meme going on right now, here is a shot of what I carry.

What I Carry

I keep my car key and house keys separate because I can’t stand the jingling when I drive. The wallet is a Holstee that I just got. All I keep in it is ID, credit cards and a business card, along with the occasional cash that I may have.

I used to carry a pocket Moleskin, but Simplenote on the iPhone killed the need for that.

Updated to include a better picture.

Broken RSS

The RSS feed is all jacked up now, I am working on it but I really suck at coding. Hang in there. [Updated: 8/17/10 at 6:14 PM] Should be working now please email me right away comments@brooksreview.net if you have any more problems.

The RSS feed is all jacked up now, I am working on it but I really suck at coding. Hang in there.

[Updated: 8/17/10 at 6:14 PM] Should be working now please email me right away comments@brooksreview.net if you have any more problems.

Site Updates – Readability

I wanted to give you a brief run down and tips on reading this site. First things first I do two different post types, linked items and articles. The linked items appear in a smaller Helvetica font with an underline on the title, clicking the title will take you to the link. Clicking the word […]

I wanted to give you a brief run down and tips on reading this site. First things first I do two different post types, linked items and articles. The linked items appear in a smaller Helvetica font with an underline on the title, clicking the title will take you to the link. Clicking the word ‘permalink’ below will take you to the page for just that linked post on this site. Articles appear in a larger Georgia font with no underline. Clicking the title or the ‘permalink’ will result in you going to the page for just that article.

I have styled things in this manner to help everyone quickly know which is which, and I hope it is easy enough to figure out.

iPad Users

You all get a special site, the current site is very readable on an iPad, but as of yesterday I have implemented the excellent PadPressed plugin to add a custom theme for iPad users. This gives such users swiping support and inertia scrolling. The styling is all the same as the regular site for links and articles. The main difference is that at the top you are greeted with a sideways scrolling list of the most recent four posts I have done in the ‘perspectives’ category. I call these perspectives because they are my editorial opinion on something.

Please email me if you have any problems.

Apple also Sent me This

I also received this note from Apple on the order for my Wife’s iPhone: Dear Customer, We were unable to complete the authorization process for your iPhone order. As a result, we had to cancel your iPhone order. To complete the purchase of your iPhone, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an AT&T company-owned […]

I also received this note from Apple on the order for my Wife’s iPhone:

Dear Customer,We were unable to complete the authorization process for your iPhone order. As a result, we had to cancel your iPhone order. To complete the purchase of your iPhone, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an AT&T company-owned retail store.

This was not good news – it explains why Apple cancelled her iPhone order. I ordered this on my Alaska Airlines Bank of America card, which as of right now has an available credit limit of $12,500 – which is still apparently not enough for them to allow me to buy an iPhone 4. Now this is clearly a screw up on Bank of America, but instead of it being no big deal I get to wake up at 5a and go stand in a pre-order line – assuming I get my iPhone on the 23rd.

(For those curious I paid for my iPhone with my business card – a perk for sure as it always is approved.)