General, Technology

Syncing my online life – New Blog Domain and Blog Bling

https://blog.kischuk.com/ is the new web address, http://feeds.feedburner.com/rkischuk is the new Feed URL. Existing links and feed subscriptions should work fine for the foreseeable future.

I’ve been on a mission lately to sync my online presences, initiated when I started using Twitter. I didn’t like maintaining different statuses on Facebook and Twitter, so I started using TwitterSync to push my Twitter status into Facebook – works like a champ. I wanted to bring my blog and flickr activity in too, so I fired up FriendFeed, and that worked and let me bring in my GTalk status, Google Reader, last.fm, and LinkedIn activity as well. Added the FriendFeed app and now all of that activity is pulled into Facebook. They need better controls so I can tell FF not to push my twitter activity into my feed (TwitterSync already updates my status directly), but I suspect this feature is coming.

Rhapsody listening history proved to be an interesting challenge, since Rhapsody’s plugin support is pretty sparse – Last.fm doesn’t have a Rhapsody scrobbler. I had to make my Rhapsody listening history feed public on Rhapsody.com, and am using RhapsodyScrobbler to push my listening activity to Last.fm. It’s a bit of a hack, but works nicely.
Giving this blog a facelift proved challenging. I’ve been happy using a wordpress.com hosted blog, except for the theme selection, domain name, and poor widget support. But there are no hosting, scaling, or software upgrade headaches. I paid $10 each for the Custom CSS and custom domain upgrades, and was able to tweak a new theme to something I’m pretty happy with (still some room for improvement). I’ve had kischuk.com registered for a while, free DNS with ZoneEdit, and finally added a CNAME for blog.kischuk.com to point to wordpress. The most unfortunate thing about hosted WordPress blogs is that they don’t support widgets of any variety (iFrame or embed). The best tool available for this is the RSS widget – I was able to point this to my twitter and Last.fm RSS feed to provide the pseudo-widgets you see in the right column. I also see this as the best hope for adding some semblance of Skribit support.

I am looking to add a good Flickr app to Facebook – any suggestions?

Music, Technology

Hunting for a new MP3 Player

I have long been a customer of Yahoo Music Unlimited, a subscription music service competing with the likes of the new Napster and Rhapsody.  When I first signed up, the service was compatible with the RCA Lyra 1070, a small, flash-based MP3 player with an SD slot to expand the capacity.  You could copy any song from their library of millions of songs to the Lyra, so long as you periodically connected the Lyra to a computer to re-authorize the music library.  At some point, I begin going to the gym less, and Yahoo & Microsoft made some DRM “enhancements” that rendered this device incompatible with that feature (and they made support of this feature an add-on cost).  Now that Yahoo is quitting the music subscription business and handing my account over to Rhapsody, I’m looking at Rhapsody’s higher base monthly rate ($13/month) and thinking the meager $2/month add-on to copy any tracks to a portable MP3 player looks pretty nice.  To do this, I’m going to need a new MP3 player.

My main criteria for this new MP3 player are a) supports subscription music services, b) accepts flash memory cards to upgrade capacity, and c) costs less than $100.  Presumably a device meeting these criteria will be small enough that size isn’t an explicit criterion.  The subscription issue is non-negotiable for me.  The whole idea of paying $1/song has never sat well with me.  I like listening to the entire discography of an artist I’ve never heard of – I recently became a huge fan of Explosions in the Sky doing this.  I enjoy listening to entire albums, even the less popular songs, to discover hidden gems.  It’s awesome to be able to queue up a few hours of obscure Australian or Greek music to set the ambiance for a themed dinner party (and not have to buy the music).  With some nagging exceptions (Metallica, movie soundtracks), almost all the music I could ever want to listen to is immediately available at no additional cost.  Upgradeable capacity is another hot-button issue for me.  Upgradeable capacity takes away that temptation to pay $50 more for a $20-30 memory-upgraded-model now, and $200 more when the capacity of the shiny new players on the market are an order of magnitude larger than yours.  Buy a 2 GB player right now, and by this time next year, a $30 SD card will probably take you to 10 or 18 GB.

So far, my search is pointing to the Sandisk Sansa e250, which can be had refurbished for $40.  It has a color screen and video playback – I honestly don’t care about this since I don’t care to load TV and movies onto it – if I could find an audio only device like my old Lyra, I’d take it, though I’ll probably find a reason to like the video.  It comes with 2 GB of internal memory and is upgradeable with a microSD card (I would prefer a full-size SD card for cost/capacity reasons).  It has an FM tuner and can record FM radio – not a big draw, but interesting.  It has an internal, rechargeable, user-replaceable battery – another nice plus.  Anyone have good/bad experiences with this player?  Good experiences with another player that seems to hit the criteria?  Just want to tell me to suck it up and buy an iPod nano instead?  Comment away.