Sunday, 13 November 2005

Mousetrap - 27

MS Orifice
For many years, this site was known as [censored], under which name it gloried till, I think, last year or the year before, when it also became available under the more socially acceptable URL you see here. (For the curious – not you, junior, go back to the previous item, there’s a good lad – you can still find it under the name that begins with “F.”) No prizes for guessing that the site’s founder is not part of Bill’s fan club. Aside from articles telling you what various people think is wrong with MS products, the site also has a long list of alternatives for those who’d rather not be in thrall to Redmond. And there’s also a forum. Viva la revolution.

Peer review
All the action happens in an area 18pixels square. News, games, downloads, a gallery (!), some graphics, links... Go see. Just remember not to set your monitor to very high resolution.

Feed for thought,
Most blogs (and many news sites), offer you free feeds. So, instead of visiting each site, you get updates from all of them in a single window, via a feed reader service or application like these. Bloglines is a great service I’ve been using for ages. Google’s new Reader is making waves, and is worth checking out. The open-source browser, Firefox, offers you instant subscriptions via a little orange button in the bottom-right corner, and also via its Thunderbird mail and newsreader. To subscribe to a site’s feed, look for icons for “RSS,” “RDF,” “Atom,” “Site Feed,” etc. Most applications can also help you auto-discover feeds – simply feed in the URL, and the app will find its feed. Once you line up your subscriptions, it’s as easy as checking email. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink: here’s a feed you could subscribe to:

In your hands
Phone Feeds
If you hold you cellphone far, far more than you do the hand of your Significant Other, baby, you have trouble. But never mind. If that handset can do the WAP thing, you can use it to subscribe to news and blog feeds (see previous item), thanks to this free service. You’ll have to first go to the site via your computer, and find out whether it offers a WAP-compatible feed. If not, you can enter the RSS or Atom feed URL into the box on this page, and it will generate a free WAP-accessible feed that you can then access via your phone.


Non-Blog of the week
Since I’ve already hit you with two blog-related items, no blog this week. Instead, hehehehe...
Patron saint
The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Blogs didn’t start out as personal diaries, but now that’s the norm, rather then the exception. This site brings you the writing of a man whose name is practically synonymous with the diary: Samuel Pepys, the 17th Century Englishman who faithfully recorded his thoughts on his life and times. It presents his diaries as if he were writing them in the present, rather than in the 1600s, with the diary entry of January 1st, 1660 posted on January 1st 2003, and succeeding entries following on from there. Pepys’s writing habits are faithfully followed – he wrote about each day’s events late every night, so expect fresh entries at 11 p.m. UK time. It’s much more than a straight reproduction, though: there are summaries, notes, lots of background information, all profusely hyperlinked and easy to navigate. If old Sam had been alive today, he’d have been a blogger.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 13th November, 2005.

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