Monthly Archive for August, 2007

Ditching Safari RSS

I have finally stopped using Safari‘s built-in feed aggregator [Wikipedia]. It’s not that it’s a bad feed client – I actually think it’s quite good for providing basic functionality. It’s also not that that I wanted to use a more advanced stand-alone package (I have plenty of other software toys to amuse me). No the main reason was that it was simply affecting my productivity.

Essentially the simple beauty of the way Safari RSS works is also a curse. Feed subscriptions are stored as bookmarks and appear within the normal bookmark interface with the number of new articles shown in parenthesis. So, every time you navigate the bookmark feature your mind is distracted by other people’s latest blog posts.

It’s even worse if you organise your browser bookmarks the way I do – all either on the Bookmarks toolbar or in sub-folders of the toolbar. Consequently I always have an advert in my browser window trying to entice me away from whatever productive I’m work I’m trying to do. For an avid blog reader, it’s just as poisonous as the dreaded email notification icon.

So I had to free myself. Consequently, I’ve turned Safari’s RSS features off and installed a separate standalone feed aggregator, Vienna. I’ve not tried any others but it seems nice enough. It has smart folders as well as conventional ones and I think I’ll be much more effective at organising my feed subscriptions now that they are separate from my browser bookmarks.

Tip for anyone else considering dumping Safari RSS: See Export OPML out of Safari RSS [macosxhints.com] for a quick and easy way to migrate your feed subscriptions into your new feed reader – assuming, it can import OPML files [Wikipedia].

I’ve also found some side benefits of the change:

  1. Safari is now ever-so-slightly less of a randomly crashing memory hog with the RSS feature turned off.
  2. If Safari continues to annoy me with it’s randomness there’s no more RSS shackle stopping me from going back to using Camino.

Violent attack on imam at Regent’s Park mosque

Worshippers arriving at the Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park for Friday prayers were greeted by a police cordon following an incident that took place earlier that morning. The mosque was re-opened at 1.15pm just in time for the congregational jummah prayer.

I had refrained from posting anything until now as I wanted to independently verify my understanding of events but the MCB have now issued a press release which supports the story I heard: Yet Another Violent Attack on a UK Imam [mcb.org.uk]

Essentially someone attacked the imam (a very recent appointment, generally considered a nice chap who was noteworthy for speaking very fluent English) following the end of the Fajr (dawn) prayer. The attacker was apprehended by a security guard but not until both of the victim’s eyes had been severely gouged by a metal implement. The imam has had emergency surgery but apparently it’s too early to know to what extent he will recover any sight.

In their press release, the MCB link this event to a recent trend of attacks imams and mosques across Britain by anti-Muslim bigots. I don’t know what additional information they have about the attacker but I think it’s premature to jump to any conclusions as to their motivation.

Update, 13 Aug 2007: The ICC have now published their own press release which is more non-committal about the motivation of the attack:

… questions naturally arise whether the present climate of Islamophobia is responsible for such [an] unprovoked and violent assault in a place of worship … [the] Metropolitan Police have not as yet established whether this particular crime was motivated by racial hatred.

Update 2, 13 Aug 2007: The story has now been picked up bizarrely, by the Scotsman: Man charged over attack on Muslim cleric at mosque

Finally – UK requests return of British residents at Guantanamo

It’s taken four years but finally the government has requested the return of UK residents held in legal limbo in Guantanamo Bay:

The UK government has requested the release of five British residents from US custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Source: UK Seeks Guantanamo men release [BBC News].

Of course, there is actually a sixth British resident being held by the US authorities at Guantanamo. No reason has been given as to why the new British request does not cover him. So there may still be more work to do. Nevertheless this is a very positive development.

Some of this will but put down to a change in Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in the UK, and I’m sure that that has had an impact. Yet I wonder to what extent its also down to the ongoing shift in attitudes in Washington DC, where for some time now they’ve indicated a desire to be rid of Guantanamo?

FSA makes bank charges situation worse

Over the last year or so the situation with usurious bank charges in the UK has got ridiculous with the county courts and ombudsman services getting increasingly bogged down by consumers claiming refunds. The regulator had to act but the FSA seems to have done so in a way that actually makes the situation worse, not better, for consumers.

There’s a good article explaining why here: It’s Vital You Still Claim Your Bank Charges [Motley Fool].

Basically the FSA stipulation gives the banks, county courts and Ombudsman an excuse for putting off consideration of your case, until after the Office of Fair Trading’s pending High Court case has been resolved. That could take years. Unless you take specific action now you may lose the ability to reclaim all your charges since you are normally only able to claim back 6 years’ worth.

The Motley Fool article includes a link to a petition asking the FSA to change tack. Please consider signing it in support of all claimants.

UPDATE 2 Aug 2007: The Fool has since revised it’s advice: Some Good News From FSA On Bank Charges. It’s still imperative to act promptly, however.