The surreal world of wikiHow

I think there are some shenanigans going on at wikiHow. In the last week or so there have been some very odd combinations of articles appearing on their RSS feed. Today’s was How to Win a Street Fight, Tuesday’s was How to Pick a Pet Tarantula and How to Get a Windows Live Mail Account. Last week we had How to Create a Credible Villain in Fiction followed by How to Start a Beauty Salon and then How to Restart a Furnace After Running out of Oil.

Is there some kind of missing link here I’m not seeing? Well I least now I know that whilst petting a tarantula in my successful beauty salon I can easily put a stop to any street fights outside. Bizarre!

FeedDemon 2.0 Out!

One of my favouritest programs, FeedDemon, officially went to version 2 a couple of days ago after quite a long beta period. FeedDemon is an RSS reader that works kind of like Outlook. Its a stunning piece of software. I can’t believe I’ve been using it for nearly two years, it certainly doesn’t seem that long! I’ll have to do a useful utils write up on it at some point since it is something I use nearly every day.

The list of changes from version 1.5 to 1.6 (not officially released) to 2.0 is huge. The two biggest changes for me are the feed navigation and NewsGator integration.

FeedDemon16 FeedDemon20

FeedDemon 1.6 left, FeedDemon 2.0 right

In pre-version 2.0, a drop down list was used for the feed / subscription folders which to be honest, I thought worked fine. However its now been replaced with a treeview, as you can see above. It has made a big difference to usability. You can see all your folders at once and as you navigate through it can be set to automatically expand the folder you’re in, and close any others. You can very quickly jump between unread feeds by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + J. Its also nice to be able to see what folders have updated feeds to look at.

Now having a NewsGator account means I can just login with FeedDemon to keep up to date with my feeds in one place, which is ace. It sure beats storing them on a pen drive and carting that between machines, like I used to do!

I have to admit I was slightly reticent to the NewsGator takeover of Bradsoft at first but it seems to have worked well. The fact that Nick has been able to keep FeedDemon’s identity and character, as it were, is great. I had a fear that it would just be rebranded and merged in with NewsGator’s other products and forgotten about. Thats definitely not the case.

I’m looking forward to future versions of FeedDemon, I’m curious to see what they’ve got up their sleeves next!

GameSpy wants me back!

I got this email from GameSpy / IGN Entertainment MegaSuperCorp today:


Persistent little buggers that they are, its the fourth one I’ve received in as many months since I cancelled my FilePlanet subscription back in December. Makes a change from the usual boring corporate style ones you get that word themselves in such a way that its looks like they’re hard done to by offering you such a super offer.

Now I know I could unsubscribe from getting them but at some point I may take them up on their offer. Its just at the moment I don’t have the time to be downloading demos and wotnot.

Multitasking Bad, Serial Working Good

I stumbled across this interesting post on Creating Passionate Users about how multitasking makes people stupid. I totally agree. The logic is that its quicker to do four tasks one after the other (i.e. in serial) than to try and do the four at once (multi-task). This bit in particular that made me smile:

Whenever I talk about the big myth of multitasking, people always come up to tell me how they themselves just “have the kind of brain that can do this.” Riiiiiight. They don’t. I don’t. You don’t. And maybe you’d realize it if you turn off your cell phone, disable IM, mute the little “ding” alarm that says you’ve got email, and just sit there for a few moments.

The big problem for most young people, it seems, is that they don’t know how to “just sit there.” They get the shakes after just a few minutes without media stimulation.

I know from experience that its just not possible to do more than one thing at once properly. At work I concentrate on doing one thing at a time. If say I have to work on something else, I make sure I park whatever I’m currently working on in a good state and switch over.

Unfortunately I’m not quite as successful doing that in my own time. I tend to drift onto other things and end up not getting anything done. However, it is something I’m working on. The almost daily posts to this site are part of that process! I think that with work I have more motivation (other than the obvious) in that whatever I’m working on must be done.

As the post points out, and the Times article it links to, it seems that in todays modern world, there are more distractions than ever. I’m lucky in that my workplace doesn’t use IM or anything like that but I do tend to close Outlook and any other apps I don’t need, put on my headphones and some music and get on with whatever I need to do.

Programming is one task in particular that needs high levels of concentration and as little distraction as possible. I work with a chap who has amazing levels of concentration. There can be all sorts of noise (phones ringing, printers going, people burping) and he’s just in the zone, coding away. I asked him once how he could do that and he said he grew up in a noisy household (several brothers and sisters) and said if, for example, he wanted to read a book, he’d just blank out the noise. I wish I could do that!

Darwinia wins award

I wasn’t even aware there was an Independent Game Festival, but there is. The grand prize went to Darwinia. Its great to know that work created by independent peeps gets some kind of recognition, especially when its something as good as Darwinia.

A first this year is that they have awards for game mods. I can’t say I’m surprised, the amount of effort that goes into them now is immense. I remember though when it started with the cheesy map editor for Wolf 3D. I went in and tweaked all the maps to have more treasure in so I could get up the high score board!

Info from ArsTechnica.