Tag Archive for ‘Shaun Inman’

Media Temple Brand Retiring ➝

Joseph Palumbo:

For the past 24 years, Media Temple dedicated itself to serving the needs of the digital creative community. Thus, our mantra—for creatives, by creatives.  This mantra led to our decision that now is the time to retire the Media Temple brand and fully integrate into GoDaddy.

I signed up for Media Temple in 2009, mostly due to the influence of Shawn Blanc and Shaun Inman. Back when Media Temple was first acquired by GoDaddy, I was pretty happy to stick around. But once web browsers became a bit more hostile toward sites without SSL certificates, I moved to SiteGround.

I was still pretty happy with Media Temple overall, but they didn’t offer free SSL certificates or an easy way to integrate with services like Let’s Encrypt. I haven’t been on Media Temple in about two years and I knew this would happen eventually, but it’s still sad to see a service retiring that I had such a fondness for.

➝ Source: mediatemple.net

Bar None ➝

Shaun Inman:

Bar None is an app that lives in your menu bar and ignores all Touch Bar input unless you’re holding the fn key. That’s it.

I don’t own a Mac with a Touch Bar, but I’m very glad this app exists.

➝ Source: shauninman.com

Hacking Mint to Recognize Modern Operating Systems

Despite Shaun Inman’s announcement late last year that he was suspending sales and support for Mint, I’ve continued to use the software to track visitor statistics on Initial Charge. In the eight years since I first installed Mint on my server, I haven’t found anything that offers the same level of simplicity, clean design, and overall peace of mind about where my stats data is stored.

I’ll continue to keep my eye out for alternatives, but nothing’s unseated Mint yet. Piwik and Tiny Stats came close. But no one I know that has tried Piwik has stuck with it and when I tried Tiny Stats, I ran across a few bugs that soured the experience for me. I’ll probably move to something new eventually, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.

UserAgent 007 on iPhone

With my continued use of Mint, there is one bit of code that will have to be updated regularly — the list of recognized operating systems in the User Agent 007 pepper. For those who are unfamiliar with Mint, the software has support for plugins, called “Pepper”, that can enhance the core software’s features. User Agent 007 keeps track of what browser and operating systems your visitors are using, as well as the display resolution and whether or not they have Flash installed (which is far less useful in 2017 than it was in 2007).

In order for UserAgent 007 to recognize operating systems newer than Windows 8 and Mountain Lion — which were added in the last update — you’ll have to edit the class.php file located in mint/pepper/shauninman/useragent007/. I highly suggest making a backup of this file just in case something goes wrong.

Windows Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Within class.php, you’ll want to look for an array that tells Mint how to determine what version of Windows the visitor is using. If you’ve never edited this file before, the top entry in the array should be Windows 8. To add support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, simply add the following two items above the Windows NT 6.2 entry, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'Windows NT 10.0' => '10',
'Windows NT 6.3' => '8.1',

macOS Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Scrolling down a bit further within class.php, you should find an array with versions of macOS listed. The last one should be Mountain Lion. To add support for newer versions of macOS, be sure to add a comma after the Mountain Lion entry and add the following five items, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'10.9' => 'Mavericks',
'10.10' => 'Yosemite',
'10.11' => 'El Capitan',
'10.12' => 'Sierra',
'10.13' => 'High Sierra'

Unfortunately, this doesn’t retroactively change the statistics that have already been recorded. But eventually, the “Unknown” listing will be replaced in your short-term platform stats with properly identified operating system names. And without officially released updates to the UserAgent 007 pepper, as long as you’re still using Mint, this process will have to be repeated as new operating systems are released with the correct version number and OS name. But this will certainly add some longevity to Mint for us users who aren’t ready to move on just yet.

Fever to Feedbin

RSS isn’t as hip as it was during the days of Google Reader, but I still launch a feed reader every single day. It helps me keep up with the latest technology news and ensures that I have a steady stream of independent content to read from my favorite weblogs. Twitter can function in many of the same ways, but I prefer to keep my social network as a platform for communication rather than a news gathering service.

Up until last month, I had been using Fever as the backend for my RSS, syncing with Reeder as my primary client. Fever was a tremendous product by Shaun Inman that I first started using shortly after it launched in 2009. It was a self-hosted RSS reader with an API for developers; a beautiful user interface; and a neat “Hot” feature which listed all of the webpages your feeds have linked to, over a given time period, sorted by frequency.

Fever’s Hot List

Fever’s Hot feature was, by far, the most innovative part of the software. And to this day, I’m not aware of any other RSS service that provides this sort of functionality. It let you step away from your feeds for a few days and quickly catch up with the most important news items without having to sift through everything — Fever did all the heavy lifting for you.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Shaun Inman announced late last year that he would be discontinuing sales and support for Fever as well as his web analytics software Mint. Here’s what I wrote at the time of the announcement:

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaun Inman’s software for years — I reviewed Mint and Fever around the time I first installed them and they’ve been my favorite web analytics and RSS syncing services ever since. But the writing’s been on the wall for both of them for quite some time — development has drastically slowed over the past two years. I expect I’ll continue using them for a while, but eventually I’ll have to migrate to something else.

I still use Mint for Initial Charge’s web stats, but last month I transitioned to Feedbin for all of my RSS syncing needs. The process for choosing Feedbin over all of the alternatives wasn’t exactly comprehensive. The only services I considered were the ones that Reeder had support for and I only actually tried one them. There may be other, better services available, but I’ve been more than happy with the decision I made.

Looking through Reeder’s “Add Account” view, my options were Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, FeedHQ, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Inoreader, Minimal Reader, and BazQux Reader. I immediately ruled out all of the services with ugly logos or poorly designed websites. It may seem shallow, but you can usually learn a lot about whether or not a service is going to click for you based on those two factors. And, honestly, life’s too short for bad design. That left me with Feedbin, Feedly, FeedHQ, and Minimal Reader as the front-runners.

I started browsing each of the service’s websites for pricing information or unique features that would pull me toward one of them. After some investigating, I remembered a piece I wrote from last year about a nifty feature added to Feedbin — email newsletter support. That’s all it took. I signed up for the free trial and became a paying customer just a few days later.

Feedbin Mobile View

There has been a big resurgence of email newsletters as of late, especially from the independent technology weblogs that I frequently read. I’m interested in reading this supplemental content, but my inbox isn’t exactly the place where I want to be reading this stuff. I don’t want anything emailed to me that I can’t act upon quickly. And long-form prose often sits for weeks before I have a chance to read it. I want this sort of content in my RSS reader, where I can either read it immediately or save it for later, depending on my available time.

For me, email newsletter support is the killer feature for an RSS service. But there were a couple other niceties worth highlighting that I discovered during my time using Feedbin:

  • A feed list with bulk actions and sorting: After importing my OPML file, I was able to sort all of my feeds by most recently updated. This surfaced all of the, what I believe to be, abandoned feeds and I was able to unsubscribe with just a few taps. And to further thin the herd, I sorted my feeds by volume and unsubscribed from some of the more frequently updated sites that I’ve lost my enthusiasm for.
  • Actions: This allows you to automatically mark as read or star any feed item that matches a chosen search term. If you’re trying to cut down on the amount of political talk you encounter on a daily basis, this will work perfectly for you.

One of the best aspects of Feebin, though, is its honest business model. You pay a monthly or yearly fee — I signed up for the $30 per year plan — in exchange for the use of Feedbin’s web app and syncing service. Some of the other services weren’t exactly up-front with their pricing — either omitting it from their homepage or making it almost impossible to find without the help of a search engine. Feedly was the worst offender of this, which is surprising because of how well-known they are.

From Feedly’s homepage, I couldn’t find any information about what they charged for their services. I had to search DuckDuckGo in order to find this page that explains all of the pricing tiers. I guess this information is only surfaced for registered users with free accounts. That seems a little dishonest to me. There’s no indication of premium accounts on the homepage and there are even two “Get Started for Free” buttons that could mislead new users into thinking that all of the features listed on the homepage are free for everyone, which is not the case. Many of the features listed on the homepage require a premium account.

Compare that to Feedbin. They have the monthly pricing information in the header, right above a “Try it Free” button. They aren’t trying to trick you into signing up with a false sense that you can just use all of the features without paying. Feedbin is honest and up-front with their potential customers, letting them know exactly what they’re getting into before signing up. That’s the kind of company I want to give my money to. And of course, it helps that they have a well-designed service with great features and competitive prices. I expect I’ll be using Feedbin for many years to come.

Goodbye Mint, Goodbye Fever ➝

Shaun Inman:

As of today I’m officially suspending sales and support of Mint and Fever. But! As self-hosted software, absolutely nothing changes and you can continue using both Mint and Fever as you were yesterday. […]

I am unbelievably grateful for everyone who found some utility, personal or professional, in these things that I built over the past decade. I also want to apologize to anyone who didn’t get their activation key in a timely manner or has had a pre-sale or support request go unanswered for too long. I hope Mint and Fever treat you well for as long as you continue to use them.

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaun Inman’s software for years — I reviewed Mint and Fever around the time I first installed them and they’ve been my favorite web analytics and RSS syncing services ever since. But the writing’s been on the wall for both of them for quite some time — development has drastically slowed over the past two years. I expect I’ll continue using them for a while, but eventually I’ll have to migrate to something else.

This is sad news, but I’m glad Shaun will be able to spend less time on projects he’s no longer interested in and more time on the software that gets him excited to code.

Considering Piwik

Nick Heer, on his decision to install Piwik on Pixel Envy:

I want you to know that I’m taking Piwik for a trial run. Piwik is analytics software that is self-hosted, so none of your information is going to a giant advertising company. I’ve long been an ardent supporter and user of Mint, but it hasn’t been updated for a while so it’s not super great at reporting recent versions of iOS and OS X, for example.

I had never heard of Piwik until John Gruber started a discussion on Twitter over the weekend about whether or not Google Analytics was a privacy-invasive tracker. I saw several responses that suggested he take a look at Piwik, a freely available, open source analytics package that can be installed on your own server or hosted by their cloud service.

I replied to John pointing out his own policy regarding Google Analytics on his Markdown Dingus — preferring not to have analytics tracking to ensure its users that Google couldn’t read what they were inputting into the text field. I also noted that I observed in Ghostery that Google Analytics was loading a tracking script from Adometry on Daring Fireball.

Adometry, as far as I can tell, is a company owned by Google which helps Adsense properly attribute revenue to the sites which contribute to a successful advertisement conversion. I also observed DoubleClick trackers appear on sites like The Loop, which I can also only assume are being loaded because of their use of Google Analytics. I prefer not to be tracked at all, but I’d certainly consider Google Analytics to be a privacy-invasive tracker when it’s sending my data to ad-related services even when I visit webpages that don’t include Google-served ads.

I haven’t used Google Analytics in years because I was always concerned that they were using the collected traffic data for more than just the betterment of the sites who use it. But until this weekend, I never really had any proof of it. I have been using Shaun Inman’s Mint, which I still consider to be a great analytics system. But as Nick points out, Mint hasn’t been updated in quite sometime and I’m starting to wonder if I should switch to an analytics app that’s more actively developed.

There’s a lot to like about Piwik — there’s a native iOS app, it respects Do Not Track, and I’ve noticed others deciding to test it as well (Ben Brooks being one of them). But I’m not jumping in just yet, I’d like to see how Piwik works out for Nick and Ben first and I’m not sure if Piwik tracks RSS subscribers like Mint does with the Bird Feeder pepper. This means I might have to find an alternative solution if I want to switch to Piwik while continuing to keep tabs on the number of RSS subscribers to Initial Charge.

Piwik might not be the best option for every site — there’s plenty of other options if you look around. But those of us who run websites owe it to our readers to not give up their browsing information to third-parties so easily, particularly when it’s not happening transparently. At least you have some idea of what’s happening when you visit a page that displays Adsense ads, but that isn’t the case when you visit a site that simply uses Google Analytics.

I would especially like to see John Gruber move Daring Fireball away from Google Analytics. He sparked this whole conversation to begin with and is someone who cares deeply about treating his readers with respect. And I think the respectful thing to do would be to stop sending his reader’s browsing data to third-party, ad-related tracking services like Adometry.

Sunstroke for iPhone

I was very excited to try out Sunstroke when I first heard that it was coming to the iPhone just a few days before it’s release. When it finally came I was not disappointed.

Sunstroke is an RSS client developed by Gone East that syncs with your installation of Shawn Inman’s Fever. The client works just as advertised. It gives full access to your feeds, saved items, and hot links which are the most popular links among the RSS feeds that you subscribe to.

Navigating through the application is easy and intuitive, tapping on a feed group will list all of the items in that group with options along the bottom to show read items and to toggle between sorting by feed or by date. Tapping on the arrow along the right will list all of the feeds in the chosen group if you’d like to read items from a specific feed.

From the individual item view you can tap on the title to open the item in Sunstroke’s integrated browser or you can save it using the button on the bottom left. If you’d like to jump to the next or previous item in your current list you can use a pull-t0-refresh like action to move between them, which I’ve found incredibly handy for those feeds where I want to read everything published. Along the bottom right in the individual item view there is a sharing button that can be used to open the item in Safari, tweet the link, email the link, or send the it to Instapaper. And, there are even more options for sharing in the application’s settings alongside the ability to show unread counts and tweak some of the application’s behavior.

The Hot Links feature works just like you’d want it to, giving you the option to change the date range along the bottom of the screen. The links are listed with the corresponding link temperature along the right so that you have an idea of how popular a given link is among the feeds that you subscribe to. Tapping on the link will bring you to the web page unless you’re subscribed to that sites RSS feed, in which case it will display the individual item without having to load the web page at all. And, tapping on the arrows along the right will list all of the RSS feeds that have linked to that page.

I don’t find myself using the Hot links very often, only if I haven’t read my feeds in a few days and want a way to catch up quickly. I’ve always been more of a “subscribe only to feeds that matter so that I can scan every headline” kind of guy. But, I still find it useful on occasion.

The design of the application is just wonderful, using a cool (or should I say hot?) white, grey, and red color scheme that makes the applications stand out among most of the feed readers I’ve seen for iOS. The application even pops on the iPhone home screen because of it’s bright red icon.

The application feels really stable to me only hiccuping a few times during the month that I’ve been using it. The few errors that I’ve gotten were that the Fever installation was unreachable but it’s unclear whether that was the application’s fault or a blip with my web server. What I do know is that I haven’t seen the error in several days and I’ve never had the application crash on me.

If you, like me, have fallen in love with Fever but want something that’s a little bit faster for viewing your feeds on your iPhone, I suggest giving Sunstroke a try. The application is $4.99 which may seem high compared to other RSS clients on the iPhone. But, most of those clients aren’t worth your time. And, Sunstroke is competitively priced with other (what I would consider to be) premium RSS clients like NetNewsWire and Reeder. But those clients only sync with Google Reader, and I enjoy using Fever much more than I ever enjoyed using Google Reader.

Sunstroke – $4.99

Millinaut ➝

Neat flash game created for Ludum Dare’s 72 hour online game jam by Shaun Inman, Neven Mrgan, and Alex Ogle