Last week my family spent several days in a very nice all-inclusive hotel about an hour's drive from Cancun, Mexico. It was great to get away, and as with most vacations I take, I deliberately avoided watching the news (choosing instead to relax under the sun with a good book).
So it was a complete surprise to discover that a grisly double homicide took place at the hotel while we were there. My wife and I were stunned to hear about it, especially since we saw no indication that anything out of the ordinary had happened (we noticed no unusual police presence, for example).
We had talked about visiting the same hotel later this year, but we're not so sure now that questions have been raised about how local authorities have handled the investigation. There is some speculation that they've attempted to pin the crime on non-locals to avoid hurting tourism in the area (which is already reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma). Needless to say, we'll be watching this story closely over the next few weeks.
FeedDemon 2.0 Beta 2 is now available, and as promised in this post, the synchronization features are now much faster than in previous versions. In fact, I think you'll find beta 2 a lot faster in a number of areas. And, of course, it also features a nice assortment of bug fixes and additions.
Other than the performance boosts, I think my favorite change is the ability to schedule the desktop alert so that it "bundles" new item alerts and only displays after a certain number of minutes. In other words, if you're subscribed to a lot of feeds, you no longer have to be interrupted by an alert every few minutes :)
Other additions of note include:
Standard scary warning: Keep in mind that this is a pre-release, which means it's not done yet! So please don't download it unless you're comfortable using unfinished software. If you do download it and run into problems, I hope you'll let us know by posting in the FeedDemon Beta Forum.
I had hoped to get beta 2 of FeedDemon 2.0 out this week, but unfortunately we've had to delay it for a few days. To make up for this, I'll spill the beans about the Easter egg that's in the first FeedDemon 2.0 beta:
FeedDemon Easter Egg
Just noticed that we've officially announced our NewsGator Hosted Solution (NGHS), which enables publishers to quickly and easily create web-based RSS solutions. I got a sneak peak at NGHS several weeks ago, and I was impressed with it. Techie that I am, I especially liked the tag-based language which enables defining the layout of various RSS components (it sort of reminded me of ColdFusion in its combination of power and simplicity).
I spent most of last week at NewsGator's office in Denver, and while I was there I spent some time with Gordon Weakliem. Gordon is the brains behind NewsGator's synchronization API, and he provided some tips that will really speed up FeedDemon's synchronization features.
The way the current beta of FeedDemon 2.0 works, synchronized feeds are downloaded just like non-synched feeds: when it's time to update them, FeedDemon checks each feed for changes. But our sync API makes this unnecessary: instead of downloading every feed, I can just ask NewsGator which feeds have changed since the last update, and then download only those feeds. As you can imagine, this makes updating your feeds a whole lot faster - so much so that even if you don't need to keep your subscriptions synchronized between computers, you'll probably still want to use the sync features to take advantage of the huge speed boost.
Expect to see this enabled in FeedDemon 2.0 Beta 2, which should be out sometime next week.
Update: If you're a developer who uses our sync API, be sure to read Gordon's post about NewsGator API Best Practices.
As most readers probably know by now, the second beta of Internet Explorer 7 is out, and it offers some nice improvements such as tabbed browsing and feed reading. I'm far too biased to comment on the actual feed reading experience in IE7, but I would like to make some unrelated comments for the IE7 team.
First off, I'm sure I'll get questions from people wondering when FeedDemon will support the new Feeds API, but right now I'm afraid I don't have a definitive answer for them. If I was just starting out with FeedDemon, I'd be happy to support it and avoid writing all the ugly code to handle feed downloading, caching, parsing, etc. But since I've already coded that, supporting the API requires a lot of extra work, so there's less incentive to support it right away.
More importantly, I haven't seen any statement about what Microsoft plans to do with the user's feed (attention) data, and I can't give customer data to Microsoft without some idea of how this data will be used. For the record, I don't mean to suggest that they have "nefarious plans" here - it's just that if an application is supposed to hand the user's data over to Microsoft, some reassurance that this data won't be misused is necessary.
Also, I'm concerned about how the feed API appears to let any application access the user's feeds. I realize this is a beta and the documentation isn't complete, but I do hope that there will be a way for the user to keep certain feeds private to specific applications. Related to this, how are secure feeds handled? Can any application read the user's password-protected feeds, or is there some mechanism in place to protect against that?
Last point about the feeds API: I'm really glad to see that the raw XML of each feed can be accessed, but I'm not sure whether applications can store extra metadata in each feed. Is this possible, or does FeedDemon need to store this metadata somewhere else once it supports the API? I'd prefer that it be stored within the actual cached feed, so that different applications could read each other's metadata.
OK, now that that's out of the way, here's a smattering of other feedback regarding IE7 Beta 2: