“Old women’s summer”

Indian Summer (Wikipedia)

Indian Summer (Wikipedia)

 Altweibersommer, aufgenommen in Niedersachsen im September 2006, trees and gras with cobwebs

Altweibersommer (Wikipedia)

It’s warm! We’re in the middle of “Altweibersommer” (German: old women’s summer). The phrase probably comes from the word “Weiben” for weaving or cobwebs, and not “Weib”, that is wife or woman. In either case, it’s related to the silks, which some spiders use to fly to a new place, particularly this time of the year. They do look a bit like the hairs of old women, don’t you agree?

If you want to know more about Altweibersommer, you can check out the German Wikipedia, or look for the equivalent phenomenon called “Indian Summer” in English.

And don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine!

Note to self: Coffee does not help

Roasted coffee beans

Roasted coffee beans (Wikipedia)

I really should have learned this by now, but I seem to still need this reminder: When I’m tired and unmotivated, coffee will not increase my productivity. It does make me more awake and alert, but not necessarily in a good way. I also get jittery, less focussed and more easily distractible. Small and ultimately unimportant things keep popping up in my mind, when they should be buried in the subconsciousness for the time being. They are usually tasks that can wait until the evening, the next day or whenever I have scheduled them. Coffee seems to be an ally to these small tasks against me and my big goals, such as my DPhil.

So, no coffee whatsoever for the next two weeks! I have just stocked up on tea bags, so I should be fine. 🙂

Goodbye, Post A Week

So, I guess, I failed the Post A Week challenge, massively. My last post was in early March, almost 10 weeks ago. Well, never mind. Like I said in the beginning, I do this mainly for fun. Recently, I just preferred other things to writing blog posts. That doesn’t mean that I have to stop completely, but I allow myself not to have a target schedule anymore.

Thank you, WordPress.com, for the idea and the challenge! Maybe, I’ll try again next time. To anyone who is still on the Post A Day/Week challenge, keep up the good work and enjoy!

How to get a list of your blog posts on your website

I have recently updated my website. One of the things I wanted to include was a list of my most recent blog posts. Well, not the whole posts, but the titles of and links to them. I searched a bit and found RSS-to-JavaScript.com. It does exactly what I had hoped for and is also damn easy to use. Paste/type the RSS feed address into one text field, choose a few options and click on create JavaScript. Then you can copy that code snippet and paste it into the html file of your website. Or a local file if you want to create your very own RSS feed reader. (I’m getting ideas there …) To also include my twitter updates, I used the twitter widget.

You can admire the result here not anymore, unfortunately.

Instapaper vs. ReadItLater

While searching for ways to get blogs on an eReader, I found two services, Instapaper and ReadItLater, which do pretty much the same: Offering a way to temporarily save links to websites/articles/blog posts/you name it that you would like to read, but don’t have the time for when you find them. This reading list can be accessed online from multiple devices and suitable content can be shown in a reading-friendly text/article view. I have used them to separate the sorting of my RSS feeds in google reader and choosing the interesting pieces from the actual reading. Not seeing the number of unread items, most of which I’d only skim over anyway, makes the reading much more relaxed and enjoyable. However, I have switched between Instapaper and ReadItLater back and forth and can’t make up my mind which one I prefer.

I like the ReadItLater add-on for Firefox. It is so convenient to add the open site via a little button in the address bar and mark it as read in the same way. And with another button you can either open your reading list in a little pop-up or go directly to the next unread item, depending on which setting you prefer. Furthermore, ReadItLater allows you to download all the content of your reading list onto your computer, so that you can still read when offline.

Instapaper offers a bookmarklet to add the current site to the reading list, but to read or mark a site as read you have to visit the instapaper website and find that site in the list first. I do have hope that there soon will be a full Instapaper add-on for Firefox, though, as a full API has just been released.

I am also not quite sure which reading view I prefer. ReadItLater has more options to change the layout. But it strips out all pictures and delivers pure text. I like having the pictures belonging to the main text in there as well, though. In some cases, bits of the text were even missing in the ReadItLater reading view, in other cases, Instapaper would not be able to produce the reading view at all, whereas ReadItLater was perfectly fine.

Finally, Instapaper has native support for eReader formats such as epub and the one for the kindle, whereas you need separate applications to transfer ReadItLater content. This might eventually be a deciding feature, but without an eReader, I cannot try this out yet. So I will continue switching and trying for a while, and hoping that the two people behind Instapaper and ReadItLater get together and merge their services soon.