Jonas Martinsson's Blog

Nov 12, 2007 - Apr 29, 2008

Using FeedJournal #1: Choosing Feeds to Import
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 13:36 Mar 3, 2008

This is the first in a series of posts describing how you can make FeedJournal into the newspaper you always wanted. Future planned posts in the series are " Filtering Active Feeds", " Sending Any Web Page to Your Next Issue" and "G etting Full Articles from Summary Feeds". My RSS subscription list weighs in at 105 feeds today, which I believe is a normal number. How do I figure out which feeds will benefit from being moved to FeedJournal Reader? To get to the answer, I ask myself 4 questions to see if a feed belongs in my regular RSS reader or in FeedJournal Reader: • How likely am I to be interested in reading a random article in this feed? I subscribe to this feed for a reason. If I am not interested to read all stuff in the feed, it typically means that I am digging for gold, waiting for that golden post to arrive. If that's the case, I would be better off reading it in Google Reader, and when that golden post shows up I may tag it, and subscribe to the tag in FeedJournal. • What is the length of articles published in the feed? If the articles are too short it might not be ideal to have them printed, as FeedJournal really shines when it comes to reading longer articles, uninterrupted. If the posts are short, odds are you

will be able to read them with equivalent comprehension in your electronic RSS reader. • How urgent is it for me to read new items in this feed? If the feed contains alerts that I need to act on ASAP, I want to have them in my regular RSS reader, using a priority tag/folder, instead of wasting time printing them and maybe reading it half an hour later. • How likely am I to be wanting to follow a link to get more information? If the feed contains short summaries or referencing other resources on the web, like a new software patch or a forum post, I should be reading this on a computer. Expert geeks might want to look into wrapping such feeds with Yahoo Pipes and move the linked content into the actual feed - to have it ultimately served to FeedJournal. These four questions can serve as rules of thumb for identifying feeds which might not be ideal for subscription in FeedJournal Reader. Feeds which pass these questions, will serve as excellent news sources for your print edition, and soon you might start to consider these bloggers as journalists. As an example I will describe how I picked out which feeds to move from my Google Reader account to FeedJournal Reader. First, I divided my 105 feeds into categories: • Niche blogs (Blogs specializing in subjects close to your heart): 36 subscriptions

• Friends' blogs: 6 subscriptions • Local content (local bloggers and newspapers): 5 subscriptions • Product blogs (software and service updates): 30 subscriptions • Ego searches and my blog comments: 16 subscriptions • Discussion fora: 6 subscriptions • Alerts of new media (podcasts, video blogs and torrents): 6 subscriptions Your feed subscription list can probably be categorized in the same sections. Let's examine the characteristics of each category: Niche blogs is the largest category, hosting one third of all my subscriptions. These are the primary candidates for FeedJournal. As FeedJournal will print a maximum of

8 articles per feed in one issue (a limitation which will soon be history), you should ask yourself if you could afford to miss an article or two if the feed is very active. An excellent solution to feeds with too heavy traffic, no matter if you are reading them on paper or not, is to route them through AideRSS, a free service that filters out less popular articles from any feed. Blogs of friends I want to keep up with is usually an excellent group to use with FeedJournal. It's very neat to have your friends' blog entries in your morning (or evening) paper! Local content also works very well to have printed in your newspaper, especially if you're reading FeedJournal on public transportation as it might be fuel for conversation. You might also run into the blogger and break the news about her promotion to journalist! Product blogs, ego searches, forum alerts and media alerts typically have content that requires access to a computer. These feeds normally belong in your RSS reader's subscription list. As you can see, about half of my regular feed subscriptions (47/105) are candidates for being moved to FeedJournal, where they will have a better life. They will be printed on quality paper where they will have an imtimate tete-a-tete with the reader, without interruptions from e-mail, IM or twitter alerts. And, it's better for your eyes.

Release Retrospective
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 14:33 Feb 26, 2008

It's been an interesting week. On February 19, the brand new FeedJournal Reader service launched and created a small buzz, boosting my daily unique visitor count to 10,000. Seven days later the traffic is still up there, and I thought it's a good time to do a retrospective to see which lessons could be learned form this experience. What I did to promote the release: - Sent a press release with - Submitted suggestions to major Web 2.0 blogs and media. - Notified 30 powerful sneezers. - Blogged about it Before the release I always imagined the press release would be my strongest card for generating buzz. I figured print media should be interested in a technological innovation related to their field. As

far as I know, the press release was only picked up by one source(online) plus Google News, so that was a big disappointment. I suspect might not be the best service for publishing press releases. I chose them because I knew Google News would pick it up, and I thought that would be worth something. Next time, I'll go with another service. More encouraging was that Download Squad picked up the news extremely quickly. I had been unsuccessfully pummeling them with suggestions to mention FeedJournal Publisher back when that was released. No doubt that Reader is sexier than Publisher, so I don't blame them. Lifehacker followed suit, being tipped off by Download Squad, and suddenly all the traffic I ever dreamt of was coming my way. gHacks were also quick to post a review of the Reader service, and from those 3 sources the news rippled through the blogosphere.

Unfortunately my hosting provider couldn't handle the traffic! It was painfully clear to me from looking at my inbox that anyone who visited the site ran into server errors. Bad...very bad! What should I do? It was late and my head was spinning. I made a calculated guess that it must be the newly enabled image support that was the culprit. Fortunately I had a readily available switch for it, and I hit it. The service seemed to be back in action. Some hours later, I posted a short message on my blog about the scaling issues and the temporary image disabling (re-enabled by now). Unfortunately many of the comments on the big blogs originate from the time when the site was experiencing problems. I was surprised to see the number of blogs simply regurgitating the initial announcement from the big blogs. These "posters" don't offer anything original, and I am not talking about link posts here. Perhaps it is some

rogue SEO technique used to score incoming links; no matter what's the reason, it smells fishy. It has been fantastic to get loads of e-mails with feedback, comments, praise, feature requests, bug reports, you name it. I am pushing all of that into my to do-list. The reception of the service has been great, more positive than I had dreamed of. Generally people either love it or think it's silly- but many many people think it is innovative enough to try it out or even more importantly, mention it in online discussions. In summary, you can't say but that the release has been a success, by measuring the number of users. I should have prepared better for scaling issues, but with a little bit of luck I managed to solve it in a satisfactory manner. Now it's time to look forward and to deal with the items in the to do-list!


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Reading on Paper vs. on Screen
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:59 Nov 12, 2007

How We Got Here
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 10:42 Jan 5, 2008

One of the basic premises behind FeedJournal is that it's better to read text on paper than on a screen. While it might not sound like a bold assumption, it still is an assumption and as such worth to examine deeper. Today, office workers and many other professionals are required to focus their eyes on a computer screen during most of their work day. Many of them continue to use the computer at home. FeedJournal was created with many goals in mind; one of them is to release you from the screen while enabling you to read the content you love. You shouldn't have to spend more time reading off a screen, just because you want to access fresh and relevant content. Recent research has found that reading a longer text on paper is 25% faster than reading the same text on a computer screen. At the same time, reading comprehension and article overview are improved. Although screen resolutions have increased and font rendering technologies such as ClearType make it much easier to read on the screen, the experience is still not as comfortable as when reading on paper. But the largest problem with reading on the computer is that your attention is constantly being diverted. These diversions come in many forms: an incoming e-mail or an instant message, an ad flashing in the

corner of your eye, a teasing hyperlink in the article text, a critical software update alert that pops up, an alert that your laptop battery needs charging, your other browser tabs needing attention, etc, etc. I could go on for a long time listing frequent diversions begging for your mouse click. On top of that is the page navigation required to scroll the text it doesn't require a rocket scientist but it's still an additional interaction you can't escape from. The situation gets even grimmer if you choose to read you articles on a mobile device. Not only that you have the same digital diversions as a regular computer user, you will need to make do with a much smaller screen estate. Readers of text on paper typically concentrate fully on what they're doing, while readers of screen content are either hard at work fighting off distractions or have resigned to giving the text only cursory attention. It is actually a small wonder that anyone manages to read longer articles on a screen. Which is too bad, considering that the quality and diversity of content has literally

exploded with every blogger now being a amateur journalist, publishing content on a more or less regular basis. In the face of this, how does it sound to you to have a printed newspaper in your hands while sitting in your favorite chair, and just read. I'm not talking about just any newspaper, I am referring to the newspaper you have personally defined, with articles from your favorite sites and blogs. This is what FeedJournal offers, a better chance of keeping your attention on what you choose to read. With these arguments I am not trying to stop you from reading RSS feeds on the computer or on the go. I do that all the time. I am simply saying that feeds with longer content greatly benefit from being read in paper format. Feeds with shorter alert -type content (new version released, ego searches, answers to blog comments, etc.) is perfect for the RSS aggregator on your computer, while FeedJournal is optimal for subscribing to feeds with longer article content. In a future post I will describe how any web page you visit can be marked for publishing in your next FeedJournal Reader issue. FeedJournal Reader is still in development, but expect private beta testing e-mails to be sent out shortly. FeedJournal Publisher is available today for bloggers who want to be read on paper.

Monitoring reactions of FeedJournal Reader's beta testers is very interesting. This is a project I've been living and breathing for two years now, and it feels great to make it available again. FeedJournal had a short life as a Windows desktop application during the 1st half of 2007. This was subsequently removed in order to pave way for the web solution, which today is called FeedJournal Reader. That decision was made as a result of a blog poll, which showed a strong preference for a browser-based product. Along the way of finalizing the first version of FeedJournal Reader, I noticed some interest among bloggers and content providers to publish their articles as a PDF newspaper. As such a solution would be much simpler and faster to implement, and would offer a theoretically easier way to generate income via subscriptions, I decided to take a detour in the development work and offer FeedJournal Publisher first. Today, FeedJournal Publisher is a healthy baby. Many blogs take advantage of the basic free service (sans images), and it's been garnering positive reviews in the blogosphere. The full version with the whole shebang is available as a free demo to try out by contacting me.

HOWTO: GTD with Google Docs & PocketMod
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 11:36 Dec 26, 2007

Take control of your unwieldy to do -list by combining Google Docs and PocketMod. With the system described here you will always be ready to take notes, and never run the risk of losing an idea! I use a subset of GTD (" Getting Things Done") by having a digital copy of my next actions, sorted by context (@Home, @Office, @Shopping, @Computer, etc.). This lets me easily look up what I need to do, depending on where I am. However, a digital copy is not very useful by itself, since it is not accessible when I am offline. Putting it in my PDA is not ideal either, since the overhead of adding a new note is too big (turning on the device, opening the right application, having it recognize my handwriting). That's why I print out my to-do list on paper once a week and carry it in my pocket. It's the ideal way of accessing

and editing tasks. Before I print out a new list I spend a minute or two copying the edits from my old printed list to the digital copy. So the question is, what format is preferred for the digital copy and how do I best print it? This question has lead to an unending debate among GTDers, and David Allen, the guru himself, doesn't offer any concrete suggestions. For me, it is important to be able to access the digital copy from multiple computers. At the same time, the printout needs to be small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. I have previously blogged about the advantages of managing your to do list with the online GTD-application Toodledo. I especially like the way it lets you print your tasks as a folded credit-card sized 8-page booklet, easy to carry with you at all times. Unfortunately, to be able to print a booklet with one page per context, a Toodledo Pro package subscription is required. It's only $14.95/year so it might be a good deal for some, but I was looking for alternatives.

Actually, you can achieve the needed functionality for free by using a combination of Google Docs and the PocketMod converter. Together with a Pilot G-2 XS pen, which always writes and fits great into even the smallest pocket, you are always ready to take notes, and never risk losing an idea! Below, I describe the system I use. Requirements: • A free Google Docs account. If you own a copy of Adobe Acrobat (not the free Acrobat Reader) you may use that instead and skip the 3 first steps below.• PDF to PocketMod converter. This Windows-only application will be used to shrink the 8-page PDF into a single page.• A PDF reader ( Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader) for printing the final result. Steps: • Import my document template into Google Docs, by choosing "Upload" from the main menu. In the field "Or enter the URL of a file on the web:", e n t e r "

docs/gtd-template.html" and click the "Upload File" button.• Customize the document so that it will be useful to you. Enter your contact information and the contexts you need, and make a brain dump of your current tasks.• From the Google Docs file menu, choose "Export as PDF..." and save the document as a PDF file on your computer.• Open "PDF to PocketMod converter". Click the "Open PDF" button and select the file you saved from Google Docs in the step above. Next, click the "Save as PocketMod" button, name the PDF file for the booklet and wait for the process to finish.• Print the file generated in the last step using your PDF reader.• Cut the printed sheet and fold it into an 8page booklet according to these instructions. Next week, reopen the document, copy your edits from your booklet, and continue from step #3. Enjoy! Technorati Tags: gtd

Images Are Back
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:12 Feb 25, 2008

Just a quick note to let you know

that image support is re-enabled with yesterday's update and everything seem to be working well so far. Next up here on my blog, will be a post reviewing the FeedJournal

Reader release. During the weekend the site was blasted with traffic, and I with e-mail; I'm sure there are a lot of lessons to learn from that experience. After that I plan to run a series of

posts describing how to best take advantage of FeedJournal, and how it integrates with different 3rd party services.

Jonas Martinsson's Blog


Web Page Change Alert without RSS
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 10:38 Apr 29, 2008

Bankroll-Breaking Even Money Bets
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 11:45 Dec 16, 2007

Some ten years ago I ran Gambol, a short-lived gambling fund that invested money in statistical sports betting. I even managed to convince gullible friends to invest. Eventually, the fund lost all its money to the online bookmakers, and I tried to figure out what went wrong. I ran lots of simulations to better understand what had happened, and in one of them I encountered something remarkable. Recently, I was indirectly reminded about the paradox I had discovered, which I still have a hard time to understand intuitively. Here's the story of our gambling hero Andrew, who despite being an intelligent gambler, here takes a tumble and loses his entire bankroll. When Bob offers Andrew to flip coins for even money, Andrew wrongly assumes that this couldn't possibly be a losing proposition. The catch is that Andrew needs to bet x% of his bankroll on each coin flip. He is free to choose the value of x himself, provided that x stays the same throughout the game. Theoretically, the expected value of each betting round is +-0 for Andrew. His chances of winning each coin flip is 50%. When he loses a flip, his

bankroll decreases by x% and if he wins he gains the same amount. Andrew decides to bet 10% of his bankroll, which is $100. Let's take a look at possible scenarios for the outcome of the first rounds. After the first betting round Andrew's new bankroll will be either $90 or $110. If he ends up losing the first bet, his bet for the second round will be $9 (10% of his new bankroll of $90), and if he wins the first bet, his second bet will be $11. After round two he will end up in one out of the following four scenarios: • 1st round lost + 2nd round lost: $81• 1st round lost + 2nd round won: $99• 1st round won + 2nd round lost: $99• 1st round won + 2nd round won: $121 It is important to note that in 3 out of 4 cases Andrew is a loser after round #2. Theoretically, each bet is even money, and the average bankroll in the four scenarios remains $100 but still Andrew is likely to be a loser in the long run. The more betting rounds there are, the more likely Andrew is to eventually lose his entire bankroll. There is also a chance that he will win a lot of money, but that chance is getting slimmer and slimmer for each betting rounds he participates in. After the third round Andrew happens to be back at a 50% chance of being a winner, but this is

just a temporary fluctuation as he is again a likely loser after the fourth round. Below is a graph showing how Andrew's bankroll develops in 50 simulations of 2,500 betting rounds, betting 10% of an initial $100 bankroll. After 2,500 bets the best case out of the 50 simulations has Andrew's bankroll at less than $60. The blue line in graph below shows how many of the 50 initial scenarios are in the black (with a bankroll not smaller than the initial $100). The red lines displays the average bankroll over the 50 scenarios. The average bankroll should have stayed around the initial bankroll, since the expected value of the bet is +-0, but due to the limited number of simulations (50 in this case), we eventually run out of winning scenarios. No matter how many scenarios I choose to run, I can always make the average bankroll go down towards 0 by running enough betting rounds. This bet, which theoretically is even money, makes you lose your money in real life - a fascinating paradox! Note that the final outcome where the bankroll dwindles towards 0 does not change, no matter which value is chosen for x (the ratio of your bankroll wagered on each round). Technorati Tags: game theory, gambling, martingale, kelly betting

Real Newspaper Thumbnails
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:52 Dec 5, 2007

FeedJournal now creates an authentic thumbnail of the generated newspaper's Page One. An example can be seen in the left column of this blog. Existing widget users don't need to worry, the functionality has been

automatically rolled out and is available to you now. Every time you generate an updated newspaper of your blog, an accompanying thumbnail is generated as well. If you use the widget on your blog, it will automatically find the location of the thumbnail. For those of you who like to write your own HTML code, the image is in the same path as the generated PDF file - just replace the

".pdf" extension with ".png". This service is available to all FeedJournal users. Users of the free basic service get a thumbnail sized 140x200 pixels, while silver and gold members will have the ability to customize the size (soon to be available). If anyone needs this customization urgently, just give me a shout and I'll get it done sooner.

Once upon a time I wrote a desktop application named ContentSpy. It let you monitor web pages for changes, and notified you as updates became available. When I recently heard of the new Google App Engine being launched, I figured I would take a stab at porting ContentSpy to that platform. I am happy to report that I stopped my endeavors, after stumbling upon ChangeDetection, which offers exactly what I envisioned, for free! Another good thing coming out of this discovery is that it won't distract my focus from working on FeedJournal... According to Alexa, ChangeDetection has been online since 02-Nov-1999. On the other hand, their Alexa history is only available since last summer. Wayback Machine doesn't have any historical records either. Technorati's oldest indexed post referencing ChangeDetection is from December 2007, so I assume it's a new service. Besides, I can't imagine it having escaped me for that long! Anyway, ChangeDetection is wonderful in many ways! It sports a simple Google-like interface and sign -up procedure, and offers all the relevant features. I currently need this service because I want to buy a mobile phone from the local operator and expect prices to drop soon. So I simply tell ChangeDetection to monitor the price list page for me. When a change becomes available I am notified by e-mail with the actual change highlighted. Another site I added for monitoring is IBM's " Ponder This" challenge. Each month IBM publishes a new brain teaser for the community to solve. Amazingly enough they don't offer any way of subscribing to new challenges, but ChangeDetection comes to the rescue once more. I don't see RSS feeds and ChangeDetection overlapping in any way. For my private use, they are perfectly complementary. All sites have pages not covered by RSS feeds, and there will always remain sites that lack feeds completely. ChangeDetection is optimally suited for monitoring modifications on these pages. I welcome you to add comments to this post about pages of public interest that you have chosen to monitor with this service. Please, go check it out!


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Using FeedJournal #3: How to Publish Anything
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 14:32 Apr 22, 2008

This is the third post in a series on how to best take advantage of FeedJournal Reader. Today, I describe how you can select any text to be published in the next issue of your personalized newspaper. If you are like me, you are probably receiving links to interesting online articles from a multitude of sources: e -mail, newsletters, ads, feeds, etc. I find that more and more relevant and interesting information is becoming available online, but I usually don't have opportunity to read it at the time of discovery. I would like to file it away and read it later. The simplest strategy would be to bookmark the web page and browse my bookmarks once I have some time available. I could use my web browser's bookmark feature, an online boomarking service like Furl or, or use Instapaper. Provided I am online, these solutions allow me to access the relevant articles, but they don't allow me to read the article uninterrupted. As I often touch upon in my blog, there is a fundamental problem with reading long texts on a computer. I

suggest printing the articles on paper so you can concentrate fully on the reading task at hand and thereby use your reading time more effectively. A more bulky, but interesting, alternative to paper is of course the ereader devices, which are doing an excellent job of emulating the experience of reading printed material. If you decide to go the route of printing your reading list, you might find FeedJournal Reader a very attractive solution. It's a service, which allows you to subscribe to news feeds and periodically publish them in a personalized paper. To make your paper even more valuable, you can mark any text not in your subscription list to be published in the upcoming issue. Below is my preferred recipe: Ingredients(all free): One Google Notebook account with the browser extension (optional) and one FeedJournal Reader account. Scenario: You have browsed to an interesting article but have no time to read it right now. Instructions: Select the text with the mouse, right-click on the selection and choose "Note this (Google Notebook)". The text have now been saved to your Google Notebook

account. Make sure it is added to a section marked as shared, as it enables RSS feeds from the notebook. Grab the feed URL from the public page of your Google Notebook and subscribe to it in FeedJournal Reader. Once you subscribed to that section's RSS feed, any additional entries you add to Google Notebook will be automatically published in FeedJournal Reader. Another solution I have been successful with is Evernote 2.0 which replaces Google Notebook's functionality in the scenario above. Evernote is still in invitation-only beta mode, but looks very promising since it offers client applications for both web, Windows, Mac and mobile platforms. I have invites to share for accessing Evernote beta, so just let me know if you would like one. UPDATE (Apr 24, 2008): As Ken Lawrence correctly pointed out to me, the Evernote solution does not work for FeedJournal, because it cuts off the notes if they are too long. This correction only invalidates the last paragraph of my blog post. Using the suggested Google Notebook service works as advertised. Thanks, Ken!

GTD with a Full Inbox
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 9:38 Feb 7, 2008

FeedJournal Reader Is Launched
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 20:51 Feb 18, 2008

The time has come for FeedJournal Reader to get rid of its private beta scaffoldings. All users are now able to try the free service I've spent many nights on. Welcome in! I dislike beta tags so I am not sticking that label to FeedJournal Reader, despite it being a young solution. While I consider it to be stable, I will closely monitor how my web hosting provider handles upscaling the traffic. The launch doesn't mean that I am planning to start to go to bed early. Far from it, I'm eager to continue working on new features for both the Reader and Publisher services. So please keep those feature requests, bug reports and comments coming. I'm committed to make FeedJournal a first-grade solution, both in terms of usability and usefulness - and I won't be able to do it without passionate users. A big "Thank You" to the testers for their comments and encouragement!

Here's the press release: FeedJournal Reader Launches Free Service for Generating Personalized Newspapers FeedJournal Reader lets web surfers generate a personalized newspaper from any web source, using awardwinning technology. The free Internet service allows users to fetch news content from more than 100 million blogs and other news sources worldwide, and print it out in newspaper format. Tel Aviv, ISRAEL - February 19, 2008 - FeedJournal today announced the general availability of FeedJournal Reader, an Internet service for generating your personal newspaper. Users of the free service can select web feeds from more than 100 million bloggers as well as many other web resources. "The realization of FeedJournal Reader turns every blogger into a journalist", says Jonas Martinsson, who founded FeedJournal in early 2006, and has since managed the software development based on his original idea. "The long tail of the blogosphere has finally reached printed traditional media. Today's

newsrooms cater to a general audience while FeedJournal puts the editorial decisions in the hands of each reader." FeedJournal Reader accepts all RSS and Atom feeds, and transforms them into a PDF file, in the format of a traditional newspaper. The user can then print it out and read it offline, where interruptions are typically less frequent. Research has shown that reading on paper is 25% faster then reading on screen; and reading comprehension is much higher for reading texts on paper. About FeedJournal FeedJournal was founded by Jonas Martinsson and is the original solution provider of personalized newspapers. In 2006, the prototype to what is today FeedJournal Reader won First Prize in Microsoft's "Made In Express Contest". FeedJournal also offers a Publisher version where content providers, such as bloggers or non-printed newspapers, can offer visitors a printable version of their content in newspaper style.

"Getting Things Done" (GTD) tells you that keeping your inbox empty reduces stress. I like that. However, continuously removing and filing incoming items requires effort, especially if you're getting lots of email. I've been toying with an alternative solution lately; one where you don't have to actively file e-mails but still get the benefits from the GTD process. My idea is that instead of your email client opening the inbox by default, you instead go to a custom view with all your unread and starred/flagged messages. That way you will only see e-mails that are action items. By using this approach, e-mails will automatically disappear from the list as soon as you've opened them. If you need to follow up on an e-mail you simply star it and it will be visible in the start view until you remove that star. GMail does not officially support saved searches, but there are simple ways to make this work. Basically you can save a search as a browser bookmark and then use that to open GMail. Bookmark GMail Action Items(drag and drop it to your bookmark menu) to save a GMail view of unread items in your inbox plus any starred items. At GMail Search Bookmarks you can create a bookmark for your own GMail search. The syntactic reference for search queries can be obtained from Using advanced search at Google Help Center. I tried to to something similar in Office 2007, but couldn't figure out how to write logical operators (and, or) for custom search folders. Anyone knows if that's possible? Technorati Tags: GTD, GMail

Linux Compatibility and Smaller PDFs
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 13:25 Dec 2, 2007

Marco let me know that he wasn't able to open files generated with FeedJournal on his Linux PDF readers, including Linux-based e-

book readers iLiad and Cybook. It turns out that PDF readers running on Windows are more tolerant when parsing the format. By debugging the problem I found that null characters are appended to the end of the PDF file, making it unnecessarily large and causes

problems on Linux. It was an easy fix and everything should now work fine on all operating systems and readers. If you despite this still have problem to open FeedJournal PDF files on a specific piece of software, please let me know. If anyone has an opportunity to try it on the Amazon

Kindle reader I would be happy to know the results! Expect PDF file sizes to shrink by up to a couple of hundred kilobytes with the new code deployed on the web site!

Jonas Martinsson's Blog


The Newspaper Nosedive
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 11:15 Jan 7, 2008

"Is FeedJournal a threat to newspapers?" That's the most common question people ask when they first hear about FeedJournal. As I see it, FeedJournal is not a threat by itself, as much as the blogosphere it represents. Readers today have seen the light in the form of the blog; fresh thought-provoking content from their favorite writers are just a mouse-click away. They don't care if the writer is a journalist at NY Times or someone with a free Blogger account. What they do care about is that the content is niched, relevant and fresh. If the readers on top of that has the opportunity to interact with the article and its author by comments - so much the better. Blogging means different things for different people. One important, and significantly large, group of bloggers write regularly, and on topic. These are the writers who are willing to take on the new role of the independant journalist. The smaller the niche, the larger the chance of keeping your readers. With this, we have the long tail of journalism. Mainstream

newspapers cannot possibly compete with that. For example, I subscribe to a blogger who writes about my home village in Sweden, interspersed with stories from my new home, Israel, where she used to live. A traditional newspaper cannot possibly compete with that. Another example is the wealth of feeds about online publishing - high quality content where new innovative ideas are discussed and put forth daily. A traditional newspaper cannot possibly compete with that. The future role of the traditional newspaper is about to change. These papers are continuing to cater to an average reader with average interests. By trying to tread this middleway, the newspapers are deperately trying to keep their reader base lukewarm, while the readers turns to blogs for the stuff they're passionate about. The

only way newspapers can compete is by niching themselves. The prime example of this is the local newspaper, specializing in a smaller geographical region. These local newspapers have struggled lately as subscriptions have slumped, but by the single virtue of specialization they could very well be the heirs of tomorrow's dying newspaper industry. The problem with being an individual journalist in the long tail of the blogosphere is that it is terribly difficult to make a living from it. Who will pay for the content being offered for free on the blog? Surely, online advertisements will not provide monetary benefits comparable to what the newspaper pays today. As the number of not-forprofit journalists/bloggers increases daily, the future looks more and more grim for the traditional journalist. This post was inspired by yesterday's article " Journalism at the Crossroads: Change Or Die" by Scott Carp of Publishing 2.0. That post collects a nice set of links narrating the decline of the newsroom. Don't miss the zesty comments.

FeedJournal, Booklet Style
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 14:09 Mar 9, 2008

It's great fun to monitor Technorati for blogs posts talking about FeedJournal. There are some innovative usages out there and one of my favorites is from Nik Codes, who outlines how he uses FeedJournal in the restroom! Don't worry, the link is safe for work." I printed out Coding Horror and it really did feel like Jeff Atwood in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times." Nik also mentions how he uses BookletCreator for folding FeedJournal into a nice booklet, a great suggestion which I'll be sure to add to the FAQ.

Et Tu, Google?
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:15 Nov 20, 2007

Q10 - The Beauty of Simplicity
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:05 Jan 17, 2008

Reading long articles on a computer is painful. Writing them can be even more painful. The problem is the constant interruptions and alluring distractions the computer brings. An e -mail alert here, and ad there, and then there's that cool flash game I furled this morning. My solution for uninterrupted reading is to print articles, preferably in FeedJournal format. The offline alternative to writing is of course a success-story, implemented by all authors of the past. Good old pen and paper. The problem is that sacrifices are made when writing offline: I type faster than I write; I get more pain in my hands from writing; spell and grammar check are unavailable. That's why I have been looking for a way to write uninterrupted and still use the computer. One option would

be to choose a word processor's fullscreen mode, to limit distractions. It has proven to be a poor option for me. Microsoft Word is not designed very well for that mode of operation and there are redundant and annoying features you can't easily remove from the system. Sometime last year a slew of freeware applications that promised a clean writing environment popped up on the web. The concept got me hooked, but the realizations left much to be desired. I thought I had investigated all the options out there when I today stumbled upon Q10, a Windows freeware application that provides a solid solution for writing without interference. By default, it blanks your screen and you just start to type. While there are some optional bells and whistles, what really attracts me to Q10 is the beauty of its simplicity.

Google was recently granted a patent on personalized newspapers. Until now, I have been having the market all to my self with FeedJournal, but I welcome the competition. A player like Google can really help to boost the awareness for these kinds of solutions. Yes, I am one person, and Google is somewhat larger than that. But still, I think it is a good sign that FeedJournal-like sites start to pop up. It will increase multitude, and the competition will help to drive the projects forward and prevent stagnation. In the end, users will gain by having better products. The granting of the patent seems somewhat dubious to me, considering that FeedJournal has been alive and kicking for a long time. The patent could have been a good requirements specification document for FeedJournal. I am obviously very curious to see where Google is going with this, if they decide to use the patent to build a product. Will they offer both a

reader and a publisher version of their product? How will they integrate advertising? They definitely have big potential to integrate many of their existing services into a new solution. But don’t worry! I’ll continue to put late hours into FeedJournal. Small operations like this one depend heavily on word-of-mouth, since time and resources don’t allow much else in the way of marketing. So please, any mentions of FeedJournal is greatly appreciated. I am grateful and indebted to my small but dedicated group of enthusiastic evangelizers (Joel, Simon, Mike, and many others), who helps me to build a better newspaper.

FeedJournal for Facebook and Bebo
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 14:02 Jan 17, 2008

Are you on Facebook or Bebo? With the help of FeedJournal you can now use those platforms to widen the reach of your blog. Share a newspaper edition of your feed on any of the major social networks for free! To get started, simply visit

FeedJournal Publisher, fill in your feed URL and follow the instructions on how to add the application to your Facebook or Bebo page. As previously announced, FeedJournal already has installers for iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Piczo, Orkut, Hi5, Ning, plus a generic JavaScript snippet. Technorati Tags: facebook, bebo


Jonas Martinsson's Blog

Reader Enters Private Beta
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 12:50 Jan 1, 2008

A few days ago, FeedJournal Reader became available to a select group of devoted beta testers. The service, which is free, generates a newspaper with the latest content from your favorite feeds. The beta has been received very well so far. As expected, some minor bugs remain to be squashed before the service will be publicly available. In order not to keep you in too great anticipation of what to expect in FeedJournal Reader, here's a rundown of the basic functionality: • Simple and Intuitive AJAX interface for adding and removing feeds from your subscription list.• Categorization, although it does not

yet effect the final PDF.• Quick selection of articles to publish: "Everything since the last issue", or "all articles published during the last X days".• A checkbox to override individual articles to include or exclude from the newspaper.• Newspaper customization of paper size, paragraph count and margin size.• Image support is disabled for new users. I am still figuring out for whom this feature will be enabled. This is the simplest feature set I can go live with and still offer a valuable service. My aim is to let user requests drive further development in order to avoid feature bloat and keep the service simple. Please keep suggestions and feedback coming, either via the contact form, in the forum or in the blog comments.

Phrase Finder Completes Your Sentences
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 11:37 Jan 14, 2008

Using FeedJournal #2: Google Reader Integration
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 22:30 Mar 30, 2008

This is the second post in a series on how to best take advantage of FeedJournal Reader. Today's post describes how you can integrate FeedJournal with Google Reader, the most popular web based RSS reader . As I pointed out in the previous article, you'd rather keep feeds with shorter articles in your old RSS reader. Still you will daily run into articles in Google Reader that you wished would show up in FeedJournal Reader. To do that, simply tag the article with "to FeedJournal" in GoogleReader.

To set up articles with this tag to be automatically published in the next print issue of FeedJournal, you have to make the tag public. This setting is available in "Manage Subscriptions" below Google Reader's subscription list. Click on the Tag tab and toggle the tag's state to public. This makes the "view public page" visible. At the bottom of the public page's right-hand column is a link to the RSS feed. That's the RSS feed you need to subscribe to in FeedJournal Reader. Once you've made the tag public and subscribed to it, you can keep tagging articles in Google Reader to make them appear in your next printedition of FeedJournal. Good Luck!

How frustrating it can be to have a phrase dangling on the tip of your tongue, unable to find the right way to finish it! I wish there were a search engine that could answer questions like: • What is the most common preposition after a specific verb?• How do people typically finish a specific phrase?• Which words usually lead up to this end of a sentence?

Well, now there is! I built Phrase Finder where you can enter a part of a phrase and find out what are the most common word combinations before and after that phrase. You can search up to 6 leading words and 6 trailing words after the specified phrase unless the clause or sentence finishes before. To get the results, I parse and analyze the top 1,000 hits from Yahoo Web Search. As a bonus, it's pretty darn fun to play around with, especially if you're a word geek.

Bug Squashed In Generate Newspaper
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 23:38 Mar 12, 2008

Today's update to FeedJournal Reader includes a fix for an annoying bug which occurred sporadically. Error messages about trying again after you hit the "Generate Newspaper" button should now have

been rooted out. The update also includes some site optimizations to Reader. I am currently probing the market for a more reliable web host; so if you have positive experiences from an ASP.NET + SQL Server hosting company I'll gratefully lend you an ear.

FeedJournal Reader Updates
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 13:48 Feb 4, 2008

FeedJournal Adds Multilingual Support
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 13:45 Apr 16, 2008

Those of you who follow the FeedJournal updates in the discussion forum know that quite a few updates have trickled in lately. The most significant of those is probably the free inclusion of images for all users of FeedJournal Reader. I was initially toying with the idea to try to charge money for image support, but have since come to my senses. The feedback from the private beta testers have been very positive and the ride has been surprisingly smooth so far. I expect to launch the service within the coming weeks. The

Experimental support for additional languages is now available in FeedJournal Reader! You set your language in "Edit Profile". This update adds support for

the following encodings: Eastern Europe (Latin 2), Cyrillic, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Windows Baltic and Vietnamese. The right-toleft languages have not been tested yet so there are probably still some issues with them. Please let me know how it works in your language!

features I want to get in before are: • Global image switch when generating your newspaper (handy when you want to save ink) • JavaScript optimizations So, all in all, we're very close to a launch - crossing my fingers!

Images Temporarily Disabled in Reader Due To Heavy Traffic
By Jonas Martinsson (Jonas Martinsson - Blog)
Submitted at 19:27 Feb 20, 2008

I wasn't prepared for the massive amount of traffic influx that suddenly hit FeedJournal Reader yesterday. I know that some of you ran into errors

due to the heavy load, and I apologize for that. As a temporary measure I disabled image support in FeedJournal Reader. But don't worry, images will return soon! I am working hard to find a new and better scalable solution.

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