Google Reader Apocalypse Extremely Fucking Nigh

Those dicks at Google are shutting off Reader at the end of the week, and the world is in a mad tizzy trying to find a feed reader that will continue to function.

First a word on why it is stultifyingly stupid that this is even a problem in the first place:

I want to read my feeds on three devices: a desktop computer, an iPad and an iPhone; and have all three of them know what I've already read. Simple, right?

I'm reasonably happy with Reeder on all three devices, and I was reasonably happy with NetNewsWire before it.

So if you want to keep "what I've already read" in sync, all you need is to store that state in some shared area. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of different, low-impact ways to share a single .newsrc file among three devices: Dropbox, iCloud, IMAP, CalDAV... the list goes on.

Instead, these people all decided instead to depend entirely on the Google Reader web site for storing that state, and so now they're fucked.

Once Google inevitably fucked them all, Reeder, instead of doing the obvious thing and storing its state on Dropbox, has decided to cozy up with some new Google Reader clone web site, that you have to pay for, and, oh, sync only works on the iPhone version, not Mac or iPad. Wha? Is there anyone in the world who needs to sync their feeds between two different phones? I kind of doubt it.

So, Reeder's dead.

Currently everyone and their mother is scrambling to write some new web-based replacement for Google Reader, but I don't want that, even a little bit. I want a pair/trio of apps that synchronize. I have no interest in reading my feeds through a web site (no more than I would tolerate reading my email that way, like an animal).

So, of this new batch of tail-light-chasers, the best reviewed of the bunch is Feedly.

I spent an hour today using it. It's horrible. I almost gave up after ten minutes but I made myself stick it out for a full hour, since there really don't seem to be better options and I wanted to be sure.

On the plus side:

  1. It's very pretty.
  2. Importing my Google Reader feeds was easy.

But here's what's wrong with it:

  1. There is no documentation. None. You'd think a feed reader wouldn't need much in the way of documentation, but they tried to "innovate" the UI in all sorts of "creative" and non-obvious ways, so, yes, it's a problem. As just the first example you'll encounter: in a list that begins with "Today" and "All", that "All" doesn't actually mean "All", it means "All Unread". Self-documenting my ass.
  2. There is no desktop version, only a web page. There's also a Safari extension, but I can't tell what if anything it did when I installed it. Maybe it alters the web page in some way? I have no idea. See also: no documentation of any kind.

  3. There is no Next button! You go to the next article by swiping right. This might sound like a good idea to someone who has gotten high on some kind of high-octane "designer" fumes -- button-clicking, it's so passé! we swipe now! -- but as someone who actually tried to use the thing it's a disaster for two reasons:

    1. It's an RSI horror-show! Seriously, after ten minutes, both of my hands hurt from the thumb to the wrist from all the swiping.

      Using this thing will cripple me.

    2. Swiping horizontally only works about 2/3rds of the time anyway. A ridiculous proportion of the time, when I tried to swipe horizontally, it would interpret that as vertical swipe instead. And once a vertical swipe has begun, you can't reinitiate a horizontal swipe until the screen has stopped jiggling up and down in its spastic skeuomorphic dance.

      Here's me trying to go to the next article:

      • Swipe
      • Swipe.
      • Swiiiiipe.
      • Sigh.
      • Tap. Hold. Release. Wait.
      • Swiiiiiiiiiiiiiipe. There it goes, finally.

      This is the most annoying thing since the fact that you can't click on the Trash button in the iPhone Camera app until it has stopped doing it's wiggly little dance from deleting the previous photo. You have to actually sit there and wait for the animation to end before you can click it again. SKIP INTRO, MAN. Heresy.

  4. There's a list of articles, one per line, stacked vertically on the screen. After you've scanned your eyes to the bottom of the screen, how do you see more? You scroll it up, right? Ha ha ha. No. You swipe right. Madness.

  5. There's no "Unread" indicator. If I want to mark an article as unread to come back to it later, I have to pop up the "Share" menu and click on the "O" (see also: no documentation) and the only way you know whether you've clicked on it properly -- instead of missing it by 2 pixels and just dismissing the menu, which looks exactly the same -- is to notice the brief flash of text saying "marked as unread" at the top of the screen that then immediately vanishes. So I end up doing it at least twice because I never know whether it took.

  6. The UI (in the iPad version) hangs solid all the time. I think it might lock up every time it encounters a post with an embedded Vimeo video in it, but I'm not sure. What I do know is that when I encounter one of these toxic posts, this is the dance I do:

    • Realize I can no longer swipe.
    • Click the home button.
    • Either kill the app, or just launch it again.
    • It displays its splash screen for 20+ seconds, then crashes.
    • Launch it again. Wait while it re-polls all the feeds.
    • This time it works... but every article that I read last time is unread again! So as I try to page forward through them, the one that makes it crash is still lying in wait like a landmine.

    This is unforgivable. Not losing user data is the prime directive of any application. What I've already read is the only data this app generates and they lose it.

  7. There seems to be no gesture to mark an article read without selecting it -- like some kind of swipe on the article list or something -- so as far as I can tell there is no way to delete these landmine-articles without doing "Mark All Read". But, maybe there is and I just haven't discovered it -- see, again, no documentation at all.

  8. I can't pinch-zoom to zoom in on images. They scale to the width of the screen and no larger. Come on.

  9. There's no way to edit the "vertical ellipsis" menu to leave out the mysterious, incomprehensible icons of services that I do not use. (They think the Safari icon is an arrow in a circle. "Clipboard" is a piece of chain. WTF?)

  10. "Mail" always mails the whole HTML page instead of just a URL. It does not even include the URL. WTF? And it includes not one but two self-advertisements for Feedly in the HTML when it does so.

All I want is a version of Reeder that stores my .newsrc on Dropbox.

And that has a "Next" button on the right side of the screen as well as the left. Oh god please yes.

But we can't have nice things.


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Youtube download escalation

Youtube has deployed further youtubedown countermeasures. I do not yet have working counter-countermeasures.

When extracting URLs from the url_encoded_fmt_stream_map you have to append a &signature= parameter to make it work. This used to be in the urlmap as sig=, but now it is sometimes s= and encoded differently: when use_cipher_signature=True, you have to munge it before it will work. Consensus seems to be that this is actually a cipher, not a different kind of hash. I translated the cargo-cult Javascript code I found here to Perl, but it doesn't work. (Pretty sure my translation is correct, so the algorithm is wrong.) Some discussion here.

Dear Lazyweb, any ideas?

We need a working version of the decipher_sig() function in youtubedown. Or, alternately, a URL that returns the old-style un-ciphered signature.

Some examples of videos that are no longer downloadable: Chvrches, Emika, Icona Pop, Gotye.

Previously, previously.

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