Future Programming on Quora

Quora has introduced the idea of “spaces”. A kind of “blog” or curated collection of existing answers from different people, to help organize answers around particular themes.

I just created a Future Programming Space to gather my answers about various ideas in the future of programming languages.

I still intend to move my answers to this blog and the ThoughtStorms wiki. But in the meantime, there’ll hopefully be a good collection / conversation over there.

QuoraGrabber is Dead!

Long live RSS Backup!
Really, a separate script / project just to back-up Quora is overkill. Now I have a more general script for backing up from any RSS feed. (Which I’ll be able to use to ensure I have copies of what I write here and on Composing.)
I also made it a bit saner at keeping the useful HTML markup (ie. links etc.)
It’s on GitHub.

Google's New Email Tabs

There’s a lot of discussion going on around them. Eg. on Quora.

I started writing a comment on a comment where Tim Bushell asks :

why shouldn’t they be “red”, “green”, “blue”?

ie. user-defined or neutral.

But then felt it would be better here :

Probably because Google have a database of thousands of email addresses and patterns that they’ve classified into these categories of “social”, “promotion” etc., and with this move they’re basically giving you, the customer, the benefit of that classification scheme.

They assume that if you just want to program your own categories and sort accordingly you’re already doing it via filters.

What probably didn’t occur to Google was that the world is full of people who WANT to be able to define their own categories and filters but never realized that GMail (like every email client in the 20+ years) already HAS this feature.

What’s happening is that just by showing people tabbed email, they’ve suddenly woken everyone up to the fact that your email client can be programmed to filter emails. (Who knew?)

What happens now is going to be interesting.

If Google know how to listen, they’ll take advantage of it, add the ability to define your own tabs, integrate it seemlessly with the existing filter architecture of GMail (maybe improve the UI of that a bit, eg. drag / dropping between tabs) and get to bask in the adoration of having “reinvented email”.

If not, they’ll keep the two systems separate (ie. filter-definition hidden away where most people can’t find or understand it) and not only will the opportunity be squandered, but many people will continue to hate the tabs.

Quora Scraper

I love Quora. It’s a great site and community. But I started getting a bit concerned how much writing I was doing there which was (potentially) disappearing inside their garden and not part of the body of thinking I’m building up on ThoughtStorms (or even my blogs).

Fortunately, I discovered Quora has an RSS feed of my answers, so I can save them to my local machine. (At some point I’ll think about how to integrate them into ThoughtStorms; should I just make a page for each one?)

Anyway here’s the script (powered by a lot of Python batteries.)

And this turns the files back into a handy HTML page.