weRead – what’s new?

Ever since I blogged about iRead back in April, a lot has changed. We have introduced tons of new features, and there is really not one place where we have captured all of them.

So this is my attempt to describe the features to our readers.

  • iRead is now called weRead and we have partnered with Lulu
    This post from our official blog has more details.
  • We now have a destination site
    You don’t have to login to Facebook or some social network to access weRead. You can directly access your bookshelf from our destination site. If you have already used weRead in Facebook or one of the social networks, you can link your account and access the same account from the destination site.
  • Connections – find people like you
    This Facebook feature allows you to find people who have similar book tastes like you. You can look for people of a specific gender, people in your network and people in specific age groups.
  • We now have friend activities in the homepage
    We now show activities from your friends on weRead in the homepage. This helps you keep track of which books your friends have been reading, and if they have participated in any discussions.

    Activity of friends on weRead

  • Book discussion boards
    This is the place to discuss with your friends and network about your favorite books, what you liked, what you didn’t like, why someone should or shouldn’t read a book.
  • Author discussion boards
    If you want to discuss about a specific author, talk about what works of an author are good, or what you would expect his next book to be like, this is the place to do it. Check out the latest discussions here.

    AC Discussion Board

  • Author profile claim
    Are you an author? Then you should be on weRead. weRead makes it ultra simple for you to setup a profile and interact with your readers. Writing a new book? Want to know who might like it? Want to get suggestions from your readers? Want to promote your book on various social networks? Start here

    weRead for authors

  • New catalogs
    We now have catalogs from Amazon, Google and OCLC integrated into weRead. This means you have a whole range of books to choose from. More catalogs are coming soon.
  • weRead is now available in multiple languages
    weRead is now available in 6 different languages – English(US), English(UK), German, French, Spanish (on Hi5 only) and Portuguese (on Orkut only). We have more languages being added soon. Want weRead in a local language? Help us translate weRead here.
  • We now have limited previews of books from Harper Collins and Google Books and full preview of some books from Gutenburg
    This will give you some sort of a ‘bookstore experience’ by allowing you to preview books.
  • See how a book fares in your network
    Curious to know how a book has been rated by people in your network? We now give you near realtime statistics about a book – how people have rated the book in your network, how many people own the book, how many have marked it favorite etc.
    Find who has read a book in your network
  • Readers now have a profile page which displays their bookshelf
    Each weRead user gets his/her own personal page that they can then share with their friends, bookmark, etc. In order to set up your own profile page, link your account from Facebook to our destination site and click on the “Profile” link in the top blue bar. Check out my profile page here.
  • Readers can showcase their bookshelf in their blogs and other sites
    Want to advertise your bookshelf in your blog? It’s simple! Go to your profile page and then click on ‘Take weRead with you’, get the code and put it in your blog. You also have some customization that you can do before you get the code. Check out a demo here.
  • The Facebook Wall application allows you to post information about books, write reviews etc directly from the Facebook Wall.
    You can now chuck a book at your friends directly from the Facebook wall. Go to your Facebook profile page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php. Under the Wall tab, you should see the Books iRead option. Clicking this opens a dialog that allows you to pick a book from your shelf or search for a book and chuck this at your friend.

    Facebook weRead Wall application

  • Similar authors
    Under every book detail page, we show similar authors that will help you discover authors who write books similar to the one that you are viewing.
  • Mis-spelt searches
    weRead now has builtin suggestions in case you make a misspell some work while typing your query.
  • See more like this
    We have launched some kind of a ‘Stumble upon’ feature. When you are viewing a book in weRead, you will see a button ‘See more like this’, clicking which, takes you to a random but related book.
  • External integration with OCLC
    We now power the OCLC related books and reviews.
  • We have also moved to bigger and more powerful servers, which means a better user experience for all our readers.

As you see, we have been busy! We have tons of new and exciting features lined up and we promise to provide feature updates as frequently as possible. A lot of these features revolve around making weRead a truly social application.

By the way, you can get some quick updates on weRead in our Twitter page.

Happy reading!

PS: Features and feature names are subject to change.

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Who do we believe?

As information is becoming cheaper everyday and as we are getting access to more and more information, I see one problem. There are certain ‘well known theories’ which are being proved to be untrue. Also of how ‘facts’ are generated when in fact it had never really occurred. These are things that we studied during our schooling as ‘facts’.

On one side, this is a good thing. It makes you question everything you read or hear and not just accept things blindly. But on the other side, it makes you feel, well, then, what do we believe?

Wikipedia is a classic example of information accuracy and the arguments around it. Do you trust Wikipedia? Take an example of a controversial article – say Scientology, or about Crop Circles, or say the Nazca lines. Would you believe what Wikipedia has to say? Well, isn’t there a slight possibility that the theory is wrong, especially when there are mathematicians, archaeologists, physicists or historians who subscribe to either sides of the controversies.

What if a vast majority of the people actually believe something that is actually not true? Wasn’t the earth believed to be in the center of the solar system and that the sun revolved around the earth?

Here are some things that I came across in recent days:
1. The theory of evolution and the theory of Intelligent design.
2. The Sphinx mystery – is Sphinx older than it was initially thought to be and does it have connections to mars?
3. The Aryan invasion theory – did it really happen?
4. Global warming a myth?
5. Aliens and UFO’s – has anyone really spotted them?
6. Man landing on the moon

Well, the list is endless. If you look for information on any of these, you will see tons of information that can convince you either ways.

Not all of us are mathematicians, not all of us are theoretical physicists. Nor do we have the time to verify every single ‘fact’ we come across.

So the question is how do we believe what we read and who do we trust and believe?!

It's official – Lulu partners with weRead

So finally the news has been made official.

Lulu today announced partnership with weRead (iRead).

Lulu is a platform that enables wanna be authors, musicians and other creators to bring their work directly to their audience. Publishing is free, and the lack of middlemen means that the freedom lies in the hands of the creator. Lulu was founded by Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat and an extremely successful entrepreneur. Lulu is the world's fastest-growing provider of print-on-demand books.

With this partnership, there are several exciting things that we are looking at.

With weRead, Lulu users now get a simple way to make their creation available on all popular social networking sites and promote their work. As for weRead, users get a much larger catalog of books, some of them which are not available anywhere else.

Well, this is definitely just the tip of the iceberg and we see several other exciting things ahead.

News about the partnership from the Lulu site:
“Lulu (www.lulu.com), the world's largest marketplace for individual, educational, and corporate authors and publishers to bring their books directly to market, announced today an alliance with weRead (www.weread.com), the leading social networking application for books where readers can easily discover and recommend books to their friends on social networks and therefore, the world.”

Over the next few weeks, you should see several new features on weRead. There is one theme that we are concentrating on – make weRead more social, which is why we thought it makes better sense to name it weRead rather than iRead.

The future now looks promising!

The Afterthoughts – If Google came up with an RSS Reader

So here is another post in The Afterthoughts series.

Post: If Google came up with an RSS Reader
Originally posted on: 2005-01-30

This post was made long before Google came up with Google Reader. I was experimenting with RSS readers and started wondering what it would be like if Google came up with an RSS reader.

Now that we have one from Google, it is time to look back and see how my expectations matched with the actual product.

> * It would first buy the domain “greader” or something similar.
This didn't happen. However, Google Reader is popularly called GReader. I guess I made this comment because of Gmail.
On a side note, Google does own greader.net.

> * It would have an index of more than 8 million different feeds.
This is not how an RSS reader has evolved. Google Reader does have recommendations based on the feeds you already have. It would be good to see an integration of Google Blogsearch or even Google News with Google Reader. The only integration I see is the subscription of search results from both of these in Google Reader (a 'new' feature).

> * It would offer 1 GB space for storing posts.
The storage in most online readers is unlimited.

> * It would have an excellent search feature for searching posts.
This was a surprise! The feature came in so late. Totally unexpected.

> * The interface would be simple, but at the same time powerful.
You bet this has been true. The keyboard shortcuts are just superb. The speed with which you can navigate and read feeds is extremely good. (You will need my script to make it even faster. :))

> * We would be able to mail any post just at the click of a button.
I guess this feature has been around since quite some time now.

> * It would allow us to filter posts and also label them for future reference.
With tagging and folders, this has been better than expected.

> * It would also allow us to make blog entries (of course the service would be integrated with Blogger.)
Again, this is a surprise. Google has not provided any integration with Blogger. However, recently Google added a feature to share an item with notes. With the microblogging revolution, and Google having acquired Jaiku, I guess that integration will happen first.

> * It would integrate greader with other offerings like mail, groups etc.
The integration is not that great as of now. It would be cool to see posts related to a mail, or a message in a group etc.

> It would be Beta forever. 🙂
Surprise! This isn't true!

Final thoughts:
So after more than 3 years since I made the original post, (which is a lot of time in technological evolution) I should say, Google did match most of the expectations that I had back then, some features were developed much better than what I had expected. However the integration with other services is one thing where it could have done better.

Getting Rosegarden to work in Ubuntu (Gnome)

I am one of those many people out there who had trouble in getting Rosegarden to “sing” in Ubuntu under Gnome Window Manager. Finally after trying a lot of permutations and combinations, I got Rosegarden to work. I made this post to share what I did so that others don't have to go through the same trouble I did!

So let's proceed.

Required software

Rosegarden requires some other applications to be installed in your system. So before you fire up Rosegarden ensure that you have the following:

  1. qjackctl
  2. qsynth
  3. rosegarden

If you don't have any of these you could execute this:

$ sudo apt-get install qjackctl qsynth rosegarden fluid-soundfont-gm

Ok, now we have everything we need. Let's proceed to the configuration steps:

Start the Jack server

(Somehow not using sudo gave me problems)

$ sudo qjackctl &

Jack Audio Connection Kit setup

Click on Setup
Here are the settings I used:
Setup - JACK

Start the Jack server

JACK Audio Connection Kit

Start the synthesizer

$ sudo qsynth &

QSynth setup

MIDI Setup

Setup - Midi

Audio Setup

Setup - Audio

Soundfonts Setup

Setup - Soundfonts

Start rosegarden

Ok, it's time to fire up Rosegarden.

$ sudo rosegarden &

Configuring Rosegarden

Go to Settings – Configure Rosegarden.

Configure Rosegarden - General

Configure Rosegarden - Midi

Ensure that the connections are right in Jack Audio Connection Kit (Connect):
Connections - JACK - ALSA

Connections - JACK - Audio

Play one of the sample files and you should hear music!
Rosegarden

Troubleshooting

In case your Jack server is not running, you might want to execute this command and then start the Jack server:

$ sudo /sbin/alsa force-reload

Adventure with Ubuntu, Wubi, yum, libc and the like

Note: This is not for the casual reader. If you are facing any issues with any of the keywords mentioned above, you might want to continue…

So here I was trying to install some packages from a YUM repository on my Ubuntu 8.0.4 system. Why YUM when you have apt-get? Well, let's just say, the situation demanded it.

The installation seemed to be going fine. What I did not realize is that, the installation had innocently relinked my libc files to a new location (actually to an older version of libc). The yum installation failed. Without checking the error, I executed sudo yum install again.

And I got this:

sudo: /lib/tls/libc.so.6: version `GLIBC_2.4' not found (required by sudo)
sudo: /lib/tls/libc.so.6: version `GLIBC_2.4' not found (required by /lib/libpam.so.0)

Next I executed ls. Same error! And soon I realized, I was not able to execute most of the commands. The only things running were, things that were already open. I had closed my terminal by then, and was not able to bring it back neither was I able to login in an alternative terminal.

It is extremely difficult to figure out what has gone wrong without a terminal. I tried out various things, but I soon realized that since I don't have sudo access anymore, I won't be able to fix anything in the /lib directory, so no point trying.

The only solution was to reboot in recovery mode and then see if I could relink the libc files. So I popped in the Ubuntu live CD.

Now here is an added twist to the tale. I run Ubuntu on Wubi. So how do I mount my NTFS 'file' which is actually a Linux partition?

With some pointers from my colleague, I realized that it is possible to mount a file as if it were a filesystem. I executed this:

mount /dev/windows/filesystem/containing/wubi/installation /media/disk
mount /media/disk/path/to/wubi/disks/root.disk /media/root -o loop

Guess what! The Wubi file got mounted and I was able to access the files.

After some inspection I realized that the problem was that, while Ubuntu has all the libc files in /lib/tls/i686/cmov, the message indicated that these files should be in /lib/tls.

I did a 'ls' in the /lib/tls directory and found that there are some files of an older version of glibc at this location but the live cd version didn't have any files there. So it was apparent this is what is causing the problem.

I unlinked all the files, and relinked them to the new location and rebooted.

This time although it was able to boot Linux, it did not bring up the UI. I booted once again in recovery mode and ran xfix and continued with the boot.

Things seem to be fine now.

Update: Not everything was fine. Some applications, like Totem threw a SEGFAULT. So I did this:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall libc6

Things seem to be fine now.

How to ensure that your extensions work on Firefox 3.0

Here are the steps that I found useful to port my extensions from Firefox 2.0 to 3.0:

  • Step 1: Just start Firefox and allow it to update the extensions. You could go to: Tools -> Add-ons -> Extensions -> Find updates.
    This should update many of the extensions. Restart Firefox.
  • Step 2: For those extensions where the auto-update has not functioned properly, you might want to manually see if an update is available. This is because for some extensions, the auto-update may not recognize that a new version is available.
    • Uninstall the older version and restart Firefox.
    • Search for the addons here and add them.
  • Step 3: Install the MR Tech Toolkit extension.
  • Step 4: For those extensions that have still not been updated and you need desperately, just see if the option 'Make compatible' from MR Tech. This option is available when you right click an extension in the Extension tab. If the compatibility range is upto some older version of 3.0 (for example 3.0b5) then this might work.
  • Step 5: Look for updates at a higher frequency over the next few days. Developers will be forced to ensure that their extension works in new version of Firefox so you can expect an update soon.