Feedly userscripts updated

Feedly is my preferred RSS reader/aggregator since the demise of the late Google Reader in 2013. It has an attractive interface, straightforward means to add new feeds, and keyboard shortcuts for power with dozens of feeds and hundreds of articles per day. There are also some sharing, searching, and discovery features under their subscription plan with which I am not familiar.

A few weeks ago, Feedly rolled out a shiny new UI which I liked, by and large. However, there’s way too much whitespace on the left navigation bar for my taste, and even the “Compact” display density setting (under “Appearance”) is not sufficient. Userscripts to the rescue!

Userscripts are typically small snippets of JavaScript that can modify the appearance of a webpage, injected via a browser extension like Tampermonkey. I just updated my Github repo with two userscripts (originally copied from the now-dead userscripts.org site):

  • feedly-enhancer-chrome.js, originally by neword, injects some CSS to reduce the amount of whitespace in the sidebar and main area.
  • feedly-unread-favicon.js, originally by Matthew Wilkin, changes the favicon to display a tiny counter of the number of unread stories.

The gif above shows a quick before-and-after. Feedly looks a lot better and is a lot more useful with the userscripts enabled.

Review: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes

The Making of the Atomic BombRichard Rhodes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb has been on my to-read list for a long time. After reading this exquisitely detailed history, I believe the development of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project was the pivotal event of the 20th century. The bomb was, simultaneously, a tremendous culmination of a half-century of scientific achievement, a deplorable instrument of war that indiscriminately killed hundreds of thousands, a shortcut to end a war that saved millions of lives, a threat that instigated the Cold War, and perhaps even a marker in geologic history.

The first half of the book dives deeply into the scientific work of physicists, chemists, and engineers from the 1911 discovery of the atomic nucleus through the 1938 discovery of nuclear fission. The story follows Niels Bohr, Leo Szilard, Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Rutherford, Enrico Fermi, and dozens of other researchers in biographic detail across these decades. The importance of international collaboration is repeatedly emphasized: such rapid scientific progress would have been impossible without timely publication of results for replication and further study. In many cases, multiple laboratories made key discoveries (e.g. the existence of the neutron) within days or weeks of one another, racing be the first to mail their revelations to journals. Anchored by Niels Bohr, this close-knit community shepherded Jewish scientists to safety as anti-Semitism arose in 1930s Germany, many of whom would later work in the Manhattan Project.

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Geometry Operations with ArcMap Field Calculator

Field Calculator is one of the most frequently used tools within ArcMap: taught as part of nearly every introductory GIS course, it offers spreadsheet-like features to the normally static attribute table. Starting in ArcGIS 10.0, the attribute table also exposes the raw Geometry object of each feature to Field Calculator. This underutilized feature allows for rapid access to data that normally requires running a separate geoprocessing tool and joining the result to the attribute table. Building on my previous post about geodesic areas, I’ve compiled some of the more useful one-line geometry field calculations.

The doozy of an expression that inspired this cheat sheet.
The doozy of an expression that inspired me to post this cheat sheet.

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