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Buh Bye, Google Reader — Hello, Feedly

I’m one of the 500,000 making the jump to Feedly. I read scan 228 feeds, so quick navigation from one item to the next is of prime importance. Reader’s j/k shortcuts are permanently wired into my finger memory and I was overjoyed to find that Feedly also uses them.

I’m playing with Feedly’s touch interface on a 7″ tablet, but finding it not near as efficient, not even as Reader’s Android app.

It is exciting to see all the development taking place in RSS readers, now that Google is leaving. This may actually be a good thing.

I posted this as a comment at TinyScreenfuls, but figure it was worth a post here.

What about you? Are you an RSS feed consumer? Now that Google’s leaving, what tool will you be using?

The Smallest Things. “I do my best to appreciate the moment that I am in, and this blog is just a collection of all of those things that add meaning to my life each day at a time.” Ashley’s blogging again at a new address. Nice!

Is Government Employment Down?

The Wall Street Journal claims federal employment, excluding postal workers, is the “lowest total in seven years” and includes the following chart.

Wall Street Journal chart

Because this is a surprising factoid, I posted it on Facebook. After receiving a comment that 1.6% is probably off by a decimal, I started to question the data. I headed off to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ web site to see if I could duplicate the WSJ’s chart.

Here is the BLS chart of federal employment excluding postal workers.

Federal employment excluding postal workers

This doesn’t match the Wall Street Journal’s chart, not even close. Yeah, there’s the huge bump for World War II, but the trends don’t match. This chart shows federal employment steadily increasing until the early ’90s instead of generally decreasing since the mid-’50s. That’s when I noticed that the Wall Street Journal plotted federal workers as a percentage of total non-farm employment, not as an absolute number.

So, what is total non-farm employment? Here is the BLS chart of non-farm employment, which shows a steady rise until the turn of the millennium.

Non-farm employment

Now, all I need is an easy way to divide the first chart by the second chart…

Getting both data series using the BLS series report tool wasn’t that hard. Nor was creating a spreadsheet that contained both and then dividing government employment by total non-farm employment. Surprise — the Wall Street Journal didn’t slip a decimal.1

Now for the chart I created:

WSJ Chart Recreated

Ha! Looks pretty close to the WSJ’s.2 Good to know. :-)

1At least, not in the chart. The WSJ article’s first paragraph reads, “21.9 million: The number of government workers in the U.S. in January, the lowest total in seven years.” That first number is off by a factor of ten. It should be 2.19 million.
2The blips every ten years in my chart are probably census employees, which the WSJ eliminated from its chart…somehow.

Cat in a Pup Tent

Hazel

Hazel enjoys being where she thinks she shouldn’t be.1

1I’m doing my part to increase the cattitude of the Internet … and it’s not even Friday. ;-)

Cell Phone Service Pricing

I think I want to start an electrical utility. After researching pricing plans, I like the following:

  • Pre-paid, flat-rate pricing, say $199.95 per month for 1,500 kWh of home electricity usage. If you exceed the monthly allotment you pay an additional $0.99 per kWh.1
  • $0.30 to recharge a AA battery. If you recharge a lot of AA batteries you can pay $9.95 per month for unlimited AA battery charging. Other sizes of batteries will have different rates.
  • $9.95 per month to connect a work laptop to your home electricity service.
  • $9.95 per month to use an extension cord to “tether” other devices to your home electricity service.

You may wonder why I would propose such a complicated pricing plan.2 Clearly, you don’t understand these charges are necessary to cover the costs of maintaining and upgrading the electricity infrastructure.

It makes total sense to me.3 After all, I just paid my cell phone bill.

1Maybe those who sign up first will get unlimited electricity per month and will be able to keep their plan as long as they don’t move. How about carryover-kWh’s? Or neighborhood plans where neighbors share kWh’s?
2You might note that it (1) has many customers bearing the cost for the few who use the most electricity, (2) doesn’t encourage conservation, (3) charges differently for different uses of the same electricity, and (4) has outrageously different pricing with no relationship to how much electricity is used.
3Most important, let’s not just charge by the kWh.

Looks like I can add garbage disposals to the ever-lengthening list of household appliances that I can take apart, fix, and put back together.