A sign of people's fading belief in RSS syndication
Every so often these days, someone asks me if my blog supports RSS (or if I can add RSS support to it). These perfectly well meaning and innocent requests tell me two things, one of them obvious and one of them somewhat less so.
(To be completely clear about this: these people are pointing out a shortfall of my site design and are not to blame in any way. It is my fault that although Wandering Thoughts has a syndication feed, they can't spot it.)
The obvious thing is that Wandering Thoughts' current tiny little label and link at the bottom of some pages, the one that says 'Atom Syndication: Recent Pages', is no longer anywhere near enough to tell people that there is RSS here (much less draw their clear attention to it). Not only is it in a quite small font but it has all sorts of wording problems. Today, probably not very many people know that Atom is a syndication feed format, and even if they do, labelling it 'recent pages' is not very meaningful to someone who is looking for my blog's syndication feed.
(The 'recent pages' label is due to DWiki's existence as a general wiki engine that can layer a blog style chronological view on top of a portion of the URL hierarchy. From DWiki's perspective, all of my entries are wiki pages; they just get presented with some trimmings. I'm going to have to think about how best to fix this, which means that changes may take a while.)
The less obvious thing is that people often no longer believe that even obvious places have RSS feeds, especially well set up ones. You see, DWiki has syndication feed autodiscovery, where if you tell your feed reader the URL of Wandering Thoughts, it will automatically find the actual feed from there. In the days when RSS was pervasive and routine, you didn't look around for an RSS feed link or ask people; you just threw the place's main URL into your feed reader and it all worked, because of course everyone had an RSS feed and feed autodiscovery. One way or another, people evidently don't believe that any more, and I can't blame them; even among places with syndication feeds, an increasing number of them don't have working feed autodiscovery (cf, for one example I recently encountered).
(People could also just not know about feed autodiscovery, but if feed autodiscovery worked reliably, I'm pretty sure that people would know about it as 'that's just how you add a place to your feed reader'.)
In other words, we've reached a point where people's belief in RSS has faded sufficiently that it makes perfect sense to them that a technical blog might not even have an RSS feed. They know what RSS is and they want it, but they don't believe it's automatically going to be there and they sort of assume it's not going to be. Syndication feeds have changed from a routine thing everyone had to a special flavour that you hope for but aren't too surprised when it's not present.
(The existence of syndication feed discovery in general is part of why the in-page labels for DWiki's syndication feeds are so subdued. When I put them together many years ago, I'm pretty sure that I expected feed autodiscovery would be the primary means of using DWiki's feeds and the in-page labels would only be a fallback.)
NVMe and an interesting technology change
Back in the middle of 2015, I wrote an entry on sorting out NVMe as the next way to connect SSDs to your system. Someone I know online was recently reading it, and he mentioned that he'd never heard of the 'U.2' connector that I talked about in that entry and that in fact I described as the way that future NVMe SSDs would be connected to your machine. In an aside in that entry, I wrote:
(PCIe and thus NVMe can also be connected up with a less popular connector standard called M.2. [...]
In 2015 and even 2016, U.2 was a reasonably big thing; you can read one example of it (and see some pictures of a U.2 connector and U.2 SSD) in places like this April 2016 article. Since then it has quietly vanished away, swept away by that 'less popular' M.2 standard that I mentioned in my aside. In fact the Wikipedia page on U.2 is pretty amusing (at least right now) due to its 'U.2 compared to M.2' section, which comes across pretty much as the last cry of people who cannot stand to see their beautiful thing crushed by the marketplace. U.2's fade out evidently didn't take all that long either, since when I did a late 2017 entry on sorting out M.2 and NVMe, it wasn't even on my radar and certainly didn't show up on any of the motherboards I looked at at the time.
(U.2 is apparently still sort of out there, especially in datacenter applications, and it seems to show up every so often on semi-consumer motherboards. See eg here.)
Technology change and failed standards are not exactly new to the PC world, but for me this is still an interesting and impressive example of it in action. U.2 was the obvious thing in the middle of 2015, and then two years later it had just disappeared completely.
(Possibly even in 2015 U.2 was more hype than anything else and I was taken in by it when I wrote my entry.)
Sidebar: Some speculations on why M.2 won out over U.2
I can think of a number of plausible contributing factors:
- M.2 was easier to put into laptops, because it required fewer
parts (eg no cables). That gave it volume and we all know volume
drives down price.
- M.2 was more flexible, since an M.2 connector can be used for
either SATA or NVMe. Both manufacturers and
consumers could trade off cost versus performance without having
to change anything other than the M.2 card in use.
- Most people don't use more than one or two drives in their computers.
- Most people prefer the simplicity of plugging a M.2 card into a
motherboard connector rather than mounting a separate drive and
running cables to it.
- Intel didn't make enough PCIe lanes
available in consumer chipsets to run enough U.2 drives to be
attractive. Whether U.2 or M.2, Intel was always only going
to give you one or two.
- M.2 SSDs (whether NVMe or SATA) are cheaper to make than U.2 SSDs.
While U.2 theoretically makes it easier to have larger NVMe SSDs, my impression is that in the consumer market the largest limiting factor on SSD sizes is how much people have been willing to pay for them. This certainly is the case for me.
(In the enterprise market I've read stories saying that the limit is how much data loss people want to be exposed to from one device failing.)