Some of you may remember the advertisements for the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course back in the 1970s. Here's a flashback in which Steve Allen (an excellent former host of the Tonight Show), is interviewing students of this course. Gotta love those '70s hairstyles :-)
This course promised to increase reading speed and comprehension, partially (as I recall) by using the technique of scanning a page while limiting eye movement.
The ability to digest new information quickly is at least as important now as it was 20+ cranks of Moore's Law ago. RSS and Atom feeds have provided mechanisms to publish information as it becomes available, and social networking tools such as Twitter have HTTP-based APIs. Because it is time consuming to visit various sources of new information, I've begun developing a tool named SpeedReaderFX to present information obtained via RSS, Atom, and social networking APIs in one place.
Here's a screen shot of SpeedReaderFX as it is displaying new items of interest:
In the screen shot above, there are tweets from interesting people (Josh Marinacci and Dean Iverson), a picture taken by some fortunate soul viewing a beautiful Australian sunrise, a video containing stunning new pictures from the Hubble telescope, and an article about an expensive bottle of wine. These are displayed in the very impressive Table component that Stephen Chin and Keith Combs are creating for the open source JFXtras project. A future post will explain how to use the JFXtras Table component, using this SpeedReaderFX program as the example.
The popup menu shown above enables the user to hide a given feed (l8r, Dean!), or open the URL associated with an item in a browser (in this case, Dean's Twitter post). Note that because JavaFX does not yet have a popup menu, I leveraged the menu bar/menu capabilities of the JFXtras project to make this slightly odd-looking popup menu. If a popup menu isn't available in the next version of JavaFX, one will be created in the JFXtras project.
To inform SpeedReaderFX about your items of interest, choose the Feeds>Configure menu option. The Criteria dialog will appear (a portion shown below), enabling you to specify user names, tags, and blog feeds for various feed sources and social networks.
The prompts in the shorter text boxes indicate the type of information that may be typed into the box. For example, you'll separate the search tags in a Flickr text box with commas. The program has some text boxes filled in with examples, but you can overwrite them. A not-too-distant future version of this program will automatically save your criteria when exiting, and will load it again upon start-up. The SpeedReaderFX category of this blog will contain posts that point out some JavaFX code behind new functionality, as well as catching you up on some of the code used so far in this program. For example, I'll cite the JavaFX library that Rakesh Menon created to read the YouTube Data API, which I'm using in this program.
Selecting a check box causes the associated information source to be read and displayed in the table shown previously, with its items interspersed with items from other sources in reverse chronological order. Deselecting a check box removes the associated items from the table, which is the same result as the Hide this feed popup menu item discussed earlier.
When you're finished with the Criteria dialog, click the Close button in the upper right corner, or select the Feeds>Configure menu option again. By the way, the View menu has a couple of options that help you manage the application's window, given that you'll be opening up content in a browser. One menu item is the self-explanatory Always on Top, and the other one enables you to Hide the Date Published Column.
Now that you know how to use SpeedReaderFX, please give it a whirl by clicking the Web Start Launch button below. As always, please leave a comment if you have any questions or comments.