Matching Science to Sci-Fi: Where’s a Good Tool?

San Diego Supercomputer Services
One way to envision dark matter; sci fi stories are another.

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone, but I’m a major science fiction junkie. I always have been. Forget space operas and epic Arthurian fantasies cloaked in spacesuits — I want the hardcore sci-fi. Where the science or speculative reality angles are integral to the plot and characters, not mere set dressing. Where aliens are REALLY alien, not just English-speaking bipeds with funny foreheads.

For me, sci-fi has been a key way to explore the concepts and possibilities raised by science; to consider what might happen, and why, if some remotely plausible twist of fate came to pass, in this universe or some other. For me, the concepts that form the premise of sci-fi stories, movies, and novels are far more compelling than the special effects.

Because of this, I’m getting frustrated.

Lately I’ve been intrigued by various possibilities of a couple of corners of science: epigenetics and dark matter. In addition to reading about research on the topic, I’d love to be able to easily track down sci-fi stories, novels and videos where those themes were key parts of the plot.

I tried SciFi.com’s wiki SciFiPedia — pretty lame results. Google searches and plowing through forums are chaos.

Here’s what I want: a database or wiki where people tag sci-fi works with keywords for the types of science involved. I’d like to be able to quickly find, say, a list of 10 sci-fi works that address epigenetics.

Have you seen something like that? Please comment below.

Getting my full-text feed back, I hope…

Katie Tegtmeyer, via Flickr (CC license)
Fingers crossed! OK, these aren’t my fingers, but still…

As I looked into this vexing problem further, I remembered that WordPress generates several feed URLs for any blog. I had been pointing this version, contentious.com/wp-rss.php, to Feedburner — and for some reason that version is truncated.

I just realized that when I subscribe directly to this version of my feed, contentious.com/wp-rss2.php, I do indeed get the full text, and photos/video if any.

So I’ve changed my Feedburner feed to burn itself from the second version, rather than the first. Hopefully that’ll fix the problem. We’ll see when I publish this post. Fingers crossed!…

(Later) AHA! I think that did the trick! If anyone’s still getting truncated content, check to see whether you’re subscribed to the Feedburner version of my feed:  feeds.feedburner.com/Contentious and see if that fixes it. If so, and you’re still getting truncated content, please comment below.

Help! I can’t get my feed back to full text!

I’m getting rather frustrated, here…

(UPDATE: I think I fixed the problem.)

OK, I need some help here. Somehow my feed for this blog reverted from full text to an ultra-short summary. It had been working fine, but then it got screwy. I’m pretty frustrated, and I’ve reached the limit of what I can do to diagnose the cause of this problem on my own.

I know a lot of smart people read Contentious, so I’m hoping you can help me.

Here are the specifics:

  • Blogging tool: WordPress 2.1.2 (Yes, I know WordPress 2.2.2 is out. I plan to upgrade — but would appreciate advice on whether it’s a particularly worthwhile or risky upgrade.)
  • Theme: blog.txt
  • Plugins activated: Akismet (comment spam protection), cforms II (form manager), full text feed (which was working fine until a little over a week ago), ShareThis (social bookmarking support), subscribe to comments, and WordPress database backup.
  • Feedburner: Yes, I use it for this blog’s feed, but that only processes content that it gets from WordPress. It looks like the feed content truncation is happening in WordPress, before it ever gets to Feedburner.

Any idea for things I can try or check? Please comment below.

And apologies in advance, I’m a mere semi-geek who doesn’t know much about PHP or any coding beyond basic HTML. I have geeks I can work with, but they’re not available at the moment. If your suggestions are beyond what I can handle myself, I’ll save them for when my geeks get back in action — maybe it’ll save them some troubleshooting time. Thanks.

Yes, I know my feed reverted to summary

Just a quick note, since a couple of folks have asked. Sometime late last week the feed for this blog, which had been full-text, has reverted to a short summary. I’m not sure why. I probably screwed something up when messing with WordPress an/or Feedburner. I don’t have time today to figure it out, but will work on it later this week.

If you have any ideas for things I might check or try to fix this, please comment below.

In the meantime, thanks for your patience. My intention is to offer Contentious as a full-text feed.