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Category: Aggregators

September 28, 2005

Rzoto beta

Josh Tyler, creator of Helio-Courier and ChameleonReader (nice RSS reader layered on top of Bloglines that I use) has taken another stab at RSS reading with his latest project, Rzoto. Rzoto is a Firefox plugin that examines the sites you read to see whether or not there are feeds associated with them. It builds a page that lists the discovered feeds and does some smart sorting. Rzoto is now in its beta phase and Josh needs some users to get feedback.

For those of you that don't understand RSS/ feeds/Atom/aggregators, or just don't like the process of tracking down a feed and manually subscribing to it, you might want to give it a shot to see if it can save you time checking Web sites for updates.

You should give it a shot even if already have a reader setup -- Rzoto does all the work for you so it doesn't require any extra effort. You'll probably find some feeds that you didn't realize existed before.

September 14, 2005

Google + Blogs

This involves Google and blogs, so of course I'm obligated to post: Google Blog Search.

Pros: 1) It's fast. 2) It's really fast. 3) It places a "References" link next to blog entries that are linked to by others. 4) You can get feeds of your search queries (ala IceRocket).

Cons: 1) I can't make heads or tails of their relevance. 2) Their index isn't impressive yet (both in depth and recency). 3) It's pretty easy to get a spam blog or two in the top search results page.

Relevance is a difficult issue. When I search for 'jython' do I want a blog about Jython-related issues, or do I want a recent blog entries mentioning Jython. They try to offer both by having a short list of "related blogs" at the top of each search result listing, but it's far from perfect: I get bp's comment feed instead of his main blog when I search for 'bp.'

You can get off-results even for very prominent blogs. I searched for Scoble, author of "the scobelizer weblog." Presumably, someone who is #30 on Technorati's Top 100 with 6,087 links from 4,003 sites be an easy search result. For related blogs, Google returns "Alex Scoble's IT Notes" (a different Scoble). The top result in the main list of results is "the scobelizer weblog," but the URL listed beneath it is, which is a blog that links to Scoble. I get similar problems if I search for "John Gruber" (author of Daring Fireball, #76 on Technorati's list).

Of course, a normal Google result for either Scoble or John Gruber gives the desired result.

Sites like Technorati are all but unusable because of slowness and frequent database outages, so speed is IMHO the competitive advantage here. It's hard to care about feature XYZ when it only works 50% of the time and takes 30 seconds to complete.

BTW: My favorite blog search is still Bloglines. It's slow, and it does have frequent outages, but lets you exclude your subscriptions from the search results and it contains a very broad index. I'm also a fan of IceRocket, which has RSS search subscriptions and tends to catch tons of people who link to my mythbusters entries. It's also pretty zippy, though not Google zippy.

March 21, 2005


I'm more worried about the recent acquisition of Flickr by Yahoo! than I was about Bloglines being bought by Ask Jeeves. Both are great tools that are on my most-frequently-used list*, but my perception is that Yahoo! is more capable of screwing up their acquisition considering that everything they've bought in the past looks Yahoo-like, which is to say that everything they've touched has acquired the bad aesthetics and UI of Yahoo! proper -- anybody know of counter-examples to assuage my fears?

With the recent Flickr outages, though, perhaps the Y! infrastructure will be a plus, and I'm sure my friends over at NetApp are looking forward to an increased storage demand from Y!.


* Actually using Chameleon, Josh's extension to Bloglines. Try it out. It's great.

February 4, 2005


I've been playing with blimp-master Josh's experimental blog-reading tool, Chameleon. It's a modification to bloglines that does some additional tracking and mining on top of your reading. To crib from Josh's description:

Do you like Bloglines? I do. But the number of feeds I was trying to deal with quickly got away from me. I don't think folders are the answer. Therefore, I've created this work-in-progress, which does a few cool things:

  • Keeps track of which feeds you read, how often, and when
  • Figures out which feeds are your favorites (based on some heuristics), and highlights them -- in the feed list, as well as bringing them to the top (you can adjust the threshold on this)
  • Periodically identifies the top links in your subscribed feeds -- much like Blogdex, but for your feeds only.
  • Shows you your usage 'score', per feed

This uses the Bloglines Web Services, so you'll need a Bloglines account. And you still have to use Bloglines to do most of the maintenance of your account (add/delete feeds, etc.). But use BlogPorter to read your feeds, and you'll see the features start to emerge as it learns about you.

I'm waiting until my usage score starts stabilizing before I start commenting more on that specific feaure, but I will say that the blogdex-like feature that shows you which links are popular in your current feeds is pretty cool, as it has already pulled out what the hot conversations are as well as the hot links.

Josh is looking for some more people to test it out and provide feedback, so if you're a bloglines user you may want to give it a shot. It utilizes your existing bloglines account so there's no additional setup.

August 2, 2004

Cool bloglines feature

The new citations feature that I have just recently noticed on Bloglines makes it even more useful than Technorati in finding entries linking to your blog. It's improvements over Technorati include:

  • speed (though this is probably due to the # of users on it)
  • the ability to customize your search to search inside or outside your bloglines subscriptions, which makes it much easier to find the random strangers who are linking to your blog.
  • includes LiveJournal entries.
  • seems to preserve entries much longer than Technorati, so you can find much older links.

Of course, it doesn't have the same level of API openness that Technorati has, and despite the inclusion of LiveJournal blogs, Technorati seems to carry some blogs that Bloglines does not, which makes their search results complementary, rather than competitive.

Citations search

July 7, 2004

Another day, another blog

Bloglines has updated their service with a major new feature: clip blogs. Bloglines is an online service that lets you subscribe to RSS feeds and view them within a browser window. It is currently my feed reader of choice, as it works from any computer with a browser and Internet access, and the interface offers the features I want in a feed reader. With the new clip blogs features you can click on an entry to publish it to your clip blog while you are reading your feeds. Here's mine:

For many people, I imagine this is a simple and easy way to start sharing links and get involved in the blogging world. It's integration with the feed reader is also nice, as it creates a simple workflow between finding the links and publishing them.

I still think that MovableType bookmarklets are easier-to-use because they work outside of the feed reader. Also, the current bloglines service doesn't make it very easy to quote the original entry (unless I'm missing something). Most people don't have easy access to a MovableType installation, though, and Bloglines is a good feed reader that is also completely free. Personally, I'm still waiting for the service that makes it easy to do remaindered links posts into my blog ala (perhaps a future MT plugin?).

June 30, 2004

Subscribe to comments bookmarklet (Yahoo and Bloglines)

As a follow-up to bp's entry on RSS Comments, I now give you a bookmarklet for bloglines and My Yahoo! users that will let you subscribe to RSS comments:

Subscribe to Comments (Bloglines)

Subscribe to Comments (My Yahoo!) (NOTE: you must add the RSS Headlines content to your My Yahoo! page)

Of course, bp's site is the only site supporting RSS comments right now, but I plan to add that feature to every movabletypo site, as well as (when the real server comes back online).

Update: added My Yahoo! bookmarklet.

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