Results tagged “RSS” from kwc blog

Easier URL for Amazon tags, and RSS

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With all of Amazon's wacky URLs, I never realized they added a simple mapping for browsing by tag:

http://www.amazon.com/tag/apple/
http://www.amazon.com/tag/microsoft

You can also subscribe to tags using:

http://www.amazon.com/rss/tag/apple/new
http://www.amazon.com/rss/tag/microsoft/new

There's even more hacking you can do with these URLs, like associates ids. Checkout the Amazon Web Services blog entry for more (Note: some of the URLs there are incorrect. Use 'tag' instead of 'tags' and '/new' seems required).

One thing Amazon hasn't made URL-simple is browsing for your own tags. Those still require the non-memorable http://www.amazon.com/gp/tagging/manage-tags/tag-name/ .

Google Reader: now sorting by oldest

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davextreme just informed me via comment that Google Reader has added that he, bp, and me all seem to want: sort by oldest. Sorting by newest starves those older entries and sometimes it just doesn't make sense to read feeds in reverse chronological order.

The also announced the "sort by auto" feature, though this has actually been live longer. The sort by auto feature tries to give your least frequently updated feeds (i.e. friends) higher placement so that you can get to them sooner, while leaving things like Gizmodo/Engadget/BoingBoing further down for the daily feed slog.

Google Reader switch

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update: now sorting by oldest (thanks davextreme for the link)

Yes, I have finally abandoned Bloglines, which has carried me so far into the world of feeds. I have some quibbles with Google Reader, but the big win for me was the fact that it doesn't mark items as read until you read them. I tend to power through lists of hundreds of items at a time; Google Reader lets me stop halfway through, Bloglines demands I finish the job. It still took bp teaching me a couple of keyboard shortcuts I missed (shift-n, shift-p, and shift-o for navigating the list of feeds) to become fully comfortable with the switch.

Pros: * Doesn't mark items as read until you've read them, which makes it much easier to plow through feeds incrementally. * Better keyboard navigation. Bloglines has a shortcut for reading the next feed or folder, but there's no way to really tell what is next. * Can have more than 200 unread items in a feed, which means that you can catch up on everything you missed while on vacation.

Cons: * Not as easy to create feeds for things like weather, packages, and social sites. * Organizational system for read items is poorly integrated and modelled -- its not terribly clear what tags are, you can't browse by tags ('gt' -- goto tag -- is not the same as browsing), and you can't segment starred items by tag. Bloglines only has clip blogs, but at least they made sense to me. * Only loads entries 20 at a time. Once you make it to the 20th item, it loads the next 20. This wouldn't be so annoying if they loaded the next 20 when I got to the 18th or 19th item, but as implemented it means you have to wait for the next 20 items to load.

A New Reader

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Bloglines is still getting the job done, but I like the fact that Google revamped Google Reader to get rid of my many, many annoyances with the first incarnation. The new expanded view makes it much easier for people like me with 100+ subscriptions to actually make it through our feeds. There is also a big improvement over Bloglines: Google Reader only marks items as read as you scroll through them, which lets you catch up on the last 100 posts of BoingBoing in more manageable chunks. My only real annoyance so far is that Google Reader loads posts into the Expanded View in 20-post chunks, waiting until you are on the 20th item before loading in the next 20. As I tried to catch up on some feeds in Reader, I would have to sit an twiddle my thumbs constantly.

What would be a switcher feature for me is if they could integrate their GMail package tracking link with Google Reader. I've been playing around with Bloglines package tracking feature, but I have to copy the UPS/DHL/FedEx tracking number out of an e-mail, go to Bloglines, click add, click on Package Tracking, paste in the number, and then select a folder to add the information to. That's a lot of steps. If GMail and Reader were integrated, I could do it in one click as GMail already detects package tracking numbers.

Firefox 2 Beta 2

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I'm testing out the new Firefox 2 Beta 2. Back in the Phoenix/Firebird days, I used to download nearly every update to test out, but I've been so darn happy with the 1.x series of Firefox builds that I haven't had much reason to (except for a crashy Firefox 1.5.0 release). I find the updated look a little cramped looking, even though everything is about the same size as before, but otherwise I'm very happy with the release. I wrote the most of this review a week and a half ago, but I wanted to sit on it until I had some time to judge the stability of the release: I'm used their their betas crashing daily, but I've only had a crash or two out of this one.

There's nothing in Firefox 2 that's really ground breaking, but it does bring the best of the plugins out there and makes them part of the default browser. Although I think this may anger a plugin developer or two, overall I think it's a great model for a software application: don't bloat your releases with new features; instead, have a good plugin model that makes it possible to test new features out in the wild and select the best to become part of your next major release. Firefox 2 represents the best of Firefox 1.x plus the best Firefox 1.x plugin features, which makes for a great browser.

  • Phishing detection: I love the fact that they are making this built in. I haven't had any trouble with phishing, but I know other members of my family do, and I'm always excited to be able to give them software that eliminates a hassle. The phishing detection puts a big 'ole warning sign on top of the page and should save many people from having to cancel their credit cards.

  • Built in session saver: My browsing habits changed the day I got the first SessionSaver plugin. I could keep a lot more tabs open without having to spend part of everyday bookmarking or clearing them off because I was worried that my browser was going to crash. Or I would have to do the same because some stupid Windows Update was requiring that I reboot my computer, so I would have to close Firefox. Firefox recognized that session saving was just too darn good to not be part of the standard browser.

  • RSS/Atom feed enhancements: Firefox 2 has a new built in viewer for RSS and atom feeds that makes the feed more human-readable and also makes it very easy to subscribe using Firefox's Live Bookmarks, Bloglines, My Yahoo, or Google Reader. One possible complaint is that it overrides Feedburner's fancy feed display which does effectively the same thing. There is a case to be made for uniformity, but with this version of the Firefox implementation I think that Feedburner's still looks nicer -- Firefox's is better for actually subscribing, as it can remember which feed reader you prefer.

  • Spell checking as you type: I've always found the Firefox SpellChecker plugin a bit annoying to use. It was always a more difficult plugin to install and it didn't survive Firefox upgrades very well. It also didn't do spell checking as you typed; you had to select it from a right-click menu. I hope to have many less spelling errors in my blog entries now that Firefox 2 adds the familiar squiggly red underlines to its text fields.

  • Autocomplete from the search box: Firefox will pop down some suggested search queries as you type into the upper-right search box. This only works when you have the answers.com, Yahoo, or Google search engines selected; there are no suggestions for Amazon, eBay, or Creative Commons. Previously I had only seen this as a plugin from Google for Google searches.

  • Opens new windows in tabs by default: I hate it when a link pops open a new window on my screen and disrupts my carefully organized tabs and now Firefox embraces tabs fully with this new default functionality.

With the exception of the fact that most of your plugins won't work with the release -- though you won't need many of them with the new builtin features -- I give the 2.0 beta a thumbs up. It doesn't seem the future of Web browsing -- Flock is much more of a preview in that area -- but it does represent a selection of the best current Web browsing trends.

co.mments.com

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co.mments appears to be exactly what bp and I were hoping for back when we made our own RSS comment bookmarklets for our blogs. Unless you're using a service like LiveJournal, participating in a conversation on a blog can be very cumbersome as there is no standard way to get notified when you leave a comment elsewhere. co.mments gives you a bookmarklet that you click when you leave a comment and an RSS feed you can subscribe to. I have no idea how well it works, especially with highly variable MovableType blogs, but I'll be testing it out over the next week.

co.mments is similar in purpose to cocomment, but co.mments (if it works) is slightly closer to the use pattern I've been looking for.

Update: co.mments appears to work on newer MovableType blogs (i.e. 3.x templates) but not with older (e.g. kwc.org/blog) installs.

Update: assaf of co.mments quickly added support for older MovableType blogs -- thanks assaf!

Rzoto beta

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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.

BlogPorter

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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.

Firefox gets even better

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Get Firefox!I just downloaded the preview release of Firefox 1.0, and they've just added a new feature that makes you think, "Now this is how things are supposed to be."

The feature that has me loving the new Firefox is Live Bookmarks. Described simply, Live Bookmarks allow you to add RSS feeds to your bookmarks that appear as folders, i.e. if I create a live bookmark for my site, then there will be a folder called "kwc blog" filled with bookmarks for the latest entries from my site. There's even auto-discovery, so when you visit a site that has a feed you'll see a rss icon on the bottom status bar that you can click on and choose the feed you want to create a Live Bookmark for. But it's so much cooler than that.

The reason why its so much cooler is that I can create Live Bookmarks for my del.icio.us bookmarks. Now my online bookmarks appear as real bookmarks inside of my browser, and it only took a couple clicks to setup. For those of you who use del.icio.us, you might understand why I think this is so cool. Those of you who don't, you're missing out :).

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 kwc.org (when the real server comes back online).

Update: added My Yahoo! bookmarklet.

RSS Comments

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Moving means that I don't get to help bp with setting up RSS comments with MT other than exchange links and ideas over IM, but I'm hoping to have support for this soon in the feed aggregator for movabletypo.net (currently disabled due to DSL being shut off).

Side note: I have the code for the feed aggregator on a flash drive, so hopefully all systems will return to 'normal' by tomorrow.

Newsjunkie by keyword

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PubSub lets you create virtual RSS feeds based on a search term. For example, you can subscribe to Nanotechnology, Stanford, or a search term of your own, and it will return articles from over a million blogs. Here's one I created for the mars rover.

If only Google News could add this feature to their search -- they have news alerts, but those are e-mail based.
(via Brad Choate)

Update: With Brad Choate (maker of fine MovableType plugins) showing up in the comments within 10 minutes of my posting, this made me realize that this is a powerful tool in support of Scalzi's Law of Internet Invocation. Instead of having to actively Google your name to find new mentions of yourself, PubSub will deliver all new occurrences of your name directly to your news reader within minutes of it being posted. Those Internet Spirit Summoning spells will work that much quicker now.

Blogger, finally

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Blogger (aka blogspot) is finally allowing sites to publish their RSS feeds. This makes it a lot easier to find out when people on blogspot have added a journal entry.

Unfortunately, they only publish in Atom, which I don't support yet, but now I guess I have a reason. First, though, blogspot folks need to follow the directions below to turn on their feeds:
BLOGGER - Knowledge Base - What is Atom?