All posts tagged ‘RSS’

File Under: Software & Tools

Quit Googling Yourself, Use RSS Instead

Google is adding RSS to search result pages allows you to plug the feed into a newsreader and get notified of new listings automatically.

The initial report came from a very brief mention in an October 1 Wall Street Journal article by Katherine Boehret and confirmed Wednesday by Search Engine Land.

Google is bound to satisfy a bunch of eager marketing managers and even a few vain bloggers by adding RSS to their search results. Oh, OK, it will be useful to the rest of us simply concerned with tracking internet footprints too.

Previously, if you wanted an RSS feed composed of Google search results all about your glorious self, you’d have to set up a feed on feedmysearch.com or resort to Microsoft’s okay Live.com coverage. The update to search results pages should happen “soon” according to a Google spokesperson’s e-mail to SearchEngineLand.

It’s been a wanted feature for many, particularly search engine optimizers and those competing for Google’s top position on search terms. Being in the top position on Google Search typically translates to easy cash via free advertising and gross amounts of traffic.

For the rest of us, the feature adds some utility to your most common search results. These would be the ones you used to have Google Alerts for. For example, your name, favorite band, company, etc…

We have Google Alerts up now for e-mail alerts on the keyword “Webmonkey” and it gives us a chance to see who is linking to us and why. It’s also a good way to see what people are saying what about us behind our backs (we’re looking at you, Steven B. Smithely. That’s right, we’re watching you).

If the RSS feeds were available now, we’d set up our newsreader to look out for “google search rss” and get the scoop as soon as the new feature was available. For now, we’ll be repeatedly pressing the reload button on search results in breathless anticipation.

[via ReadWriteWeb> SearchEngineLand]

What’s SUP?: FriendFeed’s Modest RSS Proposal

The RSS wizards at FriendFeed (a social news aggregation site) are proposing a new way to distribute and fetch RSS feeds faster. The proposal is a simple one: publishers provide a centralized RSS to inform readers which feeds have been been updated since their last visit. The benefit? Your news fast.

FriendFeed’s Gary Burd and Paul Buchheit (both former Googlers) want to download your RSS feeds as rapidly as they can without taking down your servers in the process. They’ve proposed a workaround which will spare your servers but still fetch your site’s RSS feed faster. The proposed platform: Simple Update Protocol (SUP).

Think of it this way: When you go to the movies, you don’t go around to each theater to see which movies are playing and when; it would take all of your time and effort running around from theater to theater. Instead, you check the kiosk out front.

Your blog publishing system provides a RSS kiosk, or ping feed, to let FriendFeed (and potential RSS readers) know when and what has been updated since its last visit. Friendfeed doesn’t have to go theater to theater to see which movie is playing. It also checks all RSSs in a domain at once, eliminating the need to download each one separately. Polling is less frequent, but more accurate. By cutting out a lot of wasted data transfer, it reduces the load and gets the relevant information directly.

How do you implement such a thing? A modified link attribute in your RSS or Atom feed informs RSS readers, like Friendfeed, the ping feed is available. Under SUP, publishers would automatically generate ping feeds using the timestamps in their database.

The benefits, according to Buchheit, include:

* Simple to implement. Most sites can add support with only few lines of code if their database already stores timestamps.

* Works over HTTP, so it’s very easy to publish and consume.

* Cacheable. A SUP feed can be generated by a cron job and served from a static text file or from memcached.

* Compact. Updates can be about 21 bytes each. (8 bytes with gzip encoding)

* Does not expose usernames or secret feed urls (such as Google Reader Shared Items feeds)

FriendFeed is already test-casing; its SUP Feed is already online. An example of implementation is available using Buchheit’s FriendFeed RSS link. Sample code under the Apache license and project information is available via the SUP Google Code page.

Will it catch on? It’s intuitive and pretty simple in a “duh, why didn’t I think of it first” way. If other RSS readers and providers (such as WordPress, Twitter, Google Reader and FeedBurner) join FriendFeed and implement the idea, it means less used bandwidth for readers and publishers and faster RSS access all around. Sounds like a win-win to me.

File Under: Web Basics

Easily Bypass Password-Protection in RSS and Atom Feeds

freemyfeed.jpgGoogle Reader is one of our favorite ways to consume news, it’s web-based, accessible on any computer and offers a variety of nice sharing, bookmarking and other features. However Reader is not without its drawbacks, including one very big one: it can’t handle password-protected news feeds.

Google Reader isn’t the only online feed reader that doesn’t support password protected RSS and Atom feeds, which is why a new web service, FreeMyFeed was born. FreeMyFeed offers to handle the authenticated as an intermediary step so you can view your password protected feeds in any reader.

FreeMyFeed takes your username and password for a protected feed and then parses it and generates a new feed sans protection. From there all you need to do is add the new feed to Google Reader or whatever you favorite news feed service happens to be. Reportedly FreeMyFeed doesn’t store any password info on the site, which means it probably encrypts your login and encodes it into the URL.

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File Under: Web Basics

Netvibes Ginger Edition out of Beta

Netvibes is doing its darnedest to be more than just a Web 2.0 portal, more than an online feed reader — although it does those things quite well, with Ajaxy drag-and-drop and a sleek usability.

They name their versions after seasoning agents: this new one is called Ginger, an upgrade from Coriander. The transition isn’t too jarring when the end-user clicks the Upgrade Me To Ginger link, but behind the scenes there’s some cool stuff going on.

With the new edition, Netvibes has introduced a Universal Widget API, a cross-platform specification for widgets that work on Netvibes, iGoogle, Mac’s Dashboard, Opera, and “soon” Facebook, Ning, and the OpenSocial constellation of social networking applications. In practice, there are not very many UWA widgets to choose from yet; you can’t just grab your favorite Dashboard thingy and put it on your Netvibes page. It will be lovely if the cross-platform API takes off, but that remains to be seen.

CrutchfieldIn addition to their customized start pages, users are now encouraged to create “universes,” public collections of feeds and widgets. This is a move into Facebook/MySpace territory; public universes so far include ones from People Weekly and Crutchfield car audio. You can do things like add Crutchfield as a friend and follow its every move on Netvibes. Netvibes Universes have a ways to go.

Add Powerful News Feed Filters to Google Reader

greader.jpgGoogle Reader is a very nice online news reader, but it lacks some of the power user features you’ll find in its cousin Gmail. For instance, in Gmail it’s easy to create very powerful filters to control and organize the flow of incoming mail.

Google Reader doesn’t offer the same filtering goodness for incoming news — sure there’s tags/folders which help, but there’s no way to prioritize or exclude items within a feed.

Luckily the very powerful Google Reader Filter Greasemonkey script can fill the gap by providing simple, easy to use filtering options. Using the script, which works anywhere Greasemonkey does, you can highlight and gray out feed items based on whatever criteria you specify.

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