I’ve started reading RSS feeds again. Recently, most links and news I’ve been finding has been through social services like Twitter and Google+. I decided to declare ‘RSS bankruptcy’. By this I mean I went to Google Reader, deleted all the feeds I never read and marked everything as read. Blindly. Face it, life is too short to go in there and get all worried that you missed some scoop or something fascinating. If the news is that big, you’ll hear about it elsewhere.
I’m not sure what prompted my return to RSS but I can tell you what has helped a lot. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Google+ and recently I started using an extension for Google Chrome that makes sharing within Google Reader a breeze. It is called RSS Share for Google Plus™ and Google Reader™. It is great, but but I’m not a fan of the defaults.
Be default, the extension creates entries on the left side of your Google+ to your various Google Reader Feeds and shows the ones that have unread entries. This lets you stay in Google+ and read new Google Reader entries as they come in. Sounds great on the surface but I happen to like keeping all my feeds over in Reader and I think actually slows down and messes with the Google+ experience. Thankfully, this is an option you can easily turn off. To do that, click the wrench in the upper right of Chrome. Then go to Tools, then Extensions and find the RSS Share for Google Plus and Google Reader extension and click options. Deselect ‘Add Google Reader to Google+’ and ‘Show Read Items on Google+’. After that, all the integration is over on the Google Reader side and nothing is messed with in your Google+ experience.
Now, when you go to your Google Reader, you’ll have a new option under each article called ‘Share on Google+’
Clicking that link with give you the standard sharing box you are used to if you use Google+. The box appears in the upper right of your browser, lets you choose who you are sharing with and gives you to opportunity to add some text of your own.
Read more. Share more.
Recently Twitter has hidden their RSS feeds. You used to be able to find them right on a user’s page. They are still there and I have read the most convoluted ways to find them. It is REALLY easy.
Want yours or someone else’s statuses? Here is the feed, just replace the X’s with the user twitter name:
Want a feed of favorites?
That’s it. Just put the feed in your favorite feed reader and you are done.
If you want your Facebook RSS, read this.
UPDATE: 04DEC2012 – Twitter broke every thing recently. Thankfully there is a new method. Similar to the above, just use these links instead:
It is no secret that I love podcasts. About the only thing I listen to on the radio with any frequency is baseball. I just really like the convenience of being able to listen to a long form show, pause it and pick it up later where I left off. Also, if you listen to podcasts and go back to talk radio it will drive you crazy. You never realize, when listening to all those commercials on radio, how often the host has to reset and bring the audience back up to speed on what is going on.
One downside is sometimes I forget to sync the latest shows to my device. This happens a lot for daily shows. That leads to having to surf around the net looking for new shows and download them or stream them if that is available on that site.
Enter Netvibes. Netvibes lets you create a dashboard of all your RSS feeds. I use it as my home page with feeds on it that I want to monitor frequently. If you add the RSS from a podcast you will get a nice option to stream the audio right from within Netvibes. I took this a step further and built a tab containing all my tech podcasts so they are conveniently together showing the latest shows.
Recently, I have used Netvibes publish option to publish my Tech Podcast page so that anyone can access it. You can find it here:
So now, no matter where I am and as long as I have internet access, I can surf to that page and listen to the latest shows. And so can you. If you are not familiar with Netvibes, clicking the little ‘play’ button on the right of each show entry will start the player. The player appears a the top of your screen and you can pause the show there. As long as you keep that browser tab open, the show will play or stay paused. Closing your browser will result in you having to restart the show but after some of it has downloaded you can click to jump into the timeline and try to find where you left off.
Recently I came across a site called Conecti.ca. It is a technology news site from Mexico and is, naturally, in Spanish. I can read some Spanish but not enough to read Conectica very well.
Fortunately Conecti.ca provides an RSS feed so I was able to wrangle the magic of RSS and Yahoo! Pipes together to produce a feed translated to English. Sure this is machine translation so it isn’t always accurate but it gets you dangerously close. A heck of a lot closer than not translating at all.
Here is the feed if you want to subscribe:
The Pipe also directs the article links through Bing’s translation engine. This way you get a taste of the article through the RSS feed then can see the original and translation side by side when you click the links. I was going to route through Google Translate but Bing worked better and I like the side-by-side results.
It’s SxSW time again! That time of year a bunch of people gather in Austin, TX for a few days immersion into the new and the next. From SXSW.COM:
The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals offer the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW® is the premier destination for discovery.
In 2007, SXSW was where Twitter really started taking off. Since then, Twitter is the place most of the attendees post links to the cool stuff they are seeing and doing. Whether you are attending or not, you don’t want to miss out on the cool stuff. I’ve built a Yahoo Pipe that will deliver to you, via RSS, those Tweets that contain links. I’ve done what I can to filter ReTweets and things like Four Square check-ins.
Here is a link to the feed so you can subscribe in Google Reader (or your favorite feed reader): sxsw-links-rss
Share and enjoy.
Update 12MAR2010: Now with thumbnails of links to Tweetphoto, Twitpic and Yfrog
I tend to pick a static image for my Windows Desktop. One of the main reasons for this is that I can never decide on which one I like the best. Now, with Windows 7, you can have background images pulled in via RSS. With some Yahoo Pipes magic I have built a feed to pull in Flickr photos that are tagged ‘landscape’. This works great…mostly. The process works but you are at the mercy of people tagging their photos correctly. Sometimes you get an image that isn’t all that exciting such as someone’s aunt Ethel sitting on a rock in Yosemite. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to delete these images.
Unzip the file and double-click on the file named “Flickr Landscapes.themepack”. When the dialog box pops up, click “download attachments.”
You Windows theme is now my Flickr Landscape theme. If that is all you do, the desktop will start off black and images will start to be pulled in within a few minutes. The theme is set to rotate images every 30 minutes. With new content coming in all the time, I like the frequent rotation.
By default, the feed will pull in every image it finds and keep them. I like to limit this to the most recent 25 images and make sure they download once a day. Because it is RSS, these settings are managed through Internet Explorer. Start Internet Explorer and click Tools – Explorer Bars – Feeds (ctrl+shift+j).
When the Feeds panel opens, you should see my Yahoo Pipes feed. There may be other feeds if you use Internet Explore for other RSS feeds. Right-click on my Pipes feed and select Properties.
That’s it. Now, every half hour you should get a nice new landscape photo from Flickr. Most are pretty cool but lets face it, not everyone who uploads to Flickr is a master photographer. With these settings, the images will just rotate out eventually but sometimes they are so annoying you just want to delete them. This is easy but carries a caveat.
To manage the photos in this theme, right click on your desktop and choose Personalize. When the control panel opens up, click Desktop Background. You’ll see a box with all of the photos in it. Select the offending photo and press delete. Confirm you want to delete the photo by clicking Yes on the dialog that opens. Now for the important part: before you close this dialog box, select all the photos. This step keeps them in rotation.
This is one of my favorite features in Windows 7. Let me know if you try it out and how it is working for you.
I was thinking last night that it might be interesting to take your Tweets and put them on a calendar. Kind of a life stream with calendar integration. I do crazy stuff like this because it helps me learn.
I figured since Twitter outputs to RSS I could take that and morph it into an iCal feed. As it turns out, this isn’t that hard with Yahoo! Pipes. However, it isn’t really doesn’t work all that well. The problem is that Yahoo Pipes only polls the RSS every 30 minutes or so. So if you tweet a lot things will get missed. Also, it will only hold the last 20 tweets at the time of polling. And then there is the calendar the polls iCal. I have no idea how often that happens.
So, this is just a proof of concept kind of thing. I thought since I got this bit figured out I’d release it and see if anyone else comes up with something better.
Here is how it works:
- Go to: http://pipes.yahoo.com/techlifeweb/twitterical
- Enter your twitter name (public accounts only, sorry) in the box provided and click Run Pipe
- When the results com back, click More options and right click on Get as iCal then click “Copy Link Location” in your browser.
You now have the link to the iCal version of your Tweet. How you set this up in your calendar varies on calendar application. Here, we’ll use Google calendar.
- Open your Google Calendar
- In the lower left click ‘add’
- and then ‘Add by URL’
- When the dialog box pops up, past in the iCal URL you copied in the steps above and click Add Calendar.
It will take a few seconds to a minute and they you will see your last 20 tweets in your calendar. You can change the colors if you want.
So, developers out there, if you do something cool with this, please let me know.
A little bit ago I asked my followers on Twitter the following question:
If you know me, you will know why this page is a fail…hint: nothing to do with the look of the page http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com/
Head over there and take a look. Did you find it? I really hope so. I’ve written about this before but it is time to talk about it again. Actually I am kind of appalled that things like this are still happening in this day and age. Not my intention to pick on National Geographic or any other site. Merely used as a demonstration.
What I’m referring to here is RSS Auto-discovery. Auto-discovery is the magic behind the scenes of your blog or web page that lets modern browsers like Firefox and IE discover your feed URL. If you use Firefox I am sure you have noticed the feed icon in the address bar. It looks like this:
The code needed to do that will look something like this very simplified version:
<title>This is my Blog</title>
<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”RSS”
In the <head> section of your page you should have a <link> element. Written just like the one above with all the other necessary bits of ‘rel’ and ‘type’ will work the magic. Of course the link to your feed should replace the URL I have above. And be sure it is the feed you want people to use! You may have a feed that is auto generated by WordPress but if you have signed up with Feedburner, you probably will need to update the template on your blog.
One more quick thing…. that National Geographic page does have a feed. Did you find the link? It is buried at the bottom of the page. Don’t do that.