Blog Pile

Build Form added to RSS to Javascript

I just added a small feature to our RSS to JS demo, the site that demonstrates a bone-simple (even humans can do this with their bare hands) way to take a known RSS feed and have it displayed inside any web page.

This new feature is a simple web form that allows you to enter the URL for any RSS feed, select the various options our demo script provides, and voila! magic- it can do a preview version of the output and… (but wait, if you order before midnight tonight, you get a bonus feature!) it will spit out the snippet of JavaScript you need to paste into your web page.

Blog Pile

Boris Finds Emerson RSS from Amazon

Just days before packing his bags to leave for the MERLOT 2003 Conference, our humanities learning object Blogger “Boris” gets rather clever. He has found out how to get RSS feeds from on his favorite American literature movement, see object human: Feeds for Transcendentalism

What Boris has found is rather interesting, and completely due to the work of Raymond Yee and his WebNet Talk on RSS.

In a nutshell, Amazon publishes a custom XML for their searches and main categories, and their a transformation of XLST applied to that result, we can get plain, old, simple RSS, that plugs and plays in Boris’s weblog and his desktop aggregator.

We would not be surprised if he is sticking inside his Blackboard page as we write.

Blog Pile

Creating RSS (bottle opener optional)

Stephen Downes outlines How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad, a Web Server, and a Beer, essentially a 9 step process for (ugh) writing RSS Feeds by hand.

An RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed is an XML file used to describe the contents of your website. As your website content changes, your RSS feed changes. Other computer systems, known as ‘aggregators’ or ‘harvesters’, read your RSS feed every once in a while. If you have provided new information, the aggregator takes that information and sends it to readers around the world. Thus information about your site’s contents is ‘syndicated’, that is, rebroadcast to a much larger audience.

An excellent one paragraph summary of what RSS is, indeed, but I would hardly recommend wiriting XML in a text editor unless it is for the command line groupie club. XML code is really best for machines to digest, not humans (or canines).

Stephen’s point might be that RSS is simple enough, and maybe one beer’s worth of effort is not much to ask for.


Bag Dropping Bookmarklet

Regarding our post about a new RSS feed for the web’s eye view bag of urls site, Scott Leslie commented about our submission form being an ideal candidate for a web browser bookmarklet tool.

Scott has recently championed these underused tools for one’s browser toolbar, rightfully so, because they are very handy, bordering on indispensible.

I had toyed with this a year ago, especially since I end up posting about 80% of the new items to our
bag of urls but never finished.

But now I have, and it was very easy indeed to build a bookmarklet tool that shortens the steps for dropping a url into the bag


How Many Grains of Sand on a Beach? (Counting Blogs)

Deep philosophical questions or trivial trivia? “How many stars are there in the sky?” “How many grains of sand on the beach?”

The question of How many blogs and bloggers? How big the blogosphere? from blogcount yields an estimated 2.4 to 2.9 weblogs as of Monday, June 23, based on reports of the big centrally hosted systems, some off the cuff estimates of others, and yet another extrapolation fudge factor.

Oops! Typo patrol…. that should be 2.4 to 2.9 million weblogs. Thanks D’Arcy ;-)

For even more numbers, see also the NITLE Blog Census which has spidered and indexed 655,557 weblogs as of today.

Despite all the recent interest in blogging, few hard numbers are available about the extent of the phenomenon, particularly in languages other than English. The NITLE Blog Census is an attempt to create and share a regularly updated database of all known weblogs.

The census has been active since early May, 2003.

Our crawlers search the Web for weblogs, and attempt to categorize them by language and authoring tool.

Blog Pile

New RSS Feed for Bag of URLs

Give me a free hour and there goes another new RSS Feed. Since 1996, we have been accumulating some 4000 interesting web sites in our web’s eye view bag of urls.

Essentially the format for the content is a site title, URL, and description (does that sound like RSS or what?)

The site has an entire back end admin system where any visitor can submit a site via our drop it in the bag form. New items go into a temp holding area, until we can review them. The added feature now posts approved sites to the new Bag of URLs RSS feed.


TrackBack Is There for Radio/UserLand

Finally! A test site now proves that Radio/UserLand weblogs are TrackBack enabled. And it works! Got Trackback? Yup!

My blog entry here was created by using the MovableType bookmarklet tool that automatically dissected the test source, found the embedded RDF TrackBack data, and provided the ping address directly to my blog editing environment. The proof of my ping should be registered right here

It work, and it works across different blog systems. This opens the door for maybe a lot more TrackBack activity…


Dullest Blog in the World (over-blogging)

If ever I think I am blogging too many things, I can use the dullest blog in the world as my reference point.

Very tongue-in-cheek (we hope), this blog includes fascinating tidbits such as:

Taking a short break July 2
I was doing some things. After a while I decided to stop doing them and take a short break. At the end of the break I started doing the things again.
Hanging up a damp towel June 27
I had a towel in my hands. It was a bit damp. I hung it over the bannister so that it would dry off.
Picking up a piece of rubbish June 19
I saw that there was a small piece of rubbish on the ground. I stooped over and picked it up. Seeing a litter bin nearby I carried the item a short distance and deposited it in the bin.

and on and on it goes, loaded with comments to boot. While obviously sarcastic, look at this as an example of trying to blog way too much (I would have skipped the towel entry).

<tiphat>Credit to the very last line of the iCite entry, Would a blog by any other name still smell like a blog by any other name? itself a worthy read.</tiphat>

Blog Pile

Google Alert: Another RSS Feeder (and good all around resource)

Another gem of a resource that has a hook or two into the RSS game, is the free Google Alert service.

Google Alert runs daily Google searches for you and emails you whenever new results appear. Many people use Google Alert to keep track of what the web is saying about them, their interests or any projects they are involved in.

Even if you have no clue or interest in RSS, Google Alert is an extremely useful tool to keep you in tune into web resources that cover areas that interest you.

<tiphat>Found a link to this via some long last path to an entry at IDBlog.</tiphat>