Archive for category RSS

Remove truncation of feed feature after more tag in WordPress 2.1

If you have already upgraded to WordPress 2.1 and have the syndication feeds options set to ‘full text’, you might’ve noticed that the RSS feed for your blog post gets truncated after the use of the <!––more––> tag. This is a change in behaviour as compared to previous version of WordPress (2.0 and below) which would show the whole post in an RSS feed if the feed option was set to full text.

Without going into the debate of full vs. partial feeds (I’m on the full feeds side though ;)), there’s a WordPress plugin which does not require any additional configuration apart from just dropping it into your WordPress’s plugins directory and activating it. Get it from here.

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Bloglines to Google Reader

I’ve finally decided to switch to Google Reader permanently. I probably have been procrastinating in doing this for a long time since I’ve been using it for quite some time and am rather fond of it. :( Unfortunately, the incessant downtimes and also irregularities in feeds being updated recently was probably the final straw.

Google Reader seems to have fixed the scrolling bug with feeds only having 1 item and also the last item not marked as read which I previously encountered the last time.

Guess it’s pretty hard to compete with Google when the point is on reliability..

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Woke up this morning and…

…got this when I loaded Bloglines:

Bloglines plumber

And I just said Bloglines has been working perfectly since the last major outage.. :/ Time to ponder about switching again..

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Google Reader’s (and Bloglines’s) looks gets updated!

Google ReaderMost tech sites have covered on Google Reader‘s recent update to its user interface with mostly positive comments. As I have tried Google Reader previously and loathed it, it was probably the right time to check it out again to see if Google has made it better.

Since it has been a long time since I last used it, I exported my feeds from Bloglines to OPML format and subsequently imported it into Google Reader. No drama here as this process was flawless. There was a delay of a few minutes before all the imported feeds showed up with the recent items in the subscriptions list on the left.

Google Reader's scroll trackingOnce everything was in place, the updated Google Reader proved to be pretty impressive. Compared to its predecessor, the interface is now a lot more usable (finally has a decent scrollbar and tree view) and in short, seemed like a AJAX-ified Bloglines. The ‘scroll tracking’ feature is rather intuitive as it would mark items as read when you scroll past them which is rather handy if you want to switch to other subscriptions (feeds) or tags (folders) and get back to it later (most other RSS readers would mark all items in a subscription as read the moment you open it). However, this feature doesn’t seem to work properly with subscriptions which only have 1 item which didn’t require any scrolling to read it (manually marking the item as read was required instead).

Besides that minor issue, I don’t have any other negatives to bring up. I would definitely take back the negative comments I made about it. ;) The latest update makes it very compelling to switch and its similarity to Gmail would make it a perfect candidate for those who already use Gmail and want to get started with using an RSS reader.

BloglinesSo while I was getting awed by the updated Google Reader, I noticed subtle user interface changes to the left pane of Bloglines. It was announced by the Bloglines team soon after I noticed it, and in my opinion, were excellent minor tweaks.

AJAX is now used in the left pane which makes it a lot snappier as the whole frame is longer refreshed. Very impressive for such a minor change as it definitely delivers a huge difference in responsiveness. Besides that, they have also reduced the time it automatically refreshes the feeds.

Since my last post on Bloglines, I’m happy to report it has not gone down at all and has been reliably delivering all the updates of my feeds. Kudos to the Bloglines team for the great work they’ve done!

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News Alloy

Khim Hoe recently told me about another web based RSS reader called News Alloy. After coming to a conclusion that Bloglines was by far irreplaceable in my previous blog entry on RSS readers, I went to try it out since he said it was pretty decent.

Initial impressions was that it has a similar feel to Bloglines, but with more Web 2.0-ish elements. As with my previous tests, I imported my Bloglines exported feeds into it. Importing went fine, but then a problem surfaced. Quite a fair bit of feeds which I knew were updated recently did not contain any entries in them which seemed something went wrong. The problem was that Newsalloy does not grab the feeds’ entries immediately after being added and is probably added to some sort of queue.

The AJAX interface has a similar flaw to Newsgator which is you would have to scroll down and up between reading feeds and going back to your feeds sidebar. After loading a few feeds that were available, I started to feel that they’ve tried to cramp too many icons/links onto the screen which made it feel cluttered. On the plus side, loading speed of feeds are pretty close to Bloglines.

I won’t be shifting from Bloglines to this, but for those who dislike Bloglines’s simplicity and Newsgator’s slowness, you could give this a shot.

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Finding a replacement for Bloglines (RSS reader)

Edit (2010-09-19): To those of you who are coming via the Google search of a Bloglines replacement, I’ve actually switched to Google Reader nearly 4 years ago (October 2006) and have not looked back since. This article was more of a comparison of what was available in August 2006, and if you are looking for a Bloglines replacement in 2010, Google Reader is definitely what I would recommend switching to. :)

After heaping praises on Bloglines in my previous post on RSS feeds, it seems to have gone through quite a fair bit of downtime which wasn’t particularly pleasing. :( Feeling disgruntled, I started researching (again) on the latest breed of web based and desktop based RSS (feed) readers currently available to find a worthy replacement of Bloglines.

By checking out the features as well as screenshots from the respective RSS readers’ websites, I filtered down the readers (aggregators) which I would be testing more thoroughly to:

Email applications which have RSS feed management:

Notable absentees from that list would be Google Reader, Firefox‘s live bookmarks. As stated in my previous post, I have tried Google Reader and I loath the AJAX interface for it as it just doesn’t work as efficiently as Bloglines’s two pane interface. Neither do I like Firefox’s current live bookmarks setup.

To ensure all the RSS readers are tested in the same manner I would usually use Bloglines, I exported the whole list of feeds from it (which came up to about 93..). You can do this by clicking on the ‘Edit’ link just under the ‘My Blog’ tab when you’re viewing the ‘My Feeds’ tab on the left pane, and then click ‘Export Subscriptions’ link which is right at the bottom of that pane (under the header ‘Extras’).

Read on for the details..
Read the rest of this entry »

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RSS

I was asked recently by Kah Wai on what RSS is about. After explaining I thought it might be nice to post it up as well so I don’t have to repeat myself if I ever get asked again. :P

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is also commonly known as web feeds. It is an extremely useful tool for keeping track of your favourite web sites (news, blogs, etc) without having to go to each and every one of them every so often to check if there are any new updates.

As an example, here‘s the public view of my Bloglines feeds. The list of feeds I keep track of are on the left pane, and clicking on any of them would display its content on the right. This way, all I have to do is login to a single page and start reading anything that is marked as unread (public view does not have this, you would have to sign up for an account).

So first up, how do you determine whether your favourite websites have an RSS feed? It can be safe to assume most sites would have one. But here are some clues which you can look for on the page:

This icon at the right of the address bar in Firefox or on the page itself (now the de facto RSS/web feeds icon):
RSS feed icon

Plain text words of ‘XML’ or ‘RSS’ or these icons:
RSS XML

To be able to keep track of the RSS feed you have chosen, you would need an ‘RSS aggregator’ or otherwise known as a ‘feed reader’. There are a variety of choices around but they can be categorised into 2 distinct categories, offline and online versions.

Although both require Internet access to retrieve the feeds, offline RSS readers download the feed data to your computer and no longer require it when viewed. Some offline RSS readers are SharpReader and FeedReader.

Online RSS readers on the other hand require you to have an active Internet connection when viewing the feeds. Examples of them are Bloglines and Google Reader.

As you would have noticed earlier, I am using Bloglines to monitor all my feeds. Since most people nowadays have always-on broadband connections, having to be online while reading the feeds isn’t really a problem. The other advantage for online RSS readers becomes apparent when you use multiple computers as it will always be tracked correctly and all you have to do is login without having to install anything (web email is a perfect example). I did try out Google Reader but didn’t really like its interface and have stuck with Bloglines.

Once you have chosen your RSS reader, just add the RSS link you got from the page into your reader/aggregator of choice and you’re good to go. If you’ve decided to use Bloglines, here’s a neat trick for quickly adding RSS feeds without having to manually determine its availability. ;) Once you have dragged it to your bookmarks toolbar, subscribing to RSS feeds would be as simple as clicking on that bookmark.

Hope my brief explanation on ‘speed reading the web‘ was decent enough. ;) Comments and suggestions are welcomed. :)

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