// Internet Duct Tape

How to Explain RSS to Normal People – 2008 Edition

Posted in Building a Community, Facebook, Humor, RSS Syndication, Ruby, Technology by engtech on February 28, 2008

Social Software and You

As a geek who enjoys spending too much time on the internet, I like RSS almost as much as delicious toast. As a blogger, RSS is the shiznitz because it lets you consume a lot more information and it makes it easier for other people to read your blog without having to drop by every few days to see if you’ve written something new.

For something so useful, it’s pretty hard to explain why people should use RSS. Lots of people try to do it. This is my take on it. It’s 2008 and explaining RSS should be much simpler because if you’ve used Facebook, then you’ve used RSS.

RSS for Normal People (who use Facebook)

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Yahoo Pipe: Sub-Reddit Feed Filter

Posted in Delicious, Reddit, Ruby on Rails, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on January 28, 2008

Hacking RSS with Yahoo Pipes

Popular social bookmarking site Reddit has announced a great new feature: users can create their own sub-reddit. What does this mean in English? Users and communities can create their own social bookmarking sites around specific topics: blogging, wordpress, specific programming languages, etc but still use their regular reddit account for submitting links and voting.

You can see a full list of all the new reddits here, sorted by popularity. Of particular interest to me is the new Reddit created for Ruby/Rails related posts.

Of course, it’d be nice to be able to subscribe to a filtered version of these links. I’ve created a modified version of Dave S‘s “reddit popular on delicious” Yahoo Pipe that works with Sub-reddits.

  1. Click on the link
  2. Enter the name of the sub-reddit you’re interested in
  3. Enter the minimum number of saves on a delicious before a link is included in the feed
  4. Enter keyword inclusion/exclusion filters if you want to limit what you get
    • ie: include only rails-related posts or exclude all rails-related posts
  5. Click Run
  6. Click on the subscribe to RSS button

I’m using the Ruby sub-reddit as an example, but this is a great way to track links based around any topic there is a sub-reddit for. Even lolcats.

I’m looking forward to when this Reddit feature comes out of beta and it’s possible to create a few new sub-reddits like blogging, wordpress and lifehacks.

Related Posts

Blog Tip: Create a Link Post in 3 Seconds

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Delicious, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on October 03, 2007

Bloggin Tips and Tricks

This is the successor to my post on how to build a weekly digest in 3 seconds.

One question I’m frequently asked is “how do you build those Best of Feeds weekly links?” The way I do it is pretty complicated, but I’ve found a much simpler solution that I want to share with you all. Building a list of links is something every blogger does at one time or another, and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Why Create a Link Post?

Link posts are great ways to share and acknowledge interesting links. Linking to other blogs is what makes the blogosphere tick. If you don’t routinely read and link to other bloggers then your using your blog as a one-way soapbox instead of as a medium for sparking communication and building relationships.

Link posts can be used for a variety of reasons:

  • Weekly Round-up
  • List of resources about a subject
  • List of group writing participants
  • List of contest participants

Here are some more tips from the experts on why create a link post

Step #1: Use Delicious to Save Links

I’m a delicious power user and it’s my favourite site for bookmarking interesting links. It integrates nicely with whatever web browser you are using.

This video explains how to use Delicious to bookmark sites

Delicious already comes with a way of posting a daily link report, but I don’t like it because I feel like I’m spamming my regular readers if my blog is filled with “links for 2007-10-02″ instead of stuff I wrote myself. I much prefer posting once a week, or having full control over when I post my list of links.

But the delicious tagging system is so useful for building a list of links around a specific subject, and for attaching short descriptions around each link. For instance, I used the ‘project3′ tag when I was picking out my favorite posts from the Project 3 group writing project on Daily Blog Tips.

Delicious also integrates nicely into your web browser, no matter what it might be.

Step #2: Use Delicious Link Builder

I’ve created a Yahoo Pipe that builds a list of your del.icio.us links that you can cut-and-paste into a blog post.

  1. Put in your delicious username
  2. Optional: Filter your links by a tag
  3. Optional: Filter your links by date
  4. Optional: Limit the number of links (maximum is 31, this is a limit from del.icio.us)
  5. Click ‘Run Pipe
  6. Cut-and-paste the results into a blog post using your WYSIWYG editor

Delicious Link Builder

The Results

This is an example of a list from my delicious saved bookmarks.

That’s all there is to it. Bookmark web pages with delicious, then go into Delicious Link Builder when you want to make a list of them.

You can start by bookmarking this post. :)

Advanced Users – Pretty Cut-n-Paste

I use a Greasemonkey script in Firefox to make the output of Yahoo Pipes a little bit nicer.

  1. How to Install Greasemonkey
  2. How to Install a Greasemonkey Script
  3. Install Yahoo Pipe Cleaner

Advanced Users – Clone Your Own Pipe

If you’re logged into Yahoo then you’ll have the option to ‘clone’ my Pipe (Delicious Links Builder). This means you have your own copy of it and you can change the default values for the fields to whatever you want, eg: always default to your username, and to 7 days worth of links.

Advanced Users – StumbleUpon

If you’re using delicious to save bookmarks, you can also use another handy Greasemonkey script I created that lets you save web pages to StumbleUpon at the same time you’re saving them to Delicious.

Related Links

There’s Plenty More

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

Subscribe to feed

This post was written as part of the Geeks Are Sexy Ultimate “How-To” contest.

Blog Tip: Creating a Blog Maintenance Start Page with Netvibes

Posted in RSS Syndication, Technology, Technorati, Twitter, WordPress.com Tips by engtech on September 25, 2007

Bloggin Tips and Tricks

In Blogger GTD, Leo mentioned that it was a good idea to have one inbox for all your blogging related notifications. I hate cluttering in my inbox, but I do agree that it makes sense to have a single point of reference rather to spend 5 minutes checking some information in one place and then spend 5 minutes checking information in another place. As Skelliewag says, those 5 minutes add up over the course of a day and by the end of it you’ve wasted an hour.

Directing everything to my inbox would never work for me, but it is possible to have a single start page for all your blog maintenance activities using Netvibes. If you aren’t familiar with Netvibes it is a combination of an RSS feed aggregator and a widget platform. It is analogous to iGoogle (but works better). In simple terms Netvibes lets you put lots of information in one place and look at information from several web pages on a single page.

blog maintenance netvibes start page

If you’ve never tried it out before then please visit http://netvibes.com — they let you play around with a default page even if you don’t have an account.

This is what I put on my blog maintenance start page. Replace internetducttape.com or engtech.wordpress.com with your blog URL.

Column 1: Comment Administration and Social Site Monitoring

blog maintenance netvibes comment monitoring

The first column is for things that I want to respond quickly to — comments and checking to see if my site is submitted to Digg or Reddit.

Box #1: Comments RSS feed: http://internetducttape.com/comments/feed

Or you could use my WordPress Comment Extractor / WordPress Trackback Extractor to get only the comments or only the trackbacks.

Box #2: Shortcuts to WordPress administration activities using the Netvibes Bookmarks widget.

Bookmarks: http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?module=Bookmarks

I add the following bookmarks:

Box #3: Social Site Submission Watchdog is a custom Yahoo Pipe I created.

Click on this link then

  • change your blog URL
  • click on Run Pipe
  • copy the RSS link to Netvibes

Column 2: Blog Stats

blog maintenance netvibes check blog stats

It’s a bad idea to check your blog stats multiple times a day, but is it so bad if you’re also checking blog comments, emails and instant messages at the same time?

Box #1: This will only work for WordPress.com bloggers, which is too bad because it’s a great way to check stats at a glance.

WordPress.com Mobile Widget: http://gamespotting.net/wordpressnetvibes.html

Box #2: Technorati Rank from RSS. Another custom Yahoo Pipe. This one is a little more complicated to install because you’ll need your Technorati API key.

Click on this link then

  • change your blog URL
  • find your Technorati API key and cut-and-paste it
  • click on Run Pipe
  • copy the RSS link to Netvibes

Box #3: Filtered Blog Reactions from Technorati. This is another custom Yahoo Pipe. It shows the blog URL as the title and links to the front page instead of directly to the post.

Click on this link then

  • change your blog URL
  • click on Run Pipe
  • copy the RSS link to Netvibes

You could use this RSS feed instead: http://feeds.technorati.com/search/internetducttape.com

Column 3: Direct Communication

netvibes blog maintenance communication twitter

I use the second tab as a way to keep a quick check on how I stay in contact with other bloggers — through Gmail and Twitter.

Box #1: Gmail: http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?module=Gmail

I use a dedicated Gmail account for blogging — I don’t receive any personal or work related email with that account.

Box #2: Twitter Replies RSS feed: http://twitter.com/statuses/replies.rss

This shows some of the power of Netvibes — you can view password protected RSS feeds.

Box #3: Twitter: http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?module=Twitter

Create Your Own Blog Maintenance Start Page

This gives you a few ideas of how I use the service, but the possibilities are endless.

For instance there is a Facebook widget: http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?module=Facebook

Not to mention several widgets that let you directly embed a web page. Using those generic modules you can embed Google Reader into Netvibes and other crazy stuff like that.

What are you going to put on your blog maintenance start page?

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