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Google Reader

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I hate to promote Google given their trajectory to take over the world, but I just switched over to Google Reader for reading RSS feeds. I had accumulated over 60 RSS feeds, and it was becoming difficult for me to determine which feeds I should keep and which I should delete.

I was hoping for an automated tool that would keep track of which feeds are beneficial and Google Reader has exactly what I was looking for!

The trends feature will keep track of which articles I read from each feed and report on the total number and the percent. So, over time, I’ll be able to easily delete the feeds that have a low number and/or low percentage of read articles. If you decide to use Google Reader, you should be aware of some idiosyncrasies. When viewing in “Expanded view”, the default is to mark articles as read when you scroll past them which totally defeats the trends feature. You can turn that off in the settings.

settings | preferences | scroll tracking

I like using the “list view” instead which allows me to quickly view the titles. After I’ve read the articles I want to from a feed, I click “mark all as read” and Google Reader is smart enough to not count those in the “read” statistics.

If you’re already using a different RSS reader, you can easily import all your feeds via an opml file. I was using Liferea and had folders of feeds, and I had also renamed the feeds – the import to Google Reader kept track of all of that – nice.

Google Reader has a lot of other nice features such as keyboard shortcuts, tags, folders, etc., but once I discovered the trends feature, that was all I needed to see 🙂

I suppose the trends feature can be “unfair” though. Consider the following scenario:

  1. You have two feeds A and B
  2. Each day each feed publishes 10 articles
  3. The feeds overlap on 5 articles that are worth reading
  4. Feed A has 1 unique article that you read
  5. Feed B has 3 unique articles that you read

If the feeds are read in alphabetical order, then you’ll read the 5 overlapped articles from Feed A along with the 1 unique article -> total = 6, or 60%. Then you’ll read the 3 unique articles from Feed B -> total = 3, or 30%. The stats will show Feed A as being twice as valuable when clearly Feed B is more valuable. I suppose to get good stats, I should read the feeds in random order, but that seems difficult to manage.

UPDATE: ah, never mind. Simply view the folder that contains A & B and you’ll see the union of their articles in chronological order – whoever gets the overlapped story first wins 🙂

Written by Brian Adkins

July 30, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Posted in internet

Tagged with , , ,

Truncated RSS Feeds

with 3 comments

I just read an article discussing whether truncated RSS feeds are good or bad. I’m currently using truncated feeds (of course this post may be short enough to not get truncated), but if any of you have an opinion on the matter, I’d love to hear it.

Written by Brian Adkins

July 28, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Posted in communication, internet

Tagged with

twitter, jaiku or neither?

with one comment

I don’t know if you’ve caught the buzz, or even heard of, Twitter or Jaiku, but a few hundred thousand people seem to be addicted to it. I think I first heard about it from Robert Scoble. I guess Leo Laporte of TWiT fame talked it up and boosted the subscribership. Then Leo thought the Twitter name was too similar to his TWiT (“this week in tech”) and was worried about trademark issues, so he made a big deal about leaving Twitter for Jaiku and a bunch of folks followed him (and brought the jaiku servers to their knees).

My initial assessment is that there is a lot of over-hype, but I do think they can provide some value in ways that email, IM and blogging can’t. In some ways, Twitter/Jaiku is to blogging as IM is to email – with some overlap.

It reminds me a little of the LinkedIn buzz a few years ago. I tried it out and got bored, so I thought I’d see how big I could grow my network for the fun of it. I linked up with a few networkers who had huge networks and I soon had over a million people in my network which basically defeated the whole purpose of LinkedIn, although I have to admit it was fun getting the reactions from people with tiny networks who linked to me and suddenly got an incredible boost. Likewise, Robert Scoble has 2,700+ “friends” on Twitter with pages of updates scrolling by at a ridiculous rate.

On the other hand, if you use LinkedIn as it’s intended and only link to people you know well, it can be really useful. I do use it that way by dealing with referrals from trusted sources and ignoring the ones from strangers. Unlike twitter/jaiku, LinkedIn doesn’t (or at least didn’t) make it easy to delete folks from your networks, so I’m stuck with the strangers. Similarly, if you only add people you actually know and interact with regularly to your twitter/jaiku account (unlike Scoble), it might have some use.

On the other hand (?), Kathy Sierra has some really good points on the matter 🙂

I can’t tell if twitter or jaiku will take the lead, or if they’ll both flop. I’ll post both of my accounts and see what happens.

My twitter account

My jaiku account

Feel free to add me on either one. I should warn you that everyone’s first impression of twitter and/or jaiku seems to be that they’re lame; for some that impression changes. I’m still on the fence.

UPDATE forgot a few twitter related sites:

Twittervision

Twitterific

TwitterCamp

Twitterholic

Granted, these may not be that useful, but I do think it’s cool that Twitter has published an API that allows the development of applications to produce and consume “tweets”.

Update 2: I just added a twitter badge to this blog page – you can check it out in the sidebar to the right. Is that cool, or what? I’m referring to the technology, not the content of my updates which by nature will be boring 🙂

Written by Brian Adkins

April 11, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Posted in internet

Tagged with , , ,

del.icio.us

with one comment

In my opinion, del.icio.us is one of the more useful Web 2.0 applications. In a nutshell, del.icio.us allows you to do the following:

  1. Easily create a bookmark/favorite for a web site that’s stored on a remote server
  2. Add tags and notes to your bookmarks
  3. Export your bookmarks from del.icio.us
  4. Provide an rss feed for your bookmarks
  5. Provide an rss feed for your tags
  6. Search del.icio.us for web sites that have been bookmarked by others
  7. Use blogging utilities

Let’s consider some of the implications of the above.

1. Remote bookmarks

By storing your bookmarks on a remote server instead of in your browser, you gain three significant benefits. First, if you use more than one computer (or upgrade to a new one), you’ll never have to synchronize bookmarks between computers or suffer from having an important bookmark on a computer other than the one you’re using. Second, by storing your bookmarks on a remote computer that is professionally managed, you’ll have a backup of a very important set of information. Third, you can easily share your bookmarks with others. del.icio.us allows you to mark bookmarks as private, so you can pick and choose which bookmarks you’d like to share, and which you don’t.

2.Tags!

Web 2.0 is all about the tags 🙂 Seriously, hierarchies can be useful, but for bookmarks, I feel that assigning a set of tags to a bookmark is much more useful than trying to place a bookmark in a particular spot in a hierarchy of bookmarks. del.icio.us allows you to edit your tags, rename them, etc., if you don’t get it right the first time. This is particularly powerful in conjunction with searching other peoples’ bookmarks – just think of how awkward it would be to search through each person’s peculiar hierarchy.

3. Export your data

This feature was absolutely essential for me to use del.icio.us. I wasn’t about to add all my bookmarks to a remote server only to be held captive by del.icio.us. Fortunately del.icio.us allows you to export your data, so you can take your bookmarks and go home whenever you want.

4. RSS feed for bookmarks

This feature is quite useful. It allows you to add an RSS feed of your friend’s bookmarks to an RSS reader, so you can be notified of new bookmarks your friend has recently added. Usefulness depends on the person whose bookmarking you’re following 🙂

5. RSS feed for tags

Same as 4, but for following new tags instead of bookmarks.

6. Search

del.icio.us has some great searching facilities. Since del.icio.us knows about a ton of sites that have been bookmarked by people, it can provide intelligent search capabilities that can exceed a purely mathematical approach such as Google in some cases.

7. Blogging utilities

Link rolls, tag rolls and badges, oh my. del.icio.us allows you to place a tag roll on your web site (note my tag roll does not reflect my priorities 🙂 ).

It also allows you to display your latest bookmarks:

my del.icio.us

Get Started

Sign up for a free account on del.icio.us. They make it easy to import your current bookmarks/favorites. If you’d like to share your bookmarks, let me know your account name when it’s setup.

You can see my del.icio.us bookmarks here

And my bookmark RSS feed is here

If any of you existing del.icio.us users would like to share your bookmarks, either post a comment with your account, or email me privately.

Written by Brian Adkins

April 10, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Posted in internet

Tagged with , ,

Why you should be using RSS

with 9 comments

Since I’m about to let a bunch of people know about my blog, I thought I’d help out anyone who might not be using RSS. You really should be using RSS. If you don’t believe me, check out the video below; I have no idea who that guy is, but he’s right (well, at least about RSS). Here it is in a nutshell. Instead of going out to a bunch of web sites for news, information, etc., let your RSS reader do that for you and compile a list of new articles in one place that you can scan through and read only the articles that interest you. It will save you a lot of time – even if you only read one news or blog site.

Take this blog for instance. You’d be crazy to keep coming back here to see if there’s new content that interests you. Just add the RSS feed (it’s at the bottom of the page and says Entries (RSS) ) to your RSS reader and it will let you know when a new article is posted, and if the title interests you, check it out, otherwise, ignore it.

I have a favor to ask of those who are reading this and are already using RSS. Post a comment with the name of the RSS reader you’re using, and if you have any links to helpful RSS tutorials, post them too. If you’re not using RSS, you may want to check back in a few days and read the comments. You could add the comments for this article to your RSS reader so you’ll be automatically notified when a new comment is posted, but that’s a bit of a catch-22 🙂

UPDATE: definitely check out Eric Holter’s article on RSS in the comments below.

Written by Brian Adkins

April 9, 2007 at 11:20 am

Posted in communication, internet, video

Tagged with

My current RSS feeds

with one comment

Slashdot xml html
Riding Rails – home xml html
CNET News.com xml html
eWEEK Technology News xml html
InfoWorld: Top News xml html
TechCrunch xml html
GigaOM xml html
Linux Journal – xml html
Scobleizer – Tech Geek Blogger xml html
Ian Murdock’s Weblog xml html
Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog xml html
Scripting News xml html
Techmeme xml html
Latest news from Triangle Business Journal xml html
DistroWatch.com News xml html
Ruby on Rails: Timeline xml html
Technocrat xml html
Apple Hot News xml html

Written by Brian Adkins

April 7, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Posted in communication, internet

Tagged with