The Best Cyprus Community

Skip to content


RSS feeds

Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve our forums?

Moderator: Admin

RSS feeds

Postby TVSET » Wed May 04, 2005 1:05 am

It would be very nice to have RSS feeds per each forum. I know that it is surely possible with phpBB, I just don't know if anyone will bother to do it. :)


Admin note:

This feature is now implemented. Please see the following URL for the RSS feeds:

http://www.cyprus-forum.com/cyprus4304.html
User avatar
TVSET
Member
Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Postby Admin » Fri May 06, 2005 8:31 pm

Thanks for the proposal. Seems interesting.

Are there any other members that would like this feature?
User avatar
Admin
Forum Admin
Forum Admin
 
Posts: 350
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2002 7:21 pm
Location: Cyprus

Postby TVSET » Tue May 24, 2005 10:03 pm

Can I get it if I make a "lecture" about what it is and how to use it? I am sure there are plenty of people here who probably don't know about the benefits of RSS, but would gladly use it if introduced and if RSS would be available. :)
User avatar
TVSET
Member
Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Postby brother » Tue May 24, 2005 11:26 pm

Please do tell us :wink:
User avatar
brother
Main Contributor
Main Contributor
 
Posts: 4711
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:30 pm
Location: Cyprus/U.K

Postby TVSET » Wed May 25, 2005 6:38 am

brother wrote:Please do tell us :wink:


Alrighty than... :)

I'm sure most of you have some set of sites that you check for updates daily. News sites like BBC and CNN, technology with Slashdot maybe, blogs of some friends, online comics, forums such as this one - whatever. Everyone I know has some list of sites that they visit daily.

If you aren't using RSS than your list of sites is few times smaller than it could have been. Or you are spending much more time checking these sites than you could have spent using RSS.

Example: before I myself started to use RSS I visited about 15 sites daily. There were few other sites that I visited pretty often, like once a week. But that was only when I had time to do so or remembered that I haven't been there for some time. When I started to use RSS, the amount of sites constantly grew and now I am monitoring more than 200 sites for updates. I spend roughly the same time as before to do so though.

Here's how it works. Many sites these days provide an RSS feed (at least most of the major ones do). You can sometimes see it as a link to 'RSS feed', 'Atom feed', 'Syndication', 'XML', or icons like these: Image, Image, or Image. You can click on these links and read them with your browser, but that's not much fun.

Instead you should use a special program - RSS aggregator. There are a number of these programs both free and commercial for any operating system out there. You can search the web for "RSS aggregator" or visit this page, which lists a few. Or you can use an online aggregator, like Bloglines. I'm using it myself for all my feeds.

What does an aggregator do? Well, it monitors sites for updates. You "subscribe" to an RSS feed with it. This is just a complicated way of saying it. Aggregator will have an interface similar to your bookmarks in the browser - folders and links. But instead of just any links, you'll be giving links to RSS feeds. RSS aggregator will periodically (say hourly) automatically get content from RSS links that you gave it, and check if there are any updates. If there are any, it will notify you. No longer you have to jump around one million websites checking if any of them posted any news.

RSS feeds can be configured differently by site owners. Some provide only the headlines and links to full articles. Others provide headlines and a small excerpt of the article. Yet others provide full headlines and articles. This means that you can read some sites without even visiting them.

One picture is a thousand words they say, so here is a screenshot of my regular Bloglines interface. I'll give you a minute to look at it, and than explain what you see.

Image

On the left panel I have a list of folders with subscriptions to different sites. Bold font is used on folders that have new items. For example, you can see that Programming folder (slightly cut) has 412 new items and RSS folder has 105 new items. When I open the folder, I see the list of my subscriptions. Again bold is used on the sites that have new items. For example, you can see that I've opened the Technology folder and now reading the updates from the site of Miguel de Icaza, while I have two more sites with updates - Slashdot, with 21 new items and Yandex Blog (in Russian) with 1 new item.

On the right I have the actual items. As I've already mentioned these can be just the headlines, headlines with excerpts, or complete items, even with pictures (as you can see from the one on the screenshot).

I guess now it should be much more obvious what an RSS aggregator is and what it does shouldn't it? :)

Why am I using Bloglines? The beauty of Bloglines is that:
1. I don't have to install anything on my computer to use it (I already have a web browser and its all I need).
2. I can read my news from any computer connected to the Internet. When I read items, they will be marked read, when I subscribe to new ones, they will automatically appear. Thus I don't have to synchronize anything, say, between my home and office workstations.
3. Bloglines service is free of charge.
4. Bloglines has some other useful features that I haven't talked about yet.

So, what other useful features does Bloglines have that I haven't talked about yet? Well, because this is a free online service, a lot of people are using it. Thus Bloglines can do some analysis and information sharing. For example, you can mark your subscriptions as either 'Private' or 'Public'. Other people can see the list of sites you are subscribed to (only those that you've marked 'Public').

Go back to that screenshot o'mine. Look at the top of the right panel.

Do you see it where it says '1,180 subscribers'? This means that the site I am currently reading is read by 1,180 other Bloglines users. If I click on that link, I will get a list of people who read this site, and who marked it as 'Public'. This way I can also browse through other subscriptions of these people. I am interested in this, because chances are, if they read the same sites as I do, we have a similar mindset and interests. Maybe they are subscribed to some other site which I might be interested in, but which I've missed so far.

There is another link up there, called 'Related feeds'. This one will basically do the step I described above, but in a slightly different way. If I click on that link, Blogines will go through the list of people who read this site, make a list of all other sites that these people read, sort it by popularity and present it to me. Cool, eh? :)

And that's not it yet. Look again at the screenshot, but this time focus your eyes on the left bottom corner. There is a link called 'Recommendations'. There Bloglines gives me a list of sites that I might be interested in based on my current list of subscriptions.

I can also export the list of my subscriptions. This is helpful if I want, say, include the list of sites I read on my website. This is usually called 'Blogroll' or 'My links'. Click here to see this used on my site. See, I don't have to maintain a separate list of links for my site. Every time I add a new subscription to my Bloglines profile, it automatically appears on my site too. Same goes for deletion. (Reminder: not all links appear, but only those that I've marked as Public). The same way I can choose to export only one specific folder, or a list of folders - not the whole list.

And of course, I can search through a huge list of RSS feeds with keywords, add my new feeds, set options for my feeds, and do a whole lotta more.

By now you might be wondering how does Cyprus Forum fit the picture. Well, phpBB, the software on which Cyprus Forum runs, has a plugin that allows it to generate RSS feeds. You can subscribed either to all forums, or some specific ones, like 'General Chat' or 'Cyprus Tourism'. Your RSS aggregator will check the subscribed forums for new messages and notify you every time there is one. No longer you have to hit that Refresh button waiting for someone to post something. You might say that you already get notifications on email now. Well, not exactly. At this time, you get email notifications only when someone replies to the topic that you've posted in. But you don't know when someone creates a new topic. With RSS you'd be informed.

Since this post is getting way too long, I'll stop here. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them to my best.

In the meanwhile, don't be afraid - go the http://www.bloglines.com and register for an account. Try to use it. It is really simple and useful. And since it's free, you don't loose anything except for few minutes of your time. (That can caught upon easily with RSS later on). If you won't like, you can always leave it behind.
User avatar
TVSET
Member
Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Postby erolz » Wed May 25, 2005 9:38 am

Thanks for that description TVSET. Very useful and informative.

I have been aware of RSS for some time but somehow have not got round to using it. Your post has encouraged me to do so. Thanks
erolz
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 2414
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2004 5:00 pm
Location: Girne / Kyrenia

Postby brother » Wed May 25, 2005 10:41 am

I think i will be using this as well, way to many sites that i like and it would save me much time, thanks TVSET for the information, an asset to cyprus forum.
User avatar
brother
Main Contributor
Main Contributor
 
Posts: 4711
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:30 pm
Location: Cyprus/U.K

Postby TVSET » Wed May 25, 2005 12:39 pm

Since you guys are interested in the subject, here are few more bits that might help you on the way. :)

There are others ways of using RSS too.

One of the most popular applications being monitoring of search results. For example, I am interested in Cyprus news (Linux, my name on the web, Perl programming, digital photography, whatever). What do normal people do when they want to find information about Cyprus? They go to one of the search engines, type "cyprus" in the search form, and click "Find!" button. Than they look through the results and see if anything interesting pops up.

The problem with this approach is that web is changing constantly. If you wills search for "cyprus" today, the results will be different from your search for "cyprus" tomorrow. Some of the results will be the same though. Coming every day to the same search engine, searching for the same keywords and going through the results identifying new items is very close to what rapists do in Hell.

God-loved people use RSS :) . I simply went to Yahoo! News Search, typed in "cyprus" and pressed "Search News" button. At that very moment I wasn't interested in the results. I was interested in the small button in right bottom corner that said "View as RSS: XML". The button is a link to RSS feed of the search. I simply added this link to my BlogLines subscription. Now, Bloglines visits Yahoo! News Search once in a while (about every hour or so), does the search, looks through the results, and notifies me if there are any new items. Presto!

Google News does not yet provide the native RSS feed. But who's here to wait for them? Nice guy who's name is Justin Pfister provides the converter for the Google News search.

In the same way, RSS can be used to monitor activity in the mailing lists, Usenet newsgroups, statuses of FedEx packages, weather forecasts, and many other things.

Once again, I'll say a few nice words about BlogLines. This guys created a very simple and easy to use interface for monitoring a whole bunch of things. When you are logged in, click on the "Add" link and examine what you see on the right panel. First of all, there is of course a field to add the direct URL to the feed. You can use this one. Or you can use a bunch of other fields, for example, you can specify someone's username at LiveJournal.com, Blogger.com, or Xanga.com to add their diary/blog to the list of your subscriptions. Also you can monitor Yahoo! Groups or Google Groups with the same group name. Every time there'll be a new message in the group, you'll get notified. Package tracking with the package number is available for FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Weather forecast for location is there too. I am sure they will add more stuff in the near future, as they always do.

Yet another way to use RSS is to follow comments on some site. For example, there are a lot of blogs floating around these days. Most of the blogs provide commenting facilities for visitors. Since you might be visiting a lot of blogs and some of these might not be on your regular list, keeping track of your comments and replies to them might be a real nightmare. Some blogs (like those running on WordPress) provide the facility of RSSing comments. I have a special Private folder in my Bloglines profile where I keep comment feeds from all blog posts tha interest me or where I commented myself and might get a reply. As soon as someone posts a reply or additional comment, I get notified.

Keeping up with software releases or antivirus updates is yet another option. Some software repositories, like [url]Freshmeat.net[/url] for example, allow you to follow new releases with RSS feed. This way you don't have to revisit your favourite program's website to check if new versions are available. You'll get a notification in your RSS aggregator if there is any. Same goes for antivirus databases.

Now, with all the beauty of RSS, not all sites support it. When you come across a site that does not support RSS, you can:
1. Contact site maintainers and request the feature.
2. Search the web and see if someone else provided the feed. The beauty of RSS allows third-party people to provide content via RSS.
3. Try to write your own script to parse the website and convert the content in to RSS feed. It's not that difficult anyway. :)
User avatar
TVSET
Member
Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Postby demetriou_74 » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:05 pm

they seem great but somebody is always posting on this site so there is no point
User avatar
demetriou_74
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
 
Posts: 1615
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 7:06 pm
Location: London, Greek Cypriot

Postby TVSET » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:33 pm

demetriou_74 wrote:they seem great but somebody is always posting on this site so there is no point


Not completely true. :)

First of all, "somebody is always posting" depends on your definition of "always". If you check the forum once a day, than, yes, you're likely to find new posts every time you come. If you come more often, say once an hour, than you will see that there are times when noone is posting.

Also, "somebody is always posting" depends on what forums you are interested in. If you read all forums, than, yes, you're likely to find new posts every time you come. If, on the other hand, you are interested in a subset of forums (say Sports and Entertainment), than you'll see that news posts appear not as often as you might come.

RSS helps in both of the cases. You can subscribe to feeds for those forums that you're interested in and you'll be notified every time there is a new post there.
User avatar
TVSET
Member
Member
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 11:56 pm
Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Next

Return to Suggestions and Feedback

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests