Archive for the ‘RSS’ Category

The funniest IT Crowd episode yet Sep 21 2007

The funniest IT Crowd episode yet.

The IT Crowd is so awesomely funny. Tonight’s episode is so funny we’re watching it again. Completely hilarious. LOLed for about half the show.

You must watch this now. Run don’t walk.

  1. Get Miro (used to be called Democracy) – this is an Internet TV player http://getmiro.com
  2. Copy this URL: http://tvrss.net/search/index.php?show_name=The+IT+Crowd&show_name_exact=true&mode=rss
  3. Open Miro, then click Channels > Add Channel. Paste in the subscription URL.
  4. The latest episode (season 2, episode 5) should begin downloading.
  5. Watch episode and ZOMG LOL.
  6. Enjoy the earlier season’s episodes and all new ones which will automatically download to your computer.

One of the funniest lines from this episode said by Moss:

Ah, well, prepare to put mustard on those words, for you will soon be consuming them, along with this slice of humble pie, that comes direct from the oven, of shame, set at gas mark egg on your face.

So freaking funny.

Enjoy.

RSS2.com is fast again, thanks to a new and improved SQL database schema Jul 26 2007

For quite a while, RSS2.com has been slow. Ever since it hit, oh, around 1.4 million items in its database (now up over 2 million) the queries that were responsible for building the home page view had gotten slower and slower.

The old design

The problem was one of normalization, and the desire to not have data going into two places. The design originally worked this way:

  1. Look up the latest posts. Find all the latest ones that have a distinct feed_id. This was running against the feed_data table, which now has over 2 million rows.
  2. Next, look up the feed information for each feed_id found. Originally, I couldn’t figure out a way to do this all in one query. So this was another 10 individual SQL queries, looking up information about the feed needed to display on the home page (like the name of the feed, URL, etc.) This query did a join of the feed_data with the feed_info tables. This is what took progressively longer and longer, the more rows in the feed_data table.
  3. Next, combine the results of finding the 10 most recent posts from the 10 most recently updated feeds into an array using PHP, then pass those results from the Data Access Object (DAO) to the presentation layer for output on the home page.

This ended up being really, really slow on the homepage load (like over 2 minutes). This was obviously too slow. I implemented caching at a number of layers to mitigate the problem, which made for a very speedy second page load, but the first one was still way too slow.

After consulting with my friend Ben, he agreed that it was an inherently expensive query to run. We agreed that it needed to be re-architected to be able to significantly improve performance.

The new design

The new design required creating a new table dedicated to the home page posts where, when a RSS feed is read, it inserts the most recent new item into the new table.

The new process works like this:

  1. RSS feed is read. Any new items are first inserted into the main feed_data table, and the feed_info table is updated as well with a last checked timestamp.
  2. Next, the new table is updated, using a MySQL REPLACE command, with the combined feed information as well as item information
  3. The complicated 11 queries that used to be run are now replaced by a dead-simple single query that will only ever have to search through the total number of feeds in the system (currently 753 rows), instead of the over 2 million rows before.

These new changes have made using RSS2.com much more usable again, and it is way faster. The homepage loads in under a 1/2 second now, just like it should.

Check it out: RSS2.com – Really Simple News For You

ScobleShow: Videoblog about geeks, technology, and developers – Read it at RSS2.com Jan 30 2007

The ScobleShow is the 700th feed added to RSS2.com. Congratulations, Scoble!

Check it out: ScobleShow: Videoblog about geeks, technology, and developers – Read it at RSS2.com

P.S. Support for displaying podcast enclosures is probably going to be coming soon so you’ll be able to play or download non-embedded audio and video podcast files directly in your browser. But that is probably for another night, since it will involve hacking on the MagpieRSS RSS feed parser a little bit so it knows that enclosures exist.

Interesting video clip by the guy who named WiFi Jan 29 2007

Neat video.

So the guy who came up with WiFi, Expedia, Exterra tells all about the importance of naming.
Is a good name a important to success? What about bad names? They highlight the name iPod as a bad name, but the product is so awesome it didn’t matter. I’m about half-way through this video, and it actually has my attention (as you know, this is a big deal if you can keep my attention). So … before I have to go out and this post falls into the “almost done” status … I’m just going to post because man, this is too interesting not too!

Posted on PodTech.net: Blog – Blog Archive – Just wha’ts in a name? A lot listen to Scoble talk with Edward Saenz (found it by reading the PodTech.net blog RSS feed at RSS2.com).

Adding new feeds to RSS2.com is working again Jan 27 2007

I’ve fixed it so that adding feeds to RSS2.com should work again now. There was a small flaw in the logic for adding the feeds that I hadn’t caught. All fixed now.

So far there have been almost 130,000 total items retrieved from almost 700 feeds since it the site launched in December.

Check it out and add your feed if you want: RSS2.com – Really Simple News For You

The secret to getting your website featured on the frontpage of RSS2.com Jan 22 2007

New RSS2.com homepage

If you’ve ever tried to get your website featured on the front page of a site like digg, reddit, or Slashdot you might have felt frustration when you didn’t get the right number of votes to make it.

There is a site called RSS2.com that will automatically put your website’s content directly on its homepage.

How to get onto the homepage

Here are the 3 easy steps for you to take to get your website featured on the homepage of RSS2.com:

  1. Go to the site and make sure that your RSS feed is in the database. The easiest way to do this is to paste in the URL for your RSS feed into the “Read a Feed” input box at the bottom of the page.
  2. Verify that your existing site RSS feed was imported correctly. You should be forwarded to the page that shows you your feed’s page on RSS2.com if it was imported successfully. (For example, the page for this site is http://rss2.com/feeds/Gabriel)
  3. Publish a new item on your website. RSS feeds are updated every 5 minutes so you should only have to wait for a minute or two. Refresh your feed page until you see your new item appear. Now check the homepage. Your new item should be at the top of the list, and will remain until 9 newer items are published by other people in their RSS feeds.

Bonus tip #1 – how to get into the top 30 feeds list

If you want to make it into the top 30 feed list (featured at the top of every page), all you have to do is tell people about your RSS2.com page that features your feed and increase your view count. The easiest way to do this is to use the RSS feed stats widget at the bottom of your feed page (copy and paste the HTML into your blog sidebar or another HTML page) — note that your site must allow <script> tags to enable the live updates of your RSS2.com feed stats information. You can also promote yourself to the top 30 by linking to your feed page in your blog roll and by sending the link to your friends.

Bonus tip #2 – Pretty site icon

To have your site icon show up nicely in the all feeds page and in the explore lists make sure you have a favicon installed for your website. RSS2.com will look for that and use it for your site icon. If it doesn’t find one, it will use a generic one that doesn’t set your site apart from any of the other ones. See the Wikipedia entry on favicons for how to get one installed for your site if you don’t already have one.

So, 3 easy steps to get your website content promoted on the RSS2.com website.

Try it for yourself: Submit your site to RSS2.com

(P.S. It usually accepts most Atom feeds as well as RSS feeds.)

Sweet new RSS2.com feature: Custom RSS Feed Stats Badges Jan 19 2007

New RSS2.com feature: embeddable RSS stats badges!

You can now see stats for each feed on RSS2.com and grab the HTML code to embed a neat small badge that shows you how many times the feed has been read on RSS2.com, how many people have favorited it and how many items are available to read on RSS2.com. The badges are displayed at the bottom of every feed page.

Here’s my stats badge:

Site icon Gabriel

RSS FEED STATS POWERED BY RSS2.com

Check it out: RSS Stats

RSS2.com – Really Simple News For You Jan 18 2007

Rember me signing now works on RSS2.com

I just added another nice feature to RSS2.com: Persistent user sign in. This means that you won’t have to keep on logging in every time you restart your browser. Click the “Remember me” checkbox to stay signed in for the next 100 days.

This will become more important as new user-focused features are added to the site.

Check it out: RSS2.com – Really Simple News For You

Update on recent enhancements added to RSS2.com Jan 16 2007

I’ve made a bunch of improvements to RSS2.com lately:

All feeds in RSS2.com

Feeds
You can now view all feeds in the system by going to the http://rss2.com/feeds/ page.

Paging has arrived - RSS2.com
Paging
You can now page through older items than just the latest 10 items. This is a pretty nice enhancement. This way you can get caught up.

Now featuring 30 favorites

Top 30
The top 30 most popular feeds are now displayed instead of just the top 25.

OPML Export - RSS2.com

OPML Export
If you want to grab a copy of the OPML file that contains all of the subscribed feeds you can get it on the feeds page.

Latest stats:

RSS2.com stats

Also on the technical backend, I improved the speed of a couple of the SQL queries and also implemented 301 redirects for any requests made to www.rss2.com (meaning that if a user types in www.rss2.com they’ll be redirected to rss2.com without the www). Paging nerdly McNerdlington…

Visit RSS2.com and experience “Really Simple News For You”

More updates and improvements have been made to RSS2.com Jan 2 2007

I’ve recently made some more nice refinements to RSS2.com:

Recent Updates

  • Removed the voting links. There are TONS of places where you can register your approval or disapproval. A new site only has about 5 seconds to make a good impression. I had to decide whether voting on each entry as being good or bad was more or less important than giving my users (readers) what I really want to give them — the very best, low-resource requiring feed reading process. RSS2.com isn’t particularly optimized for people who obsessively catalogue every single thing they ever see on the net. For those people, there is digg, reddit.com, del.icio.us and a gobzillion other sites out there to help you keep track of things. RSS2.com is about giving you the ideal reading experience for reading what everyone else has blogged about and has published into their own RSS feed. Asking people to vote for individual entries seemed like too much work, and even I didn’t really use the feature that much. So, bye bye voting on individual entries for now. I’ll probably implement some click-tracking so that I can show people which entries were the most interesting or are the most interesting right now.
  • RSS feeds are now auto-discoverable. On every feed page, the source RSS feed is included in the <head> as a <link rel="..." /> tag. This means that if someone sees a feed that they want to subscribe to in another feed reader, they can do so easily (particularly using a browser like Safari or Firefox that makes auto-subscription to a discovered RSS feed easy). Also, the source feed URL is always shown in the Feed Info section of the feed page so you can copy/paste the link as well if you like.
  • Front page is a modified ‘river’ of news. The home page now features the one latest entry from the most recently updated feeds with a link to read the rest of the feed. This keeps a site like, for example, digg that publishes many new homepage stories every hour from dominating the whole homepage with entries as would happen in a river of news implementation that just published all of the latest items from all feeds at once. I know this because that is how I coded it the first time, and one site often dominated the entire homepage. Now you can get a sampling of a variety of different feeds that are fresh and current right now right on the homepage.
  • Mobile Palm Treo Edition Originally I designed the main HTML template for RSS2.com to be friendly to both mobile devices and to regular desktop web browsers. This led to tradeoffs for both browsers. In the next redesign I took the step of optimizing the page design for desktop web browsers, since they currently account for the majority of the page views and traffic to the site. I have a Treo 700p, however, and wasn’t really happy with the mobile web browsing experience. So, I added a check for Palm browsers and improved the reading experience if you are using a Treo to read RSS2.com by stripping out the stylesheet (for now) and reducing the number of graphics, keeping the focus on reading feeds (where it should be).
  • More favorites. There are now 25 feed favorites listed at the top of the page instead of only 15. It is enough that you can quickly check many different popular sites without getting overwhelmed by every feed in the system.
  • Changed tagline I changed the tagline (again) to be: “Read everyone’s news.” This better reflects the intent of the site — to become a place to get lost in content without distractions. Like a good book or an old-fashioned newspaper, where the story is more important than the advertisements. In today’s mental environment, I think providing a service that cuts down distractions has some value. I already like reading some sites better this way than going directly to them (in this way RSS2.com is just another RSS feed aggregator) but unlike most other aggregators there is no guilt factor when you haven’t read every item in a feed. It is easy, simple, fun, delightful. (See rightsumi for more of the overall design principles I’m trying to express in this project.)

Future Plans

Lots more features planned for this budding web application, including in no particular order:

  • OPML support. This is a no-brainer, and will make RSS2.com play nicely with other RSS feed reading applications. You will be able to both import and export all of your favorite feeds in OPML format.
  • Ability to read older items. This will allow you to browse through more than just the 10 latest entries in each feed. I’ll probably also add a feature where you can read a feed from the oldest entry through to the most current instead of the current standard default of reverse-chronological order
  • Ability to create named ‘rivers’ of feeds This will go hand-in-hand with OPML support, but will allow users to create their own version of the main homepage and publish that to share with others.
  • Better support for other mobile browsers I’ve found some good resources for identifying mobile and phone browsers to enable delivering a more optimized experience for them. This would include building a WAP version of RSS2.com to deliver the ideal RSS feed reading experience for all devices. This is a little bit in the future right now. If I get requests for this it will probably move up in the priority list…

So far I’m really happy with how quickly RSS2.com seems to be gaining exposure with more and more new users every day. It is growing and that is exciting and motivating to keep on improving it.

If you have any suggestions for future features or ways to improve the user experience even more, please leave a comment or send me an email: gserafini [at] gmail.com.

Cheers.



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