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Aggregation the G way.
I've been using the magic of RSS (and Atom) to keep up with Planet Debian, blogs of my friends, tech news and posts to an anime fan forum for the past several months, however one little problem bothered me - the forum has a lot of posts (sometimes more then 5 per minute) and an RSS feed of only last five items. That means that I had to have my RSS aggregator (Liferea) open at all times, so that I do not miss any posts. However keeping my laptop on and online at all times is quite bothersome, so I started looking for solutions.
I tried Google Reader however I didn't like it much - I like to see more of my feed. There is too much screen space wasted for all the wrong reasons, one can only see 5 items at the time (which is quite a hassle if you have 500+ of them), a lot of info I would like to see is not there (which blog did this come from???), some strange html conversions, ...
Now I have found my solution. It is a combination of rss2email and GMail. I have a computer that I always keep on and online (it could be a server, but in my case it is a simple workstation). I installed rss2email there, added all my feeds to the database there (hint: export feedlist from Liferea and do a bit of grep/sed magic), moded config so that all mails come from a single address, all have a custom identifiable header and all are HTML mails without any transformations. After that I configured cron to launch "r2e run" every half an hour and "r2e run 22" every minute (where '22' is the id of the feed of that anime forum). At Gmail side I simply filtered all mails from rss2email into a separate label and archived them (so that they do not clutter my inbox).
Now when I want to reed my feeds, I go to the last message of the RSS label in my Gmail, open it, read it, star it if I need to look at it later and then press "k" to get to the newer message. After I am done reading I usually go and remove RSS label from read messages, so that they do not appear in this labels "folder" and are only saved in Archive. If I start running out of space, I will simply search and delete old RSS items then.
Most of the screen space now is devoted to the message, I can see all the fields I want to see (source, author, topic, content, pictures, URLs) and I can manage messages by hundreds. Also being able to search both your mail and your rss feeds at the same time is neat.
Yesterday I did a little improvement to this scheme. The forum that I read has the title of every message made of "author: topic", so every message is a separate conversation in Gmail. I decided to try to use the conversation feature of Gmail and did a little modification to rss2email so that if the message is from this forum, then everything up to the first semicolon is cut from the title and inserted as a part of the name of the sender. In the end the subject of every message contains only the topic of the corresponding thread in the forum and thus all messages from one thread are neatly grouped together as a single conversation. At the same time every messages From: looks like "$forum_name $author <firstname.lastname@example.org>" so that I can still see who wrote what in the forum.
Today I noticed that last three days I've lingered aroung and have done allmost nothing. I mean - I made found some bugs in TikiWiki, filed them, got CVS access, did some more debugging in the stable CVS version, but I just couldn't quite nail the bug and finish it. Also, I've not done much about the rest of things I should have been working on - studies, jobs, preparing for tomorrows meeting in the ministry of education.
Strangely I just noticed the sudden flow of energy that I got when started writing this blog entry. There is a certain corellation between my activity and my blogging - if I do not do anything, then I don't blog, because there is nothing to blog about, but could there be a reverse link?
On a completly unrelated note - the Bush has been visiting my country (and my city) on this weekend. Funky stuff. All center of Riga was blocked by barricades. You needed a special pass to enter. And that area is a few sq. kilometers. All people of Riga were advised to go out of town for the day or at least not to stand by windows, not go to balconies and, most of all, not to do any sudden movements. Sounds worse then the barricade nights of freedom fights of 1991 :). Many shops that are near the area were closed, mostly because two (out of three) main bridges that unite two halfs of the city were blocked most of the day to ensure safe exit for Bush. I must say, it is freaky to hear a helicopter (with snipers inside) circling overhead for the whole day.
Diplomaticaly it was a great day for Latvia and the rest of Baltic states, but logisticaly it was a nightmare for the locals. When it became known what measures will have to be taken to ensure Bush's safety, the exmilitary base surronded Liepaja issued a call to accept all 'refugies' that are fleeing the Bush. There were tents and fires and a mobile sauna. Also the local prison (now a museum) was inviting everyone in for a night. That was a fun news item for a week, I think it got Liepaja quite a lot of tourism overnght.
Thanks, Bush. :)
P.S. I've seen dogs smarter then some certain USA presidents, but it is very much compensated by the local USA ambassador - she was on a local radio show recently speaking about her very nice music taste and her husbands iPod craze :)
Actually there seams not too much of the world outside Debian for me, BUT today I discovered for myself a concept of biofilms. It came up with a chat with a beutiful girl that aims to study microbiology.
It appears like bacteria floating in water and bacteria attached to a surface are two compleatly different things. When bacteria joing a biofilm colony it activates different genes and starts producing 'glue' to attach to the carrier surface. Many bacteria can have their resistances increased by a factor of 1000, the colony can even have a rudimental work separation among the bacteria. Thus a primitive selforganising multicell organism is formed.
And somehow I again start to see the relation of this to the free software community ... oh, no - I am hopeless! :D
Today I tried out a few Gnome based blogging programms. Unfortunately I am still wrinting this in the web interface of the blogger.com. Why?
1. Gnome-Blog: a nice panel applet, one click blogging, looks perfect, but show an obscure error when trying to connect to blogger.com :( Bug reported, lets go on.
2. BloGTK: standalone programm, too many buttons for anything, no autologin, asks to enter 'url to the system' giving an obscure example with xmlrpc in it. could not figure out the correct url, gave up, reported a bug :P
3. theres is not 3 !!! only two gnome based blogger supporting tools exist and both were unable to work for me.
sometimes life just sucks :)