Feed-ing Frenzy

I’ve been relying a lot on web feeds recently. That is mainly because it saves lots of time in catching up with your favorite online news sites, friends weblogs, forums, etc. Seriously, your patience will wear thin if take your sweet time to surf around each and every one of your favorite sites and constantly being bombarded by annoying pop-ups/pop-unders/DHTML ads, heavy flash movies or navigation menus, stupid Java applets, slow connections, and all the other distractions that masks the information you are only interested in. Browsers these days have the options to turn off javascripts, Java, popups, flash, images, etc. but I believe that really defeats the whole purpose of surfing because some websites just won’t work without them, or their web interface just falls apart. So far my Thunderbird mail client does the job decently in downloading all the feeds I’m interested in by checking whether the site has new contents in every 30 minutes – yes, I leave both my notebook & Internet connection on 24 hours except during lightning.

Anyway, in those past few months of relying on feeds, I’ve stumbled across numerous interesting things:

Such as web users utilizing sites like FeedBurner, Technorati, and del.icio.us to help them maintain their favourite individual feeds online – I’m not that keen because they don’t offer downloadable feeds and sometimes it takes too long to load your bookmarks;

Scraping services from the likes of Moreover.com that browse through news sites which doesn’t offer feeds, but intelligent enough to extract the information from their HTML pages and converting it into a feed. Personally I’m using their free services to grab all the latest news back at home because some of the good local news sites which I normally surf to doesn’t offer feeds – which is a real shame;

Sites providing feeds compiling such as FeedJumbler.com which does it quite effectively for me by compiling feeds from various bloggers’ site for the Miricom Bloggers Digest I’ve setup at MiriCommunity.net – except for problems on sites not using English. It takes awhile for it to do the compiling, therefore it is recommended for any webmasters to create a cache of the compiled results if you don’t want to cause delays in your page loads. Alternatively you may try installing Magpie RSS Parser on your webserver running on PHP and do it yourself by running a scheduled cronjob, but I find it having problems with certain formats such as feeds from Xanga.com – that was weeks ago, who knows they have fixed the problem by now;

Browser toolbar which has built-in feed reader such as the Miricom Toolbar I’ve created using the free services from EffectiveBrand.com for MiriCommunity.net. It’s an impressive little feature which allows users to select what feeds they want their toolbar to grab. But currently I’ve limited it to a single feed coming from the MiriCommunity.net forums because not certain whether it can tolerate other format of feeds yet.

So there you go. Hopefully this information is valuable for webmasters and web developers out there to remember that feeds are a growing trend of a new breed. If your site doesn’t offer it, then you’ll never be able to reach more readers out there.

Leave a Comment