Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo have released a really cool little tool called Pipes. It allows the casual user to make mashups of data to their own specifications.

Many people are familiar with xml files (this site offers an xml file, called an RSS feed, which is a datafeed, you can use a service such as bloglines to read many such feeds in one easy to use place), pipes lets you do things like combine several feeds into one, filter them for keywords of interest and output the result.

Incredibly useful. For example, if you only wanted to read posts from this site containing the word 'wibble', you could do just that! You can find images from flickr based on the latest news stories from the BBC, or perhaps have an RSS feed of china plates on ebay that are cheaper than a certain figure and are about to reach the end of their auction.

Of course, choosing the word wibble in my first example isn't that useful....

Here's a quick example I knocked up, where a French language RSS feed for this site is automatically created.

Standard Feed Icons

I recently learned that the syndication icons have become standardised. Mozilla designed the icon originally, and at the end of last year, Microsoft adopted and adapted it. Nice move.

My syndication feed

The number of syndication formats had multiplied dramatically, as had the icons available, with different icons for different syndication services, different websites and so forth. It wasn't always easy to find the syndication feed, or even to know if one existed, so a nice bit of standardisation goes down well.

Now, if only Microsoft would implement CSS in a standard way and remove some Internet Explorer bugs!

Relative to Absolute - Desired Movabletype Plugin

It is good practice to use relative links for a variety of reasons, however, within RSS feeds this can cause problems, as the links are often interpreted as relative to the page where the RSS is viewed, not relative to the source page. For example, this link works fine when viewed on my site, it links to the 'top level' page, but might break when in an aggregator. I'm not really happy to go back and change relative links to absolute links, this seems like a lot of hassle - and I don't really want to use absolute links in the future. Therefore, a plugin for movabletype seems ideal - unfortunately I don't have the perl skills to do it!

There is a plugin which takes absolute URLs generated by MT and makes them relative. I'm looking to do the reverse for relative URLS within posts that I need to make absolute for RSS purposes.

It'd be called 'Relative2Absolute' and would be a text processing option (a bit like the Amputator plugin) which monitors for relative links, and when detected, subsitutes a base URL in front of them. As a first pass it could match anything which is a href=" but not a href="http://

This would then let the RSS feeds be filtered to use absolute links, but leave the relative links within posts untouched.

Email Notification

I have finally got around to adding a feature which allows commenters to ask for followup comments to be sent to them by email. The commenter can opt whether or not to receive these emails, and before any emails are sent the address will need to be verified, this is to prevent the site being used to spam people. This is on a post by post basis. People who subscribe using this feature can cancel a subscription for a particular post, or for the whole site, by following the instructions in the email. This should prevent people becoming deluged in the unlikely event that a comment thread 'takes off'.

This is in addition to the XML feeds provided for each post.

Please report any bugs by commenting upon this (or indeed any) post, though this post is the best place!

Remember, if you're an 'unknown' poster the comment may enter moderation. Blame the spammers for this. I will 'whitelist' regular commenters to bypass this feature. If that applies to you, and I have yet to whitelist you, please comment here and I will address this).

This site, RSS, Bloglines and

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED Someone coming to this site on the day I wrote this would probably look at the homepage and think 'Geekfest Techie site'. Someone looking at it a little while ago might think 'Bad Art', at another time, 'Politics', or even 'General Ramblings'

The truth is that this site is all of these things, and none of these things.

There will be phases of all of the above, and indeed, I may go off in another direction entirely. This site is all about 'whatever interests me at the time'.

The RSS feed for this site, obviously, reflects this - but I have provided RSS Feeds within each category so that people can focus on just their interest. The more specific the category, the less often the feed will update.

Subscribe with Bloglines What is an RSS feed? An RSS feed is like a cutdown version of a site. You can use an 'RSS aggregator' to group together feeds from MANY sites and look at them in one place. I, for example, use bloglines - a web based aggregator. Once you have a bloglines account, you can tell it the address of the RSS feeds you want to watch, and then it will do all the donkey work for you.

You can tell it to show you changed items, or not. You can group feeds together (e.g. 'read every day', 'read if you have time' / or whatever you like!)

Bloglines also deals with ATOM feeds, there are technical differences, but they essentially do the same job as RSS.

Look for RSS/ATOM or XML on a website for a feed. If you use Firefox a little icon appears when a feed is available to you.

If you know someone who has a bloglines account; they can 'invite you' to bloglines. When they do this they can select feeds that you might like. This is a nice way to get started - if you would like to be invited to bloglines, please leave a request using the comment form (being sure that the email address is correct, this will not appear on the site).

The website works well with bloglines. Like bloglines, an account on is free. is a 'social bookmarking' site. What this means is that it will hold your bookmarks for you, so they will be available when you move to a new machine.

The site doesn't look pretty, but the power is in the tag. When you add a bookmark you will be asked to provide tags, this are words which describe the link. For example, if bookmarking this page you might use 'murky', 'rss', 'bloglines', 'delicious', ''.

This site has built in links to enable you to do add a bookmark to with one click, if you have an account.

You may be asking where the 'social' comes in. Well, you can search by tag - and discover links on a particular subject. You can also subscribe to tags, and when someone else uses that tag, the link will appear in your 'inbox'. Every page on has an RSS feed, and so you can see your inbox using bloglines!

RSS is a glue that can bind many websites together!


You may have notice the new del.icio.this buttons on the site. These allow easy bookmarking in (yes, optimistic, I know). The bookmarked item is the individual post.

This is done by including the following in the Movabletype template, inside MTEntries:

<p class="delicious"><a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>&amp;title=<$MTEntryTitle encode_url="1"$>" title="Add the post entitled <$MTEntryTitle encode_url="1"$>, and JUST this post to your account">del.icio.this</a></p>

The style for this is as follows, I use a second stylesheet to override any of the default styles, so I just dropped this in there :

/* delicious button */

p.delicious {         font-family: courier; text-transform: uppercase;         font-size: smaller;         float: right;         border: 0px; padding: 0px         color: #fff; background-color:#9c6; }

p.delicious a {         padding: 0.2em 1em;         border: 1px outset #9c6;         color: inherit; background-color: inherit;         text-decoration: none; }

p.delicious a:hover {         border: 1px inset #9c6;         color: #880; background-color: inherit; }

p.delicious a:visited {         border: 1px inset #9c6;         color: #800; background-color: inherit; }

Of course, the styling can be changed at will (and I would be interested to learn of any nice examples).


As I've previously said, I am a big fan of, especially when combined with Bloglines At the bottom of every post on this site is now a 'Bookmark this' link that links to the 'add page' form on and populates it with link information for the bookmarked post. If the user isn't logged into, then it'll reach the login screen.

(If I can come up with something snappy which makes it clear that it's a link I may change it from 'Bookmark this')

I know that not everyone using this site will use, but I hope that this will be useful for those that do.

Perhaps there is some way to change the 'Bookmark this' link in the same way that the RSS feed link (thanks to Aquarion) is 'intelligent'. It's beyond my skill, though!

BBC podcasts

As I previously mentioned, the BBC podcasts are beginning to roll out! Enjoy!

I just wish that 'The Today Programme' was downloadable in its entirety (in 30 minute chunks, which become available as they're transmitted). I could sync and then listen to the programme from 6am despite normally beginning to listen at 7:30am!

I've previously written about RSS and podcasting and you can learn more elsewhere on this site.

About RSS feeds

THIS POST HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED This post is adapted from a comment I made here

This post is aimed at people who do not have a clue what 'RSS' and 'atom' and 'podcasting' are.

If you know all this then you can move along, there is nothing more to see here.

Regular RSS feeds are very useful, you can monitor many sites using them. A useful tool to monitor RSS feeds is "bloglines" at

A free account is a few minutes work at (you will need to provide a real email address to sign up).

Once signed up you can use it to monitor many sites, e.g. at the top of this page are graphics saying 'XML: something". Clicking on one of these will take you to a page where you can choose 'subscribe in bloglines'.

The feed choices include a 'Full Feed' of entire articles, excerpts of articles (to give a flavour of a post without taking much space), delicious (a feed of my recent bookmarks), comments (a feed of comments posted to this site) and flickr (a feed of my photos).

If you're going to follow this site, I would suggest taking either 'Full Feed' or 'Excerpts' as well as 'Comments'.

Many sites now offer feeds, if you look for them. The BBC news page offers RSS feeds which are themed, e.g. 'World News'. Look for the links at the bottom of the page (click on them for more information on RSS)

You may not like bloglines (I do). You can use any aggregator (that's the thing that monitors RSS feeds) that you wish, such as netnewswire.

RSS feeds make it very easy to monitor a whole range of sites, from slashdot to moleskinerie.

Some browsers, such as firefox (free from the mozilla pages) have built in RSS support, a feature called "live bookmarks".

Podcasting uses rss feeds to automatically distribute mp3 files. People are using this to disseminate their own radio shows.

This site does not podcast, though I am not ruling it out, I don't think such a development is likely. However, I am a fan of podcasts, and am eagerly looking forward to the BBC starting them. For the uninitiated you can get a free program called "ipodder". This is available at

Using you can subscribe to RSS feeds which contain "podcasts". RSS stands for 'really simple syndication'. Quite often the RSS feed will be a little orange button labelled 'XML' or 'RSS', sometimes 'atom'. These names aren't something you need to worry about. If you're interested, podcasts tend to be RSS2.0.

If you see a podcast offered, you can right click on the button and "copy link", click in ipodder, click in the space provided and paste the link with control-V. Ipodder will now monitor that RSS feed for "podcasts", and it will download them automatically to your PC. You can then listen to the mp3s on your PC or on your mp3 player (e.g. ipod).

After a trial with "in our time", the BBC is to launch podcasting for things like the "Today Program" next month, you already have the "listen again" function if you want to sit at your computer, but you will soon be able to "listen again" on the move using your mp3 player! This means that looking at this now will get you in at the start.

Of course, if all that sounds like too much hassle, you could just click the links direct to download them - but then you have to remember check things manually.

Podcasting was started off in a big way by Adam Curry, who lives near Guildford.

I hope this has been of use to RSS uninitiates!


BBC Podcasts

Good news. The BBC is extended its podcasting trials, and this includes the main interview on the Today Programme

I have yet to find the URLs of the feeds, I'm particularly interested in the Today programme, From Our Own Correspondent, In Our Time and the Reith Lecture.

Update: I've just heard from the BBC (very promptly) they said : The service is not yet launched. We are hoping to launch it around the beginning of May - then the RSS feed will be available to sign up for. Inbox

Wonderful! My inbox is back!

Some people may be wondering 'what is a inbox?' is a 'social bookmarking site'. It allows you to add bookmarks to your account and tag them. E.g. adding this site you might tag it as 'blog' 'various' 'uk+politics' 'art' 'movies' 'cinema' and so on. The link then appears in your bookmarks, and you can see your bookmarks whereever you go.

So what? Well, is social bookmarking. Suppose I have a particular interest in 'movies'. I can 'subscribe' to that tag, and any new 'movies' links added by anybody are placed in my 'inbox' for my later perusal.

Suppose again that I find a user who has a particularly good taste in links, I can subscribe to them, and all their links go into my inbox.

Every page on has an RSS feed, so one can monitor the site using aggregator tools such as bloglines. This way one only sees the new items by default.

At the time of writing I've imported my own links to the sidebar of the homepage, and my inbox is included at the foot of the homepage. I've put them in these (not very friendly) locations as primarily they're for my own use.

I find that and bloglines are virtually as important as google in managing my online world

New interface testing.

Thanks to Fred on Something I note that a new interface is testing. I like the new look, but do I *really* have that many tags? Eeep! It'd be lovely if I could tell that 'language' and 'languages' were really the same thing, and that 'french' was one example of 'language' - so clicking on languages would get me french, german, english and so on - but I could then click on french to only get me french!

I like that the tags are larger when they're more common, but would dearly like some way to combine tags, more than that, I'd like to see the inbox functioning again! Still, it's free, and in combination with bloglines to monitor favoured tags the result makes for a killer application - so one cannot really complain! (Though the application is more deadly with the inbox!)


I like bloglines, a lot. I've been on it for a week, and can't believe I ever managed without it. Essentially it is an RSS aggregator, and I just like the interface, it works very well. However, I'm not as obsessive as this chap!

I will be gradually moving all my RSS feeds (except LJ user accounts) away from LiveJournal and into Bloglines - in LJ it's not easy to just pick up your reading from where you left off.

If you're curious about bloglines, let me know - I'll send you an invite with a ready made list of rss feeds to populate your account with!

I'm also quite partial to, which is a 'social bookmarking' site. You bookmark things on the site and can see them from any computer.... so what? Well, when you bookmark you can 'tag' things. So can everyone else. You can then 'subscribe' to your favourite tags, and a page called 'inbox' fills up with bookmarks to places you may like to see. Fantastic. You can even subscribe to individual people!

I've been playing with This is a 'social bookmarking site' and duplicates the functionality of Linklog. Essentially, one can bookmark items and tag them. People can subscribe to tags, and bookmarks with tags you've subscribed to appear in your 'inbox'. I've only added a few links to date, but should be adding more over time. I think I'll work through linklog, and then make a decision about whether I maintain linklog or not.

Essentially every page has its own RSS feed, be that a page for an individual, a particular tag, or whatever.

One can even look at the tags made by a particular person.

I wonder if there is a way to define a 'community' of people who all share links?