Okay, so I’m one of the lucky bastards that’s a part of the invite-only alpha for FeedLounge. [That’s what I was hinting at last night.]

Let me give you my first-day-using thoughts, of which there are three:

  2. I often forget that I am in a browser. Like, all the time. When tagging a feed, I am prone to mouse-over the feed in the left pane and right-click, like I expect that to do something. I’m doing this all the bloody time. Alex and Scott have done it—one of the highest class of Web applications where you forget you’re in a browser. It’s … crazy.
  3. Feed on Feeds? What’s that again? About ten minutes after Alex pinged me yesterday to dump my OPML into FL and then start using it, I was ready to uninstall FoF. This is like going from a go-kart to a BMW.

More effusive praise (and screenshots!) later … I still have a lot of feeds to tag, items to mark read, and the like. If you IM me today, expect me to be very distracted as I lose myself in FL.

Wanted: Short-Lived Comment Feed Aggregation

Here’s something I’d adore in an aggregator: short-lived comment feed aggregation. Many logware packages provide syndication feeds of their comments, many on an entry-by-entry basis. This is great behavior, but one could easily go overboard with subscribing to a ton of per-entry feeds. I mean, after a few days, isn’t the feed going to go stale, but yet still be something that’s pulsed every so often by the aggregator? It doesn’t make sense to keep it.

There are two ways of handling the behavior of the short-lived part:

  1. Die after N. Let the user say, “I want to follow comments on this entry via this feed for N days; after that, unsubscribe from that feed.” Seems easily doable.
  2. Die N $time after comments stop. Let the user say, “I want to follow comments on this feed for a couple of days after people stop replying to it; after N $time, the thread is clearly dead, so let’s stop polling it.” This way, you follow a comment feed as long as it’s active. You could even have the software do a rate-of-posting in comments to avoid the last-word types. [Not that I’m a last-worder or anything.]

Just thought I’d throw that bit of meat out there.

Invoking FoF with WGET

I’ve changed how I invoke Feed on Feeds for the time being; I think I might make it a permanent change.

I’ve been using Steve‘s recommendation: /usr/local/bin/GET -C user:password http://domain.tld/path/to/fof/update-quiet.php

I’m now using: wget –quiet http://user:password@domain.tld/path/to/fof/update-quiet.php

The latter seems to work far faster, and wget is specifically designed to pull files via HTTP.

I probably would have done this all along if I’d realized how to do HTTP authentication in an URL. Duh.

The State of Feed on Feeds

Steve Minutillo has posted about the development status of Feed on Feeds:

You’re both right, FoF has been dormant for a while. It’s about to come back to life. I’ve got a minor update ready to release, but I’m going away on a vacation for a few weeks, and I don’t want to release now in case there are show-stopping bugs. But I will release it as soon as I’m back.

I’ve thrown out the implementation of categories that I mentioned previously. It was based on a hierarchical tree structure of categories, which I’ve since decided is the wrong way to go. Things like gmail, flickr, and have convinced me that tags are the way to go. An implementation of this, as well as multi-user, are next on my priority list, as well as continuing the clean up and seperation of “engine” from “display” to make FoF even more hackable.

Works for me. As itch-scratch-ware, I’m always willing to wait.

Feed on Feeds 0.1.7

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m using Feed on Feeds as my syndication feed aggregator of choice. FoF just progressed to v0.1.7, and despite a couple concerns—which I will detail later—I have migrated to it for personal use from 0.1.2. I tested other intermediate versions and found them slightly wanting before I upgraded. [If you want to see my unprotected 0.1.7 test bed, you can see it at This uses a slightly out-of-date feed database, and if you add/delete from it, I’m not going to cry—it’s a testbed and nothing else.]

How I use Feed on Feeds

I have a cronjob set up to run every 20 minutes to run update-quiet.php. This updates all my feeds in the background, and every once in a while, I load hit “view new items” in the frames view. If there are new items, they show up.

I’ve modified 0.1.7 to show posts in chronological order as noted in the linked RFE. I hate viewing syndication items in Weblog-style—that is, reverse chronological—order, because it doesn’t tell me what I missed in the order that I missed it. If I’m reading every 20 minutes, it’s not a big issue, really, but when reading overnights or over-the-weekends, yeah, there’s a difference.

I like the frames view, although I rearrange it every time it loads. I need to look and see how the frame sizing is declared so that I can change the defaults.

Why I Use Feed on Feeds

I read feeds from multiple machines; this makes client-based aggregators a pain for me. [There are great client-based aggregators on the market—FeedDemon is the only one I would recommend to Windows users.] I wanted something server-based, GPL‘d, and FREE. I found FoF thanks to Q Daily News, and I’ve been mostly happy with it.

Concerns I have with Feed on Feeds

There are obvious concerns—the biggest being that this is early-development software!—and one not-so-obvious one: FoF uses MagpieRSS as its feed parser, and the version of MagpieRSS used does not liberally parse feeds in the way that Mark Pilgrim’s Universal Feed Parser does. I agree with Mark that there are no exceptions to Postel’s Law: “Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.” As such, I’m concerned that Magpie is not a liberal feed parser, but I will happily note that I am too lazy to try to re-write FoF to use UFP. Perhaps MagpieRSS will get with the liberalization as it approaches 1.0.

Kudos to Steve Minutillo for his work on FoF, and to Kellan Elliott-McCrea for his work on MagpieRSS. Thanks to these two guys, I have a solution that works for me.