Since PositivePress uses RSS feeds as input, I decided to do a quick video showing you how to use Yahoo Pipes to filter results from your RSS feed to make sure that you are only archiving and reporting on the most relevant results. This video shows you how to take a list of feeds from a CSV file, fetch the results, and filter them for a set of keywords. The end result is fed into PositivePress and a new report is generated from the filtered results.
If you haven’t already watched the rest of the Yahoo Pipes Video series, you might benefit from watching these other videos first. They provide a little more background on the concepts used in this Yahoo Pipe.
Yahoo Pipes can also be used with other services, like PostRank, for example. PostRank, originally called AideRSS, is a service that rates the posts on any blog by popularity using comments, links, bookmarks, tweets, and other measurements to give each post a rank from 1 – 10. Luckily for us, PostRank conveniently stores the rank right in the RSS feed allowing us to access it from Yahoo Pipes. In our last Yahoo Pipes demo, I showed you how to Modify RSS Feeds to work better for your purposes. I recommend watching the 2 minute demo about modifying RSS feeds if you haven’t already, since we will use those concepts again in this pipe.
PostRank. Using the 2 feeds that we’ve been using for most of these demos, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM, we analyze each of them using PostRank, filter by the best posts, and copy the RSS feed for the output.
Fetch Feed. Fetches the elements from 2 PostRank feeds for ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM from the previous step.
Sort Module. Sort by PostRank in descending order to keep the posts with the highest rank at the top.
Loop module with String Builder Module. Loops through each element in the feed and builds a string with item.postrank:postrank: item.title. This string is assigned back into item.title.
Pipe Output. The final module in every Yahoo Pipe.
While many people use Yahoo Pipes to filter RSS feeds, Pipes can also be used to modify RSS feeds to work better for your purposes. In this example, we will add the author name to the beginning of the title to make it easier to see the author without opening the item in your rss reader. I recommend watching the Introduction to Yahoo Pipes: 2 minute Yahoo Pipes Video Demo if you haven’t already, since we’re going use the basic pipe developed in that demo using fetch feed and sort modules, but without the filter module.
I’ve decided to resurrect the Portland Data Plumbing Group to give us a time and place to talk about RSS feed hacking, Yahoo Pipes, Dapper, and other related technologies.
We’ll be having these meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 6pm (location TBD). The first meeting will be on:
Tuesday, January 13th
6:00pm – 7:30pm
Please RSVP on Upcoming if you plan to attend.
The agenda for the first meeting:
Round table discussion: each person gets 3-5 min to talk about the coolest thing they’ve done to manipulate an RSS feed.
Talk about ideas for future agendas.
If you want to be notified of future meetings, you should subscribe to the Portland Data Plumbing Google Group. A huge thanks to Justin for starting this group and for encouraging me to schedule a new meeting!
I started this blog as the Open Source Culture blog (later renamed the Open Culture blog) on Blogspot.com. Last April, I rebranded the blog as Fast Wonder and moved it to WordPress.com. After a few months, I grew increasingly frustrated with the limitations of WordPress.com, and I moved it to my own hosting provider. Based on this experience, I tend to recommend that most (but not all) people host their own WordPress installations, instead of using WordPress.com.
There are a number of benefits of hosting WordPress on your own domain.
You can use a custom feed and have it auto-discovered (I highly recommend the free FeedBurner service). The benefit of a custom feed is that you can move your blog around, rename it, etc. and keep the same FeedBurner feed forever to avoid losing subscribers.
You can have a custom favicon on your own host, but on WordPress.com, you are stuck with the WordPress favicon.
You can get better analytics (Google analytics are also free) if you host it yourself.
You have more control over the theme, since you can hack on the templates files, while you are more limited to just css changes on WordPress.com
It also seems like some countries may be blocking all of WordPress.com, so if you do business globally in certain countries this may or may not be important depending on how you use your blog. Thanks to Aaron Hockley for reminding me of this issue.
For people already on WordPress.com, it is pretty easy to migrate to your own host without losing comments, posts, etc. with the WordPress export / import.
There are some potential disadvantages to hosting your own WordPress installation:
Hosting it yourself requires a fair amount of technical knowledge to install.
You have to keep up with installing the WordPress security updates, which can be a lot more work to maintain.
Yes, I am a big fan of hosting my own WordPress installs; however it really isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t at least roughly familiar with databases and installing PHP applications, I wouldn’t try it yourself. Also, if you have a very small blog and really don’t want to do much customization or spend much time on it, then I would go with WordPress.com and not host it yourself.
There are probably some other advantages and disadvantages, so drop them in the comments if I missed anything.
Lately, I have been obsessed with RSS feeds. More accurately, I have been obsessed with all of the cool things I can do with Yahoo Pipes, AideRSS and other tools that make my consumption of RSS feeds even more efficient. There are so many great blogs, people, sites, and more that I want to read, but you can only effectively pay attention to so many things without sacrificing things like sleep in order to keep up. I designed a Top Blog Posts pipe to help me find the posts that were getting the most attention from others using AideRSS as a filter. This is a great start, but having a way to prioritize information in your feed reader can also make a huge difference. This is where Netvibes comes into the picture.
I’ve been using Netvibes since mid-2006 (I found the first reference to Netvibes on my blog back on August 11, 2006), so I hadn’t really thought much about how I read my feeds until recently. Justin was in the process of putting together some intelligence dashboards for the execs at Jive to keep up with industry news, and after he decided to use Netvibes for the dashboard, I found myself sitting down and showing him all of the cool tweaks to make it more efficient to use. He encouraged me to blog about it, so here I am! 🙂
Part of the power of Netvibes is that it is easy to use for people who are less tech savvy, yet so versatile that it can be used by real feed power users. This makes it perfect for the type of intelligence dashboards Justin has been doing. Now I’ll get on with the real purpose of this post.
Tips for using Netvibes:
Tabs. Start by thinking about how you want to organize your attention. This will drive how you configure your Netvibes tabs. I organize my tabs based on content areas of interest: Tech/Web 2.0, Open Source, Community, General News, and Jive. I also have a personal tab where I keep vanity feeds, personal (non-tech) friend blogs, weather widgets, etc. This really helps focus your attention on specific topics at different times of the day.
Adding Feeds. You can manually add feeds using the “Add Content” button. You can import your feeds into Netvibes using various methods including OPML files. You can also share tabs with friends; for example, here are a few of my tabs: community, Tech / Web 2.0, and Open Source.
Configuring Feeds. You don’t need to live with the default number of items showing for a feed; this can be configured for each feed by clicking the edit button. For blogs that don’t update very often, I bump them down to 3-4 items, while some of my pipes feeds filtered through AideRSS show 15 items. Using the edit button, you can also change the title, show more details (description of each post), and configure links to open in Netvibes preview or directly on the site.
Columns. Use columns to further organize data within each tab by clicking the down arrow on your selected tab to set the number of columns. You can configure each tab to have 1-4 columns of data, and I have found that 3-4 columns is perfect for me.
Organization. This gets a little tricky depending on how you view Netvibes. Assuming you rarely use Netvibes from your smart phone (I’ll talk more about this later), you might want to put the important stuff at the top of each column or organize information into various columns based on subtopics or some other scheme. You can easily drag and drop feeds all over the page to move them between columns and even between tabs. If you have a lot of feeds, it will be easier to move them around if you collapse all of the feeds by clicking the tiny black up arrow next to the settings link in the top right corner of the page (don’t worry, you can expand all the same way when you are done).
Mobile organization. At a recent geek get together over the holidays, Marshall Kirkpatrick was showing me the improvements they’ve made to m.netvibes.com, the mobile interface for Netvibes. I am finding it to be a great way to catch up on feed reading during the bus ride to / from work. However, after starting to use the mobile interface, I found that I needed to do a complete overhaul of the way that I use columns. The mobile interface goes through each column in sequence by completing all of column 1 from top to bottom before starting at the top of column 2 and traversing it from top to bottom. Based on this, I reorganized my feeds into sections based on importance. For example, in my tech / web 2.0 tab, I start column 1 with my Top Blog Posts pipe that filters top posts through AideRSS followed by some of the important industry feeds with frequent content (ReadWriteWeb, GigaOM, etc.), since these are usually the first things I want to read. Column 2 has blogs from industry thought leaders like Confused of Calcutta and Doc Searls, and Column 3 has blogs from tech friends, etc. As long as you keep the things that are important enough to want to read first in column 1, you should be in good shape using the mobile interface.
Widgets. There are thousands of really useful widgets that offer more that just feed data. These are built into Netvibes and can be found by clicking the Add Content link. You can find widgets for weather, email, IM, Digg, Flickr, Facebook, eBay, Craigslist, videos, and many more. There are also widget containers that you can use to drop a bit of code into to easily create your own custom widgets for your page.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Netvibes. It has some really interesting features that make it easier for me to manage large quantities of information while focusing my attention on the most important bits of data.
What did I miss? Feel free to leave some of your tips for using Netvibes in the comments!