ity-bity feature

Recently B and I have been getting almost all our blog fixes via google reader. I stumbled on it a few weeks ago when I was playing around with searches on Google, looking through robot.txt files to see what some websites don’t want indexed. I looked at Google’s own robot.txt file, and noticed a bunch of sub directories that I had never seen before, one being “/reader”. I had a look and thought it was rather nice! Up till then I had been using for watching blogs and feeds, and was not that impressed. It was clunky, and sometimes it took hours to be updated. It seems that Google reader was released back in October, and did not get such great reviews. I am glad I found it later, now that it seems to have settled down into a nice little service. What does it do? You pump in the URL of each of the blogs (or other sites that offer rss or atom feeds) that you read regularly, and it tries to autodiscover the feed. If it does, it gives you a chance to subscribe, and shows you all the recent posts. Once you subscribe, any new entries will show up on your reader home page. This means you don’t have to visit every blog/site in order to find out if they have updated. Now, some sites can be tricky to find the feed for. Here are a few hints:

  • Try appending ‘/atom.xml’ to the end. This works best with blogger sites
  • Try appending ‘/feed’ or ‘/?feed=rss2’ to the end. This works with WordPress sites
  • Try adding ‘index.rdf’ to the end. This works with sites that might use older rss implementations
  • If none of those work, you can try ‘/rss.xml’, or ‘/?feed=rss’

You can also subscribe to the comments, so that they also show up in your reader. This is a little trickier. Some sites have a link that says ‘Subscribe to comments’, others don’t even offer that feature. Blogger sites only offer comment feeds if the site author (or a friend) is geeky enough to figure out how to set it up. If you want to know, email me. To get WordPress comment feeds, try appending either ‘/?feed=comments-rss2’ or ‘/comments/feed’. So there you go, a web-based feed reader.

Now, the ity-bity feature? There is now a ‘Favorites’ link on the menu bar that lets you take a peek at my favorite posts from my favorite blogs. It only goes back a few days, so there is not much there yet. It is easy for me to look through and remove things that are no longer appealing. Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “ity-bity feature”

  1. Wow, very cool indeed. I may have to give this a shot. (or at least I know I’m growing my own lawn chair this year!)

    Yet another nice creation from Google that allows them to see what you’re into. It’s all about targeted ads for them. However, I don’t think anyone minds (or cares) as long as they keep pumping out nice features like this.

    I considered, and am considering, building a basic reader/parser using MagpieRSS and throwing that into a links page. Similar to the functionality on Protopage. Although I hate the thought of hitting someones server every time the page is requested. (magpie has caching but it’s always been a bit squirrely for me).

    btw, I love the keyboard shortcuts that the Google reader is using, nice touch.

  2. *note to self: try to get on daniel’s ‘favorite’ list.*

    I’ll have to get me a reader someday. thanks for all the tips Daniel!

  3. Aw, Luke. You are in my favorites, but you just havn’t posted anything in the last few days that says “mark for future reference”. Actually, you have not posted _anything_ in the last few days.

  4. Glad you like it Jyoseph. The spell check, I mean. Oh, and Google reader. I tend to keep my real personal email away from Google, but I really don’t mind the equivelant of watching me leaf through a magazine or newspaper.

    I have an rss plugin for WordPress that I never liked, I have used the massive Sage extension for FireFox, have tried the live bookmarks, and I even tried the Google homepage (, but they all seemed really clunky to me. It seems those Google folks knew there was a better way, and I am happy they did.

    Thanks for the pointer to protopage, always fun to find new ways… I have not seen that one before.

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