Archive for May, 2003

WELCOME TO FEED ON FEEDS, your server side personal RSS aggregator.

Why is a server side aggregator better than a desktop aggregator?

Desktop aggregators are great. They sit there all day, pinging away at sites, and as soon as they notice something new, they pop up little windows on your desktop, and let you read items. But what about when you go home from work? Or what about when you are on a trip? You get totally out of sync, and don’t know what you’ve read and haven’t read. You are enraged. (hell ya! – mm)

Feed on Feeds A server side aggregator solves this. It keeps track of what items you’ve read, and keeps happily checking up on your feeds no matter where you are. Whenever you want to see what’s new, you just bring up a web page and scan the newest items. You can mark the items as read so they won’t be shown again. Or, you can just always show the most recent N items, like the way LiveJournal’s friends pages work. Also, having the aggregator in your browser eliminates the “impedance mismatch” that sometimes occurs between a desktop aggregator and your browser. All your native browsing methods work on a FEED ON FEEDS page. Open pages in new tabs, bookmark them for later, browse whatever way you like.

Steve Minutillo is coding. feed on feeds looks very promising. categories and multi-user could be on the way. the “MoveableType” for aggregation?. Check it out, the install is easy. Or you can play on this (be kind though).


Roland Tanglao’s Weblog: Friday, May 30, 2003: "[HELP] Want to make Radio Express work with K-Collector

Now that I have got K-Collector working, I’d like to enable it from RadioExpress. I imagine it’s a one line fix or at most a few lines. I’m willing to code it if somebody tells me what line to insert in the RadioExpress file. Anybody?"

Ok — here’s a version which uses the builtin website homepage posting form; which will recognize the necessary callbacks for K-collector, or liveTopics.

Download this. Install in www/system/pages/radioExpress.txt and configure here.



RSS Distiller

This is one under recognized vital software. Quietly humming under the hood, I rely on it heavily for filling the HTML-XML gap. Working with screen scrapers is always an iffy maintenance proposition, though Paolo explains well the process for the non-initiated.

Engaging sites to create their own RSS feeds is ideal, but I want my RSS now. Would be nice to have a more community oriented, distributed effort, at scraping and maintaining “pre-RSS” feeds. I also heavily rely on the straining NewsIsFree syndicator.

Here’s the list of my RSSDistiller feeds. No guarantees these will update regularly.


Who, What, Where. How about When?

Who, What, Where. How about When?

Gregg has truly honored geoBlog with this worldwide charming Amélie portrait! Shouldn’t she be over France though? 😉

Gregg follows that up with two amazing suggestions. First, a global realtime orgasm mapper. Would this be higher bandwith than blog posts? Well, if you can get the data feed .. next week, I’ll be releasing geoBlog as a configurable Flash application, for visualizing any data source.

Second, he suggests scrolling back n forth in time. Dav suggested that as well. That could look so cool, perhaps a bit like this air traffic visualization (do download that, it’s worth it). So of course, the question is When?

And this, is it Kismit? k-collector is all Who, What, Where, and When (when?).


Radio ID chips may track banknotes

Radio ID chips may track banknotes | CNET

Cool on two levels. One: Ubiquitous smart dust will make environmental data collection scalable. I spent this spring doing zooplankton sampling and bird monitoring — great to be outside — but it’s a lot of work and doesn’t collect nearly a fraction of the background data. You pretty much need to be everywhere all the time, recording what’s happening, to get ecological data useful for complex modelling. Trick banded birds out with these tiny, cheap rfid tags, set up some monitors, kick back and let the data stream in.

Two: The euro rocks hard over the dollar. Oh yea, 20 dollar bill gets some color, really cutting edge — these euros are fuckin communicating! That’s just the beginning of the future paradise being built over in the EU.



BlogTalk looks intresting and a good time. Glad there’s lots of activity in EU, my future home. David Weinberger does a great job of blogging the conference (conference blogging must be an emerging specialty). The amazing Weboutliner is revealed, and the k-collector makes another show. After tangently observing-participating in these projects, it’s really exciting to see them fruit.

Conferences have an addictive buzz. Planetwork next month. reboot would be cool (if I could read Danish to register), but may not have time to squeeze it in while looking for an apartment in Brighton.


SixApart aggregation style

SixApart aggregation style

One could argue that the single most important feature of Radio – is it’s integrated news aggregator – which could never be built into a hosted blogging tool.  I seem to remember Ev speculating on how that could be done. Those of us – who watch these mentions carefully – knew that Pyra was heading towards a “big daddy” scenario – and I’ll predict Blogger will offer some sort of centralized aggregation service – soon.

Meanwhile the king of “DIY servers” – SixApart and their Moveable Type platform – are now about to encroach on Pyra’s territory.

[Marc’s Voice]

Very intriguing that Marc should talk about aggregating, Blogger and SixApart in the same breath. As Blogger perhaps, sometime, maybe jumps in with a server-side aggregator … the SixApart style, from distributed, small community, server installs to full hosting .. presents a model of how aggregation could grow into the mainstream.

The most simple model of the weblog ecosystem needs publishers and subscribers. Yet I’m certain that the total number of weblog publishers greatly exceeds the number of weblog subscribers.

When you look at the tool process, it makes sense. Blogger sets the standard for easy, server-side publishing. And while there are many great kits for aggregating, the process of finding all the great feeds via directories, or meandering looking for little orange boxes and <link>s, is a pain in the ass for even the regulars.

Beyond the problem of finding feeds, how many internet users are even going to download client software? Even how many of the relatively savvy blogger users? Forget it, they expect it to be on the web or pre-installed (hello MS, hello Apple, or even hello Macromedia).

Server-side aggregation is a hard problem. The number of unique subscriptions will be of the same order of magnitude as the number of subscribers. my.Userland couldn’t manage that much flow, neither could my.Netscape, others tap off at under 10,000. What happens when every taqueria, dance club, and church youth group has a feed?

Oh right, there is a company which handles tremendous crawling volume. But Google is very far from offering any kind of user-oriented, personalized service. One of the most essential features of an aggregator, is the ability to mark/delete stories when read. The volume of that type of user interaction is presently, I think, beyond scalability for server-side app.

Start somewhere in between. MT is an installed server-side app, potentially serving a community of users. A similar service for aggregation would scale well, each install serving feeds for a small to medium sized company, school etc., still small enough to offer all the features of client-side aggregation.

I wish I could start building this, but without time; not too mention the huge unsolved problem of finding rss feeds .. I’m letting the idea loose.


More eco-studies

Field studies have given me a new appreciation and understanding of the flora and fauna. Since training in bird and plant monitoring at the Heron’s Head restoration site, I see life everywhere (and I’m not the only big bird bloggger). I was amazed on a trip down to Santa Barbara, at the amazingly lush landscape, including fig trees.

Birds are excellent indicators of environmental health and key to understanding ecosystems. The Kirtland’s Warbler is a small songbird, breeding on very specific habitat in Northern Michigan. It requires (now surpressed) fires, to create habitat of young jack pine forests. The bird is now the poster child of success for the Endangered Species Act — greatly due to lucky partnership with the lumber industry and fanatic interest. My groups presentation on the Kirtland’s Warbler focused on protecting this bird in its wintering habitat, the Bahamas. Little is known about its behavior in the Bahamas, so the first stage is research — currently underway at the excellent bird study centers on the islands — followed by partnership with tourism agencies to promote eco-tourism. Her’s a collection of resources and the text of my presentation

The last part of my ecostudies, was a field class at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and
Pt. Reyes Bird Observatory. My instructor, Ed Bedecarrax, had been personally involved in both these places — as a child, he’d travel with his father to Bear Valley, present site of the Pt. Reyes Visitor Center, to collect fertilizer from the then cattle ranch, for use on his families farm.

The natural abundance of the Bay Area would make it difficult to move to Brighton, England next month, if not for some encouraging news.


Eco-Studies Wrap Up

This week marks the end of my spring studies in Ecology, a thorough intorduction to the theories and practice by Ed Bedecarrax at the Center for Habitat Restoration. Not only have I learned tons about the ecology and the complicated complex of issues in protecting the natural world, but I’ve had a great time, outdoors with a purpose.

May 6th was the Mountain Lake Symposium at California Academy of Sciences. This event brought together students from junior high to graduate school, to share the results of their studies on Mountain Lake this spring. This is the only freshwater lake in San Francisco, and its been heavily impacted over the years, from non-native plantings, highway construction, and runoff pollution — now undergoing a restoration program. My groups research focused on the changes in water quality and zooplankton since the restoration began, conclusively showing improvements in water acidity and clarity since removing eucalyptus from the lake shore. The difficulties of the science of ecology — in data collection, analysis, and synthesis — were evident when trying to coax some results about zooplankton (in excel — surprisingly robust and straightforward to use, with vbScript). I presented in front of a large group, quite a thrill!

Later, we met with some of the researchers at the Academy, and had a tour of the Ichthylogy collection. Imagine 200,000 bottled and pickled fish, in a vast room, on shelves to the ceiling. Bizarre and fascinating. A new jellyfish had just been identified, though it wasn’t viewable yet. Did see an anglerfish — ferocious, disgusting looking deep sea fish, with bioluminescent lure growing off the top of its head. Not bizarre enough already, the male anglerfish is a sexual parasite — much smaller, it attaches and fuses to the female, and eventually loses all internal organs except for testes. Biology is much weirder than science fiction.

My article on Mountain Lake for the CHR Newsletter, and a collection of resources on Mountain Lake.


what’s happened recently

santa barbara trip
mt lake symposium


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