While tech pundits love love love to proclaim the DEATH of [insertwhateverissupposedlydeadthisweek], as a way to have something to write / talk about or as a way to drive traffic to their blog, the majority of the users on the web continue to ignore that [insert name of] is dead and continue to use it or they have never understood how to use and don’t as a result.
If you have a blog, your blogging software most likely provides a subscription feed, be it RSS or Atom, or you subscribe to a service like Feedburner which produces a feed of which you can then track the statistics on.
Depending on your blog and readers, folks may find your subscription feed(s) easily and use it or they are baffled by how to use it or are indifferent. Some bloggers have actively pushed an email or twitter subscription as an alternative to their RSS or Atom feeds.
I have now been blogging for 8.5 years here at BlackPhoebe.com and my logs show me that I have more folks accessing my feeds (RSS & Atom) than Google Analytics says I have regular returners who access the blog via a direct link. The grand majority of the folks who subscribe to one of the RSS or Atom feeds to this blog and don’t use the Feedburner one. Other bloggers may have a different experience, but I write from mine.
As a regular reader of blogs via their feeds*, it drives me nuts when a blog I like changes their feed URL with no warning. Much of the time it is when a blogger changes from one blogging CMS to another and in the stress of the move doesn’t think about how the change in feed URLs will affect their feed subscribers, or other times it is during a redesign or a big re-arrangement of files and blogging structure.
Regardless of how the feed URL gets changed, I would like to encourage all the bloggers using a CMS that generates a subscription feed to pre-think any architectural changes and warn your readers before it happens, as well as keeping the old feed open for at least 2 weeks after the move/redesign/cleaning/change with a last post on the feed that tells folks where to find the new feed URL.
Be kind to your faithful readers.
* I am a fan of Sage light RSS feedreader Add-on for Firefox.
My personal project of the last few days is to start chipping away at my moblogging app. Roland Tanglao and I have been talking since the Big Adventure in May about working together to get my mobile blogging app idea off the ground.
Basically, I know that if I can get a php script to post to this blog via the Atom or XML-RPC protocol, then I can get my mobile to do it via a python app. I have now spent more than 12 hours spread out over 2 days researching the various protocols, reading docs, and then trying to get several different php scripts to post a simple blog post to Movable Type 4.3’s Atom or XML-RPC scripts.
Tonight, I kept getting errors that either the scripts aren’t able to authenticate (both Atom & XML-RPC) or with XML-RPC I keep getting a “32300:transport error – could not open socket”.
Darned sockets, I shake my fist at you.
I don’t know about you, but I have had a little list of blog upkeep items that have been on my to do list for ages, but haven’t had the time to research and then execute them. After thinking about a few of them for some time, oh like a couple of years, I decided recently to make a real paper list and make it happen.
Here are the things I wanted to do:
1) Figure out how to get thumbnails of images to appear in the excerpted version of this blog’s RSS and Atom feeds.
2) Think about how to keep the evil sploggers (spam bloggers who scrape feeds) at bay AND keep my regular feed readers happy with a good feed. I have had my private full feed for at least two years now & announce it frequently but folks who want a full feed didn’t know about it.
3) Even though Perl is not really my friend, I have wanted to figure out how to alter the Atom script for this blog so that when I use Lifeblog or PixelPipe to mobile blog from my camera phone to this blog that the photo will be uploaded into the file directory of my choice and not the default main blog directory.
A few weeks ago, I dedicated a few hours to attempting to bending the Atom and RSS feed templates to my will. Unfortunately, Movable Type 4.x is very dependent on the Asset Manager for knowing where the images are, and due to challenge #3, I was not able to fix #1 with any satisfaction, as all the fixes required the Asset Manager to know where all the images are and by default the Atom script uploads all assets/images to the main blog directory, which causes a messy main directory with my daily mobile blogging. To solve this, I have been manually moving images to a proper image directory and then updating the blog post later, thus the Asset Manager can’t keep up with me. Poor thing.
Persistent artist vs. computer program. Who is going to lose? In the long run, the program. Until I solved problem #3, problem #1 was a null point.
I solved #2 by resetting my public facing feeds to be a bit bigger excerpts that would show the images but would excerpt any article over a certain length. I use the .htaccess file to stop any lifting of images. And I still have the private complete feed for anyone who emails me and lets me know that they want the url.
Today, I decided to conquer the moblogging directory issue and attempt to make Perl bend to my will.
Update about an hour later: I was able to get the script working and the next post after this will be a tutorial / reminder to me on how I did it.
The Fix: How to Change the Directory that Movable Type Uploads to When Using the Atom Protocol (Lifeblog, PixelPipe, etc)
I spent a good chunk of hours today tinkering with and refining the feeds on most of the blogs I author, administrate, and manage.
I had several goals for the altering of the RSS and Atom templates:
1) To make all public facing feeds be excerpted text with a link to continue reading. Why? I really don’t have the time to hunt down the evil sploggers who repost rss and atom feeds as their own with lots of ads help augment their copylifting. Thus, if I set everything to excerpt with a link to the post then if the sploggers reblog the text the link goes to the original post.
2) Per the usual, if you are a regular subscriber and you don’t want to deal with the excerpted feeds, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), introduce yourself, give me your blog or twitter URL so I can put you in my feed reader, and I will send you the link to the whole post private RSS feed.
3) Also, if you are a private whole feed subscriber and your feed reader is not rendering the images, let me know via email (email@example.com) what feed reader you are using and I will try and solve the problem for you.
Once again, thanks for reading this blog and viewing the photos. Y’all rock.
I have spent the last 4 plus days upgrading the Barflies.net from Movable Type 3.36 to Movable Type Open Source 4.2b with a complete update of templates, adding of a few new features (author archives) and a big back end information architecture re-org (only to be seen by contributors). In wanting to update the Barflies.net Movable Type install, I found myself trying to accomplish a few tasks that aren’t necessary in a one person blog.
One of the little things I wanted to do was to combine the RSS / Atom feeds from the main blog with the RSS / Atom Feed of the SoCal Calendar to make one feed for folks to subscribe to. When I Google searched this, I could not find any real answers, so I emailed the Six Apart Pronet list had a good simple, elegant answer from LaRosa Johnson within minutes:
“add blog_ids=”all” to the MTEntries tag of your Atom Feed and that should do it”
And I did, and it worked.
Now how did I do it? In my case, I didn’t want all the blogs on the Barflies.net MT install in the feed, only two. Barflies.net #15 and SoCal Calendar #30, so I set the blog_ids to blog_ids=”15,30″.
Everywhere in my RSS and Atom Feed templates that there was an instance of the mt:Entries tag, I added blog_ids=”15,30″, saved & published, and then tested the feeds. Happiness.
Here is an example of one the mt:Entries tag that that I altered in the Atom Feed:
<mt:Entries blog_ids=”15, 30″ lastn=”1″>
If you want the private complete text & photo feed, email me – blackphoebe at gmail dot com.
Otherwise, it is excerpt time for the rest of my feeds. Must make it harder for the uncreative plagiarists out there. Thanks for understanding.
Hello to all of my lovely regular readers who read this blog on a feed reader,
I have listened to your concerns and have weighed them with mine. Compliments of a dream at 3 something a.m. this morning, I have a win-win solution!
The Fix for my Faithful & Regular Readers who want a Full Feed with text & photos that is formatted nicely:
1) I have made a private full feed for you to subscribe to.
2) Please email me at blackphoebe at gmail dot com and I will send you the URL for the private feed. Also, let me know your blog URL, so I can subscribe to you as well!
3) You get to consume the feed how it best pleases you and my blood pressure does not rise terribly when I look at Technorati. Everyone is happy.
4) If you email me, get the new feed URL, and you don’t see the photos, please email me again with the name of the feed reader you are using so I can troubleshoot what the problem is. Right now the private full feed is working in Google Reader, Sage, Flock, and NetNewsWire, but the photos are not showing up in BlogLines of which I am going to get a fix for.
As of this Thursday, I will be setting all the public feeds on this website to excerpt only to discourage content scraping by a pack of unscrupulous jackass travel blogs. Given that I will spend most of the next two months on the road and I want to happily blog along the way, it behooves me to make a fix now.
Thanks for giving me your input and I look forward to hearing from you!
Update: The full private feed is now working with images in Bloglines.
Bloglines subscribers: When you input this feed, please set it to private, thanks!