News, views, tips and tricks on Oracle and other fun stuff

Extract And Use Information From Any Website Without Any Programming

That’s what Dapper allows you to do. It allows you to build web applications and mashups using data from any website on the Internet.

For example, AskTom has three RSS feeds available: just updated, hot articles and most popular. The just updated feed includes updates to new and old questions. It would have been nice if there was a feed for new questions only, in other words, a feed that gets updated only when a new question (and Tom’s answer) is posted on the website.

Using Dapper, I was able to create such a feed. Drum roll please…… introducing the “AskTom – by first asked” RSS feed. And here is the “AskTom – by first asked” Dapp.

I had fun playing with Dapper. Although there are other services, like Feed43 and Ponyfish, that allow you to create your own RSS feeds from almost any web page, unlike others, in addition to RSS, Dapper can also output XML, HTML, CSV, JSON, Google gadgets, Netvibes modules and more.

1 Comment | Filed in Oracle, Tips | Tags: , ,

Oracle News Aggregator Flooded

If you use OraNA to stay current on the lastest Oracle news and blogs, you may have noticed that the aggregator was flooded by a bunch of past posts from a few Blogger’s blogspot blogs. This is because OraNA is based on Google Reader. Google Reader re-publishes updated feeds, which means that if an item in the feed changes, it will be marked as new. So, I suspect that something has changed on these few blogs marking their feeds as updated. As a result, the posts were picked up by Google Reader (and ultimately, OraNA) as new. Sorry for the inconvenience.

2 Comments | Filed in Oracle | Tags: , ,

Why I Switched to a Full-Text Feed

After reading “Why I’ m asking for full-text RSS feeds” by Constantin Basturea, and “Only Generous Bloggers Influence” by Steve Rubel, I have decided to publish my blog’s feed as a full text instead of just a summary.

As a blogger, why wouldn’t you publish a full-text feed? I can think of the following reasons:

  1. Increase page views on your blog by forcing your readers to click on yet another link to read your post.
  2. Increase advertisement click through on your blog (if you monetize your blog using Google AdSense for example).
  3. Have more accurate information about your blog’s readership.
  4. Protect your content from plagiarism.

I switched to a full-text feed because:

  1. I want my content to be easily accessible and read by as many people as possible with minimum number of clicks and on maximum number of devices, like PDAs and cell phones.
  2. Even though I have Google AdSense on my blog, most, if not all, of the click through is generated by people landing on my blog via search engines.
  3. Thanks to Feedburner, I know how many feed subscribers I have. In fact, I show the number of subscribers on the sidebar of my blog.
  4. Publishing a summary or a full-text feed has very little to do with plagiarism. With web scraping and online services like Dapper (which is really cool by the way), your content can be plagiarized whether it is on your blog’s HTML web page or in your feed’s XML content. Moreover, using Feedburner, I can add a copyright notice and a creative commons license to the feed.

So, fellow bloggers, why don’t you unleash your full-text feeds?

2 Comments | Filed in Interesting, WordPress | Tags: , ,

OraNA powered by Google and FeedBurner

In this post I will share with you how I transformed OraNA from an aggregator powered by WordPress to a powerful, robust and easy to manage feed aggregator powered by Google Reader and FeedBurner.

I will take you through the three easy steps that I followed to set up OraNA. You can follow the same steps to set up your own aggregator if you wish.

I will also share with you the features that make OraNA unique, like the ability for anyone to contribute feed items, the aggregation of feeds for websites that do not have feeds (like Jonathan Lewis’s web site), and the option to “plug-n-play” the aggregator on any website or blog, with just one line of code.

Here is how I (re)created OraNA:

1 – Set up the feeds in Google Reader:

Recently Google Reader introduced the ability to share labels. Using this feature, you can subscribe to many feeds, label them with a specific label, and then share that label. A shared label has one unique feed URL. subscribing to that one shared label feed is the same as subscribing to every feed with the same label.

So, I subscribed to all the feeds that I wanted to include in OraNA, labeled them “oracle” and then turned on sharing on that label.

2 – Created the OraNA feed in FeedBurner:

Next, using FeedBurner, I burned the feed produced in the first step above. The result was the final OraNA feed: This feed, by itself and when viewed in a browser, looks and acts like a totally functional feed aggregator, however, I wanted to publish the feed’s content on its own customized HTML web page. No problem. FeedBurner has the “BuzzBoost” service that republishes your burned feed’s content as go-anywhere HTML. I activated BuzzBoost. The result was a snippet of JavaScript that I pasted into the OraNA web page.

3 – Added the sources to BlogRolling:

I wanted to display the feeds that OraNA aggregates. To do that, I exported the feeds in Google Reader to an OPML file, then imported the file into BlogRolling. In BlogRolling, I edited the links so that they pointed to the source website instead of the feed. Then I copied and pasted the BlogRolling JavaScript code into the OraNA web page.

That’s it.

Now, when I want to add a new feed to OraNA, all what I need to do is to subscribe to the feed I want to add in Google Reader, label it “oracle” and add it to the blogroll in BlogRolling.

OraNA features:

And to list the sources, add this code:

Happy news reading 🙂

Important Note: If you are already subscribed to the OraNA feed, make sure you use to continue receiving updates.

6 Comments | Filed in Oracle | Tags: , , , ,

Feed Overload

I’m a heavy user and big fan of Bloglines. I use it as my main and only news reader. In addition to the fact that it is web based – which means I can access it from my home and work computer, after their recent data center move and upgrade, their feed update has been really fast. When I publish a post on this blog, it only takes a few minutes before it appears on Bloglines. You can read why I like Bloglines here. But, this is not what this post is about.

No matter what news reader you use, you may end up with many feeds in your subscription list, 100, 200 feeds, maybe more. The question becomes how to manage this list to make your blog/news reading as effective and less time consuming as possible.

Previously I organized my subscriptions into folders. Each folder corresponded to a “topic” or “category”. For example, I placed Oracle related blogs into an Oracle folder, ColdFusion related blogs, into a ColdFusion folder, and so on. Every “topic” had its own folder.

Last weekend, after reading Top 10 tips for effective blog reading, Productivity Tips For Avid Blog Readers and Controlling RSS Overload…Animal House Style, I decided to change the organization of my feeds and the way I read them. Here is how I set up my folders in Bloglines:

  • Read Now: All the important feeds that I want to read as soon as they are published.
  • My Stuff: Feeds for this blog, OraQA, OraNA and other personal stuff like Bloglines e-mails.
  • Daily: Feeds that can wait till the end of the day to be read.
  • Weekly: Feeds that can wait till the weekend to be read.
  • Probation: Every new subscription goes into this folder for monitoring before I decide to keep it (move it to another folder) or delete it.
  • Radar: All my and Technorati search subscriptions, just to keep tab on what’s happening on the Net.

So far, it is working. In other words, I am not wasting time reading useless posts and finding more time reading useful posts.

I’m interested to know what your “RSS/ATOM” subscription/reading habit is. How do you organize your feeds? How often do you check your news reader? Do you have an advice you can share with us to make our RSS/ATOM overload more manageable?

Create polls and vote for free.
4 Comments | Filed in Personal, Technology, Tips | Tags: , ,

FeedBurner – Bloglines Problems

It looks like my blog’s feed, as well as OraQA and OraNA feeds are not being polled by Bloglines, and as a result new items have not been updated (in Bloglines only) for the past two or three days. They are all FeedBurner feeds.

If you subscribe to these feeds in Bloglines, you will see a red exclamation mark [!] next to the subscription. It also looks like that I am not the only one noticing this. Feed owners are complaining in the FeedBurner forum. Also check out Darren Rowse post which mentions that FeedBurner claims that the issue is at their end.

This makes me wonder if it is worth it to introduce another POF (Point Of Failure) between my feeds and my readers. But I guess no system is “Unbreakable”.

Update: I contacted Bloglines, here is their reply:

Bloglines has received errors from FeedBurner while attempting to retrieve the feeds in question. FeedBurner is aware of the issue and working to resolve it. We have manually reset the feeds, although this may only temporarily resolve the issue in Bloglines. Subsequent errors may take 24 hours to automatically clear. Thank you for your patience.

Update 2: Looks like the problem is solved. The feeds are normally updated in Bloglines and reported correctly in FeedBurner. Thanks for whoever took care of this issue.

Comments Off on FeedBurner – Bloglines Problems | Filed in Interesting | Tags: ,