The perfect RSS reader aggregator

Venus Pools Cliff Jumping photo by Gary Christenson Kihei, HI, United States http://www.garyachristenson.com/ via http://www.sxc.hu/photo/435581

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 08:15 pm

Venus Pools Cliff Jumping photo by Gary Christenson Kihei, HI, United States http://www.garyachristenson.com/  via http://www.sxc.hu/photo/435581
Venus Pools Cliff Jumping photo by Gary Christenson Kihei, HI, United States http://www.garyachristenson.com/ via http://www.sxc.hu/photo/435581

I?ve been on the hunt for the perfect RSS reader or aggregator without much luck. I?ve downloaded lots, installed many and uninstalled all.

Here are my specifications. Let me know if something matches it.

  1. Client PC not web-based. I need speed to scan many feeds. Bloglines and the like are great but not fast enough.
  2. Windows (other operating systems a bonus). I?ve temporarily moved back to Windows XP so I?m stuck. I?d like whatever I chose to be cross platform for when I go back to SuSE Linux.
  3. River of News or display by date. I?d like to see today?s posts first across each group of feeds. That way if I miss a week I don?t have to wade through last weeks news from feed 1 to get to today?s news from feed 2.
  4. Not based on IE. I don?t like or trust their insecure browser and I definitely don?t want it processing XML data from potentially untrusted sources. That means if I right click on a link in a post I should not see ?Add to Favorites? and other IE tell-tales.

Interestingly I?m thinking of combining a couple of aggregators as a way of managing my needs. AlertBear is a great little windows only RSS reader that sits in my system tray and pops up whenever a new post appears in it?s feeds. I?m going to use it for the select few feeds I like to monitor closely. I?m not sure if they?ll be the low traffic personal interest blogs, or the high traffic professional interest news. As long as I don?t mix the two it should work well.

Professional news for me is time sensitive and fairly large. But if I don?t get it immediately I?ll hear about it from another source. So it?s a bit like having a 24 hour news channel on. It doesn?t matter if I miss something as I?ll hear about it if it?s important

Personal news often gets buried in that high volume noise. My favourite bloggers post no more than once per day. So as long as I get their updates I?m happy. I hate it when I?ve missed three of Sim?s posts because I thought he was away. So those sorts of feeds will not be put in the same client as the professional feeds. Client site feeds are similarly very important. I hate it when a client asks ?have you read my latest post?? and it turns out I?ve missed the latest update.

By separating the feeds into different tools I?ll track them better.

Photo credit:?Venus Pools Cliff Jumping?photo by Gary Christenson Kihei, HI, United States http://www.garyachristenson.com/

Backup your blog

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 08:26 pm

Frequently Asked Questions over at WordPress.com has a brilliant piece on backups for bloggers.

Several years ago I had to reconstruct?WealthEsteem.org after catastrophic hardware failure. Luckily Google had begun indexing it so I didn?t lose any posts. But rebuilding the comments proved too hard.

Switched On: photo by Clinton cardozo Doha, Qatar http://creativelock.blogspot.com/ sxc.hu 488716
Switched On: photo by Clinton cardozo Doha, Qatar http://creativelock.blogspot.com/ sxc.hu 488716

Matt and his team offer the brilliant advice of subscribing to the RSS feeds of your own site as a way of maintaining backups. Subscribe both the posts and the comments feed via either a web- or desktop-based aggregator. I already subscribe to my blogs to keep an eye on how it looks to my syndicated readers, now I have another reason.

Thanks for this brilliant but overlooked tip.

MSN Clones

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 03:35 pm

My daughter has reached an age where all her friends are on MSN. While the school is concerned about it, I think that (occasionally monitored) online chat is actually a useful skill. Most of the chat is what you?d expect of tweens, misunderstandings and hurt feelings can happen very easily. That?s just like email.

I refuse to run MSN Messenger though. I just think it?s sufficiently insecure and closed source to be avoided. Most kids don?t know how MSN works, so they just do what their chat partner tells them to do. I?d rather my kids not install things just so they can get a neat smiley.

I also want to use protocols other than MSN. Jabber is used by a couple of my clients. I also want to experiment with VOIP. So I?ve selected?GAIM as the multi-protocol instant messenger client around here. My kids can chat with friends and also with me when I?m travelling. GAIM?supports AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber, Google Talk, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, and even IRC protocols in one client. That means I don?t need to run multiple clients just to chat for business or pleasure.

A friend of ours has a laptop that is so locked down by their Fortune 500 IT department that MSN won?t start. Which means she can?t chat to her daughter when she?s travelling. I?ve installed aMSN as an alternative. It?s a near perfect clone of MSN messenger, so the whole family knows how to use it immediately.

Update: My daughter was so impressed by aMSN she?s asked to install it on her desktop. We?ll see how it compares to the multi-protocol GAIM. Given all her friends are on MSN I?m worried that I may be forced to stick to MSN protocol when chatting to her.

Addicted to the Internet

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 03:41 pm

The following quote appeared in an article in todays Sydney Morning Herald on Schools, parents to get talking about chatrooms

Last year, a Flinders University study of 114 teenage students found that on average, they spent 13 hours a week online, and one-third were ?in the process of becoming psychologically addicted? to the internet.

The study seems to be authored by Dr Mubarak Ali but the Google link to the Flinders site isn?t working at the moment, so I can?t verify if that pull quote is an accurate summary of his findings. I?d like to give him the benefit of the doubt as smart people rarely say such stupid things.

I wonder if proto-sociologists found a similar percentage of kids were becoming psychologically addicted to writing, reading or hanging out? The Internet is a technology as well as a destination. Kids can spend just chatting in person, on the phone and now online in chatrooms and instant messages. Why does participating in such a developmentally normal behaviour create concern?

Someone compared the net to reading newspapers, magazines or novels. We don?t start panicking that our kids are reading too much.

Linux Terminal Server K12LTSP 4.4.1 Build notes

Last updated on June 28th, 2015 at 12:06 pm

This is for K12 Linux Terminal Server Project K12LTSP 4.4.1 running on Fedora Core 4. I downloded the CD images and burned them to 5 CD?s.

Boot from Disc 1 (of 5)

Hit enter to boot into Anaconda, Fedora?s graphical installer. You can cancel out of the installation at any point up to Required Install Media. Nothing is written to the drive until after that step, so if you get lost (or need to check something) just reboot and start again.

Welcome to Fedora Core Next

Language Selection: English (English) Next

Keyboard Configuration: U.S. English Next

Installation Type: Linux Terminal Server Next

Disk Partitioning Setup: Automatic partition Next

Automatic Partitioning: Remove all partitions on this system
I?m removing all vestiges of Windows from this server.
Tick Review (and modify if needed) the partitions created Next

Answer Yes to the Warning: You have chosen to remove all partitions (ALL DATA) one the following drives:
/dev/hda
Are you sure you want to do this? Yes

Disk Setup review the partion information. Note the swap partion size is approximately twice the physical memory. If you expect to add more memory to the server soon, change the swap partion to be about twice the expected physical memory. Next

Boot Loader Configuration Accept the defaults for the Grub boot loader. Don?t bother with a password or advanced options. Next

Network Configuration Due to the nature of the networks I support, I don?t use DHCP for external connectivity. Normally the external port is eth1 if it is a PCI card and eth0 is on the motherboard. You can see the MAC addresses for each card by clicking the Edit button. I don?t like manually configuring local networks in the range 192.168.0.0/24 to 192.168.9.0/24 as there is too great a likelihood of clashes down the track, especially if you want to set up VPN access for mobile users who have LAN?s at home. Given the class C private range allows numbers to range up to 192.68.255.0/24 I pick an IP address related to the postcode of the server?s location. In this test case it?s 192.168.27.254/255.255.255.0

As both ethernet cards have static IP addresses I give the server a manual hostname. e.g. ts27.zagz.com

Fill in the Gateway (to the internet – either a router or firewall), Primary, Secondary and Tertiary DNS. Blanks are OK for Secondary and Tertiary. Next

Firewall configuration My networks are protected by perimeter and departmental firewalls. I don?t want to jump through connectivity hoops right now so I select No firewall. This is not a good network practice, but I?m reviewing the network security at the moment so I?ll enable it later.

I also leave Enable SELinux Active. There is a performance hit of up to 7% by doing this. For a small network I?d probably leave it off. On these servers we?ll disable SELinux at the boot menu later. Next

Warning - No Firewall Against my own advice I click Proceed

Time Zone Selection Select the nearest city in your timezone. Check that your selection is correct in the scrolling Location box. Our clocks do no use UTC as local reporting tools can?t all adjust UTC to local time. Next

Set Root Password Do not pick a dictionary word or combination of them. Check your caps lock status especially if you can type without looking at the keyboard. Don?t show off, look and make sure you’re typing what you think you?re typing. Pick something with upper and lower cases plus numbers. Users can and will break this server if they can guess this password so don?t wimp out here. Next

Package Installation Defaults You can install the default packages, but we need to make some changes. There is a bug in this CD set that crashes anaconda if I select certain individual packages, so I make some minimum changes to get what I want and will add/remove apps later. Skip to the next point if you install the defaults.
Select Customize softwares packages to be installed Next
Tick KDE (K Desktop Environment)
Untick Sound and Video (we?re not enabling that for the thin-client workstations.
Untick Games and Entertainment
Tick Server Confiration Tools
Tick Windows File Server
Tick System Tools Click Details tick ethereal-gnome, rdesktop and VNC, then click OK
Untick Education
Click Next

About to Install Next

Required Install Media will list Fedora Core 4 CD #1 to #4 if you chose my selections. Click Continue

Go get coffee while the drive is formatted, the file systems prepared and things get copied to the hard drive.

Change discs when requested. Fedora like most modern distributions uses the discs in order and doesn?t ask for the same disc again later.

Click Reboot when the installation completes. Remember to take the disc out of the drive.

After the reboot
Welcome click Next

License Agreement Once you?ve read through the license agreement you can accept it and click Next. You do read any EULA?s that pop up on your systems don?t you?

Date and Time Make sure the current time is accurate. If your ISP provides a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server fill in the details in the tab. Unfortunately I haven?t been able to find the Telstra/Bigpond NTP server address. I?ll configure a public NTP server later. Next

Display As we are at the server monitor, I generally go for no greater resolution that 800?600 Millions of colours. But it doesn?t really matter unless someone is going to be working at the server in a pseudo peer-to-peer network. Next

System User You will set up users accounts later. Enter your everyday username here. Whether you will be a normal user or not, create an account here even if it it called ?support?. This is so you never log in as ?root?. Just don?t do it, it is wrong on so many levels. You?ll do administator tasks via the ?su -? command or their GUI equivalents. Next

Sound Card I don?t use sound on Terminal Servers. Next

Additional CDs. I don?t have any. Next

Finish Setup click Next

Fedora Login prompt appears.

Login as a user and install additional software in the folder on your Desktop. Install Adobe Acrobat, Flash and Fonts.

Next follow Stanton Finley?s excellent Fedora Core 4 Installation Notes for Yum to update the installation. Update: Read Stantion Finley?s site but beware of adding the repositories he mentions. It will kill your LTSP installation.
I?ll extend these LTSP installation notes over the next few days as our build continues.

D-Link multiport print servers

Last updated on August 21st, 2015 at 01:58 pm

I?m configuring a D-Link DP 300U multiport print server for use at home with OpenSuSE 10.0 and I thought I?d keep some notes on my linux adventures here.

DLINK print servers listen on ports 9100, 9101 and 9102 for multiport models and 9100 for the single port models

So all I have to do is configure my CUPS printing to point to theIP address of the print server and the port numbers are 9100 = LPT1; 9101 = LPT2 and 9102 = USB.

BTW the DP 300U defaults to 192.168.0.10 but if someone else has configured it, the only way to reset it to factory default is to download the D-Link windows software from the D-Link site, connect the PC and the DP300U to a hub and let the software find it. Then you can configure the device.

Social bookmarking not just del.icio.us

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 04:37 pm

So Sim? researched del.icio.us?and then blinklist.com found him. People are already trying to improve and innovate social bookmarking. Sim? will write about his experiences.

One other exciting side effect of blogs and tagging is that people with a product, service, technology, or idea can reach out to people interested in that space.

Tags can even be used by groups to bring stuff to the their attention. Pick a unique tag you all agree on and start using it with for:usernametag. This tags for two is explained on the del.icio.us blog

More del.icio.us

Last updated on July 3rd, 2015 at 04:37 pm

Further to yesterday?s post on del.icio.us David Muir pointed me to his excellent guide to del.icio.us. While it assumes your browser is Internet Explorer, it is the sort of guide I could give my mum, so I?ll forgive that. It?s a great introduction, explanation and exploration that answers the question, “why use del.icio.us?”

David is a lecturer in the Educational Computing division in the Jordanhill Campus of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. So it?s good to see educators making these sorts of guides available.