I took another stab at the interface for the Tivo RSS reader. Here’s a screenshot. I now allocate up to four screen lines for each story, and let the viewer click through multiple pages using the Select key on the remote. Here’s the code.

Nutty RSS/Tivo hack

This hack has evolved into a proposed format for developing shared To Do lists. I’m calling it RSSTV. I hope you’ll take a look and consider participating. -AG

RSS 2.0 Reader for Tivo Okay, I’m not going go out of my way to explain myself on this one. But if you’ve already hacked up your Tivo to the point where you can telnet to it, it’s not a whole lot of extra work to display RSS feed data right there on the screen. Click on the thumbnail to see the RSS 2.0 Reader for Tivo in action. The display options need some work. I’ll probably try excerpting more from each post and then split the output over a few pages.
For the curious, here’s the code. It runs on top of another hack called Tivo Control Station. My three year-old Tivo runs an ancient version of Tcl so you don’t get non-greedy regular expressions or fancy string options like “string equal”. Tivo’s runtime is also very fragile so this code favors efficiency over elegance.
Update I’ve updated the interface, as described here.

Hello blogosphere. It’s been a busy couple of days. Today we taught the last of our scheduled Getting Started with Weblogs classes. It went fantastically. At the end I was so happy that we got through all of the material. That is, until I realized that we ran a half-hour late :-> Many thanks to J and Bob (whoa) for their help. I’m in the middle of a nutty hack at the moment but maybe tomorrow I’ll write up some notes on the experience with some ideas about where we want to go with the class.

New interface

Now that the first pass sweep is finished we have a new interface for Find That Feed. The feed URL is hyperlinked from the white-on-orange XML button that appears next to each search result. If we were able to find the HTML URL for the feed, it is hyperlinked from the feed title. If not, the feed title is not hyperlinked.
There will be a fair number of non-hyperlinked feed titles. The sweep had a roughly 11% failure rate.

  Total: 22204 feeds
Errors: 2719 feeds

Here’s a breakdown with the top error sources:

  404 Not Found: 616 feeds
XML not well-formed: 335 feeds
Network timeout: 294 feeds
Got HTML not XML: 246
Connection refused: 126 feeds

I spent a few hours this weekend writing code to parse the feeds in Find That Feed. This will help improve the user interface. For example, we will be able to offer a hyperlink to a feed’s HTML version (assuming we’re able to find and parse the feed). We’ll also get some interesting statistics as a side effect, which may lead to new report pages. Now comes the task of running the code against the 20,000+ feeds in the Share Your OPML database. More to come…

Unexpected gift

Yesterday I attended a talk by Chuck Will, Director of Communications at Proctor Academy. Chuck documents the daily life of Proctor through photographs and essays at Chuck’s Corner.
Though missing telltale signs like permalinks and the white on orange XML button, Chuck’s Corner is very much a weblog. The site is updated every few days and contains prodigious archives dating back to 1999. Most importantly, Chuck’s Corner relates an ongoing, thoughtful, personal perspective on life at a New Hampshire prep school.
But I’m not writing to praise the blog. The hidden gift is Chuck. He’s not a technologist. He doesn’t use market leading weblog software. He probably doesn’t send Weblogs.Com pings, syndicate his site, or read other blogs in a news aggregator.
What makes Chuck a gift is that he discovered the blog format on his own, by trial and error. Chuck’s Corner went from being a password-protected page for alumni to the most popular page on the Proctor Web site. It gets more hits than their home page. Shortly Chuck’s Corner will be their homepage.
And he totally gets it. Contrasting Chuck’s Corner with the highly polished, yet-another alumni newsletters, he observed

  We’re taking a risk and showing our imperfections.

His audience took notice and, sensing authenticity, comes back for more.
Bravo, Chuck! The potential webloggers of the world need to hear more stories like his. After the talk, I said as much, and asked if he might be interested in speaking at a weblog event. He said he would. If you’re buying my line and agree, the next question is, to what event should we invite him?

John Perry Barlow: “Spalding placed a call at 9:00 pm on Saturday evening to his little boy, Theo, to tell him he loved him. The originating number, I now learn, turns out to have been a pay phone at the Battery terminal of the Staten Island Ferry. Also, two people have come forward and say they saw him on the ferry after that. That’s all I know but, hell, that’s all I need to know.”