September 21, 2004

Become a Power News Consumer

Anyone can become a power news consumer by taking advantage of the wealth information being published via RSS newsfeeds. You just need to learn where to find the feeds and how to read them. Bloglines, is a tool that allows you to do both and I hightly recommend it if you haven't already found an aggregator that meets your needs.

It's easy to create your own account. If you want to, you can even "seed" your own new bloglines account with subscriptions collected and organized by someone else.

For example, UtahNewsJunkie, has created a public Bloglines list of some Utah newsfeeds. Click on "export" to download his OPML. Save it to your drive and then import it into your own news aggregator [Tip: if it shows 0 feeds when you import it, go back and highlight the XML file, save it as text using wordpad or notepad, then reimport it].

After you've imported the complete file, click on "edit" and just delete en masse those feeds that don't interest you.

You'll notice that some Utah papers such as the Herald Tribune and the Utah Chronicle syndicate with their own RSS feeds.

But what about those that don't? Here's a tip that may help.

Moreover Technologies harvests news from more than 7,000 of the most reliable online sources, including premium international and regional publications, and corporate and government press pages. Content is intelligently categorized and ranked for quality by an experienced editorial staff.

Moreover content includes the Deseret Morning News. The Deseret News doesn't provide it's own RSS feed, but you can get a free "second-hand" feed via Moreover.

One way to do this is to create an RSS feed based on a query string. I did it using Moreover's CompleteRSS "Create a Custom News Feed" tool - http://www.completerss.com/tools/moreover.aspx .

I entered the query string "the deseret morning news". It created this feed:

http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?query=%22The+Deseret+Morning+News%22&o=rss&n=50.

I made one customization. Once you have the feed url, you can add "&n=50" (or whatever number you want) to have it retrieve the last "n" number of headlines.

If you just want to read the headlines with your web browser instead of a news aggregator, just eliminate the "%o=rss" from the URL and bookmark it. Then, instead thumbing through the morning paper with your cup of joe, just can get your news by going through your bookmarks.

Try this for other papers, radio and television stations, and let me know how it goes.

You can use this technique for creating custom newsfeeds, too.

Say for example you want a feed about news of the Utah ski industry.

Using the Custom Feed Creator, experiment with various search terms until you get optimum results. For example, choosing an "and" search for both Utah and skiing and modifying it for the most 75 headlines, results in:

Feed: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?query=%2butah+%2bskiing&o=rss&n=75
Read Online: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?query=%2butah+%2bskiing&n=75

What if you want to track a publicly traded Utah company in the news? First, you'll want to get the stock market symbol using Yahoo's ticker symbol lookup. Enter "nu skin" for example and you find that the ticker symbol is NUS.

Then go back to the Custom Feed Creator and enter a search query along with the ticker symbol in the stock symbol field. A feed for the last 25 headlines for Nu Skin would be:

Feed:
http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?query=%2bnu+%2bskin&b=NUS&o=rss&n=25
Read Online: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?query=%2bnu+%2bskin&b=NUS&n=25

Whew! This is a lot of work. If you don't want to create your own feeds, you can use those that Moreover has already created on a variety of subjects.

Here are just a few:

Utah News: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?feed=300&o=rss

Online Content: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?index_onlinecontent+rss

Cyberculture: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?index_cyberculture+rss

Blogging News: http://www.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?c=Blogging%20news&o=rss


Moreover provides a list of over 300 other pre-built feeds. Click on the "feed url" for any topic, such as "Travel Industry News" or http://www.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?o=html&c=Travel%20industry%20news , and it displays the latest 30 or so headlines. To get the RSS feed for each topic, cut out the "o=html&" and add "&o=rss" to the end. The feed for this topic becomes http://www.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?c=Travel%20industry%20news&o=rss.

Once news in put in RSS XML containers, you can do just about anything with it. Moreover headlines, for example, can be delivered by email. Just send a blank e-mail to on-index_[feedname]_d@e.moreover.com.

Are you interested in more than just news headlines?

UtahJobsJunkie reminds us that RSS is one of the most useful tools for monitoring the Utah job scene (for example, Salt Lake City Employment Spot and its feed.

You can also use RSS to search eBay (eg. http://www.completerss.com/tools/auctionscout.aspx) and track Salt Lake City Weather Alerts and its feed.

There is virtually no limit to what RSS can do for you and for furnishing the citizens of Utah with useful information!

Posted by Ray Matthews on September 21, 2004 at 06:22 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

September 14, 2004

Wasatch Front Webloggers to Meet

You may remember Gilbert Lee when he was a web designer for Utah.gov. He left us to design for Northrop Grumman and now has his own successful firm PlainSimple Design, LLC at www.plainsimple.org. Gilbert has just volunteered to organize the Salt Lake City Weblogger Meetup. He encourages SLC bloggers to come out and meet others doing the same. The first meeting is Wednesday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sugarhouse Barnes & Noble Cafe, 1104 East 2100 South, Salt Lake City (map).

You can register and RSVP for the Meetup at blog.meetup.com/144/ or just show up. "I'm really excited how this group will go," bubbles an enthusiastic Lee. "I know there are a lot of bloggers out there and it will be interesting to see how blogging in Utah will be like in the years to come." Everyone is welcome and it'll be a great networking event!

The meetup group includes Brian Sweeting, editor of the internationally famous www.sweeting.net blog and creator of the Springville City syndicated newsfeeds. Former Salt Lake County Commissioner Bart Barker, a member since the first meetup, has to miss this event, but promises to be there in the future. Barker collaborates with LaVarr Web and others in the richly informative Talking Points Weblog, Utah's political Weblog, at www.utahpolicy.com.


Posted by Ray Matthews on September 14, 2004 at 02:43 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

September 01, 2004

Tough Choice: Apple Expo or Republican Gala

Forgoing watching Arnold at the RNC last night, I tuned in instead to the streaming video keynote from the Apple Expo 2004 in Paris. It was the first public demonstration of the Tiger OS and several other hardware and software products. For something to really rock your world, take a look at the new IMac G5.

The new IMac comes in 17'' and 20'' models. Because it's only two inches think, you're left looking under the desk trying to find the box. This looks to be a system designed for those wishing to reduce the clutter in their lives and get down to business.

Of particular note to me was the demo of the Tiger operating system (OSX 10.4). Tiger includes a nifty Automator for automating common workflow processes, Safari RSS for automating RSS news aggregation, and Spotlight for desktop and network searching, and numerous other "I have to have this" features.

Type in someone's name in a Spotlight search box and it will instantly retrieve all kinds of documents including email messages, presentations, text files, pictures, and address book contacts. While not offering true faceted searching, you can use a simple dropdown to filter by type or other characteristics. What separates Spotlight from the competition is its full content searching of documents and integrated searching of document metadata. From thousands of cryptic files names, it will retrieve, for example a presentation authored by the name you entered. Spotlight is a significant step toward a truly integrated search of one's personal world, business environment, and the Internet.

Ironically, news arrived that same day that Microsoft's new WinFS advanced file search for Longhorn will be delayed until 2006.

Posted by Ray Matthews on September 01, 2004 at 08:41 AM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

January 16, 2004

Movable Type Upgrades

Six Apart released Movable Type v. 2.661 this week as a stopgap to help administrators deal with comment flooding spam before they release comment registration in Movable Type 3.0.

If you're experience flooding you can download this upgrade. Otherwise, if you're only getting the occasional comment spam, then the MT-Blacklist plug-in may meet your needs.

A singular advantage of 2.66x, though, is that they've changed the behavior of <$MTCommentAuthorLink$> to use redirects when linking to URLs given in comments. The goal of this is to defeat the PageRank boost given to spammers by posting in the comments on a weblog.

Posted by Ray Matthews on January 16, 2004 at 04:36 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

January 08, 2004

Utah RSS Feeds Featured at eGovLinks

eGovLinks, the e-Government starting point, is featuring two news feeds on its home page and site navigation bar, and both are from Utah: Governor's News, and David Fletcher's Government & Technology Weblog. We thank Bill Gratsch for the exposure and wish him well with his project to build the ultimate directory to eGovernment resources. The feed title needs a bit of tweaking, however, from "News from Utah Gov Mike Leavitt" to that of our current governor, Olene Walker.

Posted by Ray Matthews on January 08, 2004 at 10:27 AM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

October 06, 2003

RSS to Email Scripting

The Utah State Library has tested Bloglet and Movable Type notifications for syndicating RSS feeds via email. We're now in the process of testing a new perl utility writen by Mike Brown that will email recently updated RSS feeds.

Posted by Ray_Matthews on October 06, 2003 at 04:02 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

August 26, 2003

RSS Becoming Ubiquitous

It seems that all new upgrades of content management systems are now supporting RSS, and there has been a recent flurry in sites that host personal and business blogs. AOL issued their long expected announcement today of their product, AOL Journals, which produces RSS 2.0 feeds. Microsoft is expected to debut their product in MSN 9.0, but it may not appear until early next year. Does anyone know when the Utah state government news hosting portal will be operational?

See also: AOL Adds Blogging Tools (Yahoo! News)

Posted by Ray_Matthews on August 26, 2003 at 09:49 AM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

April 30, 2003

Metabrowser Leap Forward with JaveHelp

Bruce McLeod of Metabrowser Systems has just released version 1.6 of the Metabrowser client. It has better functionality for list construction and Metabrowser now supports dragging of text from any Web page directly into the metadata line or the edit panel. If you drag content into the edit panel, then it gets added to the content. If you drag it to a metadata line, then it replaces the content.

Bruce is also developing JaveHelp, a nice platform indepedent solution for displaying indexes and catalogs that works much better than anything the Web interface can do. He'll have a demo up shortly and will have Metabrowser Client and Metabrowser Server support for the XML format that it requires. He recommends it as an excellent way to use RSS channels and welcomes any programmer who would like to work on getting JaveHelp to directly read an RSS channel. Stay tuned for his examples.

Posted by Ray_Matthews on April 30, 2003 at 04:54 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

February 17, 2003

Moreover Style Parsing

We're experimenting with methods for parsing multiple agency produced RSS channels. Scott Andrew LePera's tutorial, Your MT Blog as a Moreover Feed, shows how to create MT templates that produce javascript outputs with the appearance of Moreover headline feeds. Here is an example parsing all the news from this feed and here is a display of just the news category.

Posted by Ray_Matthews on February 17, 2003 at 01:47 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!

November 06, 2002

Guidelines for Contributors

style guideThis short guide for contributors will help you determine what would be appropriate to post to what category and how to write stories in keeping with this newsletter's style and mission.

Purpose
This newsletter is for news about the programs and services of the Utah Government Information Locator Service otherwise known as gilsUtah. This is a community, led by the Utah State Library Division, that develops standards, provides tools, and trains agencies how to make Utah government information more accessible and easily retrievable.


Distribution
The news is public and is distributed worldwide to potentially thousands of readers via RSS feeds and email. Because it is distributed at the speed of light and is retrievable for all perpetuity using Internet search engines, care and discretion must be taken regarding content, spelling, grammar, and personal viewpoints.


Procedure
Because it's better to have another set of eyeballs review submissions, your story will be first saved in draft mode. Ray Matthews, acting as editor, will review your story and then make it public by publishing it. At some future time, when the news is transferred to a State server, we'll probably have the editing function performed by our Division's public relations officer.


How to Become a Contributor
Just email Ray Matthews with a request to be added. Your username will be your "Firstname Lastname." In your message, tell him what password you want to use. Ray will write back and confirm your username and password.


Style
Stories should be short and conform to good journalistic practices. For crafting well written stories see PRWeb's "Press Release Tips and Guidelines." Active voice is preferred to passive. Third person personal pronouns common to newspaper stories are preferred over first person pronouns commonly found in blogs.

You may want to first spell check submissions by cutting and pasting the content into a spell checker such as MS Word. Bartelby.com is a good source of reference sources for writers.


How to Use the Fields
Always write a short teaser of 50 words or a paragraph that both entices the reader and summarizes your story. Put this in the "Excerpt" field.

Your full article goes in the "Entry Body" field.

If you have a story of substance of two or more paragraphs, copy the teaser as the first paragraph in the "Entry Body" field and italicize it.

If you've written an a press release or an original story with geographic origins beyond Salt Lake City, you may elect to begin the second paragraph with:

City, State (RSSGov.com)--

This second paragraph should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story. Your full story should be at least two paragraphs.

At the conclusion, you can create a "Read more" paragraph for the titles of other publications that have either related stories or the sources you used for your story. Format this paragraph in italics bracketed within font size="-2" tags. Separate these publication titles with | separators and provide hypertext links.

Put your cursor in the "Extended Entry" field and press the spacebar. This will automatically insert a "read more" link to your story from the homepage.

Titles
Write a catchy and creative title. It must be informative so that someone reading the title using an aggregator or seeing it search engine results will know what the story is about. Keep its length fairly short... maybe 50 characters or so. Captialize all words except for short articles and prepositions: of, it, the, a, an, from, etc.


Categories
Select a primary category for each story. You may find, because of your interests or specialty, that you will submit all your stories to a single category. In some cases, your story will be appropriate for multiple categories. To do that, click the save button and then click on the link to "Assign Multiple Categories." Select the one or ones you want and save. Stories in each category are published to their own channel and email newsletter.


Graphics
A graphic thumbnail in the style of the New York Times email newsletter is often nice. The thumbnail should convey meaning, be public domain, be aligned left, and be no larger than 100 pixels square, as a general rule. Other graphics such as screen shots and logos can be included as appropriate. Include the thumbnail in the entry body. The excerpt content is used for the streaming RSS feed. We're going to investigate to see if it is a good or bad practice to include graphics in the feeds.


Links
Yes, please do include links to other stories in this newsletter, to resources on state servers, and external resources. Just use standard HTML tags. The easiest way to add a link is to highlight the text, click the "url" button, and paste the url in the popup window. Please do NOT put HTML tags in the title field. You can also do things like bulleted lists and PRE content using standard HTML tagging.



Posted by Ray Matthews on November 06, 2002 at 04:03 PM | | Comments (0) | Send this story to a friend!