Sunday, February 29, 2004

Leap Day, When Mike Learns
         about RSS Readers

Well, he learns a little bit, anyway. As I understand it (and if you want to correct me, hit the email button on the right):

If you go to a page such as, or random other pages, you'll see an orange button labeled "XML".

At the bottom of every Slashdot page, there is a link labeled "RSS".

Click one of these links, and most likely your browser will do something strange. Mozilla Firefox prints the message "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below." and then dumps the XML source.

So what are these pages, and how do you read them? RSS (sometimes) stands for "Really Simple Syndication". As far as I can tell, it's a collection of bookmarks for a website. For example, Slashdot's RSS feed is a list of the current articles appearing on the Slashdot home page. The advantage of the RSS feed, rather than your own bookmarks, is that the page is dynamic, that is, it gives you the current Slashdot home page, not the way it looked the last time you went there and bookmarked every article. The articles don't have to come from the same page, they can be distributed throughout cyberspace.

There's more information on this at and The later link has a bunch of RSS feeds for Yahoo's news service.

OK, that's well and good, but how do you read these things? You need something called an RSS aggregator. Many are listed in that last link.

But, since RSS is essentially a collection of (dynamic) bookmarks to web pages, why not use a web browser to read them? The Mozilla browsers don't support RSS directly, but you access feeds using an extension. (There are extensions for Mozilla itself. Use Google to find them. In Firefox, see "Tools=>Options=> Extensions."

There are several RSS extensions for Firefox. I chose the RSS Reader Panel. You install this in the usual manner, which means you're trusting someone to send you good code. Fortunately, this is in your own file space, so you can't trample on things belonging to root or another user. (Under Linux. In Windows, this isn't true, of course.) The RSS Reader Panel (RSSRP) install itself, and you restart your browser.

Next, create a bookmark folder. It doesn't matter where. I called mine, duh, "RSS Feeds". Under "Tools=>Options=>Extensions" click on "RSS Reader Panel", then on the "Options" button at the bottom. There is a menu which has a scroll button with all of your bookmarks. Highlight the RSS Feed bookmark and click "OK".

Add any XML or RSS feeds you'd like into this folder in the usual way.

Now go to "View=>Sidebar" and click on "RSS Reader Panel", or just hit "Alt-R" on the keyboard. On the left-hand side of the screen, all of your RSS bookmarks will appear in the top half of the sidebar. Click on the one you want. In the bottom half of the sidebar will be the titles currently available from that page. Click on the one you want and it will appear in the main part of the browser window on the right. Get rid of the sidebar by clicking the "X" in the upper right-hand corner.

I don't know if I'll use this all that much or not. Time will tell, I guess.

Saturday, February 14, 2004


OK, when I installed firefox (previous message) I created a new profile, ~/.phoenix/mike. However, firefox now defaults to ~/.phoenix/default. Which means that I can use the old extensions and bookmarks, and that's OK, I guess, but how do you permanently change what the system considers ``default''?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Maybe they could settle on a name?

The browser formerly known as MozillaFirebird (formerly known as Pheonix) is out with version 0.8. This time it's known as Mozilla Firefox.

Installation, at the moment, consists of undoing the tarball in the location you want the browser, in my case /usr/local/firefox, with a link $ ln -s /usr/local/firefox/firefox /usr/local/bin/firefox You can use your old profile, or create a new one. In view of what happened with firebird, I decided to create a new profile. This means, of course, that I have to log in again to all those websites that require registration. I did move my old bookmark file over, but I'll let the cookies and password management files build themselves up as needed.

I took my old Flash and java plugins, which work well. I have yet to install plugger. I may try mozplugger first. Maybe even mplayerplug-in.

The adblock extension got installed with no problem, but the mozex extension wasn't available. Hopefully that will be added soon.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Memory Key

I added a Fuji USB drive (aka memory stick/key), on sale this week from Best Buy (256MB for $60, after rebate & before taxes). It doesn't show up using the hwbrowser, unlike it did for (search for memory key). Nevertheless, I was able to mount it using the fstab entry that I used for the digital camera. Which means that I read the memory by hitting

mount /mnt/camera

and dismount with

umount /mnt/camera

I could change the mount point, but this isn't all that hard to remember. Conflicts will arise if I try to have both plugged in at the same time.

In other news, KU defeated the Texas Tex Salad Bar Ragers, 96-77.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Truetype fonts

Those that Microsoft used to provide, can be installed by following the directions at Remember to restart the font server.

There's another Blog out there

fedora core linux installation adventure is a blog similar to this one, except it's got nice indexing, formatting, and intellegence. Also, it's not so hung up with the current UNC basketball administration.

How you know it's a fantasy

Watched "Naked Gun" again last night. Dick Vitale was one of the many sportscasters at the baseball game, along with Allen, Gowdy, Enberg, Costas, Michaels, Palmer, and I've probably missed some.

Vitale is the only one who says not a word.