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Something Useful, Part 2: RSS

by Justas (12 December 2004)

Now, GGC has had an RSS feed for quite a while. Since April or May or so, according to my calculations (with the contents of The Whuddup integrated in early November). And the original plan was that Pstonie would shortly thereafter write a logg or make a special page about RSS and its overwhelming coolness and whatnot. But as with many ideas, it got postponed and soon forgotten. So I'm doing it now, for reasons to be revealed in a belowly manner below. Although RSS is becoming increasingly popular, a whole lot of people still don't know about it. But instead of telling you, I'll just link to this article I found, which does the job quite nicely.


(Click to enlarge)
All that's left for me to do is to suggest a reader. If you're using Opera or Firefox, you're already halfway there. In Opera, you just have to click on the given RSS link to subscribe. The feeds list is available from the sidepanel, under 'Mail' (check the screenshot on the left) and it'll notify you with a little box (similar to MSN's "Bung has just signed in") whenever there are any updates. In some cases, it won't detect the feed automatically, so you'll have to select 'Newsfeeds...' from the 'Mail' menu and set it up manually, but it's quite simple. In case you're using Firefox, you need to download an extension for it and you're set. And in case you're still using Internet Explorer... switch your browser immediately and may God have pity on your soul.

As for the reason why I'm writing about it today, it's something you may have already noticed in the sample screenshot provided in an abovely manner above. Many fans of Homestar Runner, including me, find it rather uncomfortable to keep ourselves up-to-date with the latest updates on the site by checking the site often to see if there's anything new. RSS would be the perfect solution, but The Brothers Chaps aren't providing us with one. A slight improvement was the H*R Updates page at the unofficial Homestar Runner Wiki. It's easier to check and the large amount of fans/editors monitoring the status on the official site will ensure that new updates are added to the page almost instantly. However, it is still a page that you will need to remember to check manually. What I suggested on their forum was that an RSS feed were made, based upon the wiki source. But the only PHP guy who was interested in it, was quite busy, so it didn't get very far.


That's just about how cool PHP coding is.
Until yesterday morning, when I woke up and decided to look up some basic PHP commands and whip up something very rough that would just notify me when the page's content changes without doing any formatting or stuff. But I soon became interested in whether I'd actually manage to create some nice and legible output. Consequently, the estimated half-an-hour of code fiddling took up an entire Saturday. But, to my great joy, the end result wasn't really half bad. I've also shown the source code to the PHP guy over at the wiki forums and it's possible he may come out with an improved and optimised version of this, in which case I'll let you know in the logg comments. Which are essentially forum posts and also available via the forum's RSS feed. Yarr.