Archived entries for Publishing

Analyze HTTP Headers and Smart Keyword Search with Firefox

There are several good ways to check out a file’s HTTP headers. Tonight I was using http://www.forret.com/projects/analyze/, which is just a simple web form that you enter your URL into.

I know there are more snazzy ways, including Firefox’s great extension LiveHTTPHeaders, but sometimes an always-available web page is a fine solution. And, while I totally love the ability to extend and modify Firefox with the ever-growing supply of extensions, I’ve been trying to keep my browser as lean as possible by only installing ones I really need. For services that require a query to be submitted — a map request, dictionary lookup, feed subscription or web search — I’ve been opting lately to set up Keyword Search in Firefox (as I described several months ago).

(In addition to having less extensions, I find it’s just significantly faster to trigger these actions form the keyboard.)

With a few keyword shortcut’s set up, my hands are liberated from the mouse to the efficiency and speed of the keyboard. My browser begins to resemble a command line interface. In addition to my newest, headers http://www.yahoo.com, I use these others constantly:

sub http://natek.typepad.com
subscribed to a feed — fastest possible way to subscribe to an rss feed with bloglines (please don’t ruin bloglines Ask!)
ys northern california hiking trails
returns Yahoo Search results page — 100s of times a day.
wiki Thomas Frank
returns Wikipedia encyclopedia entry — lots of info types are best answered by an encyclopedia
map [[701 N First Ave, 94089]
returns a Yahoo Maps — always need for a map
dic efficiency
returns dictionary.com definition
the excitement
returns thesaurus.com entry
by natek
returns my company’s intranet (backyard) results — for looking up coworkers
amaz Talib Kweli
returns Amazon search results — to grab a book cover or album track listing
imdb War of the Worlds
returns an Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) search
how to change your car's oil
returns detailed instructions from ehow.com
techno mobilemonday.com
returns blogosphere info on who’s talking about http://www.mobilemonday.com/ right now?

Did you notice the ones for Bloglines (sub)? It’s great. I am generally motivated to subscribe to some feed while in the midst of being excited or engaged by the content. This time of highest engagement is the time when you least want to interrupt the session to go subscribe — this shortcut allows me to nearly-instantly subscribe in the heat on the moment.

(In case you’re curious, I was looking at headers tonight to verify that the file expiration dates were distant, so that the files would be cached by the client until then.)

Metafilter Tags

Matt Haughey writes: “Jumping on the delicious and flickr bandwagon, I’ve added tags to MetaFilter

Creating Personalized Feeds with Delicious

I have found this a useful way to use http://del.icio.us, the excellent social bookmarking site that is based on tagging.

Let’s review quickly. I post all my bookmarks to delicious. They are all viewable by the public. Mine are here: http://del.icio.us/natekoechley. One great thing about delicious is that every page on the site – every node – has an RSS feed. If all my bookmarks are viewable on the web at /username, then the feed of that content is /rss/username.

Looks like this:
http://del.icio.us/natekoechley
http://del.icio.us/rss/natekoechley

The second thing that’s great about delicious is that I can quickly and easily annotate my bookmarks with tags. For example, I have bookmarked Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian. In addition to storing the URL, I have tagged it with the following words: industrial, drawings, smithsonian, museum, design, art, history.

Each tag becomes a node.  When you are viewing my total collection of bookmarks, my username "natekoechley" is the node. It is likewise possible to view all my bookmarks for a particular tag, such as
http://del.icio.us/natekoechley/art
http://del.icio.us/rss/natekoechley/art

If you want to widen your view, you can view all "art" bookmarks for everybody on the network:
http://del.icio.us/tag/art
http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/art

There is no limit to the number of tags you can have, either in general or with a single URL.

As you can see, each node – tag – get’s it’s own RSS feed. This is the functionality that creates my personalized feeds.

Reduce Email with Personalized Feeds

If you’re like me, there are a couple people in your life that you want to send links too. For me that’s my girlfriend Aimee and my family. Email isn’t perfect for this — even with family, too many urls can quickly feel like spam. A blog isn’t perfect either; links for family and close friends are often boring, in jokes, or off-topic to a wider blog audience. My solution is to use tags and RSS in http://del.icio.us, in conjunction with an RSS aggregator — My Yahoo! works perfect for this.

Step one is to flag content that they’ll like. Tagging makes this super easy, I just create person-specific tags with the format, "attn:aimee". (Use any convention you want; the colon isn’t important either, a hyphen, prior or other mark will work fine.)

With sites tagged, the special tags will begin generating RSS feeds. Any aggregator will work of course, but for family I had success recommending My Yahoo!. Now, when every my family checks their My Yahoo! page, they’ll see any new links that I flagged for their attention…. To me, this is ">100% Awesome.

While I don’t think that RSS will replace email any time soon, this is a great way to remove some unnecessary noise from the inbox while still maintaining intimate and personal relationships.

Disclaimer: I saw the "attn:xxxx" syntax on another site, it is not my original idea. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to re-locate the source. Please send me and help me locate any prior work on this approach, so that I may give proper credit. Thanks!

Update: Here is an earlier mention of this technique, though this still isn’t the place I saw the idea first. Thanks for pointing this out in the comments Brian. [2005.01.19 12:01:00]

Great Firefox Resources

Here are two great sites reviewing tips, tricks and extensions for the Firefox browser from the Mozilla Foundation. (You are using Firefox, right?)

First is the thorough article from Scot’s Newsletter. Well written, it includes Firefox Extension Recommendations and Firefox Customization Recommendations. The extensions are grouped by type, including “tab-browsing” and “UI-fixing”, as well as broad groups for “tried ‘em, like ‘em” and others.

The second article is “Secret’s of Firefox 1.0“, from Windows Secrets Newsletter. This one is focused on tweaks available through Firefox’s about:config interface. Check it out for many speed tweaks.

(both via)

2014 EPIC – The Future of Online [Media]

Go watch this flash movie right now. (Or the first time you have 8 free, it doesn’t have a pause button.).

It’s the history of the media wars, with a dateline of 2014. What happens with Google, Amazon, Blogger, Microsoft, Friendster and TiVo play together? What happens when search, news, shopping, social networks, blogging, camera phones, recommendations, filtering, archiving, the long tail, and everything else that’s ALREADY in motion congeals?

Remember that feeling you got when you “got it” in the first Matrix movie? I got that feeling watching this. Remember that feeling you got when you actually realized that scale of the Internet, and what it will eventually enable?

Go watch it.

It’s not clear how you’re supposed to feel when it’s over. Sounds pretty cool. Sounds pretty scary. Come back here and leave some comments after you’ve watched it. Technorati lets you monitor it as it spreads across the Web.

(I guess this was on metafilter in mid November, but it’s new to me today.)

Attention.XML

“RSS readers collect updates, but with so many unread items, how do you know which to read first?”

That quote is from the problem statement of Attention.xml. I can certainly relate, and I suppose many of you can. Personalization of website fonts and colors is one thing, but personalized importance-ranking of content is an entirely other thing!

In order to make these value judgments about a piece of content, the judge must know things about the content and it’s source. This information about information is metadata.

So what type of information about information is necessary to make these determinations? The Format Summary of Attention.xml gives some clues:

Attention.XML is an XML file that contains an outline of feeds/blogs, where each feed itself is an outline, and each post is also an outline under the feed. This hierarchical outline structure is then annotated with per-feed and per-post information which captures such information as, the last time the feed/post was accessed, the duration of time spent on the feed/post, recent times of feed/post access, user set (dis)approval of posts, etc.

While you can play with the prototype, it’s more fun to just imagine the possibilities. Good things are coming folks.



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