October 26, 2005

Xanga gets their RSS House in Order

When I got home from work this evening, I noticed something odd about the Xanga feeds I'm subscribed to in my feedreader - they were all marked as unread.

A quick glance at some of the RSS Xanga is generating reveals what looks like RSS 2.0.

And indeed, FeedValidator confirms this as valid RSS 2.0 (well, with some warnings about relative URLs, but still valid).

After one full year of frustration, Xanga finally gets it right.

To continue supporting those who may be subscribed to Xanga feeds through my site, I've modified my Xanga Rss Fixer script so that it now simply passes through the valid RSS with some *very* slight modifications. It does still fix the relative URL warnings to make FeedValidator completely happy, but I think that at this point we can say that the fixer is pretty much obsolete. It had a good run.

In spite of now being one with the RSS 2.0 spec, Xanga continues to do some semi-brain-dead things with their feeds - like putting dates in the entry title fields. I've gotten some requests to replace this with an entry excerpt, so perhaps that will be my next trick (hello REXML, nice to meet ya).

For now - kudos, Xanga.

In Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 10:35 PM | Permanent link

September 10, 2005

Amazon.com Wake County Library Lookup

Now that the security hole in Greasemonkey is fixed, I finally feel comfortable dusting-off and releasing my most ambitious Greasemonkey effort to date:

Amazon.com Wake County Library Lookup

This script will tell you if any editions of the item you are currently browsing on Amazon.com are stocked at Wake County Public Library.

As always, see the project page for details, screenshots, and downloads.

If this idea sounds familiar, it's because Jon Udell did it six months ago. I was inspired by his script, and decided to write my own version from the ground up.

Searching Multiple Book Editions

Why the rewrite? Why not simply modify Udell's script? My script is slightly more sophisticated than Udell's. The problem with Jon's script is that it only searches for the one edition of the book that you're currently browsing.

For instance, if you're looking at the paperback edition of a book on Amazon, but the library only stocks the hardcover edition then you get a "no". As a result, any time you're browsing a book on Amazon and the script reports "no", you have to wonder whether it's lying to you.

On the other hand, my script searches all editions of the book you're browsing. It lets you know if any editions are available, and if so, which ones.

I've found this to be very helpful, and it has increased my usage of the library tremendously (even if I don't live in Wake County anymore - shh!).

The Future

I have time then I'll write dialects for the Duke, UNC, and Orange County libraries. I'd do one for the Durham County Library, except their online catalog seems to be trapped in the mid 1990s when Java Applets were the way of the future.

Generally, I've written the script so that only one function need be modified to adapt it to different libraries. Please feel free to write a version for your own local library, and post it to the Greasemonkey script repository.

Perhaps, I'll even write a tutorial on how to modify this for other libraries as well...

In Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 05:39 PM | Permanent link

July 17, 2005

Killing Amazon.com MouseOver Popovers

Tower of London Executioner's Block

It's a situation that's all too common. You're shopping Amazon.com, for the latest latest Harry Potter book. You try to position your mouse pointer in the search input box... but - oops! You overshoot by half an inch. Your pointer sadly finds its way into the "See all 31 Product Categories tab". Uh oh...why is this huge white box now covering the entire search input form?

Who's in charge here? Jeff Bezos, I'm looking at you.

OnMouseOver popovers (including mousover drop-down menus) are one of the worst UI design elements in use on the web today. What's more disturbing is their use seems to be on the rise for navigation elements of popular sites. I expect this behavior from advertising sleaze. I even expect it from ESPN.com. But Amazon? Say it ain't so.

Thanks to Greasemonkey, we no longer have to live with this affliction.

I've written a short greasemonkey script that removes the most annoying popovers from Amazon.com.

As always, head to the project page for downloads and details.

Technorati tags: ,

In Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 01:07 PM | Permanent link

July 02, 2005

Interchange 0.2

Interchange has been updated to accommodate a slight change to the Yahoo! Maps UI.

If you're currently using the script (or were until a few days ago), you'll probably want to grab the updated version.

Thanks to those who notified me of the problem.

In Projects

Posted at 11:34 PM | Permanent link

May 29, 2005

Introducing Xanga RSS Links for Greasemonkey

Xanga RSS Links is a greasemonkey script for Firefox that adds visible RSS links to Xanga blogs and makes them RSS autodiscovery aware.

Head to the Xanga RSS Links project page for downloads, screenshots, and installation instructions.

In Blogging, Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 05:48 PM | Permanent link

April 12, 2005

Introducing Interchange 0.1 for Yahoo! Maps

US 540 / Hwy 70 interchange

Interchange is a greasemonkey script for Firefox that adds links to the Yahoo! Maps user interface, allowing you to view the current content of a Yahoo Map using Google Maps instead. Interchange works both for single locations and for routes.

Head to the Interchange project page for downloads, screenshots, and installation instructions.

In Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 01:03 AM | Permanent link

New site design

My site has undergone a bit of a metamorphosis over the past few weeks, from this about a month ago to this, now.

Many of my original criticisms have been addressed, at least in part. I'm still tweaking things, but I think that I have reached a point where I am satisfied enough to feel comfortable turning my attention to other projects.

At very least, I think the new design is much more Zen than the old one.

Obvious influences include Mark Pilgrim and Philip Greenspun.

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Suggestions? Does it display correctly in your browser? Let me know.

I'm also making the Movable Type templates behind the site freely available.

In Projects, Site News

Posted at 12:53 AM | Permanent link

October 19, 2004

Xanga RSS Fixer for PHP

I recently received a comment from a fellow named Michael Huynh, regarding my Xanga RSS Fixer script. Apparently he has ported the Xanga RSS Fixer to PHP, complete with sourcecode.

Thanks, Mike! Cool stuff. Check it out here.

In Projects

Posted at 06:43 PM | Permanent link

September 09, 2004

Xanga RSS Fixer

Since switching to NetNewsWire as my feed reader software of choice, the RSS feeds for my friends with Xanga blogs quit working.

The problem, as it turns out, is that Xanga does not generate correct RSS for their feeds. It does not validate. This is quite unacceptable for a site as large as Xanga, and I've heard that they've been unresponsive to people pointing this out to them.

To fix this, I have written a Perl script that will fix up Xanga feeds to generate well-formed RSS. I'm running the script on my site and anyone who cares to use it is more then welcome to do so:


Running the script without parameters will present you with a prompt for a Xanga username.

Alternatively, you can pass the user parameter directly. This is the address you would put into a feed reader:


Naturally, we now get a nice happy validation message.

The sourcecode is available here: XangaRssFixer.pl

I'm licensing this under the MIT license so in case Xanga happens to be reading this, they can use it to fix their shizit.

I have also created a project page here which essentially restates what this entry just said.


In Projects

Posted at 11:43 AM | Permanent link