Friday, December 13, 2002

Blogging BlogHog's Blog Basket

I use a couple of little "utility websites" in my day-to-day website/blog viewing habits, one is BlogHog. For those that haven't tried it, BlogHog has a list of websites that is gathered up from their XML/RSS feed. It's like a web version of a RSS Newsreader. Pretty simple enough. You can use their list or make a list of your favorites. I'm listed too, I think I'm the 69th feed. There was a time I was in the "Top 100"

As much as I like/love BlogHog, I've noticed that a couple of the feeds are a few days (some weeks?) behind. The Metafilter feeds are about an hour behind with Jason Kottke's being a couple of days behind. It's not a big deal, but it's just frustrating and would possibly put off someone who demands more than I do.

Why am I writing about this? I guess it's a way to let my viewers in on what I see as a good website that isn't promoted too much. But I'm also wondering how hard would it be to pull a PHP/MySQL (or .Net like BH uses) tool to scrape the Syndicated feeds off of websites and put together a dynamic, constantly updated website (*). A cross between BlogHog and Weblogs.com maybe. Blog pings a website and the website lists the latest 5 entries from the Blog's syndication file.

Just a couple of ideas, really thrown together on my drive into work. I'm a really uber newbie PHP programmer (I can get it to print "Hello World"). So PHP was only a suggestion, if you can take this idea good...if not, ignore it.

Update 12-19-2001
Dave Farquhar has put together a way to pull this off using PHP only. According to him, it was all pretty simple. I looked at the code and to my untrained eye, it looks simple enough. I hope to check this out soon. Thanks Dave!

Comments

I sent an email to Shaycom (BlogHog's creator) and received the following:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: BlogHog question
From: "Shaycom Customer Service"
Date: Fri, December 13, 2002 7:28 am
To: mkelleyt

Mike,

Glad to hear you're enjoying BlogHog!

The feeds are updated hourly. There are two situations in which that can fail to occur:

1. The feed contains bad XML. Nowadays, most tools produce consistently good XML, but there can be exceptions. Unfortunately, until the offending post "scrolls off" the feed, it keeps making the XML bad.

2. There is an infrequent .Net bug that can cause the feeds to stop updating. We hope to resolve that in the near future.

The ping mechanism makes a lot of sense. Right now, the company is pretty focused on Blogging Network -- not surprisingly, since it provides our revenue -- but we have some plans for BlogHog that will hopefully allow us to add some cool new features.

If you have any other questions or comments, please let us know.

Humayun

BTW, there's an easy way for people to help support and improve BlogHog --
and pay great blog writers at the same time: just subscribe to Blogging
Network at bloggingnetwork.com.

Humayun

Posted by: Mike on December 13, 2002 10:58 AM

I added Dave's find to a directory at

http://weblog.mkelley.net/news/news.php

Every syndicated feed comes in as a PHP entry that pulls the referenced site's RSS file into a list ul. Using CSS, I scripted that to print seperate boxes for each feed. Eventually, I will try to pull the feed's site title and render that in the box as well, but for now, I will have to add that manually.

I put the news.php into Movable Type as a template, so additions can be made via a webbrowser.

I tried to add this to my root directory, but it borked. So I 777ed the news directory. 755 didn't work. I also have all of the cached files in that directory as well.

Posted by: Mike on December 20, 2002 10:10 AM

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