Making RSS real-time

One of the critiques of RSS feeds in a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter is that RSS just isn’t fast enough. You can’t hope to achieve what Twitter calls “in-the-moment updates” and “watch events unfold” if your client is polling each web site’s RSS feed once an hour for new microblog posts.

Luckily this was solved years ago. Many blogging apps (including WordPress) have a setting to “ping” another server when a post has been published. When it receives this notification, the other server can request the RSS feed and make note of the new post right away.

There are a few flavors of this, such as just passing the URL of the updated feed, or sending an XML-RPC request, or passing the actual post content along with the ping as JSON. It may not be the most efficient or elegant solution, but it works well, and it’s significantly better than frequent polling. You could build something on this.

Some distributed Twitter clones try to come up with something more clever instead. And there are attempts like PubSubHubbub with significant traction. But adopting any new technology is hard, and this ping system is surprisingly well deployed already. Worse is better wins again.

iPhone 6 Plus and iPod

Kirby Turner wrote about needing an iPhone 6 Plus as a developer but not really wanting one as a user:

“As a developer what I really want is an iPod touch Plus. If Apple were selling an iPod touch Plus that is the same as the iPhone 6 Plus minus the phone, then I would buy it in an instant. That way I could continue using my iPhone 5 as my primary phone device and the iPod touch Plus as a test device.”

I’ve talked about skipping this phone generation on the podcast a few times. I already got out of the yearly updates when I kept the 4S forever and then got the 5C instead of the 5S. After seeing the 6 Plus in person at the Apple Store and with everyone who had one at Çingleton, I’m pretty comfortable with my decision. But I’d strongly consider replacing my iPad Mini with a 5.5-inch iPod Touch.

2014/10/13 7:17 am

Quiet, cold morning walking through beautiful Old Montreal. I had the square outside Notre-Dame Basilica completely to myself, for a moment. Thank you Çingleton for 4 great years enjoying visits to your city.

2014/10/10 12:38 pm

When it rains, it pours. Went back to my hotel room to fix a minor server glitch and found several problems across my web apps: full disk on a server, Redis expiration problem, bug updating Stripe accounts, etc.

The unremarkable yesterday

Yesterday you had lunch with friends or family and posted a photo of your food and location to Twitter. It didn’t matter much. You put it on Twitter and didn’t care that you didn’t have a copy or didn’t post it to your own blog first, because controlling that trivial bit of content just didn’t seem important at the time.

5 years later, 10 years later, 15 years later. That lunch is magic now — a captured moment, something you wouldn’t remember and didn’t think to record elsewhere unless you keep a comprehensive private journal. Maybe it was the day before a significant event or on a trip. The true context is only revealed with hindsight.

I wrote this blog post because I wanted to follow up on my post about blogging every day, underscoring that seemingly unimportant events can carry great meaning later. Those common everyday activities that don’t seem noteworthy today? That’s our life. One after another, strung together for days and then years until we die. It’s the culture of the 21st century scattered among millions of micro posts. And it’ll be lost to time if we don’t curate it.

Yesterday was unremarkable only because we’re too close to it. Later we’ll understand that it meant everything. And if that’s true, let’s aspire to something greater than our content being sliced up and interspersed with ads on someone else’s platform.

2014/10/09 8:06 am

Flying up to Montreal today for Çingleton. Looking forward to catching up with everyone! Great city. I was just there in August for vacation, happy to be going back.

RSS reading and writing

I’ve received so much feedback about microblogging that I haven’t had a chance to reply or blog about each one yet. This post from Dave Peck is especially interesting:

“For some time now, I’ve wanted a new kind of RSS client: one that reads and writes. Today’s RSS apps artificially separate us from the content we read. If we want to reply — if we want to participate in the conversation — we’ve got to use an entirely unrelated set of tools.”

MarsEdit of course was famously spun off from NetNewsWire. Early versions of NetNewsWire did three things: reading blogs, organizing ideas in a notepad outliner, and writing new blog posts. I think Brent was on to something with combining all these features, but I also totally understand wanting to simplify so that each component is as good as it can be. MarsEdit wouldn’t be as full-featured and polished today if it hadn’t been given that room to grow as its own app.

Also, don’t miss the last half of today’s Core Intuition. Daniel and I talk at length about microblogging and owning your own content.

2014/10/08 10:49 am

“Twitter in 2014 feels like it has settled into a certain default mode of hostility and rage.” — @buzz