cleanse RSS as you collect it

May 10th, 2002

Tim’s been doing some programming with RSS and learning a thing or two.

Not to get behind, I’m working with Scott Johnson on some RSS stuff and wrote a test harness for a routine to clean up the descriptions in a feed, removing or escaping html, truncating description size, etc.

I’ve been following the debate about whether Jenny should truncate her feed., so it occurs to me it doesn’t matter any more whether she does or not. As long as I use my new handy-dandy RSS cleansing proxy, I can control it myself.

I’ve saved a piece of Scott’s feed as an example since he’s got some html in it and his entries are long. Here’s the raw feed

If you use my cleanser, you get this result

The feed parameter of course is required. I’ve added optional parameters too –

limit sets the byte limit to truncate the feed at, or 0 for all of it. defaults to 500 bytes

method allows you to specify whether you want all tags removed from the feed (remove) or just have ampersands escaped so it doesn’t mess up your aggregator output or cause script security concerns (amp). Defaults to remove.

More examples: limit to 50 bytes, amp method

I’ll leave this available for a day or two, but after that, you’ll have to do it yourself – I don’t need the entire world’s RSS calls proxied through my server.


Where do you stop supporting old browsers?

May 8th, 2002

I recently had a remote scripting support question about Netscape to which I responded:

You don’t say what version of Netscape. If it’s 4.x, I don’t even have it
loaded any more, so I can’t debug it at all. It’s time to let it break and
force people to wake up and get a decent browser.

The response I received said (edited for clarity):

The version I use is 4.79. The application has to be compatible with every browser.

No it does NOT have to be compatible with EVERY browser. Are you making it work with Lynx? Are you making it work with Spyglass Mosaic 1.0? Are you making it work with Cello? Are you making it work with Netscape 2.0? Of course not. They’re all irrelevant to web applications. So too is NS4.x but it won’t ever lay down and die as long as people keep propping it up with superhuman hacks.


Rubber baby buggy bumpers

May 6th, 2002

I was describing Netscape Communicator 4.x today in a BlogChat discussion with Albert Delgado, who runs the Whittier School site and is a very active guy in education and technology.

10:08:35 brent: Netscape 4.x is DEFINITELY not up to the task.
10:08:51 brent: it’s a horse and buggy.
10:09:10 brent: or rather it’s hoarse and buggy.
10:09:12 brent: heh heh


Publishers are E-Learning the ropes.

May 2nd, 2002

Tim Aiello has noticed that big publishing is realizing there is some value in the internet. Go read what Tim has to say.

I worked closely with Tim on the QuikkTutor product – a remarkably advanced live internet collaboration tool that works entirely within the browser.


Psss! – Hey, Dallas Morning News! – your clue is: redirect

May 1st, 2002

Wired News reports that the Dallas Morning News has a daft, impossible to enforce Terms of Service page forbidding deep linking on their site. You MUST link only to their main page, they say, as they contend that by using their site you have entered into a legal agreement to be bound by these terms that are behind an unobtrusive link at the bottom of their page that you’re not forced to view.

Of course, they do nothing at all to enforce this via the web server. Anybody with even the remotest clue of running a web server could enforce single-point entry. But NOOOO, they’d rather fritter away their lives in petty litigation about linking than simply stop it from being possible.

It makes you wonder whether their web services people must be in collusion with the guys they get to do their cease and desist letters.


The P’s silent, like in “swimming”

April 30th, 2002

Able Baker Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot… in some places it’s pretty easy to spell things over the phone, because they use a spoken-letter convention – military, aviation, medical.

I like having fun with them by substituting some of my own:

A as in “aesthetic”
C as in “cite”
K as in “knight”
M as in “mnemonic”
O as in “Oedipus”
P as in “ptarmigan”


Clear sailing through the summer

April 29th, 2002

I’ve decided to extend the BlogChat beta period at least through the summer to give us time to thoroughly investigate some things. So, everyone can continue to yak away unfettered. Send comments and new beta participation requests as usual to beta@blogchat.com.


Sport Score Passwords

April 23rd, 2002

I wanted to generate some reasonable passwords but make them rememberable. I looked into pronounceable passwords, but they relied on dictionaries or other support files, so I came up with a new approach – the Sport Score password. These passwords are designed to be remembered as a College sport score, for instance: Password KY5MA9 is remembered as Kentucky 5, Massachusetts 9.

50 states x 50 states x 10 x 10 = 250,000 unique passwords, good enough for many needs.

Here’s the PHP code…
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