Really Simple Syndication
Copyright 2003-4 Randy Charles Morin
Wed, 01 Dec 2004 06:51:26 GMT
You Taking Money from Them - too?
Marc Canter: Somone was bitching at me the other day "say how come you never bitch about Technorati? They're down all the time, their performance sucks and yet - well are you taking money from them - too?"
Wed, 01 Dec 2004 05:30:55 GMT
LiveMessage Alerts

I just setup a chicklet in the right side-bar to subscribe to the RSS Blog via LiveMessage Alerts, which allows you to receive the blog entries via MSN MSGer. You can also subscribe by clicking here. Try it out!

Want this service for your blog? Get it here. It's free.

Wed, 01 Dec 2004 05:07:04 GMT
MudTest's Validation Report

Mud's Test: OK, so what exactly is the problem with the feed, and why doesn't it validate?

Randy: To clarify, the feed info element is reporting itself as text/html, but is actually xhtml.

Wed, 01 Dec 2004 00:40:54 GMT
HowTo RSS Feed State

Nick Bradbury, author of FeedDemon: Nice summary of RSS bandwidth-saving techniques by Randy Charles Morin.

Randy: Thanks!

Tue, 30 Nov 2004 20:47:57 GMT
RSS Digest

I tried using RSS Digest to add links from my iBLOGthere4iM blog to the BoingBoing blog. The result was ten javascript:document.writeln("");. This was working a few months ago, but has since stopped working. I assume the RSS Digest service is not being maintained.

Update: Reviewed the problem w/ Peter Cooper of RSS Digest and we identified the problem as lack of escaping of certain characters in the javascript src attribute.

Tue, 30 Nov 2004 14:06:43 GMT
RSV emails

Chris Nolan: I enchanced the blog toolkit on the weekend too, and yesterday I got an email from the's RSS validator letting me know that my feed was broken (I had made a typo and forgot to re-validate). I felt really special that this guy Randy took the time to email me to let me know, and then later in the day I realized it's probably just a completely automated system he has setup that crawls feeds, validates them and emails if they fail. Turns out his system is a bit more strict than FeedValidator's too in his handling of whitespace. I've modified my template to accomodate. He's got a # of blogs on his site as well, and he manages the local toronto bloggers meetup group so maybe I'll check them out in the new year.

Randy: Just a note. There's no automated system that emails you when the Really Simple Validator finds your feed to be broken. I write the emails entirely myself.

Mon, 29 Nov 2004 20:32:27 GMT
RSS Validators: Inconsistencies

Mud's Tests: One validator says this feed is good, while another says there are problems.

Randy: I added some comments to the original post. But, what the author says is completely correct, except that, the validators do in fact respond alike and that the difference is caused by a typo and bad usability design (which I gotta work on too). The biggest problem is that both validators, do, in fact, report the feed as valid, even though it's really invalid.

Mon, 29 Nov 2004 17:19:30 GMT
My Little RSS Feed State Article
I noticed today that there are 50+ linkers to my little RSS feed state article. I must put some more effort there.
Mon, 29 Nov 2004 15:42:40 GMT
RSS Compendium Blog
Yet another RSS support blog.
Mon, 29 Nov 2004 05:07:07 GMT
Really Simple Validation Bookmarklets

I wrote three bookmarklets for my Really Simple Validator. If a Webpage supports auto-discovery, then the bookmarklet should pick up the relevant RSS, Atom or OPML feeds and pass them to the Really Simple Validator.

You can usually just drag these to your links bar, but you can also right-click on the them and Add to Favorites... Here's a VBS-based installer.

Mon, 29 Nov 2004 04:05:29 GMT
How do I add code to my blogger entry?
Mud's Tests: How to do it? In blogger, have to manually replace the carrots in HTML with a four-character code. More...
Mon, 29 Nov 2004 02:01:15 GMT
Mud's Tests
Mud's Tests is a new blog about the end-user's experience w/ blogging and RSS feeds. Lot's of great information. I've been reading it for the last hour. Dave Winer will appreciate this one.
Sun, 28 Nov 2004 18:25:08 GMT
Bloglines Citations
Opinion: I have found that Bloglines Citations pics up links to my blogs faster than Technorati and produces more quality results. Take a look at the results from Bloglines and Technorati and make your own judgements.
Sun, 28 Nov 2004 17:21:45 GMT
Search Feedster from Google Desktop
Steven: Randy is looking for some feedback on a new Feedster hack which searches Feedster directly from the Google Desktop. He's calling it Foodle. Download the installer at this URL: Foodle.msi. You can post feedback on his blog.
Wed, 24 Nov 2004 20:44:38 GMT
Subscribe w/ NewsGator
John Carmichael, BizDev, NewsGator: I was checking out your weblog today and noticed a number of quick-subscribe icons in your right column.  I was wondering if you would be interested in adding a NewsGator Icon there as well. If so here are the details you would need.

<a href="">
<img src="" alt="Subscribe in NewsGator Online" border="0"></a>

Copy the above HTML to your site, and replace "RSS_URL_HERE" with your feed URL (Atom or RSS). When users click on the image, they will automatically add a subscription to your feed.

Randy: Shall do tonight.

Update: Done!

Wed, 24 Nov 2004 19:26:29 GMT
RELAX NG with custom datatype libraries
Tim Bray: often caution people against relying too heavily on schema validation. “After all,” I say, “there is lots of obvious run-time checking that schemas can’t do, for example, verifying a part number.” It turns out I was wrong; with a little extra work, you can wire in part-number validation—or pretty well anything else—to RelaxNG. Elliotte Rusty Harold explains how.
Wed, 24 Nov 2004 18:06:01 GMT
OPML 1.1 coming shortly

Rogers Cadenhead: OPML 1.1 was announced here.

Randy: I always wondered what OPML 1.1 was vs. OPML 1.0

Wed, 24 Nov 2004 16:17:38 GMT
Danny Ayers: A little demo to show how XSLT can be used to give a graphic representation of RSS.
Wed, 24 Nov 2004 13:28:49 GMT
Top RSS Readers

According to my Webstats and user-agent reporting...

  1. NewsGator 1.3%
  2. Bloglines 0.7%
  3. SharpReader 0.6%
  4. Fresh Search
  5. NewsGatorOnline 0.3%
  6. RssReader 0.2%
  7. Shrook 0.2%
  8. Sauce Reader 0.2%
  9. Feedreader 0.1%
  10. ABCD experimental newsreader 0.1%

A high score could mean either popularity or a bad RSS polling algorithm.

Tue, 23 Nov 2004 15:21:12 GMT
Search Feedster via Google?
Took me a good hour to create the first Google Deskbar plugin. It's allows you to search Feedster from the Google Deskbar. I call it Foodle. Download the installer and check it out.
Tue, 23 Nov 2004 01:15:17 GMT
Feedster Developer Contest
Feedster is Giving Away 12 iPods to Feedster Developers. According to their FAQ, the entries are due by December 5th, 2004 (only 2 weeks left), but the contest entry form is nowhere to be found.
Tue, 23 Nov 2004 01:07:39 GMT
Oops! Unicode BOM

I inadvertantly deleted the code to handle Unicode BOM from the Really Simple Validator. Yikes! Still laking in test cases and the test case database is already over 1000.

Update: Fixed!

Mon, 22 Nov 2004 23:08:17 GMT
ILoveRSS Shutting Down

Jeff: We have come to the decision to shut ILoveRSS fourm community down because of lack of member participation.

Randy: Thanks for your great experiment.

Mon, 22 Nov 2004 19:24:54 GMT

Yahoo!: Your message to the rss-user group was not approved. The owner of the group controls the content posted to it and has the right to approve or reject messages accordingly. In this case, your message was automatically rejected because the moderator didn't approve it within 14 days.

Randy: Dave Winer once asked me what I would do if I were on the RSS advisory board. I replied, "that the most important thing is to get user questions answered." Unfortunately, getting the user questions answered is not easy.

Mon, 22 Nov 2004 16:59:26 GMT
How to get your FOAF File noticed

Chris Schmidt: There are a number of ways to make your FOAF file more commonly known on the web, and you can perform any number of them, depending on how interested you are in having FOAF start working for you.

Source: Le plan B de .Conforme.

Sun, 21 Nov 2004 18:23:47 GMT
rsv Feedback

rsv User: Thanks so much for your help so far!  I'm going to yank that Doctype line completely and see how it looks... ..... Woohoo!  My feed now shows as validating!  I also tossed in that extra little snippet that Firefox needs to show the feed as a Live Bookmark. My users are going to love this.  And I'm going to keep an eye on your excellent RSS site.

rsv User: Anyway, THANK YOU!  I've been going nuts comparing my OPML to others and couldn't find the difference (look at every character I guess!). Thanks again.

Randy: The satisfaction from helping people is often realized in a simple email or two.

Sun, 21 Nov 2004 16:04:17 GMT
Where's the RSS Advisory Board?

Every once in awhile, I like to repeat this message. Where's the RSS Advisory Board. The current members are MIA, save Adam Curry. If Harvard and two thirds of the RSS Advisory Board are no longer willing to move RSS, then let's start talking about where RSS should live? Can anybody confirm that Steve Zellers is a real person? I can't. Let's get the real people behind the RSS movement to lead us forward; Dare Obasanjo, Don Park, Robert Scoble and Scott Johnson.

Sat, 20 Nov 2004 23:48:58 GMT
I fixed the Really Simple Validator to account for a bug in the .NET System.Xml namespace. I'm thinking about adding a NOTE to the validator when a DOCTYPE is present that they can cause problems and should be avoided.
Sat, 20 Nov 2004 15:15:18 GMT
Atom/RSS media type

Question: How come Atom and RSS are not registered media types? What do we have TODO to change this?

Found a previous attempt to register by mnot in the Google cache. At one point, this was also an IETF Internet draft, now 404. And here's a non-404 but expired copy of mnot's work.

mnot: application/rss+xml isn't registered, because the IESG wanted a "stable reference" for the spec (it being in the standards tree). So, it's technically incorrect to use it now; this is one of the reasons this is still a confusing issue.

Randy: Politics.

Fri, 19 Nov 2004 17:15:37 GMT
Better Podcasting Discussion Forum
Tim Bourquin: Here's a regular forum with no Yahoo ads and easier to navigate.
Fri, 19 Nov 2004 00:57:02 GMT
The expected DTD markup was not found

Today, I encountered this really weird problem trying to read a particular RSS feed. In fact, I've stubbled across a few RSS feeds w/ this problem. They seem to be related, but I've yet to figure out the exact problem. In fact, if I copy the RSS files to my server, the problem doesn't replicate. The issue relates to RSS version 0.91 feeds w/ a blank line located either directly above or below the DOCTYPE declaration. But, since I can't replicate the problem w/ the same file on my server, there must be a secondary sympton relating to the HTTP headers (or so I speculate). Here's the .NET code that fails, using Ken MacLeod's RSS feed.

System.Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument();

The issue does not affect many .NET-based RSS readers at all, but it fails predictably. So, I assume that most .NET-based RSS readers don't use this code construct. By the way, the test does not fail using a local copy of the same RSS file. The problem is not new, as I've discovered an old M$FT newsgroup posting w/ the same error message.

Update: In all cases, the problem was unrelated to anything I've mentionned above. It was all red herrings that seemed relevant until I found the root cause. Both files were, in fact, invalid XML. They had extra invalid characters in the wrong places. In Ken's case, he has invalid characters before the XML declaration. In the second case, he had a couple extra invalid non-space characters between the XML declaration and the DOCTYPE declaration. Case closed.

Update: Case unclosed. The author of the second feed has informed me that the couple extra invalid characters were accidently added when he tried to delete his DOCTYPE. I had advised him such. He deleted the extra characters and the DOCTYPE and his feed is fine now.

Update: Case re-opened. A reply from Ken indicated that he thought his feed was correct. So, back to reading bytes of an HTTP response. I then, caught on to the fact that Ken's server was using chunked transfer coding, which explains the extra bytes I was seeing, the chunk length. The question remains "Why doesn't Ken's feed work w/ .NET XmlDocument.Load method?"

Update: In case anyone is wondering, I've tested other feeds w/ chunked encoding and they don't all fail. I've encountered only three other feeds that fail in the same manner, but the list grows.

Wed, 17 Nov 2004 17:03:54 GMT
Sharpreader OPML

I exported by Blogroll from Sharpreader yesterday. I found two problems w/ the generated OPML. The first, I already knew and fixed before the upload. That is, the title of the blog is encoded in the title attribute of the outline, rather than the text attribute of the outline. The spec is clear, it should be text, not title. The second problem, I figured out only after I ran the Really Simple Validator on my blogroll.

By the way, I donated $10 to Sharpreader today. Thanks Luke, for authoring my RSS reader.

Wed, 17 Nov 2004 14:52:11 GMT
FOAF Validation

I added FOAF validation to the Really Simple Validator. It's generating a lot of unexpected results on existing FOAF files. I suspect this is caused by four factors.

Wed, 17 Nov 2004 04:18:59 GMT
Thanks Danny!
Thanks to some great feedback from Danny Ayers, I've added much better RDF support to the Really Simple Validator. I'm certainly not finished, but the current handling will suffice for 99% of the RDF out there. Next on the agenda is validating FOAF.
Tue, 16 Nov 2004 15:06:27 GMT
Expanding Head
Something cool that popped up in my referrers.
Tue, 16 Nov 2004 05:00:11 GMT
Dublin Core attributes

Danny found an issue w/ the validator. Reading the Dublin Core XML Schema, I incorrect read (actually, I read correctly) that dublin core elements could not have xml content or attributes with the exception of xml:lang. I've modified the Schematron to account for another attribute rdf:resource. I've also allowed xml content after re-reading the RDF primer.

I haven't deployed this fix yet, but soon. I'm looking for more exact feedback, so here's what I described in the Schematron for Dublin Core.

<assert test="not(@*[name()!='xml:lang' and name()!='rdf:resource'])">
&lt;<name/>&gt; must only have the xml:lang and rdf:resource attribute.
<assert test="not(@rdf:resource) or not(string-length(.)&gt;0 or child::*)">
&lt;<name/>&gt; must not have both content and the rdf:resource attribute.

What this says, is that the dublin core element can only have the xml:lang and rdf:resource attributes and may not have content if the rdf:resource attribute is present (code currently in testing). Correct?

By the way, this is another experience w/ RDF that scares me away from using it. Too complex!

Update: Danny has posted on this subject. Which leads me to note, I should read the RDF Syntax Grammar and convert it into Schematron.

Mon, 15 Nov 2004 23:06:34 GMT
RSS Validator
My Schematron RSS validation experiment is doing much better than I could've ever imagined. Already dozens of people have fixed their feeds, sent me thank yous, emailed me w/ questions on how they can fix. Check out my referrer list in the bottom right of the RSS blog homepage. Or a search on Bloglines.  Or Technorati. I'll note that Bloglines picked up Danny Ayer's post before Technorati.
Mon, 15 Nov 2004 17:23:37 GMT
OPML Graphics

RSS Specifications: We have added graphics to the RSS graphics collection, that webmasters can use to denote OPML graphics. OPML files contain collections of RSS feeds, adding the graphic to websites will let visitors know that multiple feeds are available.

Randy: I've always wondered, who invented the orange XML chicklet?

Mon, 15 Nov 2004 02:03:59 GMT
RSV Docs
I added a lot of documentation and pointers to the Really Simple Validation validator. In particular most RSS 1.0 and 2.0 errors, now have a link that point back to the portion of the spec that describes the validation criteria. At this point, I'm really glad I took on this chore. I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from users thanking me.
Sat, 13 Nov 2004 05:19:08 GMT
It Just Doesn't Work

I've reproduced most of the problems that were encountered by the flustered Blogger user. The first and most trivial problem is that the regular Atom produced by Blogger is invalid. The problem relates to the <info> element, which contains xhtml even though the content type is text/html.

<info mode="xml" type="text/html"><div xmlns="">This is an Atom formatted XML site feed. It is intended to be viewed in a Newsreader or syndicated to another site. Please visit the <a href="">Blogger Help</a> for more info.</div></info>

This is not a biggy, but don't worry, things get a lot worse. The next problem happened when the user tried to enhance his feed w/ FeedBurner. Feedburner changed his Atom timezones and since the feed:modified must have the UTC timezone, his Atom feed became invalid for a new reason.


Don't worry, things are going to get worse. By the way, the CEO of FeedBurner is Dick Costolo, who doesn't know it, but I helped him become a rich person. I had a big say in purchasing his previous company; SpyOnIt. I was in charge of alerts at 724 when we purchased SpyOnIt. SpyOnIt was a great company (I was their biggest user) and I think FeedBurner is looking almost as good.

At one point, FeedBurner was stripping the author, modified, issued and id element from the entry element. This one I was never able to reproduce, but I know he had FeedBurner's SmartFeed turned on, because it was responding in RSS 2.0 to my validator and Atom to the

Finally, after a few red herrings, the frustrated blogger removed a couple special characters from his Blogger post and everything just sort of clicked. He's a little happier and has considered starting a help the RSS end-user type of blog/FAQ.

Sat, 13 Nov 2004 04:21:02 GMT
Innocent Victim of War

The real victims of the Syndication Wars is the end-user. As we fight for RSS and Atom and all that API crap, the end user finds himself struggling w/ incompatible technologies. Earlier today, I spent a good part of an hour trying to help a user who couldn't subscribe to his own Blogger feed using My.Yahoo! Here's this user's rant from our Yahoo! MSGer conversation, which he agreed I could distribute w/ personal references removed.

My answer to him?

Sat, 13 Nov 2004 03:58:32 GMT
Syndication Wars: The Elephant and the Tiny Little Mice
Shelley Powers: There is something sad about this little war now; old warriers have quietly faded away, in exhaustion and indifference, and the winners can’t wear ribbons as their chest have grown too big.
Fri, 12 Nov 2004 15:41:46 GMT
The Atom End-Game
Tim Bray: I recently proposed to the IETF Atom Working Group that we might be nearly finished. Some people think that’s a mistake because, as they point out, Atom doesn’t have much more in the way of features than RSS. Here’s why I disagree.
Fri, 12 Nov 2004 14:57:57 GMT
Running the Numbers

I input all the OPML files at the OPML Directory input my little utility and ran the numbers on the use of each feed type. There were too many hanging chaps (bad feeds) to compensate for, so after a day of rejigging the logic to compensate for bad XML, the final results ended up as follows...

  1. 0.91 = 3572 (47%)
  2. 2.0 = 3172 (42%)
  3. 0.92 = 367 (5%)
  4. 1.0 = 356 (5%)
  5. 0.9 = 38 (<1%)
  6. 0.93 = 29 (<1%)
  7. atom = 6 (<1%)

These are the number of feeds of each RSS version.

Thu, 11 Nov 2004 15:26:32 GMT
Tim and Atom

I have to say that Tim Bray has done an absolutely fantastic job of cleaning up Atom. A look at the latest Atom format spec shows a much such simpler syntax than the deployed version (version 0.3). Some great changes are...

Now, I don't care too much about the format, but if he can do that same to the Atom protocol spec, then we have a winner. I might create XSD, Relax NG and Schematron for this new format spec.

Thu, 11 Nov 2004 02:27:24 GMT
Add Link Module

This week, I added RSS Link Module support to the Really Simple Validator. I don't yet have any test cases, so feedback/errata would be great. I'm going to try and scrape a bunch of RSS feeds that use the module to test from. Time permitting.

Wed, 10 Nov 2004 23:23:02 GMT
Yahoo RSS Ping Service

Yahoo: When you update your site, you can also ensure My Yahoo! gets updated by using our API. Our system will schedule an immediate refresh of your site so that My Yahoo! has the most up-to-date version of the RSS feed.

Randy: Did you know Yahoo! has an RSS ping service?

Wed, 10 Nov 2004 15:23:07 GMT
Is Atom Ready For Prime Time?

Don Park: Even if victory is declared now for the Atom feed format, it will just start a Brand War since feature differences are minor, leaving only the brand as the primary differentiator. As I pointed out seemingly ages ago, the area Atom could have made the biggest impact is in the protocol/API.  But as you can see by the level of activities in the Atom protocol mailing list, work on the protocol haven't gained much ground, let alone converge. I don't think it's too late to use RSS 2.0 as the starting point and build on it without breaking backward compatibility.  Most of the items in Tim's list of advantages can be added to RSS 2.0 as extensions, either individually or as a set called Atom.  This will allow the Atom WG to focus on the protocol instead of getting angry.

Randy: Atom, we don't need YASF (Yet Another Syndication Format). Give us an API that works!

Wed, 10 Nov 2004 04:44:51 GMT

I just wrote a neat little utility for running HTTP GET request. I use it to look at RSS request HTTP headers when RSS users need a little help. The core of the utility is what happens when you click the GO button. Here's open source for you.

System.Uri uri = new Uri(this.textBoxAddress.Text);
System.Net.Sockets.TcpClient client =
new System.Net.Sockets.TcpClient();
client.Connect(uri.Host, uri.Port);
System.Net.Sockets.NetworkStream stream = client.GetStream();
string req = "GET " + uri.PathAndQuery + " HTTP/1.1\r\nHost: " + uri.Host + "\r\n\r\n\r\n";
this.textBox.Text = req;
byte[] bytes = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(req);
stream.Write(bytes, 0, bytes.Length);
for(int i=0;i<100;i++)
if (stream.DataAvailable)
bytes =
new byte[1024];
System.Text.StringBuilder sb =
new System.Text.StringBuilder();
while (stream.DataAvailable)
int count = stream.Read(bytes, 0, 1024);
if (count == 0)
   sb.Append(System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(bytes, 0, count));
this.textBox.Text = sb.ToString();

Ya, it's just a regular old HTTP request, but done at the TCP level so I can dump all the bytes. Don't use it to view the RSS, I use it to get the HTTP headers and stop there. You can download the zipped utility right here. Enjoy!

Wed, 10 Nov 2004 04:36:17 GMT
Feedback: Little help?

Reader: First off, great site. I've finally found some info on the problem I keep hearing about from my readers.  And your validator actually shows me an error, instead of incorrectly validating. If I can trouble you for a minute of your time, can you check out my feed?  I don't know how to fix it.  It works fine in FeedReader, but is blowing up elsewhere.  Any tips are a big help.

Randy: Gotta love positive feedback like this. The problem was a space in the HTTP header-name. Another problem that isn't addressed by the other feed validators. Similar to the Wordpress problem.

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 20:08:18 GMT
RSS 2.0 Feeds for Azureus

WritTorrent Project: First off, let me just say, that this is hack. I don't even program in Java... this is my first. It generates a basic RSS 2.0 feed with support for categories, and hosting of torrens all from within Azureus itself. Okay!

Randy: Second off, I don't really know what this does, but it sounds cool and somebody sent the link to me. That's worth a free blog.

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 18:11:58 GMT

Today, iM taking RssReader for a test drive. I've never used this one before and first impression is that it's one of the best. I really like the reading mode. I exported/imported my blogroll from Sharpreader. RssReader's import is rather painful, needs a little usability work. Reading in RssReader is painless, I can view all Unread items from the last 24 hours for all feeds in one HTML window. Finally!

Update: RssReader is good, but not great. I still like Sharpreader.

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 08:20:27 GMT
Feedster Bookmarklets

Over the last bit, we've seen Scott Johnson announce that Feedster is given away iPods to the best community developed Feedster solutions and we've seen the rise of the FeedsterHacks blog. Well, building on top of my already existing Juice bookmarklet library, here's my Feedster bookmarklet library.

Tested in IE6 and Moz. VBS based installer for IE.

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 06:24:41 GMT

Tim Bray: The world can use Atom, sooner rather than later. The return-on-investment of further WG time invested in polishing something that's already pretty good is starting to be very unattractive.

Dare Obansanjo: So far Atom is a less featureful version of RSS 2.0.As it stands now given the current cost/benefit of Atom over RSS 2.0, the current Atom draft + categories isn't something I'd advise anyone at my employer's to use if it became an RFC nor is it something I believe we'd use on the stuff I work on directly ( for one).

Randy: Both Dare and Tim are correct. The Atom format on itself is of little use over RSS 2.0, since it's effectively a 1-to-1 rewrite of RSS 1.0. On the other hand, Atom is really getting stale. W/out action, it's dead!

Tue, 09 Nov 2004 03:26:53 GMT
Technorati Crap

click to enlarge
It kinda looked like Technorati was back to producing good results yesterday. The pendulum swung back wildly today. The most recent 15 links for my Website are links from my own Website. I found the bug to produce results that are quite ironic.
Mon, 08 Nov 2004 23:45:25 GMT
Write Great Code. Get an iPod.
Scott Johnson: So here's the deal -- we know that Feedster has been been built into a number of different applications, mostly aggregators, and we're looking to jump start our developer community.  And we're doing it the rational, well considered, logical approach: with iPods
Mon, 08 Nov 2004 19:35:22 GMT
Blogger Status

Nov 7: We're once again having trouble with a database server today and have had to restart it multiple times.
Nov 5: We had another significant problem with a database server last night that would have resulted in a large number of errors and problems with accessing posts.
Nov 3: One of the database servers was having performance trouble for several hours this morning starting at about 5am PST.
Nov 1: Mail-to-Blogger is currently having some problems

Randy: Posting to Blogger has become next to impossible. The users are starting to complain.

Question: Anything happen lately at Blogger? Any key employees leave?

Mon, 08 Nov 2004 15:48:25 GMT
More Invalid RSS
Reading in Sharpreader, I came across yet another amazingly stupid RSS feed. This time, it's produced by a Website calling itself Wow, you would think w/ a name like that that their RSS would be valid. Take a look at their RSS. In particular, take a look at the DOCTYPE. They are using the xhtml DOCTYPE. Well, that's not even valid XML, never mind valid RSS. I note, the RSS is generated by another server, it would seem using HTML scraping. I wonder how many people are using this service to produce invalid RSS.
Mon, 08 Nov 2004 03:21:30 GMT

It's been awhile since I tried FeedReader, but I thought I'd give it another go today. The install went well, but than came the annoying endless notification popups that consumed half of my display. This was followed w/ the UI constantly activating itself over top of my working window. A positive, FeedReader produced much better OPML than any of my usual readers; Sauce Reader, Sharpreader and RSS Bandit. FeedReader correctly uses the text attribute as the title of the outline, rather than the unspecified title attribute.

Mon, 08 Nov 2004 02:49:51 GMT
Technorati site redesign and features launched!

Technorati, against the wishes of Dave Winer, released a new Technorati at BloggerCon III. I've noticed that after more than one half year of Technorati nothingness, the engine started working again today. I got a response in less than one minutes, in fact, less than one second. Congrats to David Sifry and Kevin Marks!

Update: It's a little on and off right now, but much better than just a couple days ago.

Update: After a brief return to the functioning state, Technorati has returned to the borked steady state.

Sun, 07 Nov 2004 22:01:45 GMT
Feedster Hacks is a new blog specializing in, obviously, hacks of the feedster database. Hacks include using Feedster as your blog search engine and a feedfinder bookmarklet.
Sun, 07 Nov 2004 01:54:54 GMT
IT Conversations

I was listening to the BloggerConIII streaming audio today. That got me back onto IT Conversations, which I haven't used in many months. Now I'm listening to a bunch of other crap. The have this feature called Your Queue. You can queue up and listen to streams. Here's what's in my queue.

They have podcast RSS feeds. Hmmm! An excellent source of high quality podcasts.

Fri, 05 Nov 2004 16:22:08 GMT
RSS 1.0 Enclosures

Danny Ayers: Suzan Foster has a schema (announcement) for media “enclosures” with RSS 1.0 feeds.


Randy: Great idea! Note, I don't understand the uppercase E enc:Enclosure inside the lowercase e enc:enclosure.

Fri, 05 Nov 2004 04:55:26 GMT
Does Atom Validate?

Recently, I wrote the schematron schema to validate Atom version 0.3. I wrote the rules to conform as closely as I could to the actual Atom 0.3 specification. I finished the schematron earlier this week and immediate set out to find how valid the existing Atom feeds are.

Blog Really  Simple Validation FeedValidator
Intertwingly (Sam Ruby)



evhead (Evan Williams)



Six Apart



The Real Geek on Blogger (me)



.Conform (Philippe Janvier)



.Conform Blogmarks



Salad w/ Steve (Steve Jenson)



Atom Enabled



That should be enough to prove my point. About half of the Atom feeds are invalid. I should also point out that the FeedValidator was incorrect more often than not, pointing out validation issues that didn't exist in the spec and missing other validation issues present in the spec. Why is it so difficult to create a valid Atom feed? The problem is that Atom is simply too complex. Examples of this complexity follow:

Update: Here's another example of why Atom is complex. This fragment is from Kevin Mark's feed, blogger extraordinaire at Technorati.

<info mode="xml" type="text/html">
div xmlns="">...</div>

I added a new test case to my validator to flag this.

Thu, 04 Nov 2004 16:23:29 GMT

 I Love RSS - The Everything RSS ForumRSS Blog: I stumbled across a new RSS related forum the other day. Its called ILOVERSS ;-) 

Tue, 02 Nov 2004 21:27:01 GMT
Feedster is 404?
Seems Google and Feedster are conspiring to hide Feedster. Goto Google, put Feedster in the textbox and click the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Seems this query is redirected to a Feedster page that is 404; "Unable to Find Requested Page." Yikes! I'm guess a little HTTP 301/302 action would fix.
Tue, 02 Nov 2004 17:58:14 GMT
Your Wordpress is broken

This last year, I've been switching back and forward between three RSS readers; RSS Bandit, Sharpreader and Sauce Reader. During that year, I've noticed that Wordpress feeds rarely, if ever, work in these .NET-based RSS readers. For the longest time, I simply ignored the problem and even dropped the said feeds from my blogroll as there was no value in a broken feed anyway. But, as you would have read in my RSS blog, I've been working on a general XML format validator. The first format I addressed was RSS and this got me thinking that I'd test those Wordpress RSS feeds on my validator, which by the way, is also partially based on .NET. My validator reported the feed to be broken, at the HTTP level. Of course, the FeedValidator was reporting the feeds to be valid! Well, I couldn't take that conflict and decided to find out what was up.

The first thing I did was write a small test console application that tried to load the Wordpress feeds into System.Xml.XmlDocument.

System.Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument(); 

This returns an System.Net.WebException with the message "The underlying connection was closed: The server committed an HTTP protocol violation." Google this and you start to see where the problem is. It turns out that Wordpress is broken. I wanted to see this for myself, so I wrote another console application to query the TCP/IP way.

System.Net.Sockets.TcpClient client = new System.Net.Sockets.TcpClient();
client.Connect(uri.Host, 80);
System.Net.Sockets.NetworkStream stream = client.GetStream();
string command = "GET " + uri.PathAndQuery + " HTTP/1.1\nHost: " + uri.Host + "\n\n\n";
byte[] by = System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(command);
stream.Write(by, 0, by.Length);
by = new byte[1024];
System.Text.StringBuilder message = new System.Text.StringBuilder();
   int n = stream.Read(by, 0, by.Length);
   message.Append(System.Text.Encoding.UTF8.GetString(by, 0, n));
} while (stream.DataAvailable);

And the returned HTTP header is?

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Tue, 02 Nov 2004 17:06:57 GMT
Server: Apache/2.0.40 (Red Hat Linux)
Accept-Ranges: bytes X-Powered-By: PHP/4.2.2
Last Modified: Tue, 02 Nov 2004 11:45:13 GMT
ETag: "3120b3f942d975a454c923b36a05e837"
X-Pingback: xxx
Connection: close
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: application/rss+xml

Note the Last Modified header. This header-name has a space in it, which is illegal. You can verify this in the HTTP spec. In section 4.2, the header-name is said to be a token and in section 2.2, the token is said to not contain spaces. The Last Modified header is usually written Last-Modified, w/ the hyphen. To fix this problem in Wordpress, search for the following line in your PHP and add the hyphen

@header('Last-Modified: '.$wp_last_modified);.

Now, I need only email this page to my friends and I can enjoy their blogs again.

Update: As usual, Dare has a fix for RSS Bandit already.

Tue, 02 Nov 2004 16:25:20 GMT
Between the Lines

Dare Obasanjo: There's a lot of innovation and interesting end user applications that can be built on RSS today. However many XML syndication geeks are prideful and would rather reinvent the wheel than use existing technology to solve real world problems.

Randy: Sometimes Dare throws in a comment or two that hit all over. Well done! I have pretty much ignored the Atom project these last few months. I've also noticed a large tail off in activity on the Atom mailing list. There use to be 50 to a 100 posts per day on the list, now there's sometimes less than a dozen. Also, I haven't heard much from the RSS doesn't scale gang.

Tue, 02 Nov 2004 15:46:28 GMT
Technorati tracks Vote Links

David Sifry: Thanks to some initiative and hard work from Kevin Marks, we've put up a page that tracks Vote Links. If you want to show your approval of John Kerry and disapproval of George Bush, you can do it the following way:

<a rel=“vote-for” href=“”>John Kerry</a>
<a rel=“vote-against” href=“”>George Bush</a>

Randy: Or, if you want to vote for Oleg Dulin and Dave 'Freeke' Walker.

Spotter: Danny Ayers.

Tue, 02 Nov 2004 04:44:43 GMT
RSV Supports Atom
I added Atom support to Really Simple Validation. I also added the 1000 test cases to the RSV test framework, which is NUnit based. The tests run on my laptop in about 25 minutes. I'm going to spend a couple minutes working on the user interface. Currently it responds w/ an XML document, which I'd like to add an XSLT processor statement too and have it auto-transformed to more pleasant HTML, maybe even XHTML.
Mon, 01 Nov 2004 22:09:50 GMT
Describing and retrieving photos using RDF and HTTP

W3C: This note describes a project for describing & retrieving (digitized) photos with (RDF) metadata. It describes the RDF schemas, a data-entry program for quickly entering metadata for large numbers of photos, a way to serve the photos and the metadata over HTTP, and some suggestions for search methods to retrieve photos based on their descriptions.

Randy: Bookmarked for later reading.

Mon, 01 Nov 2004 19:39:04 GMT
Does your aggregator support enclosures?

Robert Scoble: Dave, NewsGator supports enclosures too. (Dave's talking about news aggregators and has been asking lately why more of them don't support RSS 2.0's enclosures). Does your aggregator support enclosures? If so, you can use it to receive podcasts, among other things (Channel 9's RSS feed for videos includes enclosures so you can subscribe to our videos).

Randy: Quite a horror story coming. Following Robert's blog entry, I decided to check if Sauce Reader supported enclosures. So, I opened it up and cut the link to Sauce Reader, hit the subscribe button and....

Could not create microcontent from URL?

My immediate thought was that Sauce Reader didn't work w/ enclosures, until a second glance revealed that the subscription item's title was{etc}. Is Sauce Reader using bloglines for subscriptions? I went to another blog that doesn't have enclosures and tried to subscribe. Same error. I tried several other blogs. Same error. Sauce Reader is broken? I can no longer subscribe to any new feeds. Uninstall.

Back to Sharpreader! FYI, doesn't seem to be any enclosure support in Sharpreader. The export/import between Sauce Reader and Sharpreader worked.

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