MonoLogue: Mono's aggregator is up and running

by Miguel de Icaza

Ben wrote an RSS aggregator that we are running now on to track the Mono blogs. You can now get all your Mono news in a single spot. This is similar in spirit to Jeff's Planet GNOME

If you are interested in running the aggregator in your machine for your own personal blog reading, just download the `monologue' module from our AnonCVS repository.

On RSS Aggregators

I have tried three kinds of RSS aggregators out there: desktop-based, mozilla-based and html-based. From my personal browsing experience I believe that the HTML-based aggregators are the best kind. Specially when we you are using Mozilla/Firebird with tab browsing.

There are plenty of desktop-based aggregators for both Windows and Linux (I tried them all in a quest for the perfect UI). The desktop-based aggregators typically embed a web browser in the browsing pane to render the news. And this is the source of most frustration with them.

The embedded HTML rendering engine has some very bizarre interaction glitches when you follow links, and you try to go back in history, or when you start following links inside the aggregator (which it is bound to happen).

Since it is not really possible to read comfortably the news inside the aggregator, you can either open a new window (uncomfortable) or hope that the aggregator can instruct your browser to open a new tab, but it is still annoying to use.

The obvious answer to the above problem is to put the aggregator inside the browser. Luckily Mozilla/Firebird have made plugin authoring a breeze, and there are a couple of options out there.

These aggregators today suffer from a problem shared by the desktop-based aggregators: they are based on the modern news-reading/mail-reading model. These present the user with a collection of folders with items old and new, and you read your feeds one by one. This model is ill-suited for blog reading because blogs do not produce large volumes of data per day, and you most likely want to read all the new things in the day at once. Not once per week, so the interaction model is basically to read a single post on each folder and move to the next one, and repeat this a number of times per day. Not very efficient.

The third kind, the one I like the most are the aggregators that generate an HTML page with the consolidated data. This in my opinion is the best model because you get to read HTML content on your main HTML browser and all the tools available on your browser are available to you and most important: there are no surprises on the behavior. Since it aggregates all the data at once, every time you visit it, you can get a snapshot of what is happening, rather than having to check 20 sources one by one.

Firebird users probably will like the last one the most, since its a feature packed browser, and with a rich set of extensions that make browsing more efficient. But in general any user of a tabbed-based browser will enjoy the later kind the most.

Escalation of Violence

Yesterday there was another suicide bombing in Israel. The reaction was an attack on an alleged terrorist training camp in Syria. Following the Bush doctrine of `destroy evidence first, cover-up with non-answers later'.

Been thinking this morning that it is time to write a Israeli-Palestine Conflict Primer. On second thought, maybe I should just strongly recommend reading John Pilger's Palestine Is Still The Issue an eight-parth documentary available online (wish they sold the video on DVD).

Edward Said passed away, his latest article and a tribute to his writing.

The Hamas group that has been striking at the civilian population was initially funded by Israel in the 70's to undermine the growing popularity of the PLO and Arafat. A policy that now has backfired. Some details here.

Posted on 05 Oct 2003