Today I had to dig a little deeper into the world of RSS. I’m preparing a Live.com environment for a potential customer and I needed tools to convert dynamic HTML pages (search queries) into RSS feeds so I could add them into Microsoft’s feed collector. I haven’t found the perfect tool yet, but here are some nifty things you just got to try out:
RSS2PDF (Beta): Free Online RSS, Atom or OPML to PDF Generator, just insert a URL or address and select the options you want, then enter a title for the .pdf file. The tool works although the title I entered was replaced by a standard ‘doc’ which I had to alter after I selected the download location. No biggie. Here’s an example of the pdf of my feed (12kb, 3 pages) – I didn’t select ‘images’, but you can do it if you want to.
On that same site, there’s a link to an RSS2PDF for Flickr, to easily create PDF archives based on any Flickr newsfeed. (The photos must be made PUBLIC.) Enter information for a particular user on Flickr (such as yourself) and/or Tags separated by commas for photos relating to a specific subject. Too cool !
The tools have been made available in handy bookmarklets, which you just have to drag to your favorites for quick access later on.
You can also add the RSS2PDF Module to your Google Personalized Homepage for instant access:
Visit Google Personalized, Click on the link on the top left marked ‘Add Content’, then enter the following URL into the ‘Search by topic or feed URL’ textbox:
Next topic : Google2RSS
There’s two sites that I’ve found where people are using the API to produce an RSS feed that is based on a simple search query:
Ben Hammersley’s tool allows you to subscribe to a search request, so you can see things coming in and out of the Google top ten. Easy to use too, simply add your search request to the end of this URL:
and subscribe to that URL in your favorite newsreader.
The other tool is GooRSS where the RSS is generated by instantRSS, and you find an RSS link on the bottom of the returned page when you’ve done a search query.
Then there is also GMailRSS, where you can use GMail as an RSS reader. That’s something I like a lot. You’ll have to have some programming knowledge though.
- Since GMail stores all state on the server, it doesn’t matter where you login from to get your RSS fix! You can read a couple of feeds at work, a couple at home from a different machine etc. and everything is synchronized. This was the killer feature I was missing in all RSS readers.
- GMail’s infinite archiving capability effectively creates a personal news archive for everyone.
- GMail’s search helps you search easily through RSS feeds.
- Individual messages can be marked as read and unread, so its easy to track what you are reading.
To get this to work you need to convert RSS feeds into some form Gmail can understand. Karu’s rss2mail convertor, GMail labels, and filters are coming to the rescue. Read the basic strategy for implementation here.
Last but not least is the Feed2Podcast tool, an engine that instantly turns your blog’s RSS feed into a Podcast. There’s nothing more to add. Listen to a sample here. This tool kind of is the same as Talkr, something I reported on in july last year. To be honest, this Feed2Podcast voice sounds better, especially when you have to listen to long texts. Compare : here’s the old voice edition of that blogpost about Talkr. I’ll check out the ‘Talking Blogs later this week to do a decent comparison.
We have improved the back end of our text to speech engine. We hope you love the improvements this upgrade has made. We are getting very close to the AT&T Natural Voices quality level. We would also like to announce that in the comming weeks we will have a choice of voices for our bloggers to choose from. We are adding a female voice to our already popular male voice.
Okay, that about wraps it up for today. Have fun testing this out !