Back in the R.S.S.


tl;dr – Subscribe to my shared feed of blog posts I find interesting here. Expect a mix of comic book news, digital culture and technology. You know, the same stuff as this blog and podcast.

When Google Reader shut down and many people were scrambling to migrate to another system, I didn’t. My reaction was similar to that home organization technique. I squirreled away my subscription list off somewhere, and waited until I missed it. I didn’t, not for a long time.

Eventually I came across a reference via Thomas Gideon that he is using Tiny Tiny RSS. It is a self-hosted version of a Google Reader-like RSS reader system. I was into this as 13 years ago, I used a similar style system when I first got my own hosted box.

The first complication was that I could no longer find my squirreled away subscription list. I decided that wasn’t even a big problem and I took it as an opportunity to start from complete scratch. I subscribed to a couple of things, including Thomas’ public feed from his own instance, and away I went. One thing TTRSS is very good at is feed discovery. If you find a blog post anywhere, like from someone else’s feed, and just put that post’s URL in the subscribe field it will find the right feed. It has never failed for me on any site so far. Standardized headers for that are pretty much ubiquitous now so that job is much easier than it once was.

One of the things I liked best about Google Reader is that you could star and/or share individual posts and I did both. I also subscribed to other people’s shared feeds and discovered posts and blogs to follow that way. It was a nice, virtuous cycle. TTRSS has all of that functionality, and I am publishing articles to my shared feed as well.

Another nice thing about TTRSS is that it has a pretty good Android client for reading on your phone. In fact, I prefer the phone interface to the web although I use them both depending on what I’m sitting at.

I don’t spend nearly the time reading the blogosphere as I once did, but it feels good to get back into this world. RSS and the interconnected blog world it enables is too good an ecosystem to let wither and die. Let’s prove the “RSS is dead” prognosticators wrong by

Big WordPress Omission

It seems from my early work that there is one huge omission in the out-of-the-box WordPress install. It doesn’t do the Last-Modified header, on either the web pages or the RSS. I’m of the opinion that everything that emits or reads an RSS feed MUST use or honor this header. When you have a few thousand people subscribed to your feed, why not make it as simple as possible for those ones that check more frequently to know when not to download that 50K? That was one of my first additions to get_enclosures beyond the basic – storing a cache of when the last fetch of a feed was received and setting the If-Modified-Since header of the HTTP connection. This crap exists in the protocol, so why not use it?

I don’t know if there is a plugin that does this, but I know that if not that’s one of my first orders of business – to write one.

Update: Now I see. The themes I’m using are all using as the link to the RSS feed, but if I use then you do get the header set correctly. False alarm, citizens. Sorry about that.