Tag Archives: widget

Use tags to replace the RSS feed from Google Reader’s “Share” button (Update: Or not)

Update: This tip no longer really works that well; the feed from the tag now requires you to authenticate as the user who created it, and the tag itself has to be chosen from your list of folders. I’m sorry.

Some big changes came yesterday to Google Reader, the venerable RSS newsreader that has become part of the texture of daily online life for a lot of us. The design has changed dramatically, in line with changes made to most other Google services. But there are big functional changes too, as Google aims to consolidate social activity in Google+.

That means the end of nearly all of Google Reader’s sharing features. There’s no more Share link; no more Followers; and no more public pages for starred or shared items. Instead, you click Send To under any post, and share it through one of a variety of web services (most notably Google+).

For many people, that will work just fine. But some of us have been heavy users of that Share link… and at least in my case, it’s been a great way to populate an RSS* feed of posts I come across in Reader. That feed can then do everything from generating Twitter posts to updating a widget on my blog.

If that’s one way you’ve been using Reader, then good news: you can still create an RSS feed of blog posts you flag from inside Reader. Better yet, you can draw on one of Reader’s lesser-known features – tags – to createseveral RSS feeds.

Here’s how it works:

  • Look at the bottom of any post in Reader. You’ll see several links: star, +1, Email, Keep unread, Send to, and – most interestingly – Edit tags.
  • Come up with a short distinct keyword that you want to use for shared items. Maybe it’s just the letter “s”. From now on, you’ll be tagging any item you want to add to that RSS feed with that keyword.
  • Click the Edit tags link. Enter your sharing keyword.
  • Once you click Save, the keyword becomes a hyperlink. Click it, and you’ll be taken to a page listing all of the posts that you’ve tagged with that particular keyword.
  • Click on the Folder settings… button at the top of the page. Then click “View details and statistics” in the menu that appears.
  • Hurray! You’ll see an URL for the RSS feed for this tag. Use it the same way as the RSS feed for Shared Items.

Note that this isn’t a new feature – you’ve always been able to find an RSS feed for any particular tag. But the latest changes mean it’s just become even more useful.

* Actually, it’s the Atom format. But people seem to be more familiar with the term “RSS”, so I’m using it generically here.

Adding an RSS feed to your iGoogle page

I’ve been teaching social media fundamentals in the UBC  and Emily Carr University continuing studies programs for nearly two years now. Early on in every course, I show students how to use iGoogle (and similar services) into a social media dashboard, displaying the latest results from online searches, must-read blogs and other sources.

The key to it all is the process of turning a feed into an iGoogle widget. (I know: Google calls them gadgets. Can’t we all just get along?) And this year, it finally dawned on me that it might be handy to have a video reference my students can fall back on in case my in-class demo wasn’t quite as memorable as I’d hoped.

And so, in case it’s useful to you…


(And if these can be helpful in your own trainings, feel free to use them.)

A lorem ipsum generator for the 21st century

Corporate Ipsum widget for OS X Dashboard

Oh, very nice: a handy little device for whipping up reams of dummy copy at the click of a button. And not just your basic lorem ipsum greek text, either (although that’s an option). This puppy happily spits out a screed of utterly baffling corporatespeak for your next annual report design job. Here’s an example:

Competently expedite standardized services vis-a-vis multifunctional interfaces. Dramatically communicate distributed ideas whereas exceptional solutions. Competently provide access to state of the art action items after business technology.

Rapidiously negotiate multifunctional leadership through scalable manufactured products. Credibly leverage existing optimal total linkage before scalable meta-services. Authoritatively formulate enterprise leadership for value-added portals.

Appropriately facilitate 24/7 mindshare rather than covalent results. Proactively extend flexible portals via inexpensive outsourcing. Compellingly evisculate pandemic web services and virtual ideas.

Globally leverage existing standards compliant mindshare for pandemic infomediaries. Objectively brand cooperative leadership skills without just in time niche markets. Holisticly leverage existing equity invested web-readiness without mission-critical growth strategies.

Authoritatively impact resource maximizing processes whereas sustainable opportunities. Intrinsicly reconceptualize maintainable experiences without cooperative value.

Authoritatively impact resource maximizing processes? I swoon.

The irrepressible truth: Amnesty International meets the widget

This is a year old, but it’s still very, very cool.

The campaign is called “Irrepressible.info – an effort by Amnesty International to draw attention to the way too many governments are censoring the Internet, and punishing those who use it to speak out.

They’ve created a web badge for your site. Nothing especially new, although you’d be amazed how few online campaigns do that.

They’ve made that badge dynamic, drawing content from a database of repressed material (and thus reproducing it on thousands of sites worldwide). Okay, that got my attention.

They’ve created an API, allowing queries in multiple languages, and invited developers to build their own apps powered by the database. Now, that’s cool.