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Top 5 Features Missing in Google Reader

Google Reader Logo

I am using Google Reader as my RSS Aggregator. After using this for some time, I am still unsure of how to do some things. I don't even know weather its possible or not. And since Google Reader is publishing usage stats, I know that 35% of my readers uses Google Reader - so I want to ask these doubts to you.

1. Can I search through my subscribed feeds?

There are many times when I wanted to find an old post I have read. Is there any way to search through my subscribed posts? Its ironic that Google fails to provide this option.

2. Can I nest folders?

Can I put a folder inside another folder? I know that this is a tagging generation and hierarchical structures are outdated - that's how I like it.

3. How do I change a URL of a feed?

Some sites change the feed URL. It is a bad thing - but it happens. My question is how do I update the URL of a subscribed feed using Google Reader. The last time I had to do this, I had to delete the feed in question and subscribe to it again.

4. Is there a more efficient way to subscribe a feed from Firefox?

Is there any way I can click the subscribe button in Firefox - and get the feed subscribed without any additional clicks? I had outlined one method to make the handling of feed subscription better in Firefox. But that still requires one additional click. I know Google Reader provides a bookmarklet for this - but is it possible to subscribe using the Firefox's default way? Plus, even after clicking bookmarklet you should click the subscribe button.

5. Can I put the tags in one folder?

I like to use a lot of tags to mark a post - but I hate the fact that each new tag makes a new entry in the left side 'Subscriptions' column. I want that column small and manageable.

If any of these are not possible, I am sure that Google Reader engineers will find this post. Maybe they will add these features. So, if you are from google, please implement these features in Google Reader. Oh, and, leave a comment.

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Subscribing a feed in Google Reader using Firefox

The latest version of firefox has a feed preview feature. But subscribing a new feed in Google Reader using this feature leaves a little to be expected. If you use this feature to subscribe to feeds in the Google Reader, you must have come across the "Subscribe to Google Reader/Google Homepage" dilemma. I always want to subscribe to Google Reader - thats one extra click for me. But I found a way to overcome this.

Open a new tab and type in about:config in the address bar.

Type browser.contentHandlers in the Filter text box

Find the key name of the Google Reader property - in my system, it is 'browser.contentHandlers.types.2.title'. See image for clarification

The 'index' of the Google Reader, in my case is 2.

Right click on browser.contentHandlers.types.2.uri(the number must be the index of Google Reader in your system) and click Modify.

Enter the value...

http://www.google.com/reader/view/feed/%s

Now restart Firefox and try to subscribe to a feed - you will be taken to the google reader page directly. Then click on the "Subscribe" button on the top right corner to subscribe.

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Use of 'Numbers Particle' System in Programming

All numbers can be created using the series 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, ... without repetition. For example, 7 can be represented as 1+2+4. 13 is 8+4+1. This property is used for creating binary number...


Decimal Numbers 12345678
Binary Numbers 00010010001101000101011001111000
Powers of 2 2021-22---23
Number Particles * 121+241+42+41+2+48

* For the lack of a better name. If you are aware of the correct terminology for this system, please let me know

An advantage of this series is that there is only one way to represent a number - ie. 7 can only be 1+2+4. In the normal series(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,...), 7 can be represented as 3+4, 5+2, 1+6, 1+2+4, etc. This property of the doubling number series can be used to store multiple values using just one number.

Example Usage

The best example for a use of this is the Linux File Permission system. In Linux...

  • 1 = Execute Permission
  • 2 = Write Permission
  • 4 = Read Permission

So if you want to give a file Read and Write permission it is 2 + 4 = 6. If you want Read and Execute permission it is 1 + 4 = 5.

Implementation

You can use this principle while designing a database. You can use this to store data that would otherwise require a reference table or multiple fields. For example, let us try to implement the linux user permissions system shown above using a database.

id1INT
filenameHello World.txtVARCHAR
is_writable1ENUM('1','0')
is_readable1ENUM('1','0')
is_executable0ENUM('1','0')

Actually, in linux, different permissions can be set for the file owner, the file owners group and the rest of the world. But I am ignoring that for simplecity.

In the above example, we use 3 fields for permissions. Using the 'number particle' method, we can reduce it to just one field.

id1INT
filenameHello World.txtVARCHAR
permission4INT

This method should not be used for a large dataset. Here the dataset is is write/read/execute - just 3. But if it is a larger dataset - like read/append/delete/modify/create/rename/copy/.... then using this system may not be the best method - as it will make the system more complicated. Even in small datasets, using this system will make things complicated. In most systems, I will not recommend using this method.

Another problem with this method is that the data is not atomic. So if you use this method, database normalization goes out the window.

Code

To use this method, you will need a method to decompose a number to its number particles. I have created such a function. Just give the number you want to decompose and it will return an array with the particles of the given number.

This code is in PHP - but feel free to translate it into other languages. If you have translated this into another languages, please leave the code as a comment.

function findParticles($number) {
 $all_particles = array();
 $series = 1;
 while($number) {
  if($number % 2) $all_particles[] = $series;//If the number is odd
  $number = intVal($number / 2);
  $series = $series * 2;
 }
 return $all_particles;
}

//Demo
$particles = findParticles(21); // Returns Array(1,4,16)

This is distributed under the terms of the BSD License.

Filed Under...

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Add Feedburner's FeedFlares to your Feed

If you are an RSS junkie you would have noticed that many feed have small links at the bottom of the post that can be used to digg the post, email it, subscribe to the comments of that post etc. These is a feature of feedburner - it is called Flares. According to Feedburner "FeedFlare is a one-step service that enables publishers to configure a very slim "footer" containing customizable actions that will appear beneath each item in a feed.

For the longest time I thought that this was available only for paid uses of feedburner service - but I was wrong. If you use feedburner, you could use flares in your feed. And that is exactly what I did - if you are reading this post using a feed reader, just go to the bottom of this post and you will see the flares.

How to Add flares to your Feed

Before anything, you must be using feedburner to deliver your feed if you want this feature. If you are using feedburner, continue reading. If you are not using feedburner, its game over for you.

  • Got to Feedburner Login page and Login into your account.
  • Click on the feed you want to add the flares to.
  • Click on the 'Optimize' tab.
  • Click on the FeedFlare tab on the left sidebar.
  • Select all the flares you want to add to your feed and submit the form.

An image to make things clearer...

Thats it. Now all the posts in that feed will have the flares at the bottom.

Custom Flares

The flare form only displays the default flares. But it is possible to create and use custom flares using the open FeedFlare API. See the Flares Catlog and 101 FeedFlares for a Better Tomorrow to find all the flares that can be used.

Don't Clutter

A word of warning before you add the flares to your feed - don't use too many. It is easy to abuse flares by adding many of it. Please make sure your feeds are clutter free.

Related Links

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Bin-Co and OpenJS Backend Updated

I have just finished updating the backend of my two sites Bin-Co and OpenJS. I have updated the Database Design to make it compactable with my DB Design rules. Also some part of the code base have been altered to make it easier to reuse.

Using a custom CMS has its advantages - but it has a big maintance load. The good part is that a lot of cool PHP code was created - which I will be releasing in my PHP page.

There is a problem with this upgrade - there is a possibility of errors somewhere in the site. If you notice any problems, let me know.

Once that job is complete, I will redesign this blog.

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Nexty Beta Released

Nexty is a easy to use To-Do list manager created in PHP. This tool adds a few of my concepts with the generally held concepts of GTD. It can be installed in a local server or in a online web server.

See Demo

This software is in beta stage - so expect some breakages here and there. I will try to release a stable version by the end of this week - by 10th February 2007 - but no promises.

Get the code from the project page of nexty at Sourceforge.
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