Tracking Dropbox Updates

Dropbox is a popular solution for syncing your files across all of your PCs and even your smartphone. It’s useful for both personal and business purposes and you can even use it for free with up to 2GB of storage.

One common use of Dropbox is securely sharing files with others using simple web links. Rather than email that 12MB presentation to 3 separate people, you just send the Dropbox link.

A little known feature is that Dropbox provides a RSS link to the list of changes (adding, removing, etc.) you make. If you are using Dropbox to share project files with a team, if they simply subscribe to the RSS feed no extra notification is needed. They can pull the files from Dropbox directly from their feed reader.

Click on the Events tab, as shown below.

The RSS feed icon is down at the bottom. Notice that the default is to list ALL events for the entire account. If you’re sharing this with others, you may want to create a new folder and explicitly share it. Then its name will also appear in the list on the left hand side on the main Dropbox entry. Click that and then the RSS link will only include events pertaining to that folder.

Track Conferences Socially with Lanyrd

Lanyrd is a new site for tracking conferences and events that leverages your social networking circle to discover and monitor events that your friends are attending or presenting at. Of course you can simply browse conferences by location or topic, but the twist is the social media integration. Currently based on your Twitter friend list, when you login to Lanyrd through Twitter it discovers any conferences that your friends are involved in, as shown in screen below.

In terms of using RSS, Lanyrd has, I think, a little ways to go. Each locale and topic has its ¬†own feeds that can subscribe to individually, but I don’t see a way to track what happens with an event through RSS. I would like to see that be implemented and for Lanyrd to make one, aggregated feed that sends my updates based on topics, locales and events that I’m interested in.

Stay Updated on Web Comics with Comical

Speaking of web comics, Comical is a Windows application that helps you stay up to date with many popular web comics. It doesn’t appear to be, strictly speaking, an RSS-based reader. But it does serve the same basic purpose of simply letting you know when a web comic that you follow has a new one online.

RSS: Saving Trees One Printout at a Time

A bit of RSS-related funny from the web comic Not Invented Here.

DailyLit: Read Books by RSS

DailyLit is an interesting website that will send you small segments of a book once a day via RSS or email. The chunks are pretty short and it will probably only take a few minutes to read each one. If making time for reading books a priority, this might be a way to make an automatic, daily habit out of it.

Currently DailyLit has 901 books, all of which are free. Granted it might take you almost 2 years to read War and Peace, but there are books of all types and lengths on tap.

Following Bands and Album Releases Through RSS

So now we’ve completed the trifecta. First we told you how to use RSS to track TV episodes with mytvrss. Next was following book releases by author or publisher in RSS with Author Alerts.

Now we round things out with three ways to follow album releases and live music events in your area. The first is Tourfilter, which I’ve used for many years. With an elegantly simple site design that is reminiscent of Craig’s List, Tourfilter lets you browse by city, artist or venue. To follow anything from Tourfilter, look for the RSS link or little orange RSS icon, which is sometimes at the top and sometimes at the bottom of each page.

Second is Bandsintown, which has a more flashy, graphic-intensive design than Tourfilter. As before, it has browse by artist and by venue, but doesn’t seem to have an RSS feed for all shows in a given city. It does provide a sort of tagcloud of upcoming shows, but I didn’t find a way to make use of that through RSS. On the other hand, Bandsintown does create an RSS feed for any show that you say you will or might go to. When looking at the page for specific event, click the I’m Going or Maybe button and it will add it to your calendar. Then find the link to it on your profile page under Upcoming Shows on the top right. Bandsintown will also use your last.fm and Pandora to kickstart its recommendations for shows you might like. Recommendations will also appear in your profile’s feed.

Finally we offer Roadie, which tracks album releases rather than live show dates. With a logo that is remarkably similar to Bandsintown’s, Roadie also supports importing your favorite bands from last.fm. Once you’ve made a list of artists, there’s a big orange RSS button with the feed address for your use.

Author Alerts: New Releases Through RSS

One of the things I really love about RSS is that it’s a great way to keep track of news up to the minute. Looking at the CNN recent stories feed, there is barely 2 hours separating the the first and last of the 20 stories in the feed.

But what RSS is even better for are sites that may go weeks or months between updates. Maybe you browse to www.cnn.com everyday in the morning, but you probably don’t check a dozen low-frequency sites everyday. With RSS you can sit back and let new content come to you on its own schedule.

A new tool that embodies this is Author Alerts. It lets you create a list of authors and publishers then produces an RSS feed of upcoming books and, optionally, audiobooks. Most likely each author only has a few such events every year, so it could months before you got a little reminder that a new book you might want is coming out.

Oddly enough I put in two living authors (Terry Pratchett and Neal Stephenson) and two dead (Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein) into my test list. Asimov and Heinlein both apparently have 3 releases coming up in 2010, while Pratchett has 2 and Stephenson only 1…

Unfortunately using your Author Alerts RSS outside of your browser is a little more clunky than perhaps it needs to be. The site authors admit that it’s a work in progress, so I hope they find a more elegant way to provide access to your feed.

To make your Author Alerts RSS feed accessible by you:

  1. Add authors and/or publishers to your list
  2. Click Share
  3. Click Make Public
  4. Click Done
  5. Now the “Upcoming releases feed” and “Recent releases feed” will be accessible by your feed reader

And yes, this means you have to make your list available to the public for you to access your own feed at all. I would prefer if Author Alerts provided a private link that I could use on my own and share with people I chose.

Following Facebook in your RSS Reader

Jamie Zawinski (most commonly known as jwz) has written up a nice article on how to follow Facebook in an RSS reader.

If you’re wondering why it takes 4 separate feeds to monitor Facebook, it’s because Facebook really doesn’t want to make it to easy on you. They’d much rather you spend your time logged into Facebook in your browser, seeing their ads while you play Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Note: see the “format=rss20″ bit at the end? It also seems to support “format=atom10″ as well, meaning RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 formats respectively. I couldn’t find any others that worked, including “rss10″, “rss” and “xml”.

Automatically Twitter New Posts with Google FeedBurner

For several years FeedBurner has been an important and widely-used tool for RSS feed publishers to track and analyze who’s following them and reading their weblog or other content published over RSS. Owned by Google since mid-2007, FeedBurner has slowly been integrated into Google’s larger basket of services such as allowing you to easily include Google AdSense ads in content published via RSS with AdSense for Feeds.

Now Google has added a new and useful capability for feeds that are managed by FeedBurner: automatically sending a message over your Twitter account when you publish a new post. These days it’s becoming more common for weblogs and other content creators to have Twitter accounts dedicated to their site. Ours is linked from the little blue bird at the top-right of the page at http://twitter.com/allthingsrss.

Since we also use FeedBurner to manage our feed, it was quick and easy to enable automatic Twittering when we write a new post here. Just go to the FeedBurner management page for your feed, click on the “Publicize” tab across the top then click “Socialize” from the list of services column on the left. From there click “Add a Twitter account” to connect your blog to your Twitter account.

Below that are various options for choosing how you want the Twitter post to appear. We choose to have Google tweet both the post title and a small excerpt of the post content and add the #RSS hashtag at the end.

Google also recently launched its own URL shortening service, goo.gl, and it is used to link back to your post on the blog from the tweet.
Automatic Twittering of new posts with Google FeedBurner
Note that this option is called “Socialize” and not “Twitter”. For sure Google will eventually add other social media sites to the mix, not the least of which would be Facebook the other 800-pound gorilla in this area.

Top 10 RSS & Syndication Technologies of 2009

Getting a jump on the end-of-year-best-list season, Marshall Kirkpatrick of the the highly plugged in crew at ReadWriteWeb has posted their Top 10 RSS & Syndication Technologies of 2009.

I agree with their opening point that the “web isn’t about pages any more. Now it’s about streams, feeds and syndication” and their choices really reflect that: numbers one and two are Facebook and Twitter, the most well know social media sites in the English-speaking world. RSS tools and readers keep getting smarter and more useful and now that intelligence and polish is starting to collide with the enormous stream of content generated by the explosive popularity of social media sites.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow allthingsrss on Twitter!