A load of old Flickr'ing aRSSe...

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

With the end of the academic year fast approaching and my coursework deadlines looming, I thought it would be nice to totally avoid the subject of academic work by working on another item on my UPSU.net to-do list (yup, I'm that sad that I have a "geeky stuff to-do list"...).

Quick introduction: RSS is a way of sharing news and other information. We use other websites' RSS feeds to display the BBC news headlines around the news pages, Pure:FM's "Now and next" box, Yahoo! weather information and loads more. Its main use, though, is letting us share our headlines and other news with the rest of the world.

Normally, you'd use an RSS feed reader - for example Google reader (pic below) - which collects news stories from the RSS feeds you've subscribed to and displays them in one list; this means you can catch up on the day's news, blog posts, forum discussions, whatever... Without having to trawl around a load of websites. Read more about RSS here.

google reader
Google reader in action

So, I've been working on our RSS system. Originally, we've only had two RSS feeds - News Headlines and Latest Forum Posts, and that was your lot. I wanted to make all of our news available as RSS feeds in a variety of ways; just want to catch up on club and society news? No problem. Want to get a daily list of upcoming events at the Union? Easy.

I've also added feeds to all the news pages, under the menu on the left:
rss newspage link
... again, you just need to copy the link into your RSS feed reader or simply click on it for a nose around.

The RSS feed is also formatted so it's possible to read it without an RSS reader - normally an RSS feed is a fairly incomprehensible jumble of code and text. Although that's not what the feeds are designed for, this does mean it gives us a good chance to explain what RSS is and make things a lot easier to understand for first-time users when people click on the link for the first time.

There are plenty more feeds to be added yet - for example blog and forum feeds - but they'll have to wait until I've been out tonight (it *is* PWs after all... ;) ), and I'll take the chance to try and explain the RSS system a bit more once everything's done. For now though, thanks for reading! :o)

Oh, p.s. thingy - I've also chucked a Flickr photostream box thing on the right there -->. It shows random photos from my Flickr account and, if you need to host photos online, Flickr's not such a bad way to do it.

If you're writing a blog here and want to add a picture box like this to your blog (or on any blog that lets you add HTML), you just need to sign in to UPSU.net, click the "update your profile information" link on the top-right of the page, then wander over to the "diary settings" tab and paste the code you get from here into the "Your side-links HTML code" box.

Flickr offers free accounts, which don't have as much storage space, or you can pay abour $2 a month and store oddles of pics. Click here for more on signing up, or here to find out more about what Flickr offers.

Flickr's a really good site for holding your photos on for a few reasons - it's very easy to use, and you can add tags to your photos, which makes searching for photos on there a whole load easier. There are also a lot of businesses selling high quality pics and prints on there, although I'm too tight to check out those features much yet ... ;o)

Anyway, free advertising over - check Flickr out for yourself if you're interested!

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