Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Get a Song Fu RSS Feed

Song Fu 6 signup is over and the contestants and the first challenge will be announced Monday. I even received an e-mail tonight stating that I had indeed made it in (I still have to retro-blog about my Song Fu 5 entries!).

In the past, I've found myself constantly refreshing the Song Fu page, waiting for a new contest to drop. With other websites, I've started using RSS feeds so that the page automatically updates me when it is updated, and I don't have to remember to go look at it all the time. Unfortunately, there has not been a specific RSS feed for Song Fu.

So I decided to create one. Actually, I created two of them, in two different ways. I don't know a lot about RSS, aside from the fact that it uses XML to update my reader, but these methods were both dead simple to use. Method one took a slight amount of work to set up, but it was awesome to learn how. Method two is the no-brainer way that I didn't discover until after I finished method one (ooops).

Method One

Quickstopentertainment (the old site that hosted Song Fu) actually did have an RSS feed, which the new host, asitecalledfred, seems to have retained (despite still having "quickstop" in the name). Problem is, the majority of items in the feed are not Song Fu related. It would sure be nice if there were some way to filter them out. After a bit of Googling, I discovered a service that Yahoo offers, called pipes. This tool allows you to create a new feed based off of one or more existing feeds, using a really slick graphical dataflow editor. It looks really awesome-powerful, just like its UNIX namesake, and I was easily able to program it to create a filtered version of the quickstop feed, only outputting entries that have "Song Fu" in the title. I think anyone should be able to access and subscribe to it here. One potential but minor problem is that since the site has changed names, the RSS url might change too. If that happens I would have to fix my pipeline.

Method Two

This method doesn't use the existing RSS feed at all. Instead, since I use Google Reader, I just use it's built-in capability to monitor a webpage for updates, as described in this blog post. I just clicked "Add a Subscription", and entered the url for the Song Fu category page (the first link in this post).

Results

Both methods seem to work well, but the morning that signup began for Song Fu 6, my first indication came not from an RSS feed, but from Twitter!

1 comment:

Tom Carnell said...

Have you tried Femtoo (http://femtoo.com) ? Femtoo is an advanced version of this and but ALSO has these key features:

- Monitor particular parts of a page
- Parse data and check for particular conditions (share price hit a certain amount etc)
- Premium accounts can create 'low latency' trackers for critical monitoring applications
- Receive notifications via email, Instant Messenger and soon SMS (I think)
- Add a 'widget' to any page to allow people to 'subscribe' to a 'tracker'
- It uses the amazing cQuery (http://cquery.com) Server-side CSS Content Selection Engine
- You can publish 'trackers' to the 'Tracker Library' and anybody can subscribe.

tom