PDA

View Full Version : RSS aggregators (news readers) & OLRability?


davidh
November 30th, 2005, 11:05 PM
I just tried putting a blog on Yahoo! 360. Not that it's a matter of interest in and of itself. However, I noticed that when I read it in the reader that I currently have installed, namely eRSS, the full text of each post appeared in the text reading window pane WITHOUT ADS. However, when I clicked the eRSS "Read more" link the full Yahoo page WITH ADS did appear. I took a quick look at the HTML and there appeared to be some tags in it that would allow a reader to isolate the actual text of the blog from the extraneous ads and other items that appear on the full view of the blog on Yahoo when reading with a browser alone instead of a RSS reader.

I don't know if other (non-browser based) RSS readers would behave the same and easily allow cutting out the ads. But this seems like a nice feature. I wonder if the Yahoo beta will continue with this feature. Perhaps it would not affect their ad revenues much since they probably expect that most people will read the blogs using a standard browser and the news aggregators built into the my.yahoo.com web server pages.

Seems like such an ability to sift out the extra stuff would make it possible to implement an OLR type capability in some news readers (RSS). Unfortunately it seem rather hard to find out what are the features of many such readers when searching in cnet.com, tucows.com, wikipedia, etc. Perhaps such features already exist. I wonder if anybody here knows of such RSS accumulators. I.e. that could manipulate downloaded (non-junked-up) messages from compatible RSS feeds in a message base?

David H.

davidh
December 1st, 2005, 02:11 PM
I think most or many "stand-alone" RSS readers for Windows use Internet Explorer to view the "messages" or posts or whatever the name is.

Therefore it's probably safer to use Firefox or Thunderbird for reading RSS feeds.

David H.

Judy G. Russell
December 1st, 2005, 09:05 PM
I wish I knew more about this... or had time to learn more...

davidh
December 1st, 2005, 11:06 PM
I think most or many "stand-alone" RSS readers for Windows use Internet Explorer to view the "messages" or posts or whatever the name is.

Therefore it's probably safer to use Firefox or Thunderbird for reading RSS feeds.

David H. There's a security expert at Trend Micro who wrote a 'white paper' predicting that RSS feeds will be the next big infection vector for worms.

So there are a couple of nasty potential problems with RSS reading:

1. Most desktop client readers use IE, inherently insecure.

2. If the worm can ever access the URL's of the feeds in whatever client (RSS reader desktop program) then even if the worm is killed the feed would still be pointing to a hijacked URL, i.e. URL of an "enemy host", at least until the feed URL was reset manually or erased by a worm-killer. I.e. the worm killer would have to know how the config of the RSS reader client database worked. Otherwise the PC might immediately be reinfected as soon as the feeds were accessed the next scheduled or manual access time. This would apply to Firefox and Thunderbird too.

Therefore it may be safer to use host based RSS news aggregators. However they also have problems, such as collecting info about the user. Any web portal such as Yahoo or AOL which now offer this service are almost certainly using or going to use web beacons and such.

One would also hope that the web portal would provide security checks of the data being fed. However the feed is just a XML file that actually tells your browser where to get the data I think, or an XML file converted to a list of links in the webpage, so somehow one would have to trust the individual feeds that one wishes to aggregate. So your host/web portal would have to have an approved list of feeds it trusted and monitor them for misbehavior somehow.

I suppose I'll probably get rid of all my live bookmarks in Firefox unless they're from sites I trust.

Fortunately I think LYNX text based browser can still read most host based RSS aggregators since the articles still show up as regular links there, e.g. my.yahoo.com or my.aol.com, etc. So if I have a paranoid episone I can fall back to LYNX browser.

I really do think the security situation is getting worse , at least in the short term.

David H.

davidh
December 1st, 2005, 11:30 PM
I wish I knew more about this... or had time to learn more...
It's easy in Firefox, if you haven't done it yet. If FF can figure out there is a feed referenced somewhere on a web page you'll see the icon and just click on it to make a live bookmark. Otherwise (right click & ) get the URL of the feed from the XML/RSS icon on the page and plug it into a live bookmark (or other reader config/dialog thingy).

I think some of the main advantages are the feeds are more focused than ordinary web portal news and the level of fluff (or spam) is low and public feeds don't require registration or keeping your email address uptodate.

Security-wise FF and TB are probably safe for now. Worms will probably attack IE 7 (when it comes out) first.

David H.

Judy G. Russell
December 1st, 2005, 11:41 PM
I do use FF for this -- but I'm sure there are tricks here and there I don't know yet. Wish I had some time ...