February 22, 2012

If An RSS Feed Falls In The Forest

Despite efforts from Apple, Yahoo, Google, Mozilla etc., the RSS syndication system has always been just a little bit too geeky for the general public. That doesn't bother me, as I've built up my own little news-reading workflow over the years that's made it easy for me to skim news headlines from my favorite sources and track the read status amongst all my desktop and mobile devices. Started reading with an independent NetNewsWire on a G4 Powerbook, stuck with it through its buyout then spinoff by NewsGator as Macs transitioned to Intel. Killed time on the commute by reading RSS on an W810i feature-phone running Java ME counting the bits over GPRS, carrying the same RSS subscription list through the iPhone revolution and its array of dedicated news-reading apps.

Throughout my RSS-reading history, Yahoo News' Top Stories feed has always been at the top of my reading list. It pulls together the major headlines from multiple news-wire feeds and presents them in a no-nonsense, easy-to-read way. And throughout that time I've never had to mess with the feed URL http://rss.news.yahoo.com/rss/topstories.

Until this past week, while the headlines and summaries still show up in the RSS newsreader, when I click on the headline to read the full article in the browser all I get is an error page saying:


Sorry, the page you requested either doesn't exist or isn't available right now!

Well, that kinda sucks. The Yahoo News sitemap doesn't even show a Top News item anymore. But I don't want to add all the individual subcategories either. Yahoo News itself does still show a Latest Headline's tab that's also available to be added to the My Yahoo! portal page. And from the My Yahoo! module I was able to extract a valid RSS address for the Latest Headlines:


So simple! But not obviously visible anywhere. All my Google and even Bing searching hadn't turned up any answers, which I didn't think was possible in this day and age when it comes to tech questions. So consider this a public service announcement, for those few geeks who still cares about the Yahoo News Top Stories RSS feed. I guess everyone just get their news headlines from Twitter now. And it looks like Apple is giving up on RSS for consumers in Mountain Lion, too. Maybe RSS can count towards my nerd cred a little bit now. The old Geek Card can use a little polishing up.

Posted by mikewang on 04:01 PM

February 14, 2012


Splashed out a good chunk of money for my first DSLR for our engagement, upgrading for the first kid, then once again for the second kid. That's not even counting all those lenses and accessories that I picked up along the way. It's worth it to record the memories of our kids' birth and growth plus our own travels and life experiences, as mundane as they may be. But in strict accounting terms, the return-on-investment has been a big fat zero in the numerator.

Good old OCD, plus the fantastic FlickrExport iPhoto & Aperture plugins, allowed me to diligently caption and tag every single photo I post to Flickr. So in addition to the family-member views, I get the occasional Google or Flickr search hit. Some websites have requested usage of my travel images, but they were mostly scraping for free content and there's no compensation other than a link-back or acknowledgment.

But someone out there finally recognized my picture-making genius and was willing to pay for it! Received a message with subject line that started with "send us your invoice", which is an excellent way of drawing attention to your message, by the way.

We would like to use your photo in thumbnail size in our layout:


If agreeable, we pay SGD$50 per stock image in our [redacted] magazine Spring 2012 issue.

I whipped up a business-like invoice with a Microsoft Word stock template and sent if off without much expectation of actual payment. But a few weeks later I got a call from my bank asking me what to do with this wire-transfer of Singapore dollars. The handling fee ate up a big chunk of the money, but the reward wasn't in the money anyway. In fact, I kinda regret the electronic wire transfer and should've asked for a physical cashier's check for a keepsake. Or find someone in Singapore who can go by a Park Hotel to pick up a couple copies of the in-house magazine

A Lorcha - Mains 船屋葡國餐廳

Posted by mikewang on 04:40 PM