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Inbox Zero: RSS Edition

Recently I expressed how I have so much information to consume, if a website doesn’t load when JavaScript is blocked I will just close it and move on.

I had that in mind when I set up newsbeuter to sync my NewsBlur feeds. Yeah, I am on a commandline kick, and it is rocking.

So I looked at my 129 feeds and nearly 7,000 saved items and thought to myself, “maiki, what are you doing?”

I needed to get this under control, because as awesome as NewsBlur is, the saved items bucket is not maiki-friendly. It just gives me a place to hide articles and never consume them.

I don’t want to be a hoarder.

Hence, a great purge!

Now I am at 75 feeds, and they are currently all caught up.

How did I decide what stayed and went? I came up with some simple rules, but first a few exceptions:

  • If it is a site I host, I subscribe. This has been useful, as I can see if a client is writing for the web, or if there is an error with the feed.
  • If it belongs to a friend. My friends get to be stupid with their feeds, I love them. Also, I will probably fix their feeds anyhow.
  • They are job feeds. These aren’t great, but are kinda worth the extra hassle if they deliver. Think subscribing to a Craigslist search.

Despite those exceptions, most of those feeds worked out. Turns out I host a substantial amount of my friends blogs, so they were always legit.

Okay, now for the criteria!

  • Full article only. I don’t have time to click through and potentially deal with a crappy, illegible type system that I have to increase or render differently. Also, most of my saved articles are summaries that I think might be cool, but they just stack up.
  • Served over HTTPS. If anyone wants to read what I am reading, they are going to have to grab the public feeds just like NewsBlur!
  • No feed proxies. I am reading your ideas, not opting into your analytics engine.
  • Has to have been updated in the last year. This just saves resources, as RSS is a polling tech, and there isn’t a reason to keep checking the feed for updates when none are coming.

A better bucket

Now that the feeds are in order, I need a better process for emptying my feeds bucket. Well, turns out there is a method in newsbeuter that works for me: saving the article.

As I am reading my feeds I will want to comment on one, or reference it later. In newsbeuter the default binding is s, and it will save the article as a text file; I configured my save-path as ~/docs/news/, so it even gets synced to Nextcloud, in case I need that reference on the go.

Aside from reference, I am trying to publish more regularly, and am playing with weekly list o’ links. That news directory comes in handy on Saturday when I go to compile it. I’ve processed a few of these already, but here is a current tree of the directory:

.
├── Fedora_26_Officially_Released_With_Updated_Software__More.txt
├── GaymerX_Foundation_is_Live.txt
├── GitHub_Code_Review_Comes_to_VIP_Go.txt
├── GitLab_Critical_Security_Update_PreAnnouncement.txt
├── GitLab_Patch_Release_936.txt
├── Git_Rebase__All_WordPress_Developers_Need_to_Know.txt
├── Jetpack_Professional_Plan_Introduces_Unlimited_Access_to_200_Commercial_Themes.txt
├── LinkArchiver_a_new_bot_to_back_up_tweeted_links.txt
├── Living_World_Season_3_Finale_Arrives_July_25.txt
├── Making_CI_easier_with_GitLab.txt
├── Piwik_Analytics_and_becoming_a_Piwik_Certified_Professional.txt
├── The_Future_of_Underscores_and_A_New_Committer.txt
├── Themes_Shops_Might_be_Dead_Thoughts_on_an_Alternative_Business_Model.txt
├── This_week_in_WPA11y__July_10_2017.txt
├── v0251.txt
├── Web_Accessibility_Plugins_for_WordPress_Users.txt
├── Whats_new_in_Gutenberg_14th_July.txt
├── Why_WordPress_2.txt
├── Wildcard_Certificates_Coming_January_2018.txt
└── Write_To_USB_Sticks_Easily_Using_FMR.txt

0 directories, 20 files

The cool part of this is, once I’ve done my link and commentary, I just delete the article from my filesystem.

This new bucket is better for my sanity, and has the added benefit of being offline friendly; I carry my wifi spot wherever I go, but sometimes I just want to sit under a tree and write, ya know?

My hopes for the new system are less distraction and more writing. My goals are to encourage the best practice of sharing information.

Whatcha think?