Offensive Thinking

Internet Thoughtcrime

Efficient RSS reading - with Newsbeuter

Posted: 2009-05-12

RSS/Atom feed reader are a very convenient way of organising your daily dosage of news, blog posts and related stuff. I really couldn’t keep up with all the things I like to read if I had to open every individual website to check for updates and read those things that interest me. As I hate clicking on things and love console programs (as you may have guessed from my links section), I use Newsbeuter. I don’t want to start a lengthy post about all the cool features Newsbeuter has, just read the documentation and you’ll see.

I just want to give you a simple example why I like Newsbeuter so much: As I mentioned yesterday, I read Twitter updates via their RSS feeds. And I also mentioned that many tweets are just nondescript ramblings I’m not interested in. The interesting tweets however tend to be those with links in them, pointing me to some new project, paper, blog post etc.

Here, Newsbeuter’s filter language comes into play. In Newsbeuter, all my Twitter RSS feeds are tagged as “5. Twitter” (the 5 is only there because Newsbeuter sorts tags alphabetically when you display them for selection, and I want other tags to be shown first). Newsbeuter can also generate so called query feeds, which are meta feeds generated with its filter language. In my .newsbeuter/urls file, I have the following query feed:

"query:TwitterURLs:tags =~ \"5. Twitter\" and content =~ \"http\"" \
        "5. Twitter"

This gives me a new pseudo (i.e., not really existing) feed called “TwitterURLs” which contains all feeds with the tag “5. Twitter” and the string “http” in its content. Meaning I get a feed with all tweets which contain a URL, weeding out all those other tweets normally being not as interesting. This new feed is also tagged as “5. Twitter”, so it will be shown along the other, real feeds when I select this tag. Isn’t that convenient? :)

I have also added my .newsbeuter/config file to the Dotfiles section, if you’re interested in e.g. vim-like keybindings for Newsbeuter.