Sunday, April 23, 2006
I noticed that my sidebar links weren't displaying today, so I finally ditched RSS Digest (which was being deprecated in favour of some sort of pay service.) and switched the links over to FeedBurner. It seems to be faster, updates more frequently, and looks at least as good as RSS Digest's output did. (RSS Digest was more flexible formatting-wise but I ended up just making it spit out an HTML unordered list, which FeedBurner does anyway.)
Setting up a 'links of the day' sidebar is pretty easy, and it's a great way to publish links to interesting sites without having to make a new post, and choke your aggregator, for each one. Just go to del.icio.us and create an account if you don't already have one. It will show you how to put little bookmarklet buttons on your browser so you can easily 'bookmark' sites you find interesting. (del.icio.us calls itself a 'social bookmarking' site. Basically it's to feed the egos of people who think even their browser bookmarks are worthy of public exhibition.)
Once you've got yourself a del.icio.us account and have bookmarked a couple of pages with it, you can right-click on the RSS icon at the bottom of your del.icio.us user page, and choose 'copy link location', then go to feedburner.com and paste the RSS feed URL you just copied into the big text box in the centre of the page.
Follow the basic set-up steps, you don't need to do anything special to the feed, so just set it up with the defaults. Once you're finished you'll be at the main feedburner configuration page. Click on 'Publicize', then click on 'Buzzboost'. This will create a piece of HTML that you can embed into your blog's sidebar that will show the titles and descriptions of the links you added to your del.icio.us page. For mine I unchecked the options to include post date and feed title, and made sure the word length of the content excerpt was 'full text'.
Once you click 'activate' it will give you a text box with some HTML code in it. Just paste that somewhere into your blog's sidebar and you'll have something similar to my links section on the right.