[Editorial] Aaron Swartz, Uncommon Crusader for the Common Man

A federal case involving an unrelenting prosecutor and a brilliant  young prodigy has ended in tragedy. 26 year old Aaron Swartz, the subject of the federal case, has taken his life and a bright star’s light has gone dim in the world. If you’re like me, you may not be familiar with the name right away, but the impact this young man had on the world during his short life merits our pause and reflection. He was humble and shy and the federal case against him has mostly been overshadowed by mass shootings and political malarchy over the past couple of years.

Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons of which he was a champion)

The Making of a Genius

Aaron Swartz was born in Chicago, Illinois in November 1986. His father was a computer programmer and founder of his own computer company. Thus, the early spark of interest for all things computing was born in Aaron. By the time he was 13 years old he was recognized for his technological achievements by winning the ArsDigita Prize which recognized young people for developing “useful, educational, and collaborative” non-commercial Web sites. As a result of that win he was able to visit MIT to meet some dignitaries of the internet. By the time he was 18, he was working on the team that developed RSS 1.o. For those who may not be familiar with that term, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a standard used by many news organizations and blogs to send news feeds to their readers. He also played a strong role in the founding of Creative Commons which seeks to make creative works accessible to the public.

In more recent days, Swartz championed the cause of free information. It is probably safe to say he is the Robin Hood of information as he pressed for the free flow of information to the public, particularly the academic journals which are housed in large University databases that require fees to access. He co-founded a group called Demand Progress whose efforts are attributed to stopping the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) from passing. Below, you can watch a keynote address Swartz gave at the F2C: Freedom to Connect 2012 event in Washington, D.C.

Criminal Mind?

Swartz unfortunately, found himself on the wrong side of the law back in 2009 when he downloaded a massive amount of documents housed in the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts’ database, PACER. The PACER system houses the electronic documents of the courts and users of the system were charged 8 cents per page to access these documents. This did not set well with Swartz and his colleagues, so using a free trial license that was being offered to University libraries back then, he downloaded nearly 20 million pages before the government shut him out. The FBI investigated the issue but he was never charged.

In 2011, Swartz found himself the subject of a much more serious case as a result of him “fraudulently” downloading 4 million academic journals from the JSTOR database. He apparently gained access to a utility closet at MIT and attached a laptop computer to their network. He used this computer to download millions of academic journals with the intention of making them readily available to the public before MIT police caught him in the act. This made him the target of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz who along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Stephen P. Heymann and Scott L. Garland, pursued him fiercely. Many in the academic arena felt the case against Swartz was blown out of proportion and that the laws Ortiz was citing in her case were meant to be used against cyber bank robbers and the like. Swartz didn’t set out to gain anything from his actions but rather, allow free access to University research,  much of which is publicly funded. Even JSTOR, the alleged victim in this case, “regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge”. You can read their full statement regarding Aaron Swartz here.

IS RSS Dead? Well No, It’s Powering Up Things Which Are Supposedly Killing IT

Before I start this article, I have to be very frank. I stopped using almost 16 months ago. I no longer read RSS feeds. However, that in no way means RSS in itself is dead. RSS lives on in every product we could possibly imagine using, be it mobile devices or tablets.

RSS is Not Dead; Biggest RSS Icon

I am having this discussion because I want to drive home a point. Website Syndication might be down, but RSS will live on. It will continue to be a way to deliver content to mobile devices, embedded devices, tablets and what not. The RSS platform in itself is not dead at all. It’s the preference on how users want to read their content is what is changing.

Earlier today, TechCrunch said that RSS is dying, and then declared a RSS war with the developer of RSS. The whole thing sounded amusing at best, but here is what the case is, MG Seigler is missing the point. RSS is a technology that provides a backbone to syndicating content, not feed readers. Just because you read news on your or Twitter or Facebook does not mean that RSS does not play any part there.

RSS provides an option to users to provide data in a structured format and many apps, apps and other mobile platform apps make use of this structured data to display data in a customized format, without RSS it would be very hard to pull in data if not impossible. Even and provide feeds in some form or the other, this is because other users or devices or apps make use of this data to provide you with data in a customized format.

Having apps designed to query your database directly when RSS exists is not only bad programming, it is stupid. Why? Because, RSS provides you with the same data without having to go through all the pain and is much more easier to consume.

Now here is a question? Where does most of the links in Facebook and Twitter come through? Sites like Twitterfeed and Networked Blogs, which well use RSS to post links to these sites. Of course, you might say that I post my own links, but have you researched how many links on Twitter or Facebook are actually posted by users verses these automated clients?

So, the matter of fact is that RSS is going to live through a long life. People will stop reading RSS in their feed readers, but they will continue reading RSS on their phones and Twitter and Facebook and continue proclaiming RSS is dead. That you don’t notice it does not mean that it is dead, it means that you don’t know what you are talking about. Feed Readers are getting extinct for God’s sake.

These are just my 2 cents about some opinion that is not just flawed but also puts the wrong perspective into users mind. I would suggest you read Matthew Ingram’s article about RSS being dead too.

Update: RSS is rocking, well, Google is putting RSS leechers on top of actual content writers, which is good sign for content stealers who steal other’s work and post it on their own website. This would never be possible without RSS. You cannot blame Google for it, for the past 16-18 months they have been tackling the same issue, but it looks like they are still clueless about it.

Google is F**ked UP

Check the screenshot above, you will spot my name in the top two articles, my signature bad writing et al, but not Techie Buzz where I write? But this all thanks to RSS.

Twitter Tuesdays | 3 Great Tools To Publish Your Feeds To Twitter

Every blogger understands   the importance of social media in today’s world. Keeping connected with your followers on Facebook and Twitter and sharing your content with them through these networks has become increasing important for any good blog or website. While you could always share your stuff on Twitter manually, it would be like re-inventing the wheel since you can automate the whole process within seconds. Here are 3 excellent tools to do that with:

1. RSS2Twitter:

RSS2Twitter might not have an appealing interface but it does the job quite well. You can link an RSS feed to more than one Twitter accounts and choose to only include title or title and description. The tools also allows you to insert a prefix and exclude/include tweets with specific keywords. You can also view complete analytics including number of clicks on each post.


2. TwitterFeed:

TwitterFeed is probably the most popular tool to publish feeds to Twitter. In addition to all the basic settings, the tool also lets you choose an update frequency, insert a suffix and select a URL shortener of your choice. You can also test the validity of a feed from inside the tool and make it inactive with a single click.


3. DlvrIt:

DlvIt is a hidden gem when it comes to publishing feeds to Twitter. Instead of connecting a feed with a Twitter account, DlvrIt lets you group feeds together into a route and publish that route to a set of Twitter/Facebook accounts. It offers all the advanced features to filter your feeds or insert prefix/suffix along with detailed analytics report. The tool has another unique feature of letting you post to your Twitter account directly.

Dlvr It

All 3 tools are great and achieve the purpose of publishing your content on social media. However, each one of them has some uniqueness to it that might make it the right one for you.

Filter Items In Google Reader

As you know, Apple has announced its much hyped tablet computer, iPad, and this news has turned almost everyone crazy. This is a totally disgusting situation for some of us (like me) who are not interested in iPad and want to focus on other things. My RSS reader is overloaded with articles covering the Apple tablet, and I hope this situation will remain the same for next few days.

If you are looking for any solution to reduce the RSS load in Google Reader, thankfully here is a Greasemonkey script which filters unwanted content based on keywords. This greasemonkey script, Google Reader Filter, helps you to focus on interesting topics by filtering blogposts with provided keywords.

How to use Google Reader Filter?

Install the userscript from here and reload the Google Reader page. Now, a link named Filter Settingswill appear on top right corner of the page.

Filter items in Google Reader

Click this link and provide keywords and regex to exclude. All RSS items that match the provided keywords will be displayed with dull gray text, so that they don’t attract much of attention.


Another interesting feature of this script is its ability to highlight entries with selected keywords. It increases the visibility of those items. For example, if you have added a keyword JavaScript to the Highlights column blogposts with the keyword JavaScript will be highlighted with a lime background.


So the next time you face a situation like this, use this userscript to increase your productivity. Google Reader Filter requires the Greasemonkey add-on for Firefox and works wherever Firefox does.

Convert Partial Rss Feeds Into Full text With FiveFilter

There are some blogs who offer only partial Rss feeds. You have to click the link from the Rss reader and visit the site to read the full article. Fivefilters is a tool which can convert these partial Rss feeds into full text Rss feeds. This is immensly useful and you can read the full article from your Rss reader.

Using Fivefilters is easy, just visit this page and enter the feed url. Then, hit the “Create Feed” button and you will be shown the full text Rss feed. Copy the link and you subscribe in your Rss reader.


Fivefilters helps people extract and read full text web content. It can extract content from an HTML page or it can transfrom an existing feed into a full text Rss.

Bookmarklet: To make things even easier, they also have a bookmarklet which you can use. Just drag and drop this link in your Bookmarks toolbar. Whenever you come across a partial feed, click this bookmarklet and the feed will be converted to a full text rss feed automatically.

Techie-Buzz Verdict

Fivefilters is a one click solution to convert partial Rss feeds into full.It is also available as a free download so that you can host it in your web server. There are no signups or registrations required to use this service.

Techie-Buzz rating: 5/5 (perfect).

Filter and View Links in your Twitter Stream in RSS using ReadTwit

read-twit-logo Do you feel that your missing a lot of stuff on Twitter? Are those RTs (Re-Tweets) from everyone annoying you? Then here’s something you should need. ReadTwit, an excellent service/software that filters your Twitter feeds to links only resolves link destinations and publishes the content as an RSS feed. The best part is that, any duplicate links or RTs rather in the same time-frame, are grouped together. These feed contains only the links shared by people whom your following on Twitter.

ReadTwit also makes sure that you never miss any good stuff that are being shared on Twitter while your away! It allows you to control how often the feed is updated, hide a particular users tweets, ignore hash tags and show the full content or only a summary.


ReadTwit is added for those like us who use Twitter as a main source to keep themselves updated and to find interesting stuffs. And most of all, it’s free!

Google Reader Officially Supports NewsGator, NewsGator Dumps Online Version

today announced their official integration with NewsGator the popular online and offline RSS client, this would now mean that users of RSS clients like FeedDemon and NetNewsWire will now have the ability to sync feeds directly with Google Reader.

In another interesting news, NewsGator has decided to discontinue the use of NewsGator Online, their free web based RSS reader, at the end of August.

However NewsGator Online users will be able to migrate their subscriptions to Google Reader.

Definitely makes a lot of sense since Google Reader has been adding a lot of new and exciting features making it one of the best online RSS feed reader.

Another good news is for users who are looking to read Google Reader from their desktop, this in the addition to the already available Google Reader Desktop clients and Google Reader Desktop Gadget.

What are your thoughts about this news? Do let us know.

A hearty welcome to NewsGator users [Official Google Reader Blog]

NewsGator Consumer RSS Reader Product Changes & Google Sync [Official NewsGator Blog]

10 Tools To Combine and Mashup Multiple RSS Feeds

RSS has become a very common phenomenon on the web. Everybody uses it, whether they realize it or not. It has taken different forms and works in different ways. RSS delivers content with flexibility and faster than any owl at Hogwarts. (Don’t know what’s RSS? Read this)

A typical webworker goes through hundreds of feeds in a day, maybe more. Many of which are uncategorized and just linger between the pile. Those feeds may be bundled into a single feed. Like all news feeds combined into one and same with design, photography etc. A developer on the other hand might want to do it for a different reason. We have 10 tools today on Techie Buzz that should make your task easier.


1. Yahoo Pipes: Yahoo pipes is one of the most powerful and extendible tool on this list. Within Yahoo pipes, you can source in multiple feeds into a pipe’, add filters to it, sort data as you wish, add conditions and whole lot. Yahoo pipes is so feature rich, that it can sometimes get a little confusing. If so, follow this little tutorial to get right on track.

2. FeedMingle: FeedMingle mingles your feeds into different formats. You’ll need to add your feed urls in the provided box, one in each line. Once done, you can grab the combined feed in formats of either RSS, atom or json. An html widget is also available, which you can paste anywhere on the web.

3. Feedweaver: Feedweaver allows you to create your own personalized RSS feeds. You can create your own feeds by combining source feeds from your favorite websites, and use filters to choose what you want in it. By using filters, you can extract only those stories which you wish to read. Feedweaver requires registration.

4. FeedStitch: FeedStitch lets you pull data from a lot of sources: Regular rss, Twitter, Flickr, Delicious and Tumblr to name a few and put them under groups. Each group then has its own feed which contains stories from all its constituents. FeedStitch also needs registration, which also gets you a public profile listing all your groups.

5. FeedKiller: No FeedKiller doesn’t kill the poor feeds. It mixes them. It’s working is quite simple. Enter a name for the new feed. Enter feed urls of the constituent feeds and mention how many stories you want to be indexed. There’s no limit to the number of feeds and no registration is required.

6. Feed Informer: Feed Informer lets you create digests out of multiple rss feeds. Once a digest has been created, the output can be in different forms which include PDF, Flash, Rss, atom, jpeg, Js and a lot more. Templates can be chose and digests can be published as well. Feed Informer requires registration.

7. Feed Rinse: Feed Rinse is more of a Filter than a mashup tool. Nevertheless, you can combine feeds with it regardless of any applied filters or not. Feed Rinse previously was a premium application, but now all the packages are free. You’ll get features like channels, keyword filtering, author filtering tag filtering and a lot more.

8. xFruits: xFruits is a lot more than a Rss feed aggregator. It’s a whole power house. It contains different modules that do different tasks. There’s one which creates a bunch of RSS feeds and packs them into one. Another creates a web page with a feed. xFruits will also let you create PDF files, OPML files, a mobile friendly version of your blog from a RSS feed. Requires registration.

9. BlogSieve: BlogSieve is a free web-based tool that creates new feeds by filtering, merging and sorting existing feeds. The BlogSieve engine accepts virtually every (valid) feed format, processed results are then exported into any feed format you choose.

10. Google Reader: Google Reader although is a feed reader itself, but does a very intelligent task of combining feeds as well. The feature is not really traceable at the first sight, but can be found if you dig deeper. All that you need to do is assign a folder to the feeds you need to mashup. Then go the settings page > click on folders and tags link and make that particular folder public. The public page so formed now has a feed of its own which constitutes all the stories of the feeds in the folder. So there you have it, a combined rss feed.

10+1. Feedity: Feedity comes to use when you want to create a RSS feed for a page that doesn’t provide one by default. It also lets you track webpage changes in real-time, pull web content for mashups, publish rss feeds on your website and aggregate rss feeds.

And That’s All. If you find any other useful tool , the comments are all yours!

Google Reader Desktop Client

Google Reader is no doubt one of the best online RSS feed readers, however I have been using Feedly for the past few months, however the constant changes that Feedly has been pushing down users throats has made me decide to switch to a desktop client that will allow me to read and sync feeds with my Google Reader account.

If you are looking for a desktop client for Google Reader, we have found quite a few alternatives that you can use, the alternatives consist of regular softwares as well as applications.

Continue reading Google Reader Desktop Client

Google Chrome RSS Support

is definitely a browser worth using, however it still lacks quite a lot of features for mainstream users, which includes lack of support for add-ons like and the lack of RSS support.

In the past though we have told you about several bookmarklets, that would help you add some of the missing features to Google Chrome.

Continue reading Google Chrome RSS Support