Heres how you build one

Do you remember that episode of ST:TNG where a hyperintelligent life modified Barkley to be not only increasingly and ridiculously intelligent, but to drive the Enterprise to the other side of space, so the hyperintelligent life never had to go anywhere themselves? I don’t really, either, but past a certain point, Barkley begins spending time in the holodeck trying to get some of the increasingly complicated and intricate ideas out of his head and he talks the computer through putting together a system that will allow the ship to access his mind directly … you know, because having to speak everything out is just too slow and troublesome … anyway, he’s not quite got it together yet, and he’s listing off the components that will need to be incorporated, and their configuration, and the computer says something dumb like ‘that is an unknown component’ because he’s asked the computer to put something in (something with a ridiculously future-sounding-in-that-star-trek-way name) that had not yet been invented, and his response was something along the lines of “well here’s how you build one…” and he begins to describe the construction of the ridiculous thingamajig before the shot cuts away.

Relatively often I find myself confronted with something where I can either wait for the world to catch up with what I want to do, or say “here’s how you build one…” and create it from scratch myself. Like, I was looking for a web-based (PHP, CGI, whatever) RSS aggregator… and I guess there are a couple of ‘services’ that are web-based that do that sort of thing, but … well, they’re basically running the same sort of desktop RSS aggregator that everyone else is using and outputting the feed data to customized web pages. There are a few people who have had the idea and said they are going to build one… generally who gave up after a month or two with no results. And I was about ready to just go ahead and wait again…

Except that I guess that while I was searching my brain was working out what a PHP-based RSS aggregator would need to do, exactly, and … I found myself saying “Here’s how you build one…” So, for the last couple of days (on and off – I’ve been doing a lot of reading, too) I’ve roughed out some code on paper and … well, I’m going to be doing two things. I’m going to write a custom PHP application that parses XML from RSS files in a way that is useful to me, and… I’m going to create a new XML namespace to extend RSS with additional information I’d like. When this goes operational, it will mean that every section and blog of Modern Evil (and sites on the Modern Evil Network) will have a useable RSS 2.0 feed that any desktop RSS aggregator that can interpret RSS 2.0 will be able to read, plus if the other part of my plan works the way I expect the little pop-ups that posters see every time they post will no longer be necessary.

Yeah. And … uhh… I’ll probably also be extending the RSS XML to have special tags for online comics feeds, and maybe provide some sort of easy-to-use front end for accessing them … like magic. yes. magic.

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