RSS from anywhere may be a reality for me.

And it didn’t even take me banging my head against Google Reader. I’ve been looking for something portable to replace my current favourite, an RSS plugin for Outlook 2003. Mostly because, on days like today when I’m not sitting in front of my computer, as much as I love being able to have direct access to my feeds in Outlook, it helps me all of not at all at the moment. And I might have found it–at least a temporary fix, until it breaks or I find something better.

The software, written in python and running on any OS that therefore supports the language–I have it on Linux at the moment, is just called Planet. It takes one or more RSS feeds, such as the feed from this very blog, and merges them into a single HTML file. The design looks not a whole lot different from most blogs–the entries are sorted latest first, by date, and optionally by feed, with individual headings indicating the start of a new segment. It looks incredibly customizeable, although I’ve not yet actually gotten much time to play with it–a disadvantage of all my current subscriptions being, as said before, on my computer at home which is precisely where I’m not.

All the HTML, XML, and other such files are built dynamicly every update from templates. Those templates contain the raw HTML or XML code, plus a few variables understood by the program for printing things such as the feed name, entry title, when it was posted, etc. The program itself can be scheduled to run via Linux’s crontab command, or the Mac OS equivalent. Or, if you’re insane enough to have managed to get python running on Windows, you can suffer even more brain damage and update it via the task scheduler. I wouldn’t recommend it-windows has a nasty little habit of breaking task scheduler, but it’s your brain.

The only thing that would make me not recommend it for non-techy users is absolutely no problem for me–entirely manual instalation and configuration. Everything from determining how long between checks for new content–enter the crontab utility–to the addition of new feeds absolutely must be done by hand. Personally, even though it’s not really a huge problem for me, I’d still have much rathered it give you the option of just tossing it an OPML file and letting it draw the feed info from that. But then, I also have well over 100 feeds to transfer over when I get the time. Still, for what it does it looks highly promising. And, it can always go away if and when I find something better. But for now, it beats what’s currently out there for hosted solutions (No, FeedMyInbox, I don’t want to pay you $16 for the privelege of being able to have you email all my feeds to me. Sorry.). So, I’ll give it a try for a bit and either really love it or tos it out the nearest window. In the meantime, I have back entries of feeds to go through when I get home anyway, so I can take my time with the moving everything over to the new software. And it’ll definitely take its time.

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