What tools to use & how to integrate them
August 14, 2005 12:36 PM   Subscribe

For my father's 60th birthday, my sister and I are building him a customized browser default page. The design wrapper will feature goofy pics of my sister and me, and the meat of the page will be a blog we're setting up. But on the sidebars, we'd also like to integrate other features like: links to his favorite sites, calendar listings he can sync with his Palm, a Flickr feed, RSS news headlines and so forth. Any ideas on what else would make this a useful page for a middle-aged geek, and maybe some tips on integration?

I understand how RSS newsreaders work, but I'm not clear on how to integrate headlines into a page. Friendster actually has a back-end feature that lets you paste in an xml url, submit, and your page will display, for example, New York Times headlines on your sidebar. I'm just not sure how to do that on this page I'm making.

Any other geeky little tools that come to mind would be great. We're/he's open to anything.
posted by dhoyt to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Middle-aged geeks love the weather. Make sure you get a weather feed for his home town and maybe some of his favorite places.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:43 PM on August 14, 2005

Response by poster: ^perfect!

Plus, he lives in Pensacola where weather occasionally destroys things. He'll enjoy a daily heads-up.
posted by dhoyt at 12:45 PM on August 14, 2005

Google search bar. Search bar with drop-down for Google/Yahoo/Amazon/Ebay/etc would be even better. I know you can get them for the browser chrome, but I tend to forget they're there if they're not on the main page.
posted by Leon at 12:55 PM on August 14, 2005

I use feed digest to integrate an RSS feed into a site. It works well. If I remember correctly, it's very customizable. YOu can have it show the short description that comes with the headlines, or just the head lines.

You could also have an RSS feed for (for example) the lastest few links in a tag in Del.ico.us of a topic that he's interested in.
posted by easternblot at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2005

Response by poster: I just set up an account at Feed Digest -- it's great! Thanks.

In the sidebar of my Dad's future site, I'm considering using an iFrame to pull in the HTML -- is there a better way?

Has anyone experimented with integrating a tool like Yahoo Calendar so that your daily events show up in the sidebar? Is there a better calendar tool out there for this purpose?
posted by dhoyt at 4:21 PM on August 14, 2005

Yes. Feed Digest is exactly what I've been looking for, too, although I forgot I needed it until just now. I second that request for iFrame advice... although I've already been using them, so I'm not too willing to change the entire site (I've been wanting to integrate a Blogger blog inside another website, right now I just stuck a link to the blog there. I suck at making websites).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:10 PM on August 14, 2005

I like RSS Calendar for its total ease of use. You can look at a calendar, update it easily, and it will show you a regular calendar or give you your items in a feed. It's not as customizabe as I'd like it, but I was suprised how easy it was. You could customize a Google news page for him, maybe some news alerts
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 PM on August 14, 2005

One thing that might make this easier is that TypePad (I work for the company that makes it) is going to offer RSS syndication for sidebars soon. Then you can just pick feeds and they'll display on the page, which works for Flickr feeds, generic RSS, or headline feeds from (say) Google News or Yahoo News.

There's also a built-in tool for storing links to favorite sites, for creating and displaying photo albums, and docs on doing a lot more integration. Plus, of course, you can easily update the blog that's the main part of the page.
posted by anildash at 10:33 PM on August 14, 2005

Just to add a point of reference, I'm the developer/owner/etc of Feed Digest, so if you have any problems get in touch with me. Let me know you're a MeFier ad and you will stick out in my "to do" list :)

TypePad's new features sound like they will be useful too, and although there'll be some crossover, I anticipate what their userbase want to do is quite different to mine, so investigating all the options is well worth the time.
posted by wackybrit at 5:30 AM on August 17, 2005

dhoyt: If your hosting account allows it, use a .htaccess hack to allow HTML files to be parsed as PHP, then use the PHP inclusion code Feed Digest gives you. Either that, or use the JavaScript method. Both methods are documented on Feed Digest :)
posted by wackybrit at 5:31 AM on August 17, 2005

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