Feb 03

Making “David Pogue Direct”

So a reader writes to NYT technology columnist David Pogue, saying he wishes there was one button he could push to receive all Pogue’s writings and videos. The reader even suggests a name for this: “David Pogue Direct.” It’s a great idea.

But David Pogue says there’s no “one-click Pogue subscription” and that to catch all his content online, one has to subscribe to multiple sources in multiple formats.

I think that stinks. I think there should be a one-click way to keep up with Pogue. After all, he’s one of my favorite writers on technology.

So…let’s see if we CAN make a one-click Pogue Subscription.

We already have an RSS feed for Pogue’s Posts (his NYT blog):

To get his columns, Pogue suggests an email subscription (bleah!).

Here’s the feed for his NYT columns:

Pogue only has one solution to get his videos syndicated, and one to get them sans syndication:

* VIDEOS: Subscribe through iTunes . This is better than finding them on the Web, because (a) you’ll never miss one, (b) no ads, (c) higher quality, (d) iPhone/iPod compatibility, and (e) they’re downloaded files, so you can play them at will.

[UPDATE: If you’re not into iTunes, you can also get the videos on nytimes.com, from my video channel here. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to subscribe to it automatically.]

We can do better than that.

Want to subscribe to Pogue videos without having to use iTunes?

Subscribe to one of these feeds in your favorite aggregator:
http://nytsynvideo.com/itunes/5 (.mp4, no advertisements)
http://video.nytimes.com/video/playlist/technology/david-pogue/1194811622273/index.html?rss=1 (Links to each new Flash video on the NYT Web site, has advertisements)

Pogue gives his Twitter user ID, but that isn’t suitable for a one-click “Pogue Direct” solution, so we’ll grab the RSS feed for his Twitter stream:

So, let’s use Yahoo! Pipes to slap ’em all together. While in Pipes, we’ll even add a word to the front of each title so you know which feed the item is coming from.

Want a single RSS feed? Here you go:

Prefer to get that via email? (I don’t recommend it. Who wants an email every time David Pogue Tweets?)

Enter your email address:

Preview of David Pogue Direct:

I did this for fun and to see if I could. If Mr. Pogue objects, I will of course disable all of this. I’m a fan, after all.

Still, wouldn’t it be smart of the NYT to offer a convenient, one-click channel for David Pogue’s content? Slapping this together took me 20 minutes. Imagine how cool it could be if the NYT did it.

Dec 26

A Lovely Use of RSS

My brother, Andrew, a Web developer, is a very clever guy and a fan of woot.com.

Recently, he bought a digital picture frame from Woot that can be fed photos via RSS- as a gift to my parents.

The clever bit is where each of my siblings created a Flickr or Photobucket account in which to post photos of grandchildren. The feeds from each of these accounts was combined in Yahoo Pipes so that, once the frame is set up on my folks’ WiFi network, any new photos posted appear in their digital photo frame.

What a great way for a geographically dispersed family to keep grandparents updated.

My mom called to tell me how much she liked it, and I made a point of noting it was Andrew’s clever idea. All I did was mash the feed together in Yahoo Pipes.

I love technology when it is used intelligently.

Apr 28

EBSCOhost and ScienceDirect Blocking RSS re-syndication?

A friend who is a medical librarian emailed me. She writes:

“I’ve been setting up local RSS pages with Feedburner [for email distribution] and Feed2JS [for dislaying the content of feeds on Web pages] for our most popular journals, to allow for TOCs.

It seems the publishers have gotten wise to this and are not allowing their feeds to be resyndicated. It started with EbscoHost — I noticed their feeds never seemed to refresh themselves (which totally defeats the purpose of having a feed). Now it seems ScienceDirect is also blocking re-syndication. FeedBurner can’t pick up the feeds; Feed2JS gives an error, yet the feed validator says it’s a valid feed. SD is providing it’s own source-code to paste into local web pages, but it takes so long to load the page that it invariably times out = useless.

Just wondering if you’ve heard of this from anyone else…”

I don’t use either one of these, so I haven’t seen this problem. Has anyone else? Please let us know in the comments?

Feb 05

HHS/FDA/CDC Social Media Tools for Consumers and Partners

New to me- and a good idea to put all of this on one page.


I didn’t know the CDC was on MySpace or that the FDA had a recall Twitter feed.

I decided I should definitely follow the CDC’s Twitter feed for Health Professionals, which is for “…Health Professionals interested in staying up-to-date with CDC’s interactive media activities…”

They’ve also got a widget to help consumers search for products impacted by the Peanut-Containing Product Recall (embedded below).

FDA Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak 2009. Flash Player 9 is required.


  • Blogs
  • eMail Subscriptions
  • Health-e-Cards
  • Mobile Information
  • Online Video
  • Phone/Email
  • Podcasts
  • RSS Feeds
  • Social Networks
  • Badges for Social Networks
  • Twitter
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Web Sites
  • Widgets

Go check it out.

Hat tip: Maura Sostack

Jan 22

Annals of Pharmacotherapy on Wikipedia

I know I’m way behind on such things, but this article from the Annals of Pharmacotherapy deserves a mention, even one this belated:

Scope, completeness, and accuracy of drug information in Wikipedia.
Ann Pharmacother. 2008 Dec;42(12):1814-21. Epub 2008 Nov 18.
[PubMed] | [html] | [PDF]

The article compares drug information in Wikipedia to drug information in the Medscape drug reference.

“This study suggests that Wikipedia may be a useful point of engagement for consumers looking for drug information, but that it should be supplementary to, rather than the sole source of, drug information. This is due, in part, to our findings that Wikipedia has a more narrow scope, is less complete, and has more errors of omission versus the comparator database.”

And I loved this:

“…health professionals should not use user-edited sites as authoritative sources in their clinical practice, nor should they recommend them to patients without knowing the limitations and providing sufficient additional information and counsel. If these sites are recommended, it should be in the form of a permanent link pointing to the specific recommended version of an entry. Finally, the issues raised in Web 2.0 are not novel, nor are the approaches; consumer education, watchful editors, alert health professionals, and ethical online behavior remain, as ever, the foundation for the safety of Internet health information.”

Jan 15

More About the Book

So the book is getting some attention!

Internet Cool Tools for Physicians is in Google Book Search

Stephen Francoeur made this little video:

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the MLA mentioned it on their blog.

The MLA’s Taskforce on Social Networking Software posted about it, calling it “…an accessible, illustrated and contemporary guide to online tools in medicine.”

Laika, whose blog has quickly become one of my favorite MedLib blogs, mentioned it, as did Creaky.

I’m watching WorldCat.org with interest to see which libraries are getting it (though Duke’s copy doesn’t show up yet).

Dr. Shock (MD, PhD) gave it a very nice review.

I’m lucky to count as friends people like Meredith Farkas and Michael Stephens, both of whom thought the book worthy of mention on their very popular blogs.

Gosh- Brandi blogged about it way back in August– well before it as released!

I’m pleased to see mention of it in languages other than English.

The President and CEO of Community General Hospital blogged about it.

It has gotten some buzz on Twitter.

We’re anxious to hear any feedback you have about the book- please let us know what you think….and what you think needs to be added or changed for the second edition! 🙂

Dec 08

The Book!

Got my hands on my copies of the book today! How exciting!


You can buy a copy from:
Springer Publishing

or here:

I’m looking forward to eventually seeing it in WorldCat. 🙂

Congratulations to Melissa Rethlefsen (who wrote a heck of a lot more than I did)! You should really go email Melissa now and tell her how much she rocks.

Nov 06

UNYOC (CE slides) and NYLA Tomorrow

My apologies to the awfully nice folks who attended the CE course I taught at UNYOC a couple of weeks ago! I’ve taken far too long to get these slides posted:

Also: I’ll be on a panel at NYLA tomorrow (Friday, 11/6/2008) afternoon at 4:00 PM- please say hello if you’re going to be there! As usual at these sorts of things, I’ll know almost nobody. But hey- I might get to meet Polly Farrington!

May 30

More MLA 2008 Slides: Ebling RSS

(I don’t care that Ratcatcher beats me to posting cool stuff. I’m gonna’ post ’em anyway- they’re cool and deserve multiple mentions from MedLib blogs.)

From the Ebling Library at the University of Wisconsin Madison:

Also available as PDF.

I also really enjoyed this poster from EblingPronounced “EEEEEbling.” I’d like to take a moment to thank the person who helped me look really dumb (as if I needed help) in front of Erika Sevetson (who is very nice) by assuring me in a wholly confident tone of voice that it was pronounced “Ebbling.” You know who you are.:

(Fair Warning: PDF is about 7 MBs)

Lots more on this project from Ebling here

May 26

MLA 2008: Plenary Session IV Slides

David Rothman

Amanda Etches-Johnson

Melissa Rethlefsen

Bart Ragon

Apr 09

Hope Leman and ScanGrants.com

Hope Leman and I first got in touch in June 2006 and we jabbered about RSS for a while. By September of 2006, Hope had rolled out MedGrab, where clinicians could easily find and subscribe to TOC updates of their favorite journals via email.

Just recently, Hope has rolled out another neat project called ScanGrants.

ScanGrants is designed to facilitate the search for funding sources to enhance individual and community health. The funding sources listed here may be of interest to virtually anyone associated with the health field – medical researchers, social workers, nurses, students, community-based health educators, academics and others.

Funding sources most frequently listed here include those of private foundations, corporations, businesses, and not-for profit organizations. Finding and listing less traditional funding opportunities is also a priority. Federal and state funding sources are typically not included on ScanGrants because they are readily available on other sites (e.g. www.grants.gov).

ScanGrants was developed as a tool for Samaritan Health Services and its collaborators, but it is also available for use by the general public. The listing is selective and is intended to supplement other search methods. In many instances, grant announcements have been abbreviated for the sake of brevity. To view the full grant announcement, click on the link to the source URL provided for each funding opportunity.

ScanGrants has an RSS feed and email subscription option for each grant category or you can search the site and subscribe to a feed of your search results.

This is a great idea and a terrific, useful (and really good-looking) service for Samaritan Health Services to share with the world.

Apr 09

How to: Use Gmail to Manage List Emails

I subscribe to a bunch of mailing lists because they frequently contain useful information, but being subscribed to these lists using the email account provided by our hospital would be problematic. The volume of postings on some lists would clutter up the acount, making it more difficult to manage and making it more likely I’d miss other, more important emails from inside our organization.

So I subscribe to lists using a Gmail account. Here’s why:

  • Separating list emails into a separate account allows me to treat them, as a whole, in a different manner than emails from higher-priority senders (patrons, co-workers, etc.). This lets me keep my attention focused where it needs to be.
  • Because list emails are in a separate account, I also never have to annoy other list subscribers with “out-of-office” messages that get sent to whole list– because there’s never need to turn on an “out-of-office” message for this account.
  • Threaded conversation: Instead of having one line per each email received, Gmail inboxes have one line for each conversation. That means that my Gmail lists inbox doesn’t get as cluttered. It also lets me efficiently manage whole conversations instead of individual emails, even if a particular email is sent to multiple lists I subscribe to. Example image below shows that all (23) emails on the topic of “abortion” being made a stopword in POPLINE are one (expandable) line item in my Gmail inbox:
  • Mute function: If there’s a particular conversation(/thread) that I’m not interested in continuing to follow, I can “mute” the conversation and not need to see any further emails in that thread.
  • Gmail’s search capabilities are awesome. If I want to find a MEDLIB-L email I remember was sent by Michelle Kraft about OvidSP, I can search for label:medlib-l from:Kraft OvidSP and find it really, really quickly.
  • Gmail’s filters are powerful and easy to use.
    • Assigning labels: You can set up your Gmail filters to automatically assign colorful labels based on information that lets you scan your email quickly. For example, you could set your account up to automatically assign colored labels based on which list the conversation is from.
    • Forwarding based on content: You can combine Gmail’s great searching and filtering to monitor your list subscriptions. Say you subscribe to multiple lists, but only really want to pay attention if Young Adult services are mentioned. I can create a filter from the search for young OR youth OR “YA” and set any hits from that search to be automatically forwarded to my primary email address so it comes to my attention. Imagine the time saved by not having to manually look through all those emails for mentions of the topic I want to follow.

Bonus tip: Would you rather read your list email information in your feed aggregator? Set your lists Gmail account to forward the emails to MailBucket, and MailBucket will give you the content in an RSS feed.

Apr 02

How to: Follow CIL 2008 online via RSS [Edited again]


  • Added a feed from Google Blog Search (which uses a fairly narrow search) to the Superfeed.
  • Added filters to the Superfeed to screen out a handful of false positives.
  • Embedded Grazr widget (see end of post)


Wouter has made the Superfeed available in Dutch. 🙂

To make sure I don’t miss any online chatter about Computers in Libraries 2008 (which starts next Monday), I’m subscribed to the following feeds:

If you’re like me, you’d rather subscribe to one feed than several, so all the feeds above are included in the feed below:

Single feed that combines all of the above:

Grazr widget below will let you browse the Superfeed contents:

Mar 20

Explain RSS using Facebook

In the middle of an attempt to explain RSS to a Facebook user (who is already uniwittingly making use of RSS feeds), this exchange cracked me up:

the_dude: I haven’t heard of those Facebook apps. Tumblr? Reddit? Digg?

engtech: Those aren’t Facebook apps. They’re different websites. You don’t have to login to Facebook to read them. They’re out there in the great wilds of the Internet. They’re outside of Facebook.

the_dude: Man, internet people are horrible spellers. What’s up with those website names?

engtech: Web 2.0 means spell check is optional.


Feb 13

LibWorm is an “Awesome Beta Research Tool”

CollegeDegree.com lists LibWorm as one of its “25 Awesome Beta Research Tools from Libraries Around the World.”

24. LibWorm: This beta helps you “search the biblioblogosphere and beyond.” When you want to start your search on the Internet but only want to find library-related material, this tool can help. By pulling information from over 1500 RSS feeds in categories like academic libraries, government libraries, law libraries, podcasts: librarianship, medical libraries and more.

Thanks to Paul Pival for the heads-up!

Jan 30

Hacking ReadBurner URLs

You’ve probably heard about ReadBurner by now.

The idea behind ReadBurner is that it aggregates counts of items that are frequently shared in Google Reader.

First a point of clarification: ReadBurner doesn’t get its data directly from Google Reader in aggregate via an API- it gets the data from the RSS feeds of public linkblogs fed by Google Reader. This is explained on ReadBurner’s About page:

“ReadBurner aggregates items that are shared on the Google Reader.

This works by constantly updating RSS feeds of currently several hundred linkblogs. In order to filter out the best stuff ReadBurner counts, whenever an item is shared by multiple persons.”

ReadBurner’s creator, Alexander Marktl, allows users to submit new linkblogs (or does he?), but he can’t ever gather all of them…so I suspect that ReadBurner won’t ever really represent the sharing habits of Google Reader users. Further, I find it hard to believe that Google would not be working on a similar project that actually will have access to all the sharing data from Google Reader users in its entirety…at which point ReadBurner will stop being interesting.

In the meanwhile, ReadBurner is still pretty neat. The features I’d most like to see added are search and to have searches outputted as RSS feeds. I’ve had no luck getting ReadBurner to output the feeds I want, but I have managed to make it filter for just the stuff I want.

I really wanted a form so I could search and, for instance, see if any posts at this blog were being frequently shared. Sadly, no such search form exists at ReaderBurner.

Fortunately, we can make it search in a limited fashion even without a form by messing with the URL a bit.

The back end of ReadBurner is PHP/MySQL, a combination I gained some familiarity with through working on LibWorm with Frankie Dolan (and by using WordPress to power this blog).

All our little hacks will start from this URL:

From here, we can play with two parameters, r and a.

r = The name of the source the item came from
a = The name of the author of the item

So if we wanted to see items in ReadBurner that were shared from davidrothman.net, we just need to tack r=davidrothman.net onto the end of http://www.readburner.com/index.php? like so:

For another example, shared items from Boing Boing could be found like so:

But what if we want only to see shared items items from Boing Boing which were authored by Cory Doctorow?

To our existing http://www.readburner.com/index.php?r=boing%20boing, we’ll tack on &a=Cory%20Doctorowthe ‘%20’ represents the space character between Cory’s given name and surname and does the same between “boing” and “boing” in the previous example, giving us:

Marktl himself shows how to tweak the URL of ReadBurner to filter for language and for a minimum number of shares.

Of course, there are easier ways to get this kind of info from ReadBurner. Once could subscribe to the feed for the recently submitted items and then filter using Yahoo! Pipes or one of the other free tools for filtering RSS feeds…but that’s not as much fun.

Check it out: Noted biblioblogger Steven Cohen is one of the top sharers on ReadBurner. 🙂