River2 Blog

News and updates about the River2 aggregator.

Matt’s questions about River2

Matt Diaz is an incoming Studio 20 student and has been using River2. He had some questions — which I am answering here on the blog in case these come up for others.

1. He’d like to be able to organize the feed he’s subscribed to into separate streams that River2 saves into separate HTML files and pushed to Dropbox.

There is a way to do this, it works, but there’s no user interface to set it up. I use the feature on the east-village.org server, I have a stream for the East Village blogs, one for nyblogs.org and another for my own personal aggregator with the news feeds I’m interested in.

I think it’s a little too difficult right now to hack it in yourself. I need to create a UI that makes it possible to create new users for a River2 installation. Just know that it’s not too far from being real, and if you really want it, bring your laptop to the next meetup and I’ll see if I can get it to work manually.

2. He’d like to get rid of the small notice of news that right now is advertising nyblogs.org.

That’s totally cool. I could add a pref to turn it off, but in the meantime you could change the CSS for the site to shrink it down to 0 pixels. Open river.css in the River2 sub-folder of the OPML folder, and look for “caption.” That’s where you go to change the style of the caption. Just save it, and the next time the page is rendered it’ll use the new stylesheet.

3. He writes: “I was hoping you could clarify how items are organized on the River2 main page. The way I think it works is that items are displayed with the newest ones closest to the top. Then, if River2 pulls an item from a feed that has published another item recently, River2 lumps all of them together (with the newest item at the bottom), and puts the lump at the top of the main page. Does this sound right?”

That’s pretty close. Every hour River2 does a scan. For each feed it reads, it pushes all the new items from that feed onto the home page, at the top of the page. Then it checks the next feed, until it’s read all of them. It groups them this way so it’s easy to see what’s new, and then easy to associate each new item with the feed it came from.

3 responses to “Matt’s questions about River2

  1. Matt Diaz May 17, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks Dave.

    Reflecting on that last question a bit more I think I have an idea about the source of my confusion. Think about this stuff has been interesting and has got me thinking a bit more about how I use tools to consume news.

    One of the first things I did when I got River2 set up is I went right in and jacked up the frequency of scans that it makes. I went into preferences and dropped the minutes between scans from 60 to 10. My instinct was to get the flow of the river as steady as possible; I made the semi-conscious decision that once an hour wasn’t enough. I demanded even greater timeliness.

    Then when I tried to look more closely at how River2 organizes items on the main page I was thinking of the content as a constant flow, instead of thinking of it as organized in units of hourly scans. To explain the clumps of items I assumed there must be an ongoing process which groups items by the time they are posted. I felt a little unsettled not knowing that phantom time increment. This feeling prompted my question.

    • Dave Winer May 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

      I do that too on my servers — every ten minutes. But the feeds tend to update when they update. The NY Times will dump five stories into its feed at a time. It looks better if they’re all grouped as a unit. Believe me, we tried it the other way too. 🙂

  2. elasticthreads June 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I know this might be the wrong place to point this out, and it might be repeating something you know already and are working on, or haven’t gotten to, but its been hanging around since you added the feature and I haven’t heard anything in a while so I thought I’d point it out:

    The Dropboxing of the River works great, as does the Instapaper links in live OPML feed, but enabling both features ruins the Dropbox generated HTML page, only the first feed shows up. If its too hairy to fix it completely so that everything, including the Instapaper links are generated to the Dropbox HTML page, can you at least fix it so that the Dropbox page is generated without the instapaper links?

    Right now I’ve got to choose which feature I want more, and its a hard call… (they’re both great)

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