Google Reader For LiveJournal Users

There’s a new version out: click here!

My previous post reminded me that I’d never gotten around to writing something I’d promised a few of you already: that is, a guide to using Google Reader and LiveJournal together effectively (Google Reader doesn’t support digest authentication, which means that it’s not possible to use Google Reader to pick up, for example, “friends only” posts, so I’ve written a bit of software that bridges the gap).

I’ve used a number of bits of newsreading software over the years before realising that what I really needed was a web-based reader that I could use from “wherever.” I implemented my own, Dog, which worked adequately, but Google Reader has since matured into a wonderful program, and it seemed a waste not to use it.

In case there’s anybody else out there in Abnibland who wants to be able to use Google Reader to centralise all their blog reading into one place and who has LiveJournal friends who make “friends only” posts (it’s nice to have all the comics I read, all the news I’m interested in, and all of the blogs I follow – including those on LiveJournal – integrated into one place with reminders when new stuff appears, searching, etc.), here’s my guide:

Google Reader For LiveJournal Users

  1. You’ll need a Google Reader account – if you’ve got some other kind of Google account (e.g. GMail), just log in, otherwise, sign up for one.
  2. You’ll also need one or more LiveJournal accounts through which you can read the “friends only” posts you’re interested in. Another advantage of this system is that if you have multiple LiveJournal identities you can read the blogs of the friends of both in one place. If you don’t have a LiveJournal account, why are you bothering with this guide? Just go use Google Reader itself like a normal person.
  3. Log in to LiveJournal Feed Fetcher using your LiveJournal username and password. Then, just click on each of the “Add To Google” buttons in turn for each of the friends whose blogs you’d like to syndicate.
  4. Remember to add other people’s (non LiveJournal) blogs to your Google Reader account, too!

Now, whenever you log in to Google Reader, you’ll be presented with the latest blog entries from all of the blogs you read, including “friends only” posts, if available, from your LiveJournal buddies.

Advanced Tips

  • Install the Google Reader Notifier plugin (mirror) for Firefox. This sits in the bottom-right corner of your browser window and lets you know how many new posts you’ve got to read, and provides a convenient shortcut to your Google Reader account.
  • In Google Reader, click Settings, then Goodies. Under “Put Reader in a bookmark” you’ll find a bookmarklet that you can drag to your Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar (or a similar place on the user interface). This will appear by default as a “Next” link that you can click to immediately go to the web page of the next item in your reading list.

I hope this short guide will reduce the demand for further maintenance of abnib help people to get a handle on Google Reader and on reading syndicated LiveJournal blogs. The LiveJournal Feed Fetcher can very be easily extended to cope with similar systems (DeadJournal, etc.), so just let me know if there’s anything it’s “missing.”

Google Reader Trends

In true Google "we can’t think of a use for it either, but isn’t it a cool toy" style, Google Reader now has a new feature – Trends – which tells you, for example, at what times of the day you read particular blogs and other useless stuff like that (Did you know that I do the vast majority of my newsreading right before lunch, right after dinner, and at about midnight? How about that I’m more likely to read something than save it for later or delete it if I first see it on a Monday or Wednesday than any other day of the week?).

Something I did find interesting, though, was my subscription trends, and in particular, the most- and least-frequently updated blogs,  comics, news aggregators, and community sites that I read. Starting at the bottom:

Dan's "Bottom 10" Subscription Trends

Turns out there are people who very rarely if ever update their blogs: with only one exception (masked), everybody on this list is a personal (rather than a professional) blogger. I suppose that’s probably to be expected. If you’re on this list, I’m not hearing enough from you.

At the other end of the scale, on the Top 10, there’s only one "personal" blog – that of my friend Faye. She actually manages to beat several of the (daily) webcomics, and even a couple of the (several times a day) communities I read in terms of update frequency. Now that’s scary.

Best. Limerick. Ever.

She was, "Blah blah blah, blah-blah de blah."
I was, "Ha ha ha hardy ha ha!"
She was, "Hmmph! Grr grr GRRR!"
I was, "Yipe! Erm, uh, errr…"
She was, "Uh-uh. ‘Ha ha’? Huh. Ta-ta."
By speedysnail Quote Me!

By speedysnail of the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form project.

In other news, how about a bonfire tonight? It’s be a great oppertunity to drink beer and burn now-irrelevant course notes for those of you who’ve just finished exams?

Meatloaf, QParty, And The Competition

It’s been a busy weekend. Friday saw me travelling by train to Preston, with Faye, my honorary girlfriend for the weekend (Claire had exams on Friday and Saturday morning and sadly had to leave the position vacant). Then, no sooner had we arrived (owing to a missed connection at Wolverhampton) we had to dash to my dad’s house, grab some more train tickets, and get back to the station (collecting my sisters and my mum on the way) and catch another train, this time to Glasgow. But not before playing a neat game at Preston train station we call “get the stranger to identify people she’s never met.”

Playing at Preston station

This game came about when we realised that Faye was looking around her to see if our mum had yet arrived at the station, despite having never met her and not knowing what she looked like. We made a game of it, getting a message to my mum to not acknowledge us or make eye contact with us when she arrived, and agreeing to do the same, so that Faye could try to identify her based only on her shared facial features. She’d have succeeded if she’d been bold enough to point out the mysterious woman who crept past us and got onto the train: my sisters and I didn’t even notice her sneak past, and we almost missed the train because of it, as we insisted upon continuing to wait for her as we didn’t think she’d already passed us.

On the train to Glasgow

We finally got to Glasgow, and made our way to the venue where Meat Loaf was to perform (see Ruth’s review and Strokey Adam’s review from the same tour). We had some difficulty getting our tickets, mostly because we couldn’t find the credit card collections point.

Where's the collections point, then?

The concert itself was very good. The warm up act, Marion Raven, was well-worth seeing. Meat Loaf himself is visibly less able than he once was, and performed less well than the last time I saw him live, but was nonetheless able to treat us to a spectacular show featuring hits from all three Bat Out Of Hell albums… as well as a less-well received encore of cover songs (why bother, when he has such a great back catalogue of his own material?). Well worth-seeing, even if not as good as I’d remembered him.

Meat Loaf in concert

After this, we saw off my family (who were driving back with my dad) and Faye and I checked in to the local Travel Inn, at which I took (and sent to Andy, for whom Faye is a girlfriend on a more permanent contract) the following picture using the until-then untested timer shot feature of my new Nokia N95.

Dan and Faye in bed together

Several text messages from Andy insisting that I “behave myself” later, Faye got into her own bed and we ate pizza from a local takeaway (that was harder to find than it should have been – who’d have thought it’d be so hard to find some greasy takeaway food at midnight in central Glasgow?).

The following morning we returned back to Preston by train. Our train was diverted from the main line owing to maintenance work, adding almost two hours to our journey time (it feels quite frustrating to be sitting on a brand new Pendolino train that’s crawling through the Lake District at no more than 30mph, or so the GPS on my new phone [can you tell that I like my new phone a bit] claims). I bought a bottle of Fanta, and, realising that my new contract gives me a near-infinite number of text messages, entered the “text in the code from the label” competition that’s currently running. Finally, we reached Preston, and I set Faye on the way back to her family in Chester, ending her contract as my temporary girlfriend, and went to meet up with my family again.

I didn’t manage to get Radio 1 Big Weekend tickets, but my sister Sarah did and shared them with her friend, and they spent most of the weekend out of sight or – sometimes – returning home for a change of clothes and a chance to sober up for a few hours between the endless events that the festival provided (or that sprung up around it in Preston’s usual nightclub selection). It didn’t terribly matter, though, because my dad’s back garden gave ample opportunity to listen to the music from the main stage, just a stone’s throw away, and it was easy to combine this activity with the endless fun of playing on the new trampoline. Disappointingly, it wasn’t possible to jump high enough to actually see the acts. Although I didn’t think to try the skylight in the attic, I suspect the church tower might have gotten in the way.

Claire arrived by car – having finished her final exam – and, accompanied by my dad and my sister Becky, we began to discuss and visit some of the places we’d discussed as potential venues for the upcoming QParty. We finally found one. This isn’t it:

Not the QParty venue - but just accross the road from it!

However, it is just across the road from it, and it was interesting enough to warrant a photo. It appears that the entire building (and half of the one next to it – they even chainsawed their way through the sign) has been simply removed from the street.

Eventually we settled on a venue: Roper Hall on Friargate, Preston. Originally a Roman Catholic all-boys school, this building went through several renovations before eventually becoming a bar and nightclub. At one point it was owned by the Students Union of the University of Central Lancashire, although I’m not sure that’s still the case. We managed to confirm a booking for our proposed party date, Saturday 8th September, and we’ll be sending out invitations, we hope, within a week or two.

Sunday became our day of rest. I was aching quite a lot after a 2+ hour session on the trampoline the night before, and we were all pretty exhausted.

Claire and Becky, exhausted

Still, we managed to pull ourselves together to have a barbecue in the evening with the whole family, plus my mum’s boyfriend Andy, while we chatted about further ideas for QParty events. If you’re an invitee, you’ll find out about some of them… eventually.


I got the opportunity to take a copy of the PhotoCDs my dad had made from many of his old slides, including a huge collection of me and my sisters very young. You’ll see some of them on my Facebook account (and have the opportunity to mock me about them) soon enough, I’m sure. Before we left Preston on Monday, Claire and I decided to meet up with my sisters and my mum for a pub lunch together.

Becky stuffing a huge burger down her face hole

On the way to the pub, I received a phone call from a man who identified himself as “a representative of Fanta, Sprite, and Dr. Pepper. I was busy navigating for Claire though Preston’s infernal one-way system at the time, so I asked him to call back in a quarter of an hour. He called back while I was at the pub…

…it turns out I won the competition I’d entered on the train. Having never entered a text-in competition before (my sister Becky, who’d entered this particular competition several times and was living on a diet of Fanta by this point), I got lucky and won the grand prize on my first attempt. Apparently, later this week, I’ll receive a new Nintendo Wii, a 26” Samsung HD-capable LCD TV (that’ll be nice for Troma Night), and a fridge filled with three crates of Fanta. Go me.

Comments to the effect of “you lucky git” are fully anticipated. Comments to the effect of “can I have the Wii” are too late, as I’m already giving it to my mum for her birthday. Comments to the effect of “can I have a bottle of Fanta, then” will probably be answered in the affirmative, if you come to Troma Night, and – if they’re promotional bottles – will be accompanied by my statistical tips to maximise you chances of winning (take it from an expert).

Right; that’s all from me – it’s been a long day.

Plasma Pong

I promised Jimmy I’d try not to distract him with computer games that would appeal to him while he’s revising. It turns out I lied.

I’ve just discovered Plasma Pong. It’s like Pong – you know, two paddles, a ball, that whole lark – except it mixes the genre up with some of the fastest computer models of two-dimensional fluid dynamics to put a completely new twist on things. The paddles and the ball are in a tank of coloured fluids, in which ripples can be created (by, for example, the movements of the paddles and the ball). Better yet, by holding one or the other mouse button, the player can "inject" fluid into the arena, suck it out into a vacuum, or blast a shockwave out. It starts pretty tame, with players trying to "push" the ball past one another, but as ripples and currents begin to appear, players have to work fast to manipulate the ball to get it past their opponent.

Sorry Jimmy.

A Quick Game Of Munchkin

Last night’s Geek Night was fun. I’m sure Andy would agree. Faye, Claire, Andy and I opened with a game of Settlers Of Catan on an oversized island and with the Cities & Knights expansion. Claire encountered a problem that her port-claiming strategy often gives her difficulty with: getting stuck, pinned in the corner of the island. We all suffered from a lack of sheep, owing to an over-reliance on Faye and I’s monopoly on the few good pastures. I ended up winning, stealing the last two victory points by building longest road.

We also had a game of Munchkin, at Andy’s insistence, which turned out to be a great deal more fun than I’d remembered. A friendly early game had us all climb our way up to level 9 without too much backstabbing, saving our cards to male life very difficult for one another in the final few fights. Faye was first to threaten us with a chance to win, forcing help from us with her Kneepads Of Allure, but Claire ensured that her monster was already dead by the time she got there. A few rounds later, Andy got lucky and came up against crabs, and nothing we could do could stop him from hack ‘n’ slashing his way to victory (if only I’d had a Wandering Monster card: I was carrying a Plutonium Dragon that might have caused him to think twice about standing his ground). Backstabbing as usual, of course, but all in the most friendly ways, and the whole game lasted less than an hour and a half, proving at long last that it is possible to have "a quick game of Munchkin."

New Phone

New Number

I’ve got a new mobile phone, and with it, a new number – if you don’t have it, you can get my number by either:

  • Visiting my contact details page, if you’re able.

  • Looking me up on Facebook or any of the other services I mention my mobile number on, if you have an account on any of these services.

  • Following the instructions on any Q Card issued before today.
  • Asking me for it, or asking somebody who already has it. I’ve tried to send a text message to pretty much everybody who I think might care, as well as a few people who probably don’t.

Nokia N95

My new phone is Nokia‘s stunning new smartphone, the N95. I just wanted to share with you what a sexy piece of hardware this is. Really.

Aside from the usual stuff a mobile phone isn’t complete without today, the N95 carries a fantastic 5MP digital camera (with a flash), a sophisticated media player, TV-out, 802.11b/g WiFi, an FM radio, hot-swappable MicroSD memory cards of up to 2Gb each, both Bluetooth and IRdA… and GPS. Yes, GPS. Whip out the phone and within a few seconds it’ll draw a map of your immediate locality, plan routes for you, and more.

It took me by surprise after I first booted it up and it used the GPS to work out where I was, established a GPRS internet connection, and then used the two together to get me a list of local radio station frequencies which it cached in the FM radio. The interoperability of the compenents (plus the API that allows them to be accessed by developers) makes this particular phone a beast and a half. And a bit more.

It’s a very, very powerful piece of kit. Aside from all of that lot, it’s the usual Nokia mid-high end offering: large, bright screen, Symbian OS 9.2, USB connectivity, a nice web browser, media controls, and a fab user interface. In fact, I’d do better to write about the things that I don’t like about it, as they’re fewer. I don’t like the flimsy-feeling sliding panel, which I feel like I might break if I’m not careful. I’m not very impressed with the resolution of the GPS (about 8-13 metres, in my trials) or the assumptions made by the integrated mapping application (will have to install Mobile Google Maps). I don’t like the fact that sliding the phone shut doesn’t – and can’t be configured to, by the look of things – end a call. I’m slightly displeased that the volume control does nothing when not on a call or using a media player (feels like a waste of a perfectly good button to me).

Other than those few little niggles, it’s an amazing phone that’s made me really glad I came back to Nokia after my hiatus in Windows Smartphone 2003-land. Recommended.

Abnib Events

Abnib Events, InlineIn order to reduce the amount of time my blog spends being used to organise events like Black Red Dwarf Adder Nights and whatnot, I’ve launched Abnib Events, which aims to centralise the organisation of such get-togethers. You’ll also find that the next upcoming event appears on the Abnib front page, in the upper-right – like the upcoming Eurovision Night.

Obviously I’ll still end up mentioning these events here sometimes, but this still feels like a step forwards.

You’ll find that you’re able to subscribe to the XML or ICal feeds for the list of upcoming events, so if you use Google Calendar or similar software, you’ll be able to have Abnib Events appear right alongside your existing appointments. I’ll sort out RSS/Atom feeds for you newsreader fans at some point soon.

Right now, Paul and I are administrators of Abnib Events. If there are events you think are worth publicising to the Abnib community at large – Troma Night or other related film or TV series nights, barbeques and bonfires, house parties, nights out, board game or poker nights, for instance – get in touch with one of us two.

Black Red Tonight

As you probably ought to know, Black Red Black Dwarf Adder Night V is tonight, featuring the fifth series of Red Dwarf (including fantastic episodes such as Quarantine and Back To Reality) and the first half of the third series of Blackadder.

Saturday’s Troma Night is cancelled in favour of Adam‘s Eurovision Final Night. I’m sure Adam is probably fine with any Troma Night regulars who are inclined towards suffering the Eurovision Song Content joining in. As always, check before you board the plane.

Wanted: Replacement Girlfriend, Temporary Position

A temporary position has become available for the position of girlfriend for the 18th-20th May 2007. The current post holder is taking academic leave at this time and will unfortunately be unable to undertake her duties for the weekend.

Duties include:

  • Attending a Meatloaf concert in Glasgow on the Friday night
  • Ticket availability permitting, attending the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Preston on Saturday and/or Sunday
  • Assisting Dan in finding a venue for The Q Party, due to take place later this year

The ideal candidate will be free for the weekend in question and have an interest in the activities listed. Accomodation and transportation will be provided. There is no obligation to provide the… ahm… additional services offered by the current post holder.

Dan is an equal oppertunities employer and, despite the title of the position, will consider candidates of either gender for the role.

But seriously: now that Claire can’t (she’s got exams), who wants to come to a few live music events with me? Aberites,  Prestonians, and pretty much anybody else are equally welcome to apply.