From Feed Proxy To FreeMyFeed

As those of you who use my Feed Proxy service to get your LiveJournal friends’ blogs (including friends-only posts) into Google Reader or a similar service know, the service hasn’t been working for the last few days.

I made all of the changes that LiveJournal’s bot policy required of me. I e-mailed them; no response. I e-mailed again; no response. I e-mailed to ask were they receiving my e-mails – yes, they were, but the person responsible for unblocking the bot “wasn’t in” at the moment.

I e-mailed again: yet again, no response.

I’ve been finding it harder to keep up with my LiveJournal friends because of this, and I know that a lot of you are pissed off, too. But it looks like LiveJournal aren’t going to be cooperative any time soon. So it’s time to switch services.

I’m moving my authenticated feeds over to FreeMyFeed. FreeMyFeed provides many of the same services at Feed Proxy did, although it also works for a wider variety of web applications (for example, you can also use it for Twitter, if you’re one of the dozen or so people who still uses Twitter).

If you’re already a Feed Proxy user:

Within the next few hours, each LiveJournal friend you’re subscribed to through Feed Proxy will produce a post explaining how you can convert their feed over to FreeMyFeed with about two clicks. I suggest that you mark that post as “read” and then click the link, and the rest of the work is mostly done for you. You’ll see some “read” posts all over again (boo!) and FreeMyFeed doesn’t convert LJ “moods” and “comment counts” for you automatically, but apart from that it should serve you well.

If you’re not using Feed Proxy or FreeMyFeed yet, or you’ve deleted your Feed Proxy-powered feeds from Google Reader:

Google Reader’s a great way to keep up-to-date with all your friends’ blogs – as well as with news, comics, and more – both in and out of LiveJournal. To subscribe to a LiveJournal blog in Google Reader or a similar service, friends-only posts and all, go to the FreeMyFeed website and enter into the boxes:

feed url:
(replace username with the LiveJournal username of the person whose LiveJournal you’re subscribing to)

user: your LiveJournal username

pass: your LiveJournal password

Thanks for all of the support you LiveJournalers have given me over the years, both for Feed Proxy and for it’s predecessor, LiveJournal-To-Google Reader. It’s been fun.

Feed Proxy Bug Fixes

BREAKING NEWS: On 1st October 2009, LiveJournal blocked the Feed Proxy bot. I don’t know when they’ll unblock it and it’ll come back up: see the latest here.

I’ve fixed a handful of bugs in the popular Feed Proxy tool (which, as you probably know, allows you to read LiveJournal and Dreamwidth “friends-only” posts in Google Reader or your favourite RSS reader tool, even where that RSS reader doesn’t support the necessary authentication systems to normally be able to pick up these posts). These include:

  • A number of users identified a problem relating to some mixed-case LiveJournal usernames having to be entered into Feed Proxy in lowercase to work. These usernames are now automatically corrected to lowercase as necessary.
  • Feed Proxy now automatically detects those passwords whose characters may cause problems with the cURL library, which is used to fetch the feeds from LiveJournal/Dreamwidth, and produces a warning message, rather than the previous unfriendly error message. A better solution will be investigated in the future.
  • Downloading an OPML package of some or all of your feeds now works correctly in Google Chrome. I didn’t know so many of you used it!
  • The FAQ has been expanded with a few more common questions, including the (very) frequently-asked question about multiple source accounts of the same type (which will be properly supported at some future point).
  • It’s now possible to read the FAQ without having an account or logging in. Sorry I forgot that – whoops!

I’ve finally gotten around to responding to all of the e-mails I’ve received so far from users: sorry about the delay, folks, but a lot of you had questions to ask!

To those that have asked about open-sourcing it: yes, I still fully intend to open-source the project (as I did with it’s predecessor, LJ-To-Google Reader) so you can run it on your own server if you like, but only once it’s reached a point of stability. Follow this RSS feed if you want to hear about updates to Feed Proxy, including when the source code becomes available.

LiveJournal-To-Google Reader Back Up

BREAKING NEWS: On 1st October 2009, LiveJournal blocked the Feed Proxy bot. I don’t know when they’ll unblock it and it’ll come back up: see the latest here.

The LiveJournal-To-Google Reader service is back up again, rebranded as Feed Proxy. It’s pretty much bare-bones right now, but I’ve got a meaningful framework that I can add to in the future, and I’ll try to keep it up-to-date by adding all of the features that everybody requested back when it was LiveJournal-To-Google Reader (I’ve already added a few, as described below).

My sincere apologies to everybody affected by the day and a half of downtime that was involved in this change-over.

Here’s what you need to know:

If you already use LiveJournal-To-Google Reader

All of your feed links have now broken. Sorry, but this was necessary! You’ll probably want to delete your subscriptions to all of the old links, because they won’t work any more. You’ll also need to set yourself up with a new account on the new service, Feed Proxy. Choose yourself a username and password, log in, and associate your account with your LiveJournal account. Then you can click “show feeds” and start subscribing to your LiveJournal friends’ feeds using Google Reader.

New features:

  • Where possible, shows how many comments, link to comments, poster’s “mood”, and security status (public or private [i.e. “friends only”]) of each post.
  • OPML export, so you can easily get all of your feeds back into Google Reader (or whatever RSS reader you prefer) again.
  • Links that don’t change for no reason
  • Better support for communities

If you don’t have a clue what this is all about…

Feed Proxy is a tool that I originally wrote because I didn’t like having to go to my LiveJournal “friends page” to catch up on all the “friends-only” posts being made by people I knew. I already used Google Reader for every other blog in the world; why should I have to go to another site? I also didn’t like that I couldn’t “group” my friends on my friends page, so I could see which ones were related to my different interests and just focus on those at once. I also wanted to be able to easily mark which posts I’d already read. Google Reader already does all of this.

But if you subscribe to a LiveJournal account using Google Reader, you don’t get the “friends only” posts. It’s just not possible.

Feed Proxy makes it possible. And now, it adds a lot of other nice features, too.

If you use LiveJournal (or your friends use LiveJournal) and you’d rather have the slicker interface of Google Reader at your disposal, give it a go.

If you want to hear about updates…

Please subscribe to this RSS feed of Feed Proxy-tagged posts on my blog.

LiveJournal-to-Google Reader v2.0

I’ve just (finally) gotten around to releasing a brand new version of my LiveJournal-to-Google Reader proxy server, which makes it possible to easily read your LiveJournal friends’ “friends only” posts in your Google Reader account (or whatever other RSS reader you use that doesn’t normally make this easy).

I’ve announced the new version on the new LiveJournal-to-Google Reader blog. Hopefully users will feel able to subscribe to that, rather than this, blog, if they want to hear about updates to the tool. /runs a quick SELECT COUNT(*) on the database/ There’s over 900 of them, now!

Regular blogging will resume when I get a spare five minutes.

LiveJournal For Google Reader v1.3 Update

Earlier this year, I released my LiveJournal Atom Feed Digest Authentication Proxy (also known as LiveJournal For Google Reader Users). This tool allows Google Reader users to subscribe to “friends only” posts in LiveJournal weblogs, which normally isn’t possible because Google Reader doesn’t support the necessary authentication methods.

Thanks to the hundreds of users that use the service, and in particular to Mike, Aaron, Thom, and Nat, who filed particularly valuable bug reports, this post announces the new version of the tool – version 1.3. If there were a tagline for it, it’d be “at long last, it’s stable!” The source code for this version is also available for download.

Here’s the “for dummies” guide to getting it working:

Using Google Reader To Get “Friends Only” LiveJournal Posts

There are lots of good reasons to use a newsreader (like, for example, Google Reader) to subscribe to your friends’ LiveJournals. The big and obvious one for me is that it’s possible to subscribe to your other friends’ non-LiveJournal weblogs, too, and to other comics and news sources and all kinds of things all from one place, so you don’t get stuck in a cycle of “check the LiveJournal friends page, now check this blog, now check that one,” and so on. But if you’ve used Google Reader already, you won’t need to be told about how great it is.

The problem is that if you just use Google Reader to subscribe to LiveJournal weblogs, it doesn’t pick up your “friends only” posts. That’s kind-of irritating, and could be a showstopper, unless somebody wrote a tool to get around the problem. Hey look, somebody did!

  1. You’ll need a Google Reader account. If you already have a Google Mail or similar account, you can use that, or you can make up a new one to make it hard for the all-seeing Google to link together all of your online activities into their massive databases. If somehow you don’t have one already, create a Google account here.
  2. Next, you’ll need a LiveJournal account. Unless you’re one of these fancy folks who uses OpenID to authenticate and read your friends’ “friends only” posts, you probably already have one of these. If not, create one here and then get everybody you know to add it to their friends list!
  3. Finally, you’ll need to log in to LiveJournal For Google Reader Users. This bit’s really easy, because you just log in using your LiveJournal username and password. If you don’t like the idea of your LiveJournal credentials being stored on some site somewhere that isn’t LiveJournal, you’ll want to download the codebase and run it on your own server.

Then you’re ready to go! Just click the “add to Google Reader” links (or use the “atom feed” links to get links you can use in other reader tools, if Google Reader isn’t your thing).

And Here’s The FAQ

What’s new in this version?

It works properly, for one. Previous versions have had bugs when picking up feeds of users whose usernames contained dashes or underscores, or when your username had uppercase letters in it. These irritating little bugs took a while to be found, and are the result of strange behaviour on the part of LiveJournal’s server. They’ve now all been fixed, and all feeds should work perfectly.

What about… OpenID…? Communities…? DeadJournal…?

If you’re looking for extra features; here’s the round-up:

  • Support for OpenID probably won’t ever happen, and certainly won’t happen soon, because it’s horribly complicated compared to the simplicity of the rest of the program. I love OpenID, I really do, but LiveJournal For Google Reader Users will probably never support it (unless you feel like writing that bit of it). Sorry!
  • Communities probably will end up supported in the next version, so you can pick up friends-only posts in them, too. Stop asking.
  • Related journalling systems like DeadJournal can probably be really easily supported by this or a similar system. I’ll implement it as soon as somebody asks me to.
  • Another feature that’s in the pipeline is an indication of friends-only posts. Right now, in Google Reader, there’s no little “padlock” icon to let you know that what you’re looking at is a friends-only post: they all look the same. This’ll probably be fixed in a later version.

Got other suggestions? Leave a comment to let me know!

I’m already using Google Reader to subscribe to LiveJournal. What should I do?

You should unsubscribe (sorry!) from every single LiveJournal you’re subscribed to, then re-subscribe to the addresses given to you by LiveJournal For Google Reader. It’s a painstakingly long process, and I wish I could think of a way to make it easier, but I can’t. If you want to do it a few blogs at a time, that’s fine – and I suggest you start with the blogs which most-frequently make friends-only posts.

Why do I have to give you my LiveJournal username and password?

To get access to friends-only posts in your friends’ feeds, LiveJournal must be supplied with your username and password. LiveJournal For Google Reader stores these for you and provides you with a complex URL that doesn’t contain your username and password (so people can’t work out your password just by looking at the list of feeds you subscribe to).

To help you feel more secure, the entire application is open source (you can read the code and see that it’s not doing anything malicious) and you can even run a copy on your own server, if you don’t trust me at all.

Alternatively, if security is a concern for you, open a second LiveJournal account and have your friends add that one to their friends’ lists, and use this new account with LiveJournal For Google Reader. This way, your own personal LiveJournal account remains completely protected. Can’t say fairer than that, I guess.

If you change your LiveJournal password or close your LiveJournal account, LiveJournal For Google Reader will stop working until you supply your new credentials.

Why do you get all mysterious towards the end of FAQs?

You’ll have to wait and see.

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.”

LiveJournal Needs To Tighten Security

Hmm… as part of my ongoing work with Abnib v3.0, I’ve noticed a couple of interesting little quirks in the way that LiveJournal handles security for “friends only” and “private” posts. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a way to – for any given user – produce a list of the times, dates, and URLs of all posts made by anybody – even ones to which I don’t have access. Not terribly disturbing news, as I still can’t get access to the content of the posts or even the comments to them, but it’s an “opening” – a “way in” – which could potentially lead to a full-blown exploit.

For example, I can tell you that there is a post on Andy’s blog that I’m not allowed to read, that he wrote on the 17th of Januaryat about quarter past four in the afternoon (I hope you don’t mind me using you as my “guinea pig”, Andy – you’re the first person I came to who had a “recent” private post).

The numbers near the end of LiveJournal post URLs are supposed to be semi-random to prevent people from just “guessing” their way to posts, but it turns out this isn’t necessary. I’ve e-mailed LiveJournal to try to explain their flaw to them, but as I can’t be arsed to debug it myself (hey: not my weblog at risk, here), I don’t know yet how much of a priority they’ll make it.

Ho hum.

Edit: Further investigations have revealed that I can easily get the title (but not the content or the comments) of any LiveJournal post, including protected ones. For obvious reasons, I’ve now stopped using my friends’ weblogs as testbeds, and I’ve set up a couple of “play” accounts to try things out with. I wonder if I can get the content of posts? That’d be an interesting challenge.

I’m So Fucking Clever

[this post has been partially damaged during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004, and it has been possible to recover only a part of it]

[this post was partially recovered on 24 November 2017]

I’ve had a great idea that I might try to implement sometime (or put of the stack of things I might try to implement sometime (or put on the stack of things I might think about moving onto the stack of things I might try to implement sometime)). Allow me to illustrate…

As Kit has noticed (Andy too), SpamBots prowl around LiveJournal‘s servers (I’ve described a possible strategy they could be using as a comment to Kit’s entry). Basically, these are semi-intelligent robots which, starting with people with ‘relevant’ interests, advertise their product on the blogs of them and their Friends… and their Friends’ Friends… etc.

Now, think back a little further to an entry in Alec’s blog, mid-January: some ‘random’ came along and began to flirt with him through the medium of comments in his blog. ‘She’ kept up conversation for some time before disappearing. …


Thoughts Of Tuesday

Cycling home last night I realised once again quite what a happy bunny I am. I enjoy my job, for which I am paid very reasonably. I live in a town that I love, and I’m surrounded by good friends. And, above all else, I have the love of a beautiful woman whom I love and adore with all my heart. When I got home, I told Kit, Bryn and Paul (who were already at my house, playing Super Monkey Ball 2) quite what a happy little creature I was. They didn’t seem particularly impressed.

Kit continues to get better at Super Monkey Ball 2. He kicked my arse at Monkey Target 2, in which the aim is to land gliders on small targets at sea, at least as much as I beat him. Might need to get some Super Monkey Practice in.

Andy’s latest journal entry is weird as ever. Slightly trippy, but inspirational nonetheless. I have a thought for a similar tale of my own, published to this site, but with an interesting twist upon the typical “serial story” theme. If I can be arsed I’ll make it happen. No promises. I have lots of other stuff to be getting on with.

This morning, picked up our insurance report from Daton Systems, who I’ve given a link because they didn’t charge me for the privilege. This report claims that the laptop is a write-off, which lets us stop the insurance company bugging us about having claimed it as such and bought a new one without any evidence.

Better get some work done, now, I guess.


Many of my friends here in Aber seem to have their own weblogs on LiveJournal. I’m almost tempted to download the (open) source of LJ and set up AberJournal, a site for Aberites to post their journals to. Could be cool.

On which note, please go see:

This particular entry in Andy’s journal, on account of it being hilarious, and,
Strokey Adam’s new journal – he’s just gotten one for the first time.

I’ve just woken up, and I’d better go to work.