CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday




One of the most common things that I’ve been getting asked is how people can stay up-to-date on the latest software. I got really excited about the free UpdateStar application which I mentioned last week, but it still didn’t have information on a lot of the software that I used.

There are hundreds of sites out there that provide RSS feeds for downloads, and I began to think to myself that there had to be a good way to use some of those feeds to my advantage. Then Yahoo! Pipes came to mind since I had just used that last week to show how to translate RSS feeds, and it works perfectly in this situation.

–Overview–

What we’re going to do with Yahoo! Pipes is combine several feeds from popular download sites into one central feed. I recommend a handful of sites at the end of this article that should offer exactly what you’re looking for.

Then we’re going to use Yahoo! Pipes to sift through every item in each of the feeds, and pull out only the items that interest us. Because of the nature of Yahoo! Pipes it will only take a second to go back and add more things to watch for, so don’t worry if you forget to put an app on the list to be monitored.


–Instructions–

  1. Go to the Yahoo! Pipes homepage, and begin creating a new pipe.
  2. Drag the “Fetch Feed” item over onto the grid (located under the Sources menu):
    Software Update Notifier 1
  3. Add the feeds you want to monitor for the downloads (a recommended list can be found at the end of this article). To add multiple feeds just use the plus sign located next to “URL”.
    Software Update Notifier 2
  4. Drag the “Filter” item over onto the grid (located under the Operators menu):
    Software Update Notifier 3
  5. Adjust the filter so that it will only “Permit” a feed item to make it through if it matches one of the names you are looking for. You can add multiple names to search for by hitting the plus sign next to “Rules”. Just make sure each one has the “item.title” selected.
    Software Update Notifier 4
  6. Now you just have to connect the dots, literally. When you’re done hit the “Refresh” link at the bottom to see a live preview of what the resulting feed will look like. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see any items because there may not have been updates to your programs in a little while.
    Software Update Notifier 5
  7. Go ahead and hit the “Save” button in the upper-right corner of the screen, and give your Pipe a name. Then click the “Back to My Pipes” link towards the top, and you should see your new feed listed there. Click on it, and then subscribe to it with your feed reader!

–Feeds–

There are hundreds of different download sites that you can subscribe to, but that’s not really necessary. Below is a list of five different feeds that should take care of all your needs. All you need to do is copy and paste each of the URL’s that I provide into Step 3 above.

  1. Download.com: http://www.download.com/3409-2001-0-10.xml?tag=lr_rss
  2. Fileforum.com: http://fileforum.betanews.com/rss2
  3. MajorGeeks.com: http://majorgeeks.com/news.xml
  4. FileHippo.com: http://filehippo.com/rss/
  5. CyberNetNews.com: http://feeds.cybernetnews.com/CyberNetDailyDownloads

–Tips–

  • One feed will probably be enough, and that way you eliminate the possibility of receiving duplicate entries in the feed which you can see happened to me in Step 6 above. I like to know as soon as possible when new programs are released (for obvious reasons), and having multiple feeds lets me do that. I recommend the MajorGeeks feed if you are going to choose just one of them.
  • Let’s say you have something that you’re tracking called “ER”. You can’t just enter that into the filter because every title that has “er” somewhere in the words will match. To get around this just put spaces before and after the “ER” in the filter so that it is treated as a word.