13 Change Notification Tools

Monitoring Changes

There are millions (Google says ~ 206 million) of sites that provide email alerts. Unlike RSS feeds, these come through your email inbox, but similarly you can go out and find what types of alerts you would be interested in and receive updates about those topics. The difference is that these are typically only sent out daily, weekly, or by some other constant time interval

Site Based vs. Search Based

  • Site Based = already set up alerts for you
  • Search Based = you set up the alerts based on a search of interest

There are also services like Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts that will only send alerts via email when something is updated.

  • Yahoo! Alerts has already setup topics that you can subscribe to.
  • Google Alerts only allows you to set up email alerts for search topics of your own (nothing already set up).
  • The nice thing about using these is that you can customize a lot of the details, such as how often you want to receive updates.

Page Monitoring

Page monitoring can either be software-based or web-based. We will cover web-based methods.

Why would you want to page monitor?

  • EX: interested in Goldman Sachs press releases? They do not have an RSS feed or email alert system, so you could set up a page monitor to alert you whenever there is a press release. This can save you time from checking to find out when new things are added.
  • Other ideas: find out when new TVs come out on Amazon, track movie comments, or follow job listings of a specific company.
  • One other cool idea is to use page monitoring to track who is following your own website (or a website you follow). Just search for sites linking the site of interest and then set up a page monitor on that search.
    • Say that you want to track who is linking David Pogue’s blog:
      • Search on Google for the query: link:pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/ -site:pogue.blogs.nytimes.com
      • Set up your page monitor to track that search.

What to use for page monitoring?

  • WatchThatPage.com: Free (for any number of pages), or $20/year for priority service
  • TrackEngine.com: Free for 5 bookmarks, or $20/year for 10 pages, or $59/year for 50 pages

Feed Creation Software

Can be used to filter information and then send it through an RSS reader. Let’s say you’re interested in Google, Amazon, and Apple. You can create a custom feed that filters the NYTimes “companies” RSS feed for news on just these three companies. Try Feedrinse to do this.

Yahoo Pipes
A visual method to combine different feeds, filter them, and then output to an RSS feed. The information that comes out of the “pipe” will then be displayed on your page.

  • You can also search for already created pipes that may be of interest.
    • If you happen to find one someone else created that you like, clone it and then edit for a customized version.
  • View options allow you to see image or text-based.

Google Social Search
If you have a bunch of RSS feeds that don’t send a lot of information through frequently, you can use this to compile them so that you won’t need 15 feeds to get specific information.

Convert to RSS

Take structured web pages and use one of the tools below to convert to an RSS feed.
Dapper – Dapper is probably the coolest of the three. We will look at it a little bit more in depth. Make sure not to go to their homepage, but rather dapper.net/open

  1. Collect sample pages
  2. Dapper looks at these pages and tries to find commonalities in their structure
  3. Select Content – You can pick titles, description text, and URL, but remove other parts that you do not want to see in your feed.
  4. Dapper will create an RSS feed based on your content selections.
  5. Review and save to your profile.

After creating the feed, you can update the input with new search terms and Dapper will create an RSS feed based on this search using the structure you just set up.
Feed43 – A bit more complex than Dapper. It will see text patterns.
Feed Yes

Email Filtering

“A hint that works sometimes.” Can be used to filter just some information and do different things to it (for example, in Gmail you can forward only some of the mail to your phone or have Gmail tag different types of emails).

Lastly, you can check out the class 13 page for ideas on how you can use the information we talked about in class to help with your term project, some possible blog topics, and hints about possible test questions.

Action Items

  1. Wednesday 10/27 is the due date for the demonstration portion of our Search Engine Analyses.
  2. Keep working on your term project, trying to tie in the information we have been learning.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License