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February 28, 2007

Yahoo increases authentication timeout

Yahoo keep me signed in

Problem

Yahoo services require re-authentication too often.

Being forced to sign in to Yahoo services again and again was frustrating. I use several on a daily basis, almost always from well-protected computers at home & work. I appreciate the value of security, but the timeout was short enough to be annoying, especially given my access from very low-risk environments.

This stood in stark contrast to using Google services, where I'm asked to re-authenticate so rarely that I don't even notice — that's how it should be.

Solution

Keep me signed in — for 2 weeks

Yahoo recently added a "Keep me signed in" checkbox that allows me to stay signed in for 2 weeks. This relatively minor improvement has a big impact because it helps reduce friction when using Yahoo services. User-configurable timeouts would be ideal, but this is an effective solution. It will certainly help keep me signed in to and enjoying Yahoo services.

Thanks, Yahoo!

February 14, 2007

Burn your Yahoo Pipes

What?

Mix feeds with Yahoo Pipes — enhance and analyze them by publishing with Feedburner.

Burn your Yahoo! Pipes

Yahoo Pipes is a feed mixing service, and Feedburner provides tools for enhancing, analyzing, and publishing feeds. It doesn't always make sense to combine the two, but when it does, these complimentary services provide a good set of feedmastering tools.

When?

Publish with Feedburner when a pipe's feed is more valuable than its architecture.

Creating a Yahoo Pipe produces two significant outputs:

  • Architecture - The ability to publish pipes makes it easy to copy and build on each others' work. This is how a lot of us started learning HTML when the web was new, and it's a great way to share knowledge and help something catch on fast. Publish your pipe with Yahoo Pipes when its architecture is important.
  • Feed - In some cases, the feed a pipe produces is more important than sharing its architecture. Gina Trapani at Lifehacker writes about using Pipes to create a master feed of all the feeds you publish. In this case, the feed and its readership stats are likely more valuable to the publisher than the details of its construction would be to other people. (Gina offers her useful example pipe for people to copy, but most will consider this a pretty basic pipe once they get the hang of feedmixing). Publish your pipe's feed with Feedburner when its feed is important.

I'm not encouraging anyone to withold publishing pipes using the Pipes publishing interface, but when the pipe's feed is more important than its architecture, publishing it using Feedburner offers several benefits.

Why?

Feedburner is an established feed publishing service that provides valuable feed analysis and management tools, making it a good front end for publishing feeds.

  • Free basic readership statistics, with graphs.
  • Feed promotion services that make sure feed search engines know about your updates.
  • Human-readable feed address. You can choose a meaningful name and address for your feed, rather than publishing the complex one produced by your pipe. This makes it easier to talk about and identify when you are working with your feeds outside the Pipes interface. (Hint: Name your Feedburner feed the same as you name the pipe that produces it, so they're easy to match up.)
  • Flexibility and persistence. Publishing your feed via Feedburner means its address will remain the same if you decide to use something other than Yahoo Pipes to produce it.
  • Centralized feed publishing & management. If you're already using Feedburner (e.g., to publish your blog's feed), you may want to consider using it as a central service for publishing all your feeds.
  • Add various enhancements to your feed.

How?

Build, burn, and share.

  • Build a pipe. Create a Yahoo Pipe and "run" it to get its feed address. Don't publish the pipe — if you do, people will subscribe directly to its feed, and you want them to use your burned feed. (Running the pipe gives you its feed address without publishing the pipe.)
  • Burn the pipe's feed. Create a new feed in Feedburner using the pipe's feed as the "Original Feed". Feedburner will guide you through adding any enhancements you want.
  • Share the burned feed. Feedburner offers various feed promotion and publishing services, but once you've burned it and have the new human-readable address you chose for it, you can share it any way you like — email, social networking services, etc.

February 07, 2007

Yahoo! Pipes: Feedmixing — and a lot more — done right!

Apparently, some smart people at Yahoo! were listening to both of us, and they sure did deliver!

Yahoo! Pipes icon

I've only just begun to play with Yahoo! Pipes, and I can already say, it's gonna be hot! I considered my feedmixing wishlist fairly forward-thinking for its time, but a quick glance at the things Pipes can do and the ways it lets you do them shows some real vision.

From the Pipes website:

Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line

That's really just the beginning of how to think about it; the true description and definition of Pipes will evolve through the innovation it's sure to produce.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to play with or write about Pipes more right now, but I definitely plan to do both, and I strongly encourage you to go check it out. The site provides a good overview — for some in-depth discussion, explanation, and analysis, read Tim O'Reilly's Pipes and Filters for the Internet. I look forward to having a lot of fun, and doing some really cool things with Yahoo! Pipes!