Review: FeedRinse Filters RSS Feeds
Wednesday, June 21, 2006; 5:07 PM
-- One of the best weapons against Internet information overload has been Really Simple Syndication. It's a technology that feeds you updates from blogs or news sites as they're available, keeping you from having to troll Web sites to find what you're interested in.
The problem is that RSS feeds _ which land in customizable Web sites such as My Yahoo or in desktop windows, depending on how you configure things _ can pile up much like e-mail. If you subscribe to a lot of blog posts and news sites, checking out all the feeds can become a time-devouring project.
Thankfully, there's now a machete to hack through the underbrush _ a free RSS filtering tool named FeedRinse.
After a quick and easy signup at FeedRinse.com, you can put a variety of conditions on your RSS subscriptions.
Say you like a gadget site's reviews of flat-screen televisions but you couldn't care less about cell phones. You could set FeedRinse to send you only items from that site with "flat-panel" in the post. Or you could apply a less restrictive filter, such as to send everything except items containing the words "cell phone."
FeedRinse comes from Electric Pulp, a nine-person Web development firm in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The company's principals say they invented FeedRinse because they needed it badly for their own RSS use. It's not an entirely new concept, but previous filtering programs have had a reputation for being less than user-friendly.
The FeedRinse site is underdoing some changes. Electric Pulp is tweaking its interface in hopes of making it more intuitive. From my tests, I can see where the site could be a little simpler to use, but for the most part, it was clean, easy to figure out and worked as advertised.
The free version of FeedRinse lets you apply up to five filters on RSS feeds and send the "rinsed" results to popular reader programs.
When I signed up in early June, the free service also let you combine all your rinsed feeds in one "channel" that itself could be sent to RSS programs. (Now that costs $1 a month.) The channel worked great for me in News Gator's online RSS reader, giving me one mega-feed to check that I knew would be blissfully full of things I didn't care about.
For example, like many journalists, I'm a regular reader of the Poynter Institute's media news blog maintained by Jim Romenesko. But I'm tired of reading about Katie Couric's switch to CBS and what it all means. No problem: Whenever I logged into NewsGator or My Yahoo to check on the blog world, FeedRinse had delivered Romenesko with no Couric in sight.
Similarly, occasionally BoingBoing.net, the wonderfully subtitled "Directory of Wonderful Things," will have links labeled "NSFW" _ shorthand for "not safe for work," racy stuff you don't want to get caught viewing on the office computer. Why be tempted, I thought? I put FeedRinse on the case and had it block BoingBoing posts with "NSFW."
Although FeedRinse has taken away the channel option from the free service, the $1 monthly subscription that is now required to get it also comes with 50 filters on feeds instead of five. A $3 monthly "plus" service comes with 100 filters and three channels.
There's also a $5-a-month premium package offering 500 filters and five channels. For serious RSS junkies, that might be money well worth spending _ at least until someone else imitates this great filtering idea.
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