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Trying out Drupal’s link monitoring

blo.gs is a good service based on a good concept, and I have enjoyed using it during the past few months. The goods:

  • Updates when the individual site send a ping to blo.gs. This must be the best way to know when a site is updated.
  • Autodiscovery of RSS and Atom feeds.
  • XFN support


The bads:

  • I don’t know how to write PHP to grab the xml file and display the blogroll on my site, so I use the javascript implementation instead.
  • It’s huge. And thus could not be access sometimes. And the javascript time-out is too long. On occasions I have to wait a good 30 second and even then it might decides to not load at all.
  • Search engines and Technorati cannot crawl javascript-generated content.


As a test run, I have taken the blo.gs link out and instead use the weblink monitoring which comes with Drupal’s weblink module. What is happening is, basically,

  • I added items from my blogroll manually, as if adding just another weblink
  • Every one hour, a cron job is run, and my site grab the RSS or Atom feed from these monitored sites, and compare them with old copies.
  • If there’re more than 40 kb difference in a feed, the site is marked as updated.
  • 20 most recently updated sites are shown on the side bar. (appears only in blog section)


The system is only in place for a few hours, and I’ll have to wait and see if I need to tune any parameters (fetching frequency, change tolerance) to make it more accurate. Also the server load has to be monitored, if I am going to add very quick-update sites like Gizmodo.

If it works well, this site will be totally independent of any outside services. (the new tagboard is also run on ichris.ws)

OK. Time for lunch.

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