Google News unhides the RSS option – it may not last

Past experience suggests that it could be a bait-and-switch tactic.

RSS option in the new and old Google News

Google News used to have an RSS option. There was a RSS link in the footer of the page. There was also a LINK RSS tag in the HTML source code for browsers to turn on their RSS buttons.

After Google and other big companies launched the unofficial war on RSS, the LINK tag disappeared and after a while the RSS button too. Initially, it disappeared on mobile-friendly version of Google News. RSS links that used to work in the mobile-friendly version of Google News also stopped working. I solved this problem by mimicking Subhash Browser as a desktop browser when the Google News page was loaded. (RSS feeds are important for me because Subhash Brower bundles an integrated RSS/ATOM/RDF feed reader, the only browser app with such a feature. I wanted users to search their favorite topics in Google News and use the served-up RSS link in the feed reader.) Then, Google removed the RSS footer link from the desktop version too. (The RSS service continued to work but ordinary users were not going to manually construct the links.) In a recent update, I overcame that by mimicking Subhash Browser as a very old desktop browser – Opera 12.x. That did the trick. Google serves source-controlled versions of its search and news pages for different versions of browsers. When I mimicked Opera 12.x, the RSS link magically appeared back in Subhash Browser. That was just over a month ago.

A few days back, Google served a news item in the RSS feed service indicating that the current RSS link is going to be obsoleted and that users should migrate to the new version.

Currently, the old Opera version serves news like this:
HTML: http://www.google.co.in/search?q=aadhaar&tbm=nws
RSS: http://news.google.co.in/news?q=aadhaar&output=rss

It remains to be seen whether the RSS feed will really be removed from old source-controlled versions too. The notice is clear:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

In new browsers, the links are:
https://news.google.com/news/search/section/q/aadhaar
https://news.google.com/news/rss/search/section/q/aadhaar

Actually, in the new version, the URLs are slightly more confusing but the above ones will work. I have simplified it. (The search term is aadhaar.)

If past actions is any guide, then Google will remove the RSS option from the News page in a sneaky manner. Bing had an RSS option but they also removed it without notice. When Twitter dropped their RSS support, I wrote TweetsToRSS server app for PC and Android. Even very early on, Google tried to promote ATOM feeds as a competitor to RSS. It failed. I thought this war would end at some time soon but no. Someone’s really angry with RSS.

Advertisements
Posted in software, technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to create a cheap DIY backlit keyboard

Well, it is not really backlit. It is rather “overlit”. I took a clear-plastic-and-cardboard case, added a few LED bulbs and a transistor and connected them to 5 volts from a USB port. It is a cheap solution but far less expensive than a real backlit keyboard.

A cheap DIY solution for lighting up your computer keyboard.

Posted in electronics, how to | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to power 12v LED strip using 5v USB port – add a step-up transformer

USB ports supply 5 volts. The 12v LED strip requires at least 9 volts. I bought a step-up DC-to-DC boost transformer circuit which can step up from 1.5v and up it up 24 or 32 volts. It took 5 volts from the USB port and boosted it up to 12 volts to the LED strip.

WARNING: Before connecting the output to any equipment, measure the output. The output voltage can vary widely depending on the input voltage. I fried an MP3 player module with 24 volts. So be careful. The circuit has a nut in the three-prong resistor which changes the output voltage. You can turn it several times in either direction to fine-tune the output voltage.

12v LED strip is powered by USB port using a step-up transformer circuit

Plastic box housing the transformer circuit has 2.1 mm plug (12 v) and socket (5v). I also added a 2.1 mm socket to the LED strip and a plug to a USB cable. (The USB port on the cable from the power bank was custom-built. I use it for electronic testing.) The power bank is also a custom-built one from 18650 batteries salvaged from a laptop battery.

Posted in electronics, how to | Tagged | Leave a comment

Subhash Browser & Feed Reader v2017.10.21 supports all Android versions from Donut to Oreo

  • Support for newer Android versions 5.1+ (Lollipop), Marshmallow (6.x), Nougat (7.x) and Oreo (8.x). (The Google Play download does not work with these Android versions.)
  • Web Browser: Page loading progress bar has moved from the title bar to the address bar. This feature was required as the title bar can be disabled. When the Internet connection is slow you don’t know what is happening if the title bar is hidden.

    The progress bar has moved.

  • Feed Reader: When the Old button is enabled to display deleted articles, the Delete button will appear as an Undelete button on deleted articles. Now the functionality resembles the old Presto-based Opera browser’s Show Thrash functionality.
  • Downloads: File renaming bugs have been fixed.

The support for newer Android versions did not require any special coding. I just needed to make it look like pre 5.1 app in the Android manifest file of the APK. In my over-enthusiasm for forward compatibility, I had declared support for these Android versions long before they were released. Now, Google Play will not allow the APK to pretend to be an older app.

I still use the Eclipse-based Motodev Studio to develop my Android apps. (Google has obsoleted support for Eclipse and has asked developers to move to the IntelliJ-based Android Studio. I don’t like the new IDE.) All my apps are based on Android 1.6 (Donut) for backward compatibility. I was able to use newer Android functionality using Java reflection abilities of my library AndroidWithoutStupid. I was unable to add compatibility to newer Android versions using the code route as Android uses another “compat” library. The manifest file route for compatibility was much more simpler and I had to go with it.

Google Play’s APK system has been made more complicated and I don’t want to deal with it. So, even TweetsToRSS will not be updated to Google Play and will be available as a download from vsubhash.com.

 

Posted in software | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Subhash TweetsToRSS v2017.10.21 restores account info (Android/Linux/Mac/Windows)

* Following/followers count and the account description has been restored to each account. It seemed to have disappeared mysteriously from HTML/RSS output.

Account info restored

 

Posted in news | Leave a comment

NetCheck v2017.10.21 adds autoclose and newer icons (Android/Linux/Mac/Windows)

  • All platforms: Newer icons.
  • Android: 5-second autoclose with cancel function. Option to launch sound volume settings.
  • Linux/Mac/Windows: Optional command-line parameters “noaudio” and “nopopup” to disable audio and popup notifications. For example, any of these
    java -jar NetCheck.jar noaudio
    java -jar NetCheck.jar nopopup
    java -jar NetCheck.jar noaudio nopopup

NetCheck app for Android

Posted in software | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Low-cost DIY portable emergency light using LED strips & 9-volt rechargeable batteries

The white LED strips operate at 12 volts. They will light up even at at 9 volts but will be less brighter.

The multi-colored LEDs are not really an emergency lighting option but are good enough to help you find your way to the white ones. They also work with 9v batteries, which cost 40 rupees each. Sealed 12v batteries will cost over 800 rupees, unless you can salvage old ones from vehicles or UPSs.

image

It is better to use a rechargeable 9-volt batteries, which cost over 150 rupees each. They will also need a special charger. This one is called a battery multi-charger.

image

The LED strips come with an adhesive-coated side & a transparent plastic side. They can be cut with a knife anywhere along its length or twisted to suit your design. A slide switch or a push button and 9 volt batter clip connector may be needed.

Posted in electronics, how to | Tagged , | Leave a comment