I keep my regular daily reading sources in publicly available aggregator built with the excellent although not updated for a good while Gregarius. I thought it might also be useful to gather all my private feeds into another Gregarius instance for my exclusive perusal.

Kudos to LinkedIn whose “Network Updates” feeds is available through an URL with a path long enough to actually be used as a basic shared secret, which is adequate security for protecting such a low value information. This lends itself perfectly to the sort of private aggregation I want.

But no brownie points to Facebook whose behavior toward open communications never fails to disappoint. Last April, Facebook made its “Friend’s Status Updates” feed available in RSS format through the same sort of pseudo secret URL as LinkedIn. So far so good : a nice gesture of openness which made me happy when I pointed Firefox at my feed’s URL.

As I was compiling the list of feeds I was going to aggregate, I tested each of them from my web server’s Z shell to check their reachability. When I pointer ELinks at my “Friend’s Status Updates” feed URL, here is what I got :

You are using an incompatible web browser.
   Sorry, we're not cool enough to support your browser. Please keep it
   real with one of the following browsers:
     * Firefox
     * Opera
     * Safari
     * Flock

Baaad Facebook ! This is so incredibly lame : not only is it an unnecessary annoyance, but it is also completely ineffective since I’ll just have to insert a wget download in my hourly Gregarius update script and tell wget to pretend being Firefox. Gregarius will then happily download the local copy through my web server. I just tested and wget –user-agent=”Mozilla” works just fine.

Even easier : I’ll modify my local Gregarius copy so that util.php at line 539 reads “$client->agent = Mozilla;” instead of “$client->agent = MAGPIE_USER_AGENT;” so that Magpie (the RSS import library for Gregarius) tells Snoopy (the HTTP client for Magpie) to use whatever Facebook wants to hear to deliver the goods.

So Facebook :

  1. Gratuitously annoys its users
  2. Does not even do it competently

Now, isn’t it time to really open instead ?