Month: November 2007

How to Save One, Many, or All Items from a Google Reader Feed Locally

Google Reader, employing Google’s petabytes of storage, archives every feed item it’s ever pulled for you. This has always amazed me, as I’m sure I and everyone else must be using far more in Reader than the 5 gigs we get from Gmail. Still, they don’t have much of a choice; it wouldn’t do anybody good if you could only see the 10 or 20 items present on a feed’s XML file at any given time. And even though they’re probably clever enough to only have to store one copy of every item for that item’s hundreds of thousands of readers, they’ve practically built a third copy of the internet (after their cache).

A nice fallout of this archiving is that whenever content you’ve subscribed to disappears from the web, you’ll still be able to access its (admittedly homogenized) Reader copy, forever; “forever” here meaning “presumably for as long as Google is around.” When (if?) Google dies, will its data die with it? Despite my intuition that Google will long outlast current notions of what computers are and how they work, I still don’t like entrusting important data to other people, not to mention data that is accessible only through the web. I want a local copy.

But they don’t make it easy for you. Reader is all AJAXed out, so even simple page saves don’t work. Copying/pasting would be a nightmare. Screenshots? Too sloppy. Emailing copies of each item? Too time-consuming. Tagging them with a special tag, making that tag’s feed public, then subscribing in, like, Thunderbird or something? Even if that weren’t absurdly roundabout, the public feeds only have twenty or so items.

I’m talking specifically about a blog I loved, but that up and disappeared one day, completely, leaving the only copies of the lost data scattered throughout Netvibes, Newsgator, Bloglines, and Reader. Google searches turned up nothing like a straightforward guide to saving from Reader, which surprised me. But there were clues, and using only a couple tools, I finally got it. It’s actually pretty easy, I was able to save 118 items in about ten minutes with this method. Let me show you it.

You need Firefox, the two plugins Greasemonkey and ScrapBook, and the Greasemonkey script Google Reader Print Button. Then it’s just a matter of clicking “Print” for each item you want to save, which opens it in its own tab, then using ScrapBook’s “Capture All Tabs…” function, which automatically does a “Save Page As, Web Page, complete” into your %AppData% folder for each tab, then finally optionally using ScrapBook’s “Combine Wizard” (in the tools menu of the ScrapBook sidebar [Alt+K]) to put all the items into a single folder with a single index.html file.

The “printing” part is the most cumbersome, but goes by pretty quickly with the repetition of a series of clicks and keystrokes:

  1. Click “Print”
  2. Press Esc (to close the print dialogue)
  3. Press Ctrl+Tab (to get back to Reader)
  4. Press J (to go to the next feed item)

Do that mindlessly for a couple minutes, and they’ll all be there, waiting to be saved. I’m gonna put the word “disk” in here too so that anybody Googling for a solution might find this.

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Cinematic Titanic is a complete hoax

Only TWO days ago, cinematictitanic.com mysteriously appeared. Claimed to be authored by Joel Hodgson, it goes on to say that he is returning to the making-fun-of-movies thing, along with Trace, Frank, Mary Jo, and JOSH WEINSTEIN. So I think some healthy skepticism wouldn’t be UNfounded.

Nevertheless, Slashdot, Ain’t It Cool News, and doubtless thousands of other blogs are blowing up about it, and nobody’s asking any questions. Just fawning, ejaculatory cheerings-on.

The first thing you notice is how POORLY the page is designed. You even see a <meta name="author" content="John Stotler" /> in the source, that the domain is hosted at GoDaddy, and is registered through a privacy proxy. Okay, fine, so these people have hired an amateur designer. It’s possible.

But the announcement just resembles too closely every MST3K fan’s wet dream. They’re an easy target for a prank like this. They’ve been chanting Joel’s name continually for over ten years now, begging for him to come back. Pulling one over on people demonstrating such obnoxious behavior would be funny. What if it even made it on Slashdot? Or Wikipedia???

Besides the fact that it would be weird for all five of these people to be simultaneously inspired to beat that dead horse, Joel left the show because he wanted to distance himself from it. In a press release from 1993 he said,

It’s time for me to hang up my red jump suit and move behind the camera. Besides, there’s an old show business adage I once heard Adam West say: “Stay in the same costume and before you know it, you end up signing pictures at an R.V. show.” Maybe it was Clayton Moore, now that I think of it.

I want to become a behind-the-camera guy. I want to get on to the NEXT weird show. I want to be an idea man.

The new site itself is ugly, yes, but more than that, it’s very un-Joel-like through and through. Joel’s a smart, creative, funny guy. Would he really put his name behind such a stale, meaningless name as “Cinematic Titanic”? With this logo?:

Cinematic Titanic

Would he really say, “Our first release is at this time a total secret, however – I’m willing to say it makes ‘Manos the Hands of Fate’ look like ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’ in a car wreck with ‘Eegah!’”? These are the words of a fan, naming his favorite episodes, not the words of a guy who wanted to move on with his life, fourteen years ago.

The site also reads, “I’ve just been interviewed by Lucasfilm online, in anticipation of Cinematic Titanic’s first live show and world premiere in San Francisco in December.” Lucasfilm online? Why haven’t they been talking about this? Wouldn’t an exclusive, rare interview with Joel Hodgson about his new project be something you might want to mention? Where in San Francisco is this premier? Why haven’t I gotten a confirmation email for signing up for the mailing list?

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