RSS – not Royal Steam Ship

November 12, 2008

Having had a think about managing RSS Feeds for some of my favourite wargaming (and roleplaying) webcomics and sites, I decided to look at Voyage. I wanted to set up RSS feeds for Larry Leadhead, Turn Signals on a Land Raider, Order of the Stick and some others.

I was able to delete the preset feeds in Voyage and added in new feeds for what I could (no feed for Larry Leadhead, unfortunately). I wasn’t happy with the results – Voyage seems to be interested in keeping you updated by the hour wheras I wanted to be updated by the day, so I saw nothing that I wanted to (plus the deleted feeds still had their backfiles appearing, which I think needs to be changed. If you Delete something, you Delete it completely, yes?).

I decided to pop in a feed from BBC History just to experiment further. I got a lovely couple of results to do with Armistice Day (in particular this one) so I decided to leave Voyage set up and left it alone for an hour.

When I came back, the “Manage my RSS Feeds” pane had disappeared. A refresh (using Mozilla Firefox) got it back, back now the BBC history feed (“On this day in history”) was only showing results for today, the 12th! My Armistice Day (11th November) results had strangely disappeared.

Another problem I encountered was that there does not seem to be a facility to create your own account to save and personalise.  Because I was using Firefox and have my Cookies and History personalised, when I closed the window and opened up a new one, my searches were all saved. (It even did it in Internet Explorer, so perhaps that is the way to save it?)

I won’t use it again as it’s interface and quirks don’t appeal to me. I don’t want my hobby to involve hourly updates I must keep track of.

At a swap-meet this month, I was lucky enough to purchase a now out-of-print Panzer III M by Revell. The box art shows it with schurzen (armour skirts) and they are included with the sprues. I wasn’t aware of Panzer III’s having schurzen at all, so I decided to do some historical research to see how many did, if it was standard issues, etc.

Part of this research involved searching the web, since I spend much of my day online (for my work).

I decided to use a search engine I normally wouldn’t use, KartOO. My search string was as follows:                  panzer iii m schurzen

Fairly reasonable, I thought.

I encountered a number of problems using and navigating in KartOO. These were:

  1. If I move forward through the pages of results, then click on “Back” (in Firefox), I go right back to the start screen and have to execute the search again. Annoying.
  2. My search string of panzer iii m schurzen gets only 99 results in total. In using search engine Alltheweb, I get 1020.
  3. By default, KartOO is set to search pages from the United Kingdom first. This is not good practice, unless a search engine states that it is specifically set for a country/region (like ANZWERS, which is Australia & New Zealand–centric and clearly states this).
  4. “Topics” is a misleading or misnamed feature. Clicking on something listed there limits results further by what you clicked on. With only 99 results to start with, this is unhelpful.
  5. “Image Search” and “Video Search” are just naked Yahoo! search engine searches.

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkampfwagen-iii.htm has what I want, and it is on the first page of KartOO. This is good.
It’s also on the first page of results with Alltheweb, but on the second page of results for Google.

The visual mapping is too limiting to me. The results gained in a text-driven search engine like Alltheweb are far more meaningful to me, as I can examine all the URLs which offer plenty of guides as to a site being historical/descriptive or a vendor and also I can see other words and phrases on the result page, which again are useful guides.

Visual mapping – is it a passing fad? Time will tell.