Portalpotty began in 1999 as yet another bandwidth saving device. I share a
56k dialup connection, so anything that means fewer bits needing to go
across the wire was considered to be generally a good thing. (Which led to a
rather weird squid/junkbuster setup, but that's another story.)
The original portalpotty was just known as "the homebrew portal" and was comprised of two parts: The first was the portalget script, which used wget to grab a bunch of rdf files from various news sites that I read. The second, was the rss script, which used the XML::RSS perl module to parse out the headlines, and put together a simple html page. portalget was controlled by a cron job, while rss was called by the cgi interface of apache. There was good and bad about this setup. The good: Bandwidth savings. The bad: the page was being generated on every load, new content or not. The code was also a mess, so maintaining it was next to impossible.
Obviously, any sudden bugs would need to be knocked down. I don't think this one is going to be subject to the feature creep, as I don't have that much interest in developing it much beyond where it is now. Theoretically, you could add some user-specific stuff, but that's a ball of wax that I just don't care to pursue right now.
The even newer.
Things keep repeatedly breaking due to people graciously leaving html in their RSS, or using extended ascii characters which XML::RSS barfs on. So I've had to modify the script so it strips out most high-ordinal ascii values, and I used lex to write a quick program that strips out all HTML tags.
A while back I added some more sanity checking to the script so if it now barfs, it will just insert a picture of the swedish chef and a message about the feed being borked. It's been quite a bit more stable since, and the rest of the feeds will now be rendered happily instead of giving munged output.
Bork! Bork! Bork!
I took down portalpotty. I was the only one left reading it, and its life had outlasted its usefulness for me.
Bringing up content again for the website. I won't rule out future versions of portalpotty, but I've been too busy playing videogames to care much. That there's plenty of standalone RSS readers *almost* makes me want to say "But can't I use one of them?", but somehow aggregating web content in a program external to my webbrowser seems boneheaded to me.