Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mobility - Reading FriendFeed via Google Reader

Introduction | Preliminary Results | Mobility

The experiment continues.

For those who haven't seen my previous two posts on the topic, let me summarize my setup as follows:
  1. I am sending various feeds from FriendFeed into Google Reader. (Currently it's just the entries, comments, and likes for 11 selected people, but it could be any feed from FriendFeed, including rooms, searches, "best of," etc.)

  2. I am then using Google Reader to choose which items to pursue further. (See this post for a screen shot.)

  3. Finally, I am going from Google Reader into FriendFeed (or, alternatively, into the original item such as a blog post) and interacting with the item from there.
This system seems to work well on desktops and laptops, but I knew that I was going to have to test this on a mobile phone at some point or another.

My mobile phone that I bought in October.

October 2006.

As I've noted previously (in a Disqus response to a December 19 Daniel Pritchett post on, my first-generation Motorola Q phone includes a browser that is equivalent to Internet Explorer 4.

This causes some problems with the "Finally, I am going from Google Reader into FriendFeed" step.

Specifically, I click through the Google Reader entry to the individual FriendFeed item, but the "Comment" and "Like" buttons don't work on my old browser.

At this point I had the bright idea, "Why not just edit the URL and change "friendfeed" to "fftogo"? Benjamin Golub's wonder application would certainly let me interact with the material to my heart's content.

Fine in theory, but for some reason it didn't work for me on Tuesday night.

I'm trying it again a second time to interact with this item.
  1. The first thing that happened when I clicked through was that I didn't go to the FriendFeed page, but to Google's mobile-adapted rendering of the FriendFeed page, which meant that I had to click the "View in HTML" button that Google provided.

  2. This got me to the FriendFeed page, but with "?login=1" appended to the URL. I tried to click on "Like," but as usual nothing happened. (At this point the end of the URL read "?login=1#" because of my click.)

  3. Now it's time to bring out the manual editing tools. I edited the URL to read "" instead of "friendfeed." I got a 404 Not Found error.

  4. I removed the entire "?login=1#" string. I got a 404 Not Found error.

  5. Just to test, I tried using the same URL "" on my laptop (instead of my mobile phone). I got a 404 Not Found error.
Finally, after some more poking around, I tried something today that I didn't try yesterday - namely, editing the URL so that it read "" (i.e., removing the title). That worked.

So, as of this afternoon, I figured out the steps necessary to use Google Reader as a front-end to FriendFeed via my old mobile phone:
  1. I am sending various feeds from FriendFeed into Google Reader.

  2. I am then using mobile Google Reader to choose which items to pursue further.

  3. Next, I am going from mobile Google Reader into FriendFeed. (I'm ignoring the "go to the original item" case for now.

  4. Next, I am manually editing the resulting URL to (a) change "friendfeed" to "fftogo" and (b) lopping off everything after the hexadecimally-encoded part of the URL.
So it theoretically can be done, but it's an awful lot of work. In this case, it's probably easier to go to fftogo and find and read the stuff in there.

For a while, I was theoretically entertaining another possibility - changing my FriendFeed feeds in Google Reader to fftogo feeds (if such feeds exist). But even if such feeds exist, interacting with fftogo restricts me to things that are supported in the FriendFeed API, which is just a subset of FriendFeed's total functionality. For example, if I am adding a comment to a tweet in fftogo, I am unable to also send my comment to Twitter as a tweet.

So, what can I easily do with my "friendfeed" folder in mobile Google Reader?

I can star stuff and interact with it later.

Coincidentally, last Sunday night I began starring other stuff while in mobile Google Reader. As I discussed here, this was designed to overcome a mobile Google Reader deficiency - namely, the inability of mobile Google Reader to "share with note." The idea is that, rather than sharing without a note, I star it while in mobile Google Reader, then share with note the next time I am at a laptop or desktop.

And if I'm starring an item from one of my Christian feeds, I guess that makes it a heavenly star.

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