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Mo, 13. Aug 2007, 15:17
Journal Now Friends Only

Because my life has become increasingly public due to teaching and publications and whatnot, I've changed all of my old entries to be friends-only. Leave a comment on this entry if you want to be able to see my friends-only posts and are not already on my friends list.

Fr, 10. Aug 2007, 17:19

I've decided that I'm going to get back into using LJ, but that I'm going to make my journal friends only. I'll probably get around to doing that next week. Today, however, I set my mind to working out how I can get a gadget for iGoogle to display my friends page for me as an RSS feed. These days I have iGoogle as my browser's home page. It's basically a user-customizable page that you can add little XML, HTML, and Javascript-based gadgets to. You can do things with it like, in my case, have RSS feeds for news sites that you visit every day next to your GMail inbox and your Calendar. It's a bit like Outlook if you set it all up right, but it follows you around, which is great for me since I'm sometimes at Uni and sometimes at home and I CBFed to do some strange synchronization thing. Plus it's free.

Getting your LJ friends feed onto iGoogle is actually a little bit fiddly, so I'm putting this post up in the hope that some spider will squirrel the information away for posterity.
  1. You will need a paid LJ account in order to be able to deliver your friends page as an RSS feed, so buy one first if you don't have one. 1 year costs under US$20.

  2. Make sure that the group of friends that you want to be displayed in your feed is called "Default View" and that the group is set to "Public". Doing this may cause Drama(tm) with people who care about whether they're on that view or not since their presence or absence will be readily apparent to anyone who visits your friends page. This is all done from the custom friends groups management page.

  3. Mark the S1 style #670763 as trusted. This is pretty esoteric, but AFAIK it's a style that was made by someone users a while back that formats a friends page with the appropriate RSS tags. Making it trusted puts faith in the hands of the people who created and maintained it that they won't somehow inject malicious code or break it randomly. If you're not keen to do this, then stop here. I did it because I'm a trusting and impatient fool. You can do this at the admin console, using the command: set trusted_s1 670763

  4. Go to your iGoogle home page and click the "Add Stuff" link, then the little "Add by URL" link which is hidden beside the search button on the content directory page. When it prompts you for a URL, put in http://username.livejournal.com/data/customview?styleid=670763&auth=digest, where username is your LJ user name. The styleid argument formats the output as an RSS feed as I said above. The auth part means that as long as LJ detects you as being logged in you will receive secure posts, like friends-locked posts for instance.
The end result should be that you get a little gadget with a list of headers containing the user names and subject lines of all the posts from people updating on your friends list. You can then click the little crosses next to the headers to expand the full entries within the gadget. Very neat and cool. You can also grab the feed with any RSS reader, not just the iGoogle gadgets. I've yet to mess around and find out what it takes for LJ to realize that I'm logged in and display secure posts in my feed. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of cookie wrangling going on, but I'm not entirely sure what.