Bookmarklets: no-brainer integration of WaterOnMars on Android

bookmarkletWaterOnMars provides bookmarklets to do basic actions like subscribing to an RSS feed or to bookmark a web page.

Bookmarklets are very handy and they work pretty well with desktop browsers, but mobile browsers hardly support them. Unfortunately, since a few months I’ve been browsing the net and reading news on WaterOnMars almost exclusively from my (Android) tablet.

A common solution to get similar functionality as bookmarklets on mobile platform is to develop Android-specific applications.

However I did find an alternative solution, which may not be 100% user friendly, but remains quite handy: the Bookmarklet Free app !

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Unveiling WaterOnMars

Today, I’m officially releasing a personal project called wateronmars, a web app combining a news reader and a bookmark collection.


So this is just another news reader but this ones aims at being a free (as in freedom) platform from which users can explore the web.

A demo site is hosted on heroku:

For now this web application focuses on offering a lean interface based on a very simple workflow:

  1. Take a glimpse at the news: a river views displays the latest news
  2. Dig in when time allows: a sieve (some would say a mailbox-like) view makes it easy to look at and filter out the news
  3. Take notes: a “collection” gathers all web pages that the user wants to keep the link to
  4. Subscribe to news sources: a “sources” page gathers all the web pages from which the user wants to see the news as they come

The source code (under Affero GPL) is available on github.

Although they make up a working and usable (IMHO) application I consider them as the building blocks for a slightly more ambitious web exploration platform.

PS: If you came here looking for actual water on the planet mars, all apologies and feel free to go on wikipedia.

Some components for the “other” information infrastructure on the internet (rss feed etc)

Disclaimer: this started essentially as note-to-self listing a few interesting projects to spare me another internet search session.

RSS feeds (and their twin brothers Atom) are ubiquitous over the internet making it possible to easily get a summary of the latest publications of a given website.

Interestingly a huge amount of websites produce this kind of feeds (most blogs obviously but also sites like  twitter[en]) and from this point of view the RSS format is quite lively.

But on the consumer side, I’m pretty  disappointed with the “offer” in terms of RSS readers. Over the time I’ve tested several well-known desktop readers (liferea, rssowl, thunderbird…) and most of then ended up synchronizing with Google Reader. This one has consequently come to be my main newsreader and it appears to me as clearly dominating the world of internet based newsreader. However such a predominance is not that much a good sign1.

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  1. a quick glimpse at HackerNews shows that people are regularly trying to reinvent the newsreader service so there is hope I guess []

From the general to the particular: plug several RSS feeds into a Facebook wall

The setting

By conviction and also because it’s just common sense IMHO,  I refrain from storing too much content (text, photo, code) directly into sites like Facebook (and as some would say “corporate silos”) that tend to consider their user’s data as their own a bit too easily.

More precisely, the best way to store ones data remains one’s own computer (with a tad of backup that is) and that’s the main way I store my photos and code.

For data a bit more “endemic” to the Internet (blog posts and selection of photos to be shown), I’m using “free” services built on free software and using open protocols that make it easier to connect several of them together. In this matter, WordPress, zenPhoto and are doing a fairly good job for me.

Eventually for very specific cases I’m going through proprietary services like Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

The aim

Well, the aim is quite simple at first sight: make it so that the new posts and photos published on my blog or on end up displayed on my Facebook wall.

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