New news, old open source

Hi faithful readers! Notice anything different about the news on ol’ plip? No? Probably not because there’s been none since December of aught 4. It’s no surprise no one noticed. However, to fight the stale news, encourage freshness, thus garner a new, rejuvenated mass of readers, old open source solutions have taken hold of news: WordPress on our LAMP stack running on Linux! Ok, the last two are not new, but WordPress is and all our news will live there.

On deck in the news section are geeky, bloggy types news: PHP tips and tricks, adventures and places to see, media consumed and ramblings. I guess the last one is redundant, as they’ll all start to ramble.

To give you a taste, here’s the PHP tip of the week: I used to use Magpie RSS to consume RSS feeds I wanted to re-syndicate on another site. Though it does have some nice features like normalizing different feed formats and using a cache file, it was a but heavy to just suck in some news for my own use. In this case, I wanted self syndicate to plip’s home page. Enter the simplexml_load_string() function! I can grab the latest news at the top of my home page:

//prep loading blog contents
$blogURL = "http://".$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']."/blog/feed/";
$blogRSSraw = file_get_contents($blogURL);
$blogXML = simplexml_load_string($blogRSSraw);

And then further down, I can loop through all the entries and do a little formatting to output the latest news for y’all. Note that each child item (a blog post in this case) is it’s own SimpleXMLElement object. Further note that each key value pair (eg title, date etc.) has a magic “to string” function (which as my co-worker and I found can do unexpected things if you’re print_r-ing).

foreach ($blogXML->channel->item as $post){
	print "link."">".$post->title."";
	print "".strftime ("%d %b %Y",strtotime($post->pubDate) )."
"; print $post->description."

"; }

This tricks works great if you’re consuming search results from a Google Mini search appliance, which is where I first deployed this technique.

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