Yahoo pipes = rad, but HARD!

When I had Grant help design/redesign/build this site, I wasn’t totally clear what I wanted. Basically, I knew I needed a portal for my occasional blog posts that didn’t fall under, or, but beyond that I also wanted it to serve as a sort of “all about Virginia” portal that easily linked readers to my entire online writing/social presence. But, other than the Twitter list feed thingy at left, I couldn’t quite figure out how to swing that “truly Everything Virginia Writes Ever” concept all in one place — the user would still have to follow individual links to my other blogs, and would actually have to go several links deep for some of them.

I couldn’t think of how to resolve this, but good old C had an idea. He said Yahoo Pipes was exactly what I needed. And I think he’s right, except — those things are DAMN hard to figure out! The interface is fascinating but tricky — I feel like I’m playing some shitty web game from the early 90s. And yet, it does cool things, once you get past the clunky user experience. I finally managed to piece together how to pull a basic pipe full of all my blog and Twitter RSS feeds, which is awesome (but still not perfect — the initial data pull didn’t factor in the timestamps of anything, so it’s an awkward mess of frontloaded-2006 content, and adding in new subscriptions produces a similar dump o’ content). But when I started trying to add stuff like Facebook status updates and YouTube videos, things got even more complicated.

Sigh. I can tell this is a really cool tool that’s like THISCLOSE to being incredibly useful and helpful, but the learning curve to figure out how to get it to do exactly what I want is just a tiny bit too steep, at least given my minimal free time and the fact that I spend all my tech savviness troubleshooting similar issues at my day job. Plus, services like Facebook seem to go out of their way to hide the code behind useful feeds like I want to pull, so I have to browse all sorts of weird web hacks from several Facebook configuration iterations ago, which of course doesn’t always turn out like I want. Anyway. I feel like a programmer. Only like a really bad one.

Oh, and even though I have the pipe running into my RSS reader, I can’t figure out how to implement the feed on this site such that a list of all my updates shows up here in bloggity format, ya know? Anyway. I’m gonna go add my kittyflickr to the pipe; kitties always make Internet woes better, right? If ya feel like peeking at my pipe, though, it’s here.

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