Information Trapping 2008 Style

So I’ve been spending the last several days doing a overhaul of my information trapping services. As you might imagine, I try to monitor a lot of data sources, and it had been a while — a few years — since I looked over everything and thought to myself, “Am I finding/getting everything I want to get/find?” The tools I’m using have been similar for the last several years, but the sources underwent a big shift this time.

Tool Time

The majority of my reviewing and sifting work is done with three tools:

1) A Web Page Monitor — I use WebSite-Watcher, which is available at I’ve used it for ages and it’s AWESOME. I discovered visiting the software’s site over the weekend that there’s a Firefox extension available for it now, AND you have the option to install a portable version. I don’t have to rely on Web page monitors as much as I did before RSS became popular, but there are still plenty of pages that don’t have feeds available.

2) An RSS Feed Reader — I was using NewzCrawler for a while ( ), but since FeedDemon ( Individuals/FeedDemon/ ) went free I’m giving it a try. I HATE the way it’s initially set up so you can only see ten items at a time — that’s fine for small RSS feeds, but say you’re monitoring the retail releases section at Business Wire? You can go to the Options and view up to 200 items at a page, which is still not enough, but 20 times better. What I ultimately end up using is still up in the air.

3) A Text Editor — I have used UltraEdit ( http://www.ultrae ) for at least nine years. But now a registered version is $49.95, and it might be a little too high for me to recommend it without reservations. For machines where I don’t have UltraEdit — because, holy cow, I can’t afford $50 per text editor for every computer I use — I use NoteTab Light.

What I’m Watching

Using these three tools I went through a lot of the sources I have and made some serious shifts:

1) No more DMOZ. For a long time I monitored Open Directory pages for categories in which I was interested. But there’s so little going on in that directory that it’s not worth it anymore. Yahoo Directory’s not any better.

2) Lots more location-based monitoring. Thanks to Topix and Google’s location: syntax, I can monitor news in certain areas.

3) Lots more keyword-based monitoring. Google News and lots of other sources allow me to generate keyword-based RSS feeds. They’re not quite a majority of my feeds yet (I have way too much general curiosity) but man, they make my traps so much more useful and focused.

4) More love for certain sources. Certain sites like Bloglines have not been getting enough attention from me. I’m fixing that.

I’m still doing an overhaul, so I may do a followup, but I wanted to get this written down…

Categories: News