Personal weblog-cum-news aggregation tool

THIS WEEK NetSpeak discusses a multi-functional tool that can be used to start such applications as weblog, wiki web and news aggregation from your desktop.

Two technologies that have shot into prominence on the Net are weblog and RSS-based news aggregation. A weblog is a frequently updated web site whose content gets automatically arranged in chronological order, with the latest posting on top, the one before it coming next and so on. Generally, a weblog contains small messages with links and comments on articles from other sites. With this technology you can easily publish your opinion on events/new technologies/new findings to the world with a few mouse clicks.

Even if you do not publish your weblog, you can have a personal weblog installed on your machine, populate it with content regularly and use it later to go back to links visited in the past.

Another phenomenon that grew with blogs is the news aggregators which collect/read/display RSS-based news feeds published by different web sites for providing headlines on the latest postings available on them. Here, we discuss a free software that can be used both as a weblog tool and a news aggregator.


PyDS (Python Desktop Server — is a Python-based multi-featured Desktop server that can be deployed to accomplish several applications including weblog, wiki web and news aggregation. As PyDS is written in the Python ( language, you need to have the Python software installed in your machine.

If you are a Windows user, a self-installing executable file that automatically installs all the required modules can be downloaded from the site: (<108,SYM,126>louis/). Download PyDS base release and install it on to a directory, say `c:\pyds.' After installation, start the server (Start/PyDS/Start Server), access the PyDS web interface, launch your browser and access the link: https://localhost:4334.

Initially the system will display a `Preferences' menu where you have to enter details for the weblog such as name, weblog title, weblog description and e-mail address.

Posting weblog entries

To post a weblog entry, select the weblog option and enter appropriate data into the input boxes provided for the various components of your weblog entry.

Apart from providing the facility to launch a personal weblog from your desktop, as already mentioned, the PyDS server can be used to start applications such as Wiki web and news aggregator. For example, to use the tool's news aggregation facility, access the option `Aggregator', click on the `configure news feeds' option and enter the URLs of the RSS feeds of your choice. A highlight of the `Aggregator' component, which is integrated with the weblog tool, is that it provides you the facility to directly post the entries read from RSS feeds to your weblog.

Word Metadata

Very few of you may be aware of the fact that while you create an MS Word document, along with your normal text, Word automatically saves some other information also without your knowledge.

The information that is automatically stored includes author name, company name, document title, document creation date and so on. This type of information bits that lie hidden inside a Word document is also known as Word metadata.

An article available at the MSDN site: otectword.asp will enlighten you more on the subject.

Though the information that gets planted on your document automatically by the Word software may be useful on some occasions, this metadata can be a potential trouble monger as it may reveal some unnecessary information to others. For example, before finalising a document you might have made several changes. Why should the reader know the various revisions made? An article available at the Microsoft site:;en-us;Q290945, describes the various tips that can be used to create a metadata-free document.

To get a quick look at the metadata information stored on a Word document, you may try out the utility Metadata assistant available at: Though this is a crippled version of the software, it helps you get some understanding of the hidden information available inside a Word document.


File downloading is better done with the help of download managers like DL-Expert ( In an earlier issue, NetSpeak featured a download tool called Wget ( The free download manager WackGet, based on Wget, is another download tool worth a trial.

For more details, check out:

Another download tool tested recently by this author is the program InstantGet (, which is also available for free download. Like other popular download programs, InstantGet splits a file into several sections and downloads each part simultaneously.


J. Murali

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