Using The CFA RSS Feed

The CFA Feed

CFA RSS feed is available from the CFA Current Incidents web page.

Assuming you wish to use CFA Incidents feed to alert of wildfire incidents in your area, the it presents unusual RSS reader requirements that can make it difficult in finding a suitable reader:

  • Frequent updating (less than 5 minutes). Many readers are not configurable to update more frequently than 10 minutes or so.
  • Preconfigured feed filtering. Many readers only allow manual filtering of read feed items.
  • Few items of interest, typically once a month during the summer months only. Readers are typically used to read large numbers of items of interest, hence emailing of filtered items is not a common feature.

So my requirements/wants for a CFA RSS feed reader are:

  • Update at least once every 2 minutes (essential)
  • Be able to filter by (essential):
    • Region
    • Location
    • Type
  • Robust filtering. That is, filtering not vulnerable to minor feed format changes such as bold text, colours, etc. For example the current CFA Incident feed gives region as "Region: 13". Some readers require the formating to be part of the search (e.g. "Region:</strong> 13"). For these readers the search rules can be broken by minor format changes.
  • Support emailing, or external application triggering, of filtered items. To alert me of nearby incidents.
  • Incident update. The CFA feed is unusual in that items change with time. Typically the number of appliances and the state change without the item time changing.
  • Displayed information update as new incidents arrive and on incident details change. 'No touch' display update.

Windows Readers

The table below is a comparison of RSS readers within in the context of the CFA RSS feed using the requirements given above. So far I've not been able to find any suitable reader. The main problem seems to be with filtering and 'no touch' updating. The filtering is problematic by both the reader's functionality and that the CFA feed gives is human generated so typing errors do (not often) occur.

Reader Date
No touch
Filtered channels4 Email or
Cost Comments
Feedreader 3.11 18/1/2008 1 min Yes No Yes
("Region:</strong> 13")
No - Nice layout, simple to use. Can be installed to run on a portable disk.
FeedDemon 18/1/2008 5 min - No - - - Update rate is too slow.
NewzCrawler 1.8 19/1/2008 1 min - - No - US$24.95 Lack of virtual filtered channel means that too much irrelevant information will be displayed.
Rss Bandit 1.6 19/1/2008 15 min6 Yes - No - Free Open source .Net application is a big advantage to me. Search folders are not as configurable as the feed. Supports plug-ins.
Newzie 0.99.9 18/1/2008 15 min - - - - - Did read the feed but update rate is too slow.
Omea 2.2 18/1/2008 1 min Yes No Yes Yes7 (plug-in) - Very configurable. Not for those who value simplicity.

The Ideal Reader

Given that I'm unable to find a suitable reader I'm wondering if my best option is to write one or to contribute to the RSS Bandit project. Writing one may not be difficult if it kept very specific for CFA incidents. It may be simpler to write a stand-alone simple reader first and then, if desirable, add the RSS Bandit project later.

Main wants:

  • Dynamic location filtering (build database of location from received incident, user accept/reject).
  • Notification of changes to existing items.

Mobile Phone Readers

I have a Motorola V3 phone and wonder if I can run a reader on the phone that will alert me of filtered incidents.

To investigate later.

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