Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Saturday, December 6, 2008 Making a Better News Feed

My main complaint about this job site is the one that I have about all of them (except the Job Bank). It is that it's search facilities are not nearly as good as they could easily be. does have one advantage over a few other sites though: it offers an RSS feed listing available jobs. The principle shortcoming with the RSS feed is that it covers all of the jobs that this site has for Canada. How many of us want to read through all those headings in the feed?

One of the great things about RSS feeds is that they can be manipulated by software, and various developers have started creating products for doing that which require only limited software skills for simple applications. One of these products is Yahoo! Pipes.

Again, our objective here is to overcome some of the short-comings of this site. When we sift through jobs we look for suitable occupations and reasonable travelling or commuting distances. Here I've copied the RSS feed URL into the Pipes "Fetch Feed" widget for processing and so that I could see what fields the feed contains. I had been hoping that the feed might indicate the city and province for each job. It doesn't so I will be content with limiting the output stream to jobs in just one province, Ontario. (I could limit it further with more advanced techniques.) I need to look for the word "Ontario" in the "title" field. If it is present then I will accept the job; otherwise, I will omit it.

At least this reduces the effort required on the part of the person reviewing jobs. Note, too, that most of us would be following more than one jobs feed. It is thus very worthwhile making each feed somewhat more compact as a source.

To complete the "pipe" I add the "Filter" widget which accepts only those jobs that mention "Ontario" in the title and the "Pipe Output" widget that makes this RSS feed available to the outside world.

Finally, add the feed into your favourite reader and watch for jobs. Here's how the feed looks in Newsgator.