View Webpages Blocked On Your Company’s Network Using Instapaper

I am an avid reader. Whenever I get free time at work I want to read something on the Internet.

On my company’s network, some websites are blocked. For instance, I can’t directly access WordPress blogs. Not only those blogs hosted on WordPress.com domain, but any WordPress blog is inaccessible on the office network.

Since I read tons of blogs, it would drastically limit my reading of the stuff I am interested in.

Fortunately, Feedly is accessible at work. Feedly is a feed-reader. So I could read my subscribed blogs on Feedly.

There is, however, a limitation with Feedly.

Some blog-owners don’t allow full feed of their blog posts. So I would not be able to read those blogs whose owners have chosen to only allow the tile or a snippet of their blog posts via feed.

Today I found a solution to that problem. The name of that solution is Instapaper.

For those of you who don’t know, Instapaper is essentially a reading app which renders web-content for reading later and reading in clean, reader-friendly format.

Here’s the hack (It’s actually a feature of Instapaper which is incidentally a “hack” for me):

Go to Instapapper.com. Sign up. Log in. Then click on More link on the bottom left, then click on How to Save. Or lick on this link directly: https://www.instapaper.com/save

You will see a button called Instapaper Text, with instruction to drag it to your Bookmarks Bar. Once you have done that, you’ve done it.

Now any time you click on any webpage link and the page displays a message such as “Your organization has chosen to limit viewing of this site due to the rating of its content” or something like that, click on Instapaper Text button and the webpage will be rendered on Instapaper in the same browsing window.

Note that this hack is useful only for accessing webpages with reading material. And needless to say, only if your company’s network allows access to Instapaper.com to begin with.

Better Way To Keep Up With Twitter Updates

I always thought it would be great if Twitter provided a way to subscribe to RSS feed of the updates from people I follow on Twitter. That would make it very convenient for me to keep up with Twitter updates in the same feed reader where I read other blogs I have subscribe to, instead of going to a different application.

Twitter does not offer the feed subscription option. So it occurred to me to search for third-party tools that might provide the functionality. I Googled about it, and voila! Found several relevant results.

I have now started using https://twitrss.me to fetch RSS feed of tweets of my favorite Twitter users.

Benefits?

Following are the benefits I am experiencing by subscribing to feeds of Twitter users I follow:

  • As I said above, I don’t have to jump through multiple websites/apps to keep up with the blogs I am subscribed to and the updates from people I follow on Twitter. The tweets I care about come right through in my Feedly app.
  • I get to see the tweets I care about without any clutter or noise.
  • Without any distraction I am able to go through tweets in much less time than it would take me on Twitter website/app.
  • I am not exposed to “promoted tweets” and ads that Twitter inserts in user timelines. I have not signed up for those ads nor am I interested in seeing any.
  • On Twitter website/app, I have to scroll through my timeline and see all the tweets even when I am looking for tweets from a specific person, if they have posted anything. This is because Twitter doesn’t show all tweets from each person grouped together. In feed reader, however, I have subscribed to each person’s tweets as separate feed, hence all tweets from one person show grouped together. This way I can directly see if the specific person whose updates I’m interested in at the moment has tweeted anything. Huge time saver.
  • On Twitter website/app, when I follow someone I only see their tweets and retweets, not their replies to other people’s tweets. If I want to keep up with everything a particular person is tweeting, including their replies to others’ tweets, I have to go to their profile. With feed subscription, however, I have an option to subscribe to their replies also.
  • With feed subscription, I get to see ALL tweets of the people I follow. This is by far the most important benefit. Let me explain this. Twitter recently implemented an algorithm that will decide which tweets you would be more interested in and will prioritize tweets on your timeline accordingly. This means I might not see tweets which Twitter thinks I would be less interested in. Well, I am interested in seeing all the tweets from the few people I follow.

Given the benefits, you might want to give it a try. (If the words RSS feed and feed reader are alien to you, this post is not for you.)

How to use the tool?

You can visit https://twitrss.me and key in the Twitter handle to generate the feed URL of the user’s twitter updates. You have options to fetch feeds of their tweets (which includes retweets) and replies. The feed URL looks like this:

https://twitrss.me/twitter_user_to_rss/?user=TwitterUser&replies=on

The bolded portion is the Twitter handle of the person you want to subscribe to. If you don’t want to see in the feed their replies to other people, leave out “&replies=on” part at the end. Finally, add the feed URL to your feed reader to subscribe.

Enjoy!