Difference engines are the craziest things...

Mar 17, 2016

RSS is one of the buzzwords of the modern Internet - it's an XML file format that packages text and links to longer articles that can be viewed with a web browser (or more often, a feed aggregator of some kind). It works like the headline blocks of the newspapers of yestercentury: "Dow Jones Average falls 300 points - see p. A14!" The idea behind it is that you can glance at a website and look at a summary of articles and decide which ones to look at more closely. If you've ever used Google News you've used an RSS feed aggregator, so they're really not hard to understand, just hard to describe without using buzzwords.

Anyway, there are some people that are so hardcore about keeping up with newswires and blogs that they'll go to great lengths to monitor RSS feeds.. such as building a telegraph sounder that taps out the contents of RSS feeds in Morse code. The guys over at the Steampunk Workshop machined their own telegraph sounders out of brass and aluminum stock and built small electromagnets to actuate the tappers.

They wired the sounders into the Capslock indicators of their keyboards and set up a PHP script called MagpieRSS to pull the RSS feed from Craig's List, which was converted into plain text and tapped out using an application called Morse2LED.