Hey Apple Newsroom team! You’ve got some bugs in your RSS feed.

I discovered this bug recently after adding the Apple Newsroom feed to my Feedly. The expected behavior when you click on the title of an article in Feedly is that it takes you to the article on the source website. In Apple Newsroom’s case, it took me to a new tab. Odd.

Bad URL in Apple RSS feed

I wrote Feedly support and got a quick reply from the CEO Edwin:

Thanks for the heads up Michael,
We will take a look at this tomorrow.
-Edwin
Edwin K
CEO

I dug a little bit more, curious mostly, and found some interesting things.

The Newsroom RSS Feed

Not RSS, rather Atom

Despite the feed URL referencing an RSS feed https://www.apple.com/newsroom/rss-feed.rss, the feed is an Atom feed.

<feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">

That’s okay, it doesn’t really matter so long as the XML in the feed validates as Atom, and it does successfully validate as a “valid Atom 1.0 feed”.

Lots of CDATA

For those who need a refresher, CDATA or character data, as defined by Wikipedia: “In an XML document or external parsed entity, a CDATA section is a section of element content that is marked for the parser to interpret purely as textual data, not as markup.”

However, all the content in every tag in the feed begins with <![CDATA[. Odd and unnecessary it seems.

The Bug: No Link Tag

What I discovered is that Apple’s Newsroom feed is malformed. Specifically, it includes the link to the article, for example the link to the most recent article — AirPods, the world’s most popular wireless headphones, are getting even better — in the id tag. Again, odd.

<id><![CDATA[https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/03/airpods-the-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones-are-getting-even-better/]]></id>

If you hop over to the W3 Feed Validation Service, they’ve got a nice summary of the Atom specification, RFC 4287. As the page notes, the link element contained in the entry element “Identifies a related Web page. The type of relation is defined by the rel attribute. A feed is limited to one alternate per type and hreflang. A feed should contain a link back to the feed itself.”

That’s where the link to the article should be, in the link tag, not in the id tag. The id tag “Identifies the entry using a universally unique and permanent URI.”

Link Tag used for Images

The Newsroom feed breaks the Atom standard here as well as it includes not a single link element for the article, but three, and they’re all images associated with the article not links to the article itself:

<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="New AirPods build on the magical experience customers love delivering 50 percent more talk time, hands-free “Hey Siri” and the option of a new Wireless Charging Case." type="image/jpeg" />
<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones-hey-siri_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="The new AirPods feature the convenience of &quot;Hey Siri&quot; making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions." type="image/jpeg" />
<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_woman-wearing-airpods_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="Switching between iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac is two times faster with the new AirPods." type="image/jpeg" />

Opportunities for Improvement

The CDATA comment aside, I’d love to see the body of the articles, the content element, contain richly formatted HTML. Their webpage certainly has beautifully formatted HTML.

Apple AirPods press release

The only HTML elements in use in their feed are:

<a>
<br/>
<li>
<strong>
<ul>

Where are the paragraph tags? Where are all the nice inline images? And if you notate all the content as CDATA, that doesn’t really help your formatting woes. Adding <content type="html"> would also help.

Here is what their feed articles look like today in Feedly:

Screenshot of Apple Newsroom article in Feedly

Next Steps

I sent a thorough email to Apple’s Media Helpline email address and to the two folks listed as media contacts on the most recent article. As I should have expected, that’s not the right way to report a bug on their website. I received the following reply:

Apple's email reply

Shucks. So I’m writing this post in hopes that someone on the Apple Newsroom team, or the team that maintains the CMS for the Newsroom team notices and fixes the feed. I love Atom feeds! And I know lots of other people do too.

Thanks in advance for fixing up the feed, Apple.

-Michael

A neat presentation looking at the transition from Gutenberg and the printing press to the exponential growth of the Internet today.

Google’s put together a neat way to browse the archive of NASA photography.

To celebrate 60 years of NASA and 50 years of Project Apollo, the Google Arts & Culture Lab has created NASA’s Visual Universe - an experiment drawing on NASA’s vast image archive.

Using NASA’s public API, we explored 127,000 historic images stretching back to 1915, and analyzed them using machine learning - bringing surprising and interactive results.

We especially used Google Cloud Natural Language to extract keywords and information from the archive.

Hey Apple Newsroom team! You’ve got some bugs in your RSS feed.

I discovered this bug recently after adding the Apple Newsroom feed to my Feedly. The expected behavior when you click on the title of an article in Feedly is that it takes you to the article on the source website. In Apple Newsroom’s case, it took me to a new tab. Odd.

Bad URL in Apple RSS feed

I wrote Feedly support and got a quick reply from the CEO Edwin:

Thanks for the heads up Michael,
We will take a look at this tomorrow.
-Edwin
Edwin K
CEO

I dug a little bit more, curious mostly, and found some interesting things.

The Newsroom RSS Feed

Not RSS, rather Atom

Despite the feed URL referencing an RSS feed https://www.apple.com/newsroom/rss-feed.rss, the feed is an Atom feed.

<feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">

That’s okay, it doesn’t really matter so long as the XML in the feed validates as Atom, and it does successfully validate as a “valid Atom 1.0 feed”.

Lots of CDATA

For those who need a refresher, CDATA or character data, as defined by Wikipedia: “In an XML document or external parsed entity, a CDATA section is a section of element content that is marked for the parser to interpret purely as textual data, not as markup.”

However, all the content in every tag in the feed begins with <![CDATA[. Odd and unnecessary it seems.

The Bug: No Link Tag

What I discovered is that Apple’s Newsroom feed is malformed. Specifically, it includes the link to the article, for example the link to the most recent article — AirPods, the world’s most popular wireless headphones, are getting even better — in the id tag. Again, odd.

<id><![CDATA[https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/03/airpods-the-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones-are-getting-even-better/]]></id>

If you hop over to the W3 Feed Validation Service, they’ve got a nice summary of the Atom specification, RFC 4287. As the page notes, the link element contained in the entry element “Identifies a related Web page. The type of relation is defined by the rel attribute. A feed is limited to one alternate per type and hreflang. A feed should contain a link back to the feed itself.”

That’s where the link to the article should be, in the link tag, not in the id tag. The id tag “Identifies the entry using a universally unique and permanent URI.”

Link Tag used for Images

The Newsroom feed breaks the Atom standard here as well as it includes not a single link element for the article, but three, and they’re all images associated with the article not links to the article itself:

<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="New AirPods build on the magical experience customers love delivering 50 percent more talk time, hands-free “Hey Siri” and the option of a new Wireless Charging Case." type="image/jpeg" />
<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones-hey-siri_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="The new AirPods feature the convenience of &quot;Hey Siri&quot; making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions." type="image/jpeg" />
<link href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/airpods/standard/Apple-AirPods-worlds-most-popular-wireless-headphones_woman-wearing-airpods_03202019_big.jpg" rel="enclosure" title="Switching between iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac is two times faster with the new AirPods." type="image/jpeg" />

Opportunities for Improvement

The CDATA comment aside, I’d love to see the body of the articles, the content element, contain richly formatted HTML. Their webpage certainly has beautifully formatted HTML.

Apple AirPods press release

The only HTML elements in use in their feed are:

<a>
<br/>
<li>
<strong>
<ul>

Where are the paragraph tags? Where are all the nice inline images? And if you notate all the content as CDATA, that doesn’t really help your formatting woes. Adding <content type="html"> would also help.

Here is what their feed articles look like today in Feedly:

Screenshot of Apple Newsroom article in Feedly

Next Steps

I sent a thorough email to Apple’s Media Helpline email address and to the two folks listed as media contacts on the most recent article. As I should have expected, that’s not the right way to report a bug on their website. I received the following reply:

Apple's email reply

Shucks. So I’m writing this post in hopes that someone on the Apple Newsroom team, or the team that maintains the CMS for the Newsroom team, notices and fixes the feed. I love Atom feeds! And I know lots of other people do too.

Thanks in advance for fixing up the feed, Apple.

-Michael

I love photography. Back before Instagram, I built my own photography website and tried my hand at selling prints online (my mother was my only customer — thank you Mom).

I no longer use Instagram — to me the platform commoditizes photography in a way that takes all the joy out of looking at and taking photos. Why take the time to compose, edit, and post a photo if it will only be seen for 1-3 seconds?

That said, I’m glad there are photographers out there in the world who choose to spend their time composing and sharing great photography. Apple has chosen their latest round of “Shot on iPhone” photographs — from Instagram no less — and they chose some very good pieces. I hope people continue to share beautiful compositions like these and that they find venues in which they can be appreciated.

Opportunity Rover →

Randall Monroe · xkcd · ·

Opportunity Rover

A titan of a scientist.

Walter Munk, who gave the Allies a strategic edge in World War II, helped nurture a university into existence, and became a living synonym for oceanography, died February 8 at his home in La Jolla, Calif. He was 101.

As a geophysicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, Munk made groundbreaking observations of waves, ocean temperature, tidal energy in the deep ocean, ocean acoustics and the rotation of the earth. As an advocate of science and broader scholarship, Munk served as an advisor to presidents and the Pentagon and conferred with public figures including the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. His convictions led him to refuse to sign a loyalty oath required by the University of California during the peak of anti-communist fervor in the early 1950s and his passion helped create the architecture that would become the defining style of the Scripps Oceanography campus.

Munk’s contributions to science throughout the latter half of the 20th Century and into the present century were measured not only in terms of the new knowledge his research yielded, but in the quality and diversity of the questions he considered. An ethos he expressed throughout his career was for scientists to take risks, pursue new directions, and embrace the educational value of failure.

A follow up to the item posted on Friday.

John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1955 to 2015, was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. He dictated these reflections to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), at their home in Dearborn, on Feb. 7, the day he died.

One of the advantages to knowing that your demise is imminent, and that reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated, is that you have a few moments to compose some parting thoughts…

My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that — fortunately – we see much less of today.

Well worth a read in full. I especially resonated with this: “In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better).”

Although “dress codes” implies that they merely regulate the clothes that students can wear, we found that 77% of schools’ policies specifically prohibit the visibility of certain body parts…Policies like these have recently come under scrutiny due to the sexual tone they communicate. At best, students receive the message that those body parts are bad, should be hidden, or are important to others. At worst, dress codes go so far as to turn whole people into a collection of inappropriate body parts to cover.

As someone who was active in various aspects of student government and had visibility into the administrative functions of education, I agree that this is a subject that can be better addressed in schools. At the end of her article, Amber links to a Model Student Dress Code developed by the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women that I liked and would suggest to any administrator who is reviewing or updating their school’s dress code.

If podcasts become subscription based (think Netflix for podcasts) the industry as we know it will dramatically change. Currently a podcast has a “feed” that’s similar an RSS feed. Accessible by lots of different podcast apps and technologies. If podcasts start going behind walls, its significantly reduces the access to this information. I certainly can see the business case (there’s money to be made), but it would be a significant change for the industry.

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