Meerkat Help

The Meerkat Window
The Meerkat window is composed of three main sections:

  • Header & Toolbars
    Not much to say about this section; the top of the page is composed of the standard O'Reilly Network header, tabs, and toolbar. To the right are links to Meerkat's About page, this Help page, and the O'Reilly Network's Login/Logout functions. To take full advantage of all of Meerkat's features, be sure to join the O'Reilly Network.

  • View Controls
    The view controls allow you to specify what stories you'd like to see and navigate through them. For more specific instructions, see the View Controls section below.

  • Stories
    Meerkat displays stories in reverse chronological order -- the newest of the new are the first you'll see.

    Story titles are in bold, followed by a short blurb if available. To read a story, click on its title; a new browser window will open and transport you to the full story at its source. Clicking on a story syndicated by Wired, for example, will take you to the full story on Wired's Web site. This new window is reused for each story on which you click so as not to litter your desktop with browser windows.

    Source is the name of the channel in which the story appears. Click on the source to see a rendering of the latest issue of this channel.

    Meerkat's stories are at present loosely categorized along channel lines. If you're interested in shaping how syndicated stories are categorized, be sure to visit the O'Reilly Network RSS DevCenter or drop in on the oreillynet.rss forum.

    The Date field indicates when Meerkat first noticed a story and cataloged it in the database.

View Controls
Using a combination of settings in Meerkat's view controls, you can hone in on the kind of story you wish to read. We'll now take you through each control in turn, followed by a few combination examples.

Whenever you make any changes to the controls, be sure to click the Refresh button to refresh the window and retrieve the appropriate stories.

  • Interval
    (default is 1 HOUR)
    The Interval control specifies how far back in time you want to travel in search or stories. To see the last 2 days' crop, enter 2 into the textfield and select DAY. To view all stories since the dawn of time (read: the dawn of Meerkat, 16 Jan 2000), select ALL from the pull-down menu. Note that the interval number is ignored if ALL is chosen.

  • Category
    (default is ALL)
    You may select one or more categories from which to draw stories; Hold CTRL(Windows) or COMMAND(Mac) while picking multiple categories. Not all categories will have recent news; those which do for the interval you've chosen are prepended with a + (plus-sign).

  • Channel
    (default is ALL)
    You may select one or more channels from which to draw stories; Hold CTRL(Windows) or COMMAND(Mac) while picking multiple channels. Not all channels will have recent news; those which do for the interval you've chosen are prepended with a + (plus-sign).

  • Search
    (default is blank)
    To search for something in particular, enter either space-delimited keywords or a // enclosed regular expression in the search box.

    Keywords result in any stories (within the constraints of your other settings) containing one or more of the specified keywords. If your search turns up nothing, try synonyms or variations on words and check your speling ;-)

  • Show
    (default is 1-#)
    Meerkat displays fifty stories per screen; use the Show pull-down menu to select which 50. If, for example, Meerkat finds 120 stories matching your criteria, the Show box will display the first 50 as "1-50 of 120". Select 51-100 and click Refresh to see the next fifty.

    Check (click) the Restore Defaults checkbox and click Refresh to restore the default (1 HOUR, ALL Categories, ALL Channels, No Search) settings.

How about a few examples...

  • "The Newshound" is interested in anything that floats by, so long as it's fresh. He chooses and a 30 minute interval, and ALL channels.

  • "The Sysadmin" is interested in new software, security issues, and the latest nerd-worthy news. Since she's very busy and only gets a chance to check in twice a day, she selects and a 12 HOUR interval, and the Freshmeat, Linux Today, Security Focus, and Slashdot.Org channels.

  • "The Columnist" uses Meerkat as a search engine to keep abreast of the latest developments on stories he's covering -- in this case, "patents." He chooses ALL as a time interval to make sure he didn't miss anything while at the cabin for the weekend, and ALL channels since you never know where patents stories might pop up. He filters the resulting stories for anything with the keywords patent amazon o'reilly in the Search For box.

  • "The Developer" starts her day a nice cup of Java, ambling through the last 24 hours worth of Java news. She selects an interval of 1 DAY and the JavaSoftware.Com, JavaWorld, and JavaScript Tip of the Day (yes, I know it's not strictly Java ;-) channels.

Remember Me?
Wouldn't it be great if each time you visit Meerkat it remembered your likes and dislikes -- or, more specifically, what your preferred view settings are?

Whether you visit from the same computer or another, after an hour or a month, Meerkat remembers who you are and what you were looking for. All you have to do is click the Login button on the right-hand side of the toolbar, log in to the O'Reilly Network , and Meerket will restore your last settings for you.

Coming soon... save your favourite sets of settings as named views you can switch between at the click of a mouse.

Have any questions not answered by this Help page? Please post them to the O'Reilly Network RSS Forum.