RSS feed for friends’ Twitter updates – in Google Reader

2008-12-07 Sun – 17:24:12

Hooray. I like keeping up with what my friends are up to, and add any weblog feeds I find to Google Reader whenever I come across one.

Recently I’ve realised how many of them are using Twitter, which I’ve signed up for but have no interest in using myself. So, it was kind of annoying to find out that while there is an RSS feed for each individuals’ updates, the RSS feed that combined all my friends’ updates together was password-protected.

This meant that rather than keep using Google Reader, to keep up with the all those Twitter updates I’d have to check Twitter itself – which truly doth sucketh.

However, problem solved! Not too complicated in the end really. Woo.

I’ve written a tiny script that uses curl to get a copy of the password-protected feed and runs from cron regularly and makes a local copy I can subscribe to in Google Reader:

Thankfully curl lets you use your .netrc file to specify the username and passowrd, and the Twitter feed is available over SSL, so it’s even properly secure. Rah.

[jem:pgl]:~/scripts $ crontab -l | grep twit
 */5 * * * *
[jem:pgl]:~/scripts $ cat
/usr/bin/curl -s -n "$friendsrssurl" -o "$localcopy"
[jem:pgl]:~/scripts $ curl --help | egrep -- '-[sno]/'
 -n/--netrc Must read .netrc for user name and password
 -o/--output  Write output to instead of stdout
 -s/--silent Silent mode. Don't output anything
  1. 8 Responses to “RSS feed for friends’ Twitter updates – in Google Reader”

  2. Hey there. I stumbled upon this blog entry while trying to find a way to view my password protected friends list RSS in the os x RSS feed screen saver. It looks as if your solution for your google reader problem would solve the same problem for my screen saver problem. Maybe you could show me how to do the same.

    By Turnipseed on Feb 21, 2009

  3. Hi Turnipseed,

    Unfortunately I don’t know much about the OS X RSS feed screen saver, so I can’t really help. Sorry.


    – pgl

    By pgl on Mar 17, 2009

  4. Sorry I’ve seen your script after doing my little development :) What I did is creating a RSS Feed for your new followers/friends – helps me to keep an overview of who is communicating with me. You find it on

    Now the question: Do you like me to include your solution into the offered RSSes (would implement it via the search API – so a bit different approach).

    Just let me know,
    Thorsten (@zoernert)

    By Thorsten Zoerner on Mar 27, 2009

  5. Hi Thorsten,

    Nice! I wish I’d found your solution earlier.

    I’ve actually been working with the API myself recently for work – which is how I’d do it myself now if I were to reimplement what I did in the post.

    I’m not sure that I understand your question though. Could you explain what you mean about including my solution, please?


    – pgl

    By pgl on Apr 15, 2009

  6. Hi Pgl,

    by the time I wrote that comment I haven’t everything ready that is now ready (like the twitter api rate limit :) ).

    However – as you were the person having the idea before – feel free to share ideas in the future.

    One of the things that I want to come up with is an RSS Feed for conversations similar to the conversations. What it should contain are not just your tweets but in addition replies you got etc…


    By Thorsten Zoerner on Apr 15, 2009

  7. I look forward to any new developments from you!

    By pgl on Apr 15, 2009

  8. Turnipseed, I hope you’ve already worked this out – just configure OS X’s RSS screen saver to read the file you generated locally with curl (eg “~/rss.xml”).

    By Jack on Aug 7, 2009

  9. Great stuff as usual…

    By Santana Rusko on May 14, 2010

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