Headlines Plugin


This plugin displays RSS and ATOM feeds from news sites. Use it to build news portals that show headline news.

Note: Syndic8.com ( http://www.syndic8.com/ ) is a good site listing many RSS feeds.

Syntax Rules


Parameter Explanation Default
"..." source of RSS feed; this can be an url (starting with http) or a web.topic location for internal feeds None; is required
href="..." (Alternative to above) N/A
refresh="60" Refresh rate in minutes for caching feed; "0" for no caching Global REFRESH setting
limit="12" Maximum number of items shown Global LIMIT setting
header Header. Can include these variables: - $channeltitle, $title: title of channel (channel.title)
- $channellink, $link: link of channel (channel.link)
- $channeldescription, $description: description (channel.description)
- $channeldate, $date: publication date of the channel (channel.pubDate)
- $rights: copyrights of the channel (channel.copyright)
- $imagetitle: title text for site (image.title)
- $imagelink: link for site (image.link)
- $imageurl: URL of image (image.url)
- $imagedescription: description of image (image.description)
Global HEADER setting
format Format of one item. Can include these variables:
- $title: news item title (item.title)
- $link: news item link (item.link)
- $description: news item description (item.description)
- $date: the publication date (item.pubDate, item.date)
- $category: the article category (item.category)
Global FORMAT setting

The header and format parameters might also use variables rendering the dc, image and content namespace information. Note, that only bits of interest have been implemented so far and those namespaces might not be implemented fully yet.

Rendering the dc namespace

The following variables are extracting the dc namespace info, that could be used in header and format. Nnote, that some of the variables are already used above. This is done by purpose to use different feeds with the same formating parameters. If there's a conflict the non-dc tags have higher precedence, i.e. a <title> content </title> is prefered over <dc:title> content </dc:title> .

  • $title: channel/article title (dc:title)
  • $creator: channel creator (dc:creator)
  • $subject: subject text; this will also add an image according to the subject hash list, see above (dc:subject)
  • $description: ... (dc:description)
  • $publisher: the channel/article publisher (dc:publisher)
  • $contributor: ... (dc:contributor)
  • $date: ... (dc:date)
  • $type: ... (dc:type)
  • $format: ... (dc:format)
  • $identifier: ... (dc:identifier)
  • $source: ... (dc:source)
  • $language: ... (dc:language)
  • $relation: ... (dc:relation)
  • $coverage: ... (dc: coverage)
  • $rights: ... (dc: rights)

Rendering the image namespace

An image:item is converted into an <img> tag using the following mappings:

  • src: image url (rdf:about attribute of the image.item tag)
  • alt: image title (title)
  • width: image width (image:width)
  • height: image height image:height)

Rendering the content namespace

The variable $content is refering to the <content:encoding> content </content:encoding>.


Slashdot News


  header="*[[$link][$title]]:* $description" 
  format="$t* [[$link][$title]]"
to get the latest Slashdot news as a bullet list format:

Business Opportunities Weblog


%HEADLINES{"http://www.business-opportunities.biz/feed" limit="3"}%

to get the latest postings on the "Business Opportunities" weblog:

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:35:05 +0000
The original blog about business opportunities and business ideas for small business entrepreneurs
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:32:45 +0000 Dane Carlson

1000px mc Donald's Golden Arches.svg

Reddit user McSoldIt is business man from New Zealand who has owned a total of three McDonald’s franchises. He’s in the process of selling his last of the three, so took some time out of his busy day to answer a bunch of questions from random Reddit users.

McDonald’s, if you’ve been living under a rock, is the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, with about 68 million customers daily in 119 countries across 35,000 restaurants.


Where did you get the experience to start your first one?

From about the age of 19 I worked at McDonald’s, worked my way up from the bottom, and eventually became a Shift Manager. I went to College and got a Business Degree, got a loan, and built a McDonald’s! They say that McDonald’s employees always notice the best places for new McDonald’s, they aren’t kidding. This helped choose the position for my first store.

What about someone who has the funds but has zero experience running a food restaurant?

Approach your corporate office. You don’t necessarily need the hands-on experience in regards to service, but you will need some experience in running a business, so a degree would help in that department.

hi. about the loan – how much did you have to put in and what was your credit situation then for you to get approved for a $650k biz loan? basically, how does one get $650k to start a mcD? thanks.

The bank saw me as a viable ‘investment’, and they saw that McDonald’s loans pay off very quickly, and the chances are, if I got a loan with them, I’d bank with them too. So that’s my thinking behind it.

What was your worst customer experience?

People swearing at me when they realize who I am. I’ve been blamed for the hospitalization of an individual due to obesity. Wasn’t my fault – they just didn’t balance their diet.

Do you have any regrets?

In hindsight, yes. Having the foodcourt store really damaged the company financially, especially after it closed – barely broke even on my initial investment, which was heart breaking.

How many complimetary ketchup packets could i take before i could get kicked out?

All of them. Just ask for the box.

Would you ever have given me the Big Mac sauce? Because no-one ever lets me have it on my fries.

Yeah, of course! We can do that by squirting some into a sundae lid, and charging you for one sachet of Mayo, which is 40c. Suggest this to the server next time you’re there, they’re still making money off of it!

Do you eat the food? Be it occasionally or regularly? Thanks.

Very occasionally. I don’t know why, but I’m not actually too fond of McDonald’s – ever since I started working there as a teen.

About what % of your revenue did you personally take home as income after operating costs?

I took home 15%, which was around $600,000 last year. USD that’s 572k.

What kind of qualifications is required to open a Mcdonald’s franchise (apart from money, is there certain critiera you must fulfill)? How much capital are you required to have to open a McDonalds and what exactly do you own?

You’re required to have a business degree, or a successful business career. You’re also required to put in $650,000 to help start up.

McDonald’s owns the land, and the building. That’s how corporate earns their money – through lease. I only own what is inside the store.

Kiwi Burger 003

With the amount of gross income turning over, it seems like you’re a high paid employee, but you bear all the risk of a business owner. Does McD do anything to help you improve your sales or try maximize the profits from your property whilst you run it? Or do they just monitor it and show up from time to time to ensure everything is running smoothly?

Yeah, we have a long way to fall sometimes. But the benefit of operating under such a huge umbrella like McDonald’s is that you don’t have to market yourself, worry about stock issues, or innovation – that’s all done for you. All I have to do is make sure everything is working efficiently at my end.

What would you say is the maximum amount of McD you could run by yourself (without exceeding 40 hours per week)? Or is there no limit, as in, you could hire a district manager and regional manager etc.?

You could always hire a District Manager or something, it just comes down to whether or not you have the effort for it. For example I know of somebody in the country who owns 11 McDonald’s which are spaced throughout the country!

So I have to ask, what kind of car do you drive?

I drive a BMW M6.

NZ sounds quite isolated in terms of geography. Where were from your raw materials suppliers?

All local here in New Zealand. The only external goods we get imported is Heinz Ketchup. It’s great for the economy.

Will you expound upon this please? I’ve heard that McDonalds is actually really good for the local farm economy but most people don’t know that. What did you buy local and what did you import? did you see an overall positive impact on the farm and animal raining communities in your region? also: Totally jealous of your NZ locale. Want to go there one day. I’m sure I will, but it’ll be a decade or so from now.

Everything is sourced from within New Zealand. Eggs from Nelson, Bacon from Nelson too, Beef from the Waikato. It is a stable boost for the economy – it means the farmers and the providers have a steady source of income, which allows them to grow considerably.

Did you have to provide the recipes, or how this has worked? I mean there are buns, burgers, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, nuggets, particular type of potatoes… I would really like to know that.

From what I know, the suppliers were given the recipes, and we just order from them like you would normally. Corporate adjusts the recipes depending on what is available in the country, and they just make it work.

Do you consider MCD to have been a good franchise? Do you think you would have done better if you had opened a Taco Bell or a Wendys or something? The market just seems very saturated with McD. Seems like it would take some of the excitement out of owning one.

Overall, yeah, I consider my time at McDonald’s to be quite an eye opener of sorts. It’s kind of hard to say, but there’s always room for improvement, and there’s always “what if” scenarios. And yeah, to be honest, I am bored with McDonald’s. The first few months of a store’s life are always the most exciting – because you have to weed out the problems. It just gets so efficient that it bores me sometimes.

If we can put a man on th moon… Why can’t I have an egg mc muffin after 10:30?

Because we have to clean our grills in order to ensure food safety.. Sorry!

What was your best experience owning that McDonald’s?

To be honest, dealing with some of the staff that worked there. Yeah I admit, I was an ass at times, but they were all hard working guys. The Restaurant Manager always did their best to have an efficient and tidy store, and we both had a mutual respect for eachother.

That and actually opening my store after a year of planning. The first day of operation is always a big one, and it is a huge relief to not only myself, but also the corporate team.

Since this is an AMA and youve been forthcoming when it comes to gross income, what was your net? What was the biggest portion of costs? Did you have any control over menu, pricing etc?

Last year, across my two stores the total turnover was just over $4 million, which was a little lower than usual. After expenses, We’d gross just over $3 million.

We had a surprising amount of control over the cost of our menu actually, as it all depends on our position in relation to the suppliers. That’s why Corporate always asks to ring your local McDonald’s for information when you’re asking them about pricing.

How much work was required of you per week on average? If my goal were to own one McDonalds and do the minimum amount of work possible, while also running it well, how low do you think I could get that weekly number of hours? And what would I be doing in that time?

I would work 9am – 5pm, 6 days a week. Mostly I’m at my office sorting problems remotely from there. I liked to pop down to my couple stores at least a couple times a day and check on them – make sure they’re clean, and to check on the Restaurant Manager about any issues. Typically I used to work hard for 4-6 hours a day, with the rest out in the stores just checking on them.

How much did you sell for?

I’m not stating exactly, but it was just above $1.4 million.

What’s the quality of food actually like there? I know people love to rant on about McD’s being horrible quality and packed with chemicals etc. but I have never read about what is genuinely in the food. I have always assumed the quality for such a dominant chain must be held to tight regulations and that maybe it is not as bad as people make it out to be.

Not doing a plug for Macca’s here, but the food quality is actually fairly good. No chemicals in them, at least not anymore and there hasn’t been for a fair while – they’re old wive’s tales. Sure – we might not use the best parts of the chicken for the nuggets, but there’s no beaky bullshit going on there.

How hard was it to manage your outlet in the beginning?

At the beginning, it was very difficult. But McDonald’s have some good processes in place for support of new franchisees, and they helped me immensely.

Were there any harshness from the McDonald’s corporation side of things when things went bad on your end?

They were very harsh – but fair. At the end of the day, I am an extension of their brand, and if something goes wrong, it is my fault. And its also my job to get it fixed, and ensure processes are put in place to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

How much were you making a day on average just before you sold your outlet?

The average monthly gross income across the two stores last year was $341,462. Divide that by 30, which is $11,382 per day across two outlets, or an average $5,691 per outlet, per day.

In that time did you make enough money to retire? I know someone who started up his own comic book store and in only ten years he claimed he made enough money to retire and shut the store down and sold everything off.

After having my first store for 5 years, I could have retired and lived nicely.

How did you pull together the funds to purchase your first franchise?

I got a loan from the bank, but I easily paid it off within the first 10 months of operation.

So what’s next? How much money did you make annually? Will you make enough money from selling that you will be able to retire? Sorry to be so intrusive, obviously don’t answer if you’re uncomfortable doing so.

I really couldn’t mind! It’s an ask me anything wink Last year the two stores produced a combined turnover of just over $4 million. After 12 years of being with McDonald’s – yeah, I probably could retire. But I want to move into a field where I can actually make a difference and do something that I love, so I hope to keep working.

You said that you pocketed 1.4 million dollars from the sale of a restaurant. Why would someone pay you 1.4 million when they could open their own store for 600k?

Because the restaurant has already been established. The local customer base knows about it, and they will keep coming back. It actually seems to me like they’re not buying the business, but they’re buying the customer base.

If you’re not too fond of McDonald’s, then what is your favorite fast food chain?

I actually quite like Subway.

What made you choose mc D?

Initially, before opening my first store, I was actually a Shift Manager at a store around 80km from where I based these stores. I saw an opportunity for business, and I took it.

Anything that you could have done differently? In hindsight?

I would have pressed harder for a location nearer to the highway. We were on an offshoot, and I feel like the convenience of two of the stores were affected by this.

Was working at McDonalds as a shift manager your only job at that point? How on earth did you afford the franchise opening costs/liquid assets requirements?

It was my only job, and it managed to get me through University. I actually resigned from McDonald’s after I got my degree. I then got a hefty loan from the bank, and brought into McDonald’s. The bank said yes, as long as I signed up my company accounts with them, so that was done!

so you had no upfront out-of-pocket investment? it was all a loan?

It was all a loan, correct.

i feel like company get together type things are avoided so much in fast food when that would be an amazing thing for the culture of the workplace do you do anything like that?

When I had my two stores – yeah! We used to have Crew Days where we would go to the beach or something, and have a barbecue. There were about 70 staff at our last one (Late 2013), and it was a great time to forge some friendships and bonds between stores.

So you say it doesn’t pay off to own a McDonalds chain in New Zealand?

I’m not saying that at all as a generalized statement. The thoroughfare running through the McDonald’s location was falling, therefore sales were falling, hence why I have sold the store. Believe me though, owning a McDonald’s is one of the best things I have done.

How much profit did you make off of all of them?

A hell of a lot. I averaged $3.87 million dollars total turnover per year over 12 years of owning McDonald’s franchises, which is around $46 million.

How much control did you have over the shop, versus the corporate oversight of McDonalds Inc.?

To be honest with you, I have very limited control in the way the store was developed, and run. Color schemes, furniture and interior fittings are all ‘suggested’ by corporate. Operations-wise however is completely over to me. It is up to me and the Restaurant Manager to ensure that the processes are followed, otherwise we’d bare the brunt of the ‘corporate storm’.

With relatively high revenue in the business of most McDonalds, why pay the majority of workers minimum wage?

If I could pay you guys what you deserved, I would. Unfortunately corporate sets the pay scales, and I have to conform to them, sorry.

How much time/money you need to invest to open a fast food restaurant?

Money: $650,000. Time: A couple years of work.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:07:06 +0000 Dane Carlson

The machine was of a rectangular wooden box 12 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 18 inches long. It mechanically worked by depressing a rotating lever so that an inked letter made contact with paper. A gauge that was designed in a circular clock-wise fashion on the front of the box indicated the number of lines typed on the blank piece of paper that was up to 15 inches in length. The paper was attached to a velvet-like material belt. The belt rotated when the impression lever was depressed.

The patent describes Burt’s machine as having a set of typeface characters that were arranged on the under side of a set of parts that had a lever pivoted to swing vertically and horizontally. The desired typeface character is brought to the printing point by moving this lever horizontally to a position over the same character in the index, and the impression on the paper is made by then depressing the lever. Different styles of typeface characters could be used. They were arranged in two rows on a lever. The rows of typeface characters could be shifted on the lever to bring either one to the printing point. The paper was carried in an endless band which traveled crosswise of the machine and the band was moved for letter space by the impression lever every time the lever is depressed to print. The line space was made by shifting the frame carrying the printing mechanism toward the front or rear of the machine, with the paper remaining stationary. Ink-pads were located at each side of the impression point, and all the typeface characters, except the one in the printing position, were inked every time the impression lever was depressed. Upper and lower case typeface letters could be used. A dial was provided which indicated the length of paper (inches) which had passed the printing point in printing each line. The operator knew the width of the paper being used each time. There was a stop printing indicator for end of the line.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:07:05 +0000 Dane Carlson

Photo by ubiquity_zh


Lithium, the element that is often used as a medication to battle bi-polar disorder and to power most laptop and phone batteries, is not the most ubiquitous element on the planet. Hence the price of our batteries. Japanese researchers, though, may have discovered a way to use sugar to power batteries.

Photo by ubiquity_zh.

Plugin Settings

Plugin settings are stored as preferences variables. To reference a plugin setting write %<plugin>_<setting>%, for example, %HEADLINESPLUGIN_SHORTDESCRIPTION%. Note: Don't modify the settings here; copy and customize the settings in Main.TWikiPreferences. For example, to customize the USERAGENTNAME setting, create a HEADLINESPLUGIN_USERAGENTNAME setting in Main.TWikiPreferences.

  • One line description, shown in the TextFormattingRules topic:
    • Set SHORTDESCRIPTION = Show headline news in TWiki pages based on RSS and ATOM news feeds from external sites

  • Refresh rate in minutes for cached feeds. Disable caching: 0, default: 60
    • Set REFRESH = 60

  • Maximum number of items shown. Default: 100
    • Set LIMIT = 100

  • Use LWP::UserAgent, or fallback to TWiki's internal getUrl() method. Default: yes

  • Timeout fetching a feed using the LWP::UserAgent. Default: 20

  • Name of user agent. Default: TWikiHeadlinesPlugin/2.21
      * Set USERAGENTNAME = TWikiHeadlinesPlugin/2.21

  • Default header: (variables are explained in the syntax rules)
      * Set HEADER = <div class="headlinesChannel"><div class="headlinesLogo"><img src="$imageurl" alt="$imagetitle" border="0" />%BR%</div><div class="headlinesTitle">$n---+!! <a href="$link">$title</a></div><div class="headlinesDate">$date</div><div class="headlinesDescription">$description</div><div class="headlinesRight">$rights</div></div>

  • Default format of one item: (variables are explained in the syntax rules)
      * Set FORMAT = <div class="headlinesArticle"><div class="headlinesTitle"><a href="$link">$title</a></div>$n<span class="headlinesDate">$date</span> <span class="headlinesCreator"> $creator</span> <span class="headlinesSubject"> $subject </span>$n<div class="headlinesText"> $description</div></div>

  • Values taken from configure: (only supported if CPAN:LWP is installed)
    • $TWiki::cfg{PROXY}{HOST} - proxy host, such as "proxy.example.com";
    • $TWiki::cfg{PROXY}{PORT} - proxy port, such as "8080";
    • $TWiki::cfg{PROXY}{SkipProxyForDomains} - domains excluded from proxy, such as "intra.example.com, bugs.example.com";

Style sheets

The default HEADER and FORMAT settings use the following styles. See the style.css file defining the default CSS properties (indentation illustrates enclosure).

  • headlinesRss: output of the HeadlinesPlugin (div)
    • headlinesChannel: channel header (div)
      • headlinesLogo: channel logo (div)
      • headlinesTitle: channel title (div)
      • headlinesDate: channel date (div)
      • headlinesDescription: channel description (div)
      • headlinesRight: channel copyright (div)
    • headlinesArticle: one news item (div)
      • headlinesTitle: article title (div)
      • headlinesDate: article date (span)
      • headlinesCreator: author of article (span)
      • headlinesSubject: subect category of the article (span)
      • headlinesText: article text (div)

Plugin Installation Instructions

  • Download the ZIP file
  • Unzip it in your twiki installation directory. Content:
    File: Description:
    data/TWiki/HeadlinesPlugin.txt plugin topic
    pub/TWiki/HeadlinesPlugin/style.css default css
    lib/TWiki/HeadlinesPlugin.pm plugin perl module
    lib/TWiki/HeadlinesPlugin/Core.pm plugin core
    Check if above examples show a news feed instead of variable.
  • Optionally, run HeadlinesPlugin_installer.pl to automatically check and install other TWiki modules that this module depends on. You can also do this step manually.
  • Alternatively, manually make sure the dependencies listed in the table below are resolved.
    Digest::MD5>=2.33Required. Download from CPAN:Digest::MD5
    LWP::UserAgent>=5.803Optional. Download from CPAN:LWP::UserAgent

Plugin Info

Plugin Author: TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny, TWiki:Main.MichaelDaum
Copyright: © 2002-2009, Peter Thoeny, TWIKI.NET; 2005-2007, Michael Daum http://wikiring.de
License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
Plugin Version: v2.21 - 12 Feb 2009
Change History:  
12 Feb 2009: {PROXY}{HOST} supports domain with and without protocol -- Peter Thoeny
06 Feb 2009: added {PROXY}{SkipProxyForDomains} configure setting, added USERAGENTNAME plugin setting -- Peter Thoeny
11 Dec 2008: added {PROXY}{HOST} and {PROXY}{PORT} configure settings -- Peter Thoeny
13 Sep 2007: fixed parsing of content:encoded
23 Jul 2006: improved atom parser; if a posting has no title default to 'Untitled'
26 Apr 2006: added lazy compilation
10 Feb 2006: packaged using the TWiki:Plugins/BuildContrib; minor fixes
03 Feb 2006: off-by-one: limit="n" returned n+1 articles; make FORMAT and HEADER format strings more robust
23 Jan 2006: released v2.00
05 Dec 2005: internal feed urls must be absolute
02 Dec 2005: added web.topic shorthand for internal feeds
29 Nov 2005: fixed CDATA handling
21 Nov 2005: added ATOM support; extended RSS support; added dublin core support; added content support; optionally using LWP to fetch feeds to follow redirections; corrected CPAN dependencies ; recoding special chars from html integer to entity encoding to increase browser compatibility; added css support; use getWorkArea() if available
11 May 2005: TWiki:Main.WillNorris: added DevelopBranch compatability
31 Oct 2004: Fixed taint issue by TWiki:Main.AdrianWeiler; small performance improvement
29 Oct 2004: Fixed issue of external caching if mod_perl or SpeedyCGI is used
02 Aug 2002: Implemented caching of feeds, thanks to TWiki:Main/RobDuarte
11 Jun 2002: Initial version (V1.000)
Perl Version: 5.8
TWiki:Plugins/Benchmark: GoodStyle 100%, FormattedSearch 99.5%, HeadlinesPlugin 94%
Plugin Home: TWiki:Plugins/HeadlinesPlugin
Feedback: TWiki:Plugins/HeadlinesPluginDev
Appraisal: TWiki:Plugins/HeadlinesPluginAppraisal

-- TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny - 12 Jan 2009
-- TWiki:Main.MichaelDaum - 13 Sep 2007

Topic revision: r1 - 2009-02-13 - 03:55:45 - TWikiContributor
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