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Under review

I'm having trouble setting up an Alexa Flash Briefing.

kathy 10 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 4 months ago 9

Support says I need a proxy server. Has anyone else got this working that would point me in the right direction please?

Under review

Hi Kathy!


So I've been talking to several people about this, and I think we have some answers.


Firstly, Amazon does not currently support Let's Encrypt security certificates, which is currently used by BLOX CMS. That's why we are getting "Error fetching the requested URL" when trying to add a secure feed. This is a known Amazon issue that they are investigating (but, it has been a year or so that this has been a know issue).


Text flash briefings do not need to be secure at this time, so those will work. Secure feeds will not work until Amazon supports Let's Encrypt, or unless there is another fix.


For regular insecure feeds our network recognizes the Amazon feeder as a bot, and throttles the traffic. This is a protection mechanism against bad bots, attacks, and other invalid traffic.


Usually, we "whitelist" feed scraper based on user agent - this way we recognize the scraper as a legitimate process, and we allow it to have normal access to the site (rather than being restricted as a bad bot). Unfortunately but Amazon doesn't have a unique user agent on their scraper so this method can't be used.


Another alternative is to white list a feed scraper based on IP address... but Amazon does not use a narrowly-defined set of IPs. And, unfortunately, their IPs are the same as any bad bots that happen to be hosted on Amazon's EC2 hosting services. So if we opened up our servers to any traffic from their IPs, we would open ourselves up to a lot of bad traffic.


All that being said, it appears - until Amazon updates some of these methods - that the best thing would be to use a proxy service, which is what our support team recommended. This is basically a feed service that stands between Amazon and TownNews.com to get them to play together.


I set up a test using Google Feedburner. Basically you enter your script into Feedburner, and then get the Google address out, and then put the Feedburner address in to Amazon.


I'm currently testing this. It did let me set up the service, which is further than I've gotten before. But, I haven't seen yet if it updated more quickly than before.


I will let you know how it goes!


Feel free to try to set up a Feedburner account yourself if you want to experiment. Let me know if you have any questions.


I'm going to post this answer in your support ticket as well.


Thanks!

I'm working on this today - any updates and or additional advice? Thanks.

We were able to get ours working, but it only reads the summary field, not the title field and then the summary. When we think about the site, we write the summary with the intention of building off the headline. Did we miss something or is this what others get as well?

After reviewing with our beta testers, we found that many of the headlines and story leads were very repetitive, leading to a confused update, such as "Vatican doctors photo of Benedict's praise for Francis. The Vatican admitted Wednesday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis." So, we are using just the lead instead and usually it was much less weird.


That being said - I have gotten this request before as well and so perhaps we need to add some kind of toggle where you can control this. 


As a side note, we did recently release a new feature to get "min words" for an Alexa feed. The idea is that you can get the first 200 words (or whatever) instead of a much shorter amount. This may help some clarity as well.


https://help.bloxcms.com/knowledge-base/releases/software_releases/article_c4d392b9-e352-5682-8e65-fb50698e5b47.html 

Yeah, we always use the summary field and make sure the headline and summary aren't repetitive. The way I read the release is that the min words option only works if you don't use the summary. Is that correct?

Correct... the idea behind the summary field is that you can use it to override a bad truncated summary, because it is cut off awkwardly or because it is too short.

Hi again Elizabeth!


Where you able to get this working? If the original issue was "Can't fetch feed." or something like that, I just saw a post that Amazon may now be accepting Let's Encrypt certificates, so this problem may be fixed.