Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Say Yes to RSS

Is there a site you like to read, but it posts new material sporadically? Do you get tired of using bookmarks (Favorites), or (even worse) manually typing in a URL every time you want to check a site for new content? Would you like to keep up with comments on a blog post without having to go back to that post several times?

Then it’s time you said, “Yes,” to RSS. It’s the easiest way to keep track of the various news sites, blogs, online comics, or whatever you read (provided that those sites use RSS — which most do in some form or other). You are notified each time there’s a new post, and sometimes the entire post is delivered right to you.

This isn’t meant so much as a how-to as it is a why-not. That said, I’ll elaborate a little without getting too technical and then provide links at the bottom to help get you started.

If you’re not up to downloading and installing RSS Reader software (but it’s so simple!), then you can set up RSS Feeds in your Gmail or Yahoo! accounts (and probably others, too, but I wouldn’t know).

There are two reasons I won’t explain in detail how to do this (unless someone asks). They are 1) most of you are capable of it and may already be using RSS feeds, and 2) there are too many programs and online services out there for me to know all of them.

The basic concept of adding a feed is this: once you have an RSS program installed, or you have one of your services set to grab RSS feeds, a click on an RSS feed link prompts your Web browser to ask what it should use to handle it. Then you’re on the road to subscribing to that RSS feed.

RSS_shotIf you use stand-alone software for your RSS feeds, then often you can tell it to go out and find all the feeds on a given web site. You can set your software to check each feed at startup and/or at intervals you set, and then alert you when new information is available. Typically, the feeds are listed on the left, similar to an e-mail program. When you click on that feed’s folder, its latest post titles appear in the top right pane, waiting for you to start reading.

I have used and can recommend these free RSS Readers:

RSS Owl — I use it now, just for a few features it had over the first RSS reader I used.

RSS Bandit — The first reader I used, it still is very good.

So, what feed will you add first? Or, what feeds do you already track?

8 Responses to Say Yes to RSS

  1. I guess I’m an old fashioned kinda guy…. when I want to know if Mark posted today, I click on a bookmark or link on my blog to come see if he’s posted. Very little effort.

    and here I thought RSS feeds were mainly for news…. *S*

  2. When I first started using RSS I got on board with Bloglines, which worked fine for me. Then, when Google came out with its email program and also Google Reader, I switched everything over to that. Have never looked back since. It’s awfully nice having all of one’s information (or at least most of it) compiled in one handy spot.

    You forgot to mention what RSS stands for, Mark. Or would you like me to say it for you? Here’s a hint kids: it doesn’t stand for “Recursive Symbiosis Systems.” That would have been my first guess too!

  3. I use my Google Homepage to track new posts. It doesn’t let me know when comments have been added, so I still have to go back and check that occasionally, but overall it’s a lot easier than my original method of checking all the blogs I followed every day.

  4. Well, since this is the only blog/myspace/anyotherthingy that I read on a regular basis, I’m going to stick with clicking on it from my favorites when I have time. Not to be old fashioned or anything, but I just don’t have any other sites that I need updated information from.

    But…nice synopsis, and if I ever do need it, I know where to go for instructions.

  5. Yawn!!!!!! (Sorry, babe.)

  6. Wow, ouch.

    Comment number five is total spousal pwnage, dude. I know how much that hurts. Sort of like getting a dirty BBQ skewer jammed under your armpit. I feel your pain.

  7. Dave – I resisted the RSS movement for a while, but I’m glad I joined.

    Simon – This post was geeky enough without my pulling out the full name for RSS.

    Moksha – I figured you and Simon were on board with RSS.

    Charles – I knew you used online forums/message boards, but wasn’t sure whether you regularly read anything that would use RSS.

    I just wanted to say “RSS” one more time. So, RSS.

    Shan – As Simon deftly pointed out, that was just harsh.

    Simon – I know you can feel it. Now, you got a cure for it?

  8. A cure? No, sadly there is no cure for total spousal pwnage. I think you just have to give as good as you get to reassert the balance that’s been thrown askew.


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