Monday, July 14, 2008

RSS and other feeds for dummies

I am not going to try and change the "dummies" status, so don't expect me to talk about the usual versions, and XML and what nots. What I am going to do is tell you how it can make your life easier.

So, you clicked on some RSS link because it was attractively presented, found a whole load of code and probably thought that something was wrong with that page. You probably haven't even progressed to noticing that RSS links everywhere seem to do that. Never mind. The site is working just fine, and you see that bizarre code because you are seeing it in a browser and not in a feed reader. Or you may be wondering what the fuss is about.

Why should you bother to do that?
  • Because it is there...... the world seems to know something you don't and you don't like that? - joking. Read the rest.
  • You have important things to do with your time and really can't go around checking what's new and where.
  • At the same time, you do enjoy the content on those sites and hate to miss it.
  • You wish that you didn't have to keep running after information.
  • You wish you had one place to see what's new everywhere you frequent
All excellent reasons, and I am going to tell you exactly how you will be able to use the feeds to bring happiness and convenience in your online life.

Basically what an feed does is lists all the latest content on a site. So go with my train of thought for a bit... I know it is unfamiliar.

You go to different places on the net all the time, and see all kinds of stuff, and can't practically go to every site you like everyday. However, with the feed, its like the site coming to you. Get all the sites you like to come to you at a rendezvous point you decide, and read everything that's new at once.

So how do you set this up? Decide on a Feed Reader first and create that rendezvous for those sites. There is enough choice to suit the pickiest of people, but if you are a sensible person, you will be even more wary whether you want to get into all this.

A quick and painless way is to use Google Reader. When ever you go to a site you would like to stay in touch with, look for the RSS button.

Right click >> copy >> Google Reader >> add subscription >> paste

Done. No mess, no fuss.

Sites that offer Feedburner Feeds will allow you to subscribe by email, so you can get latest posts right into your inbox without worrying about how to figure out RSS.

Or an even better way would be to get Firefox or Opera and add all the feeds you like to the live bookmarks - they will be able to provide the latest on the site without needing you to visit it.

Then, read the feeds. You will find yourself pleasantly surprised that it is not as esoteric as it seems. Go ahead, try it NOW. Hit that orange RSS button, and enter a whole new life of convenient reading.

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