Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A word on keeping up on blog reading and new content

Move on if you already know this; I'm sure many of you who read this blog regularly are fully aware of RSS / Atom feeds.  However, there may be a small minority of you who are not aware of what RSS / Atom feeds are.

From Wikipedia's entry, an RSS feed is "a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format."  What does that mean?  It means that you can subscribe, just like a magazine, to one or more sources (i.e. websites) and be notified when new content is available for reading.  RSS makes keeping up with blogs very easy for me.

Basically, I have my subscriptions set up in my blog reader (I happen to use the google portal which includes Gmail, Google Reader, Blogspot (which you're reading my blog on right now), Google Documents, etc.).  When a new entry is ready on a particular blog or website (I also track, WSJ's Marketwatch, Fail Blog, etc.), I am notified by my unread counter increasing.  I click on the particular blog of interest, and viola! there is the new content.  I don't have to worry about re-reading stale content, because Google Reader already tracks what I've read.

Setup: Obviously, setup is very different depending on the RSS reader you choose to adopt as your own.  I can only speak to Google Reader, but it is as simple as going to a website and looking for the little RSS feed symbol on the address bar (picture is at the left of this paragraph) or in the page content itself, looking for the keyword "Subscribe".  Clicking on the link or picture will bring you to a second page where you can actually subscribe by (depending on your browser):

Internet Explorer:
Copy the link address by click CTRL-C (in Windows) surfing over to your Google Reader.  Click the "Add a Subscription" button and CTRL-V your RSS feed address in:

Once you click Ok, you should be set up to view new feeds to the source you just subscribed.

Much easier than Internet explorer.  Assuming that you are already logged into your gmail account, clicking on the subscribe link will bring you to this page:
Clicking "Add to Google Reader" automatically sets you up with your new subscription.

Congratulations!  You have subscribed to your first RSS feed!  Google Reader has many tools for sorting, labeling, managing, etc.  Play around with it and find out what works best for you.

You can subscribe to individual posts, to get notified of new comments.  You can subscribe to blogs or websites to get notified of new posts.  You can subscribe to forums (, etc.)... you get the point!  Good luck & enjoy.

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