About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 24, 2010

RSS Feeds

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:56 am

I receive many emails with questions regarding RSS feeds, so it must be time to revisit them.

RSS means (pick one) “RDF Site Summary”, “Rich Site Summary”, or more commonly “Really Simple Syndication”.  There may be others out there.  I have no idea what the problem is with picking one name for this feature.   “Really Simple Syndication” seems to be the most popular.

How would you like to get regular revisions on sites you often visit without having to go there each time you want to check for new updates or “news feeds”?  That is RSS.  You can receive the site’s latest information whether text, audio, video or just about any other form of media in RSS feeds.

There are basically two steps for using RSS.

First you need a RSS Reader which allows you to read the news feeds.  Be aware…there are millions!  Try Google’s Reader and see what you get.  If you have a BlackBerry, as I do, you can use  A good basic freebie is Bloglines.  You can also use Mozilla’s Firefox or Thunderbird.  The possibilities are endless.  The last one I will mention is “FeedReader” which is an old favorite of mine.  Just pick one out, and try it. If you like it, keep using it. If not, toss it since they are all free.

FeedReader is a good choice for a new person just starting out with RSS.  This is because it has several categories where “Feeds” are already set up.  You can play with them and see how they work before adding your own.  Also FeedReader looks a lot like a regular email program so you don’t have to get used to a new GUI (Graphical Use Interface).  Again, there are a multitude of readers out there — try them and find one you like.

All readers work very similarly, some just have more “buttons and bells”.  Usually you click on the category that you want to read, say “Sports, Baseball” and a list of recent news items will be made available.  Click on the item/feed you wish to read (there will be a sentence or two describing it) and enjoy.

Next, a site must be configured for a RSS “feed”.  You don’t have anything to do with that, it is done by the web site.

clip_image002RSS feeds are usually very easy to spot.  Go to almost any news site and look for the standard RSS logo.  It is usually an orange square with rounded edges. There is a dot in the lower left corner with two arches pointing to the NE corner.  Give RSS feeds a try and you can stay up-to-date with many of your favorite sites.  I don’t use the RSS logo on my page.  It simply says, “Entries RSS“.

Click the orange link. When the page opens choose the area you like and copy the URL into your reader’s new feed area.  Experiment because you can add and delete feeds at will.

There are “feeds” for everything. Just find the orange emblem and try it.  Try one of my favorites at the Weather Channel.

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