The Times, They Are A-Changin’

Taking a break from politics today, I thought I should introduce our readers to some interesting new technologies that are “all the rage” right now.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed these small orange icons to the sides and corners of web pages.

They’re everywhere.

There is even one on this page – to the right sidebar, at the bottom there is a menu called “Subscribe” and two links: “Entries (RSS)” and “Comments (RSS)

Try to click one of the above, then return to this page.

Well, that’s strange, what does it mean?

It’s a file that stores part the entries of this blog and contains links and informations to the content here.

XML is a very good way to store information and there are a great multitude of tools with which to manipulate it. The particular format of this file is RSS.
Essentially, the file you just saw is called a “feed,” and is used by various applications to get to the content here. Feeds can store all sorts of informations, from blog entries, to audio and video media (also called podcasts).

That’s fine, but how does this affect me?

Feeds are a great way to keep in touch the blogs and sites you like. You can use bookmarks to achieve the same thing, but with this technology, these sites will tell you when they are updated. You can, with just one tool, check out news, podcasts or interesting articles from hundreds of sources. Once you’re using it, you will wonder how you ever managed without it. Such a tool is called an aggregator.

OK, tell me more

You don’t need to collect the individual files from the sites you visit, you can have a program do that for you. That program is called FeedReader. All you need to do is give FeedReader the links to the site that contains an RSS feed (such as: https://anarchy.wordpress.com), or the link to the feed itself (https://anarchy.wordpress.com/feed/).

That’s cool, but what if FeedReader breaks, a better reader comes along, or I have to re-install Windows? Will I have to go through the same tedious task of re-building my feed collection?

People already thought about that, readers can store their feed http addresses into a separate file, which you can use as a back-up, or you can give to other people (so they too would have access to them). Such a format is called OPML.

This is my OPML, for instance (just click the link “Download for free with FileFactory Basic”)

What do I do now?

Download FeedReader and plunge ahead. You can also, download my OPML and use that as a starting point for your collection. It’s very easy to add, remove, or group feeds into folders.

Play with the menus for a few minutes to get a feel of the program. The interface is rather intuitive, so it should be a breeze to navigate. If you have some more questions, there is always the manual.

For a more in-depth look at all of this, you can check out this article by DeveloperWorks.

And that is the story, folks.

Have a nice time, as always. Fly away and spread the word!

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3 comments so far

  1. ollysk2 on

    Great post, I think that too often people get into reading blogs and get a little overwhelmed… RSS is a necessity, at least for me anyway, if you want to read anything more than a few blogs.

    Oh, and I’d like to plug my own RSS reader pick: bloglines. For those that switch computers a lot (for example I’m on my wife’s laptop right now, my own laptop is charging, and I logon to write or check RSS from my work computer quite a bit), http://www.bloglines.com gives you the ability to have all of your RSS feeds managed centrally online. You can also check them from a mobile phone by going to mobile.bloglines.com.

    Good lookin’ out!

    -olly

  2. lodine on

    lodine

    news

  3. Antibush on

    Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.


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