RSS for beginners – how RSS helps me as a website visitor
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RSS for beginners – how RSS helps me as a website visitor

Or in other words, how this site/page can help you best. Maybe this doesn’t sound 100% on topic to this blog, but the reason this is my first article is because I want you to subscribe to my blog in the coolest way possible.

I am always surprised by how many people I run into all the time that are still like “what is RSS ?” And at the same time, so many websites make it difficult to understand. You could just bookmark this page, but how are you going to know when it gets updated with a new article/post? You see, using RSS gives you a lot more power to keep track of things, and maybe even have your reader notify you via email or a pop-up in your computer’s system tray (depending on the reader you are using). Using RSS is very cool and hard to avoid on the web these days–and ultimately it could make your life a tad easier.

How it helps you: Instead of running all over the web for news, updates, etc… you can have the web come to you. It’s sort of your own personal news service. Let’s say, you like to read the New York Times, business section, and you also like to read about high performance car articles from Car and Driver Magazine. Additionally, you like to read a few blogs out there that you are a fan of. So, you just go to your RSS reader, and then you would see all updates from all of those different sites, all on your single page–you see, it’s your own portal to the web. Readers in Internet Explorer and Firefox look just like your bookmarks, except they now update on their own, whenever new info is available.

Here is a screenshot of the RSS reader in Firefox (it’s there by default, no setup required):

As you can see in this example, my bookmarks show the latest news, automatically. If I click on any of those bookmarks, then I will end up at the site so that I can read the full news article.

As you can see, it’s very time sensitive, or time oriented information that RSS really is used for the most. But even sites like Ebay and Amazon often let you subscribe to RSS feeds to watch certain products and product updates.

But how do you setup an RSS reader, or should I say subscribe to an RSS feed ? It’s easy even for most people that are afraid of the internet and other crazy technologies.

If you use Internet Explorer (the blue “E”) to get online and browse the internet, then you can read it here on Microsoft’s website: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/tour/rss/
In short, any site you are visiting, you should see a little orange symbol in your browsers toolbar somewhere.

If you use Firefox, then try this to get started (they call theirs “Live Bookmarks”):
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/livebookmarks.html

Most email clients/programs like Outlook (2007), Eudora, and Thunderbird have readers built into them (use their documentation to learn how).

If you use Google Desktop, there is one there that even notifies you, or even your Google/MSN/Yahoo homepage can all be customized to show RSS feeds too–as you can see, plenty of options.

There are also plenty of other free (and commercial) programs out there–unavoidable these days. You can do a Google search, or a search on Download.com for “RSS reader” or “RSS aggregator” or “news aggregator.” But I would really count on most of the ones I mentioned previously, especially the ones that can auto-notify you.

Now, in another blog entry, I will talk about how to setup your own RSS for your own website and such. IF you run a blog using Blogger or any other blogging tool, you will see that it is already built in and ready to go.

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