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  • RSS Feeds

  • What is RSS, and why should I care?

    Unlike getting website updates by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.

    You don’t have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be "taken off the list."

    One click, and you can add or subtract a subscription.

    No more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft.

    Nice, but what the heck is RSS?

    RSS is simply an Internet technology standard that allows busy people to receive updates to web-based content.

    That’s the essence of an RSS feed — you subscribe and then receive new content automatically in your feed reader.

    RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is written in a markup language called XML. If you are interested in further information, find out how RSS works.

    What the heck is a feed reader?

    Web Browsers and RSS feeds
    If you use the Mozilla Firefox browser, you can install "Sage", which is a lightweight RSS feed reader extension. (I use this myself!). Apple's Safari browser as well as Internet Explorer version 7.0 both have RSS feed reading capabilities.

    Web-based readers
    You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, you’ve got RSS capabilities built in. That’s how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.

    Other web-based tools are primarily dedicated to feed reading only. One of the most popular web-based feed readers at this point is Bloglines

    Desktop-based feed readers
    These function somewhat like an email program for feeds. Examples include Newsgator and Feed Demon.

    If it sounds complicated, it’s really not.

    How do I subscribe to a Feed?

    Look for subscription or feed options. This is the new standard RSS icon (usually it is orange). rss feeds

    You may also see little orange buttons that say XML or RSS. Often these icons will take you to a page that looks like code gibberish. In this case, you simply cut and paste the page URL from your browser window and manually paste it into your feed reader subscription box.

    You can do this by right-clicking the [RSS] icon. Right-click this link (or Control-click in MacOS) and selecting "Copy Link Location" or "Copy." You may then paste the link into your RSS feed reader, or use a browser which supports RSS feeds, such as Safari for Mac OS X.

    Hopefully this last method will soon disappear.

    RSS solves big problems.

    RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because it’s a good thing for everyone.

    The benefit to readers is obvious. And it’s good for publishers too, because we want to make sure that people feel comfortable subscribing, and that our message is not lost by an overzealous spam filter.

    If there’s anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please send me an email rob@robertspahr.com and I’ll be happy to help!