Monday, October 8, 2007

what is RSS feeds and Readers all about?

A good buddy of mine was inquiring about RSS feeds, so here's a copy of the email I just sent him and maybe some of you will learn something today.
RSS feeds
another addiction I have that will never go away
basically ... an RSS feed is a aggregator.  An aggregator is something the will compile data from many sources and put it all in one spot.  Perfect example,  is a travel aggregator.  It will compile the best rates from Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. and give you the best of them all on one webpage.  Kayak is just one I use, but there are others that are similar.
Now here is how blogs became so popular and how I learned.  It was like a major bomb of relief for me.  I started checking out various blogs, whether it be for my house music, music industry news, celebrity gossip, world news, porn ... whatever.  It got to a point that I bookmarked too many blogs and it was impossible to read all of them.  Some blogs post once a day, some post once every six months, some post twenty times a day.  It sucked going to a blog, day in and day out to see nothing new posted.  Wasted 3 precious seconds of my life.  Ugggh.  My blogs favorites were unorganized.  I was fumbling looking for the latest Perez Hilton posts, etc.
So now I eased my way into learning what RSS feeds were.  You probably see all websites now have links to their feeds with a page devoted to sectioned off feeds, or the whole site as a feed.  You'll see the various icons, like Right-click >> Copy Shortcut >> paste URL into your Reader  Powered by Blogger   Add to Google  etc.  Or you will see links, like at the bottom of mine (before the music blog links) that say "Subscribe" (mine says "Atom").
First you need to set up your own reader.   You can choose from many.  You subscribe to any blog, website, forum, etc. you want and your "reader" will act like your aggregator.  All the websites you visit will now filter into this one webpage, your "reader."
So, if Perez makes a new post on his blog, I don't have to visit anymore.  His new posts pop up in my reader like getting a new email.  If he has no new posts, I get no new feeds.
What you do is go here:  Google Reader
(there are many places to go, but I like Google's)
Find the "Subscribe" links, or those funny icons, then just right-click, "copy shortcut", then inside Google Reader, click on "Add Subscription", then paste that link in there.  Presto !!
I subscribe to all the Billboard feeds, CNN, Perez, etc.  Some forums support feeds (UBB-types do, maybe others), even though it might not be clear that they do.  
It's nuts and you must start now before it's too late ...LOL
In technical terms, feeds are generally in XML format.  For example, Perez's feed looks like this:
You can also make up an RSS feed without it being blog or forum.  I made on for's news.  It's not synched up to anything.  I went a somewhat simple site that will make a feed for me.  I use (which Google just now bought out).  It wont read what I put on my site.  I have to actually duplicate what I put on my site into their site, but the feed works.  It pops up on my reader.
One thing is, feeds wont appear immediately in your reader.  There is a delay.  It can be ten minutes, or it can be a couple of hours.  Usually posts appear within the hour.
get on da bandwagon !!

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