Quick intro to news feeds

Peacebang commented:

How about you come to visit sometime soon and teach me all of this geeky RSS stuff?

I’d love to go to Horsepoo Haven and train you, but can’t right now, so I’ll give a thirty-second intro. For all of you.

You think to yourself, “There are all these updated resources, but there’s no way I can look them up every day.” RSS feeds come to you rather than you going to the sites. You need a RSS reader: some are free-standing and others are incorporated into browsers. If you’re new to RSS, you’re probably only keeping up with a few. In that case, get a feed reader that’s a part of something you already use: a web browser. The Firefox 1.5 browser — apart from being more secure than Microsoft Internet Explorer — identifies feeds, makes subscribing to them easy, and allows you to see the resource (say, blog entries, but also things like news stories)

Go here to get and install Firefox (Firefox users, add your praise in the comments.)

Once you have it, and you visit a site with a feed — apart from favorite blogs, uua.org and news.bbc.co.uk are good choices; plus see the prior article on emergency weather information — just click the orange symbol, select the kind of feed you want (I’m partial to RSS 2.0 if available) if there’s a choice, and add the bookmark. I add my top favorites to the Toolbar. Pull down the feed, and you will see the recent titles as links. (The image is of my desktop; the blog, PeaceBang’s.) To read an article of interest, select it and it will pull up in its own tab. For news sources, this is an ultra-quick way to sweep the headlines. Neeto.

Browser with PeaceBang blog feed

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. >

    I agree with the praise for Foxfire’s easy as pie RSS reader, I use the sage tool to run my feed list on the left – — i will try Scott’s suggestion though to see if i like them on the tool bar. Using sage on Foxfire, I add various blogs that i like, using the “discover feeds” button, and thenafter i sign on, i use the “check feeds” and sage checks all of them out…I currently have over 110 blogs listed! Sage tells me what has been updated since my last look ….very easy

  2. Yes, Scott, all praise to Firefox!!

    In order to keep track of new blog entries, I use an extension for Firefox called Sage. This create a side menu where you can keep all your favorite blogs. It has two buttons: one for adding a blog to the list (just click the “magnifying glass” button and the RSS will be added automatically), and a refresh button (two arrows in a circle), that when it’s clicked you get all new entries highlighted. Then just select the blog of your choice and the latest entries are nicely presented in a kind of mosaic for you to choose the one you want to read in full. Pretty nice!

    You need to install Firefox, and then select Tools > Extensions and find Sage in the list, or just go to http://sage.mozdev.org to download the extension.

  3. Personally I like web based RSS readers. I use Google’s Personalized home page and really enjoy it because it means that I don’t have to update my work computer, my home computer, the other home computer, etc. There is no way I would go through the hassle of keeping a hundred feeds registered with a desktop client, even if there were import/export options to try and make it easier.

    I do like Firefox for a limited number of feeds, in particular if there is a large number of new posts to UUpdates I will open my live bookmark to UUpdates and use the “Open in tabs” to open all the new articles in their own window. It is nice for following a feed aggregator.

  4. I like Safari on the Mac more than FireFox, but I have used Sage on our PC desktop when the Mac laptop isn’t available. However, between work and home I was going crazy marking everything read in two to three different places, so now I use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com) to track my RSS feeds because what I mark read at work stays marked at home and I don’t have to re-read everything. Plus, unlike menubar tracking, it gives me snippets of each article rather than just a headline. They’ve recently improved their service, and I have no complaints. ;-)

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  6. I’ve been using Google Reader on two computers for the same reason Jess is using Bloglines. Both seem to work great, so it’s just a matter playing around and seeing which suits you better.

  7. Scott, you mock my pain! Okay, since my brain is scrambled by all of this, I’ll have to wait for a few more months until someone can explain it to me in person. I’m patient.

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