Recently, I’ve thrown a lot of good fly fishing blogs at the Underground’s readers. But how could anyone keep up with all those sites?
Technology is our friend.
Visiting more than a couple blogs on a daily basis is irritating work. Some blogs are updated daily (or more), while others go weeks between posts. And some posts probably don’t interest you at all. How do you cope?
Easy. You let someone else (preferably an automated, software-based someone else) do the heavy wading for you. Simply put, you’ve got choices. Some easy, some harder, but all free. I use Google’s “Google Reader” free service (Bloglines is good too) but there are plenty of options.
Some blogs (like the Trout Underground does here) offer an e-mail subscription service. Once you sign up, new entries (or summaries) are delivered to your inbox once a day (typically in the morning). It’s easy, but the downside is that tracking more than a handful of blogs gets messy, and most blogs don’t offer an e-mail option. A pity.
Almost every blog has something called an RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndication). You can read about the technology behind it here, but the simple explanation is that almost every blog creates a file on the server containing the last 15 blog entries.
Your RSS Reader (or Aggregator) comes along every once in a while and checks that file. If it sees something new (meaning a new entry has been added), it retrieves it and lets you know.
Simple, eh? Not so fast…
RSS Client on Your PC. Some e-mail clients (like the free, most-excellent Thunderbird) let you add RSS Feeds, so you can read new blog posts (or post summaries) within your e-mail reader. You control how often it checks your RSS feeds, and notification is simple and unobtrusive (sorta like receiving an e-mail).
Some Web browsers (like the free, better-than-Explorer Firefox) also track RSS feeds (Firefox calls them “Live Bookmarks”).
Adding new feeds to an RSS client isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes you need to find a site’s “XML” or “RSS” button (they’re orange), click on it, and then paste the address of the resulting page into the appropriate place in your readers. A lot easier to do than explain, but it’s enough steps that you wonder if there isn’t an easier way.
The Easier Way. Google Reader or Bloglines.
Another solution is a Web-based reader. That means no software on your PC, though you’ll need to have your Web browser open if you want to see your RSS feeds. My browser stays open all day, so it’s not a problem.
My current online newsreader is Google Reader, (Bloglines is good too). Both are free services which are easy and intuitive (for me anyway). Use either Bloglines or Google Reader with one of the new browsers (FireFox 2.0 or IE Explorer 7) and you can add a site’s RSS feed to your reader with a single mouse click. Great stuff.
Obviously, this post is greatly simplified. There are a lot of options available to you, but making this more confusing isn’t really the goal. There’s good information here, and if you’ve got a lot of time to waste, simply Google “RSS Feed” and kiss your day good-bye.
See you at the RSS Feed, Tom Chandler.
[tags]blogging, RSS, RSS Reader, Bloglines, Firefox, Thunderbird[/tags]