RSS: What can it do for me

feed-icon-96x96We can call this part 2 in the series about getting to know RSS.

Before we begin, you do know what RSS, don’t you?. Follow that link if you aren’t sure.

Now that you know what RSS is, why do you care? What are you going to do with this new found knowledge? Well friends, RSS will help you do some _really cool stuff_!

Most websites these days have an RSS feed. You will know this because you will see the orange icon someplace on the site, or your browser will tell you in the address bar (the orange icon, a star, the letters *RSS* or something similiar). With these feeds, you can actually subscribe to the websites that have them!

Subscribe? Wait a second. Isn’t that a print medium term?

Yes, yes it is. But it applies out here in the Internets too. Lemme ‘splain.

RSS feeds are actually files that you can download to your computer. You can view them online as well, but without the right software it might look to you like the Internet barfed on your display. Like I have mentioned before, this is normal.

Once downloaded to your computer, you can use special (almost always free) software that will let you read the website without having to actually visit the site. Imagine a website that updates every few days with a new story or photo. Imagine again that update arriving in your email inbox, available to read whenever you like. That is what is called subscribing. And you can do this for as many sites as you dare can keep up with.

Once you have subscribed to a site, it’s only a matter of opening a program (much like email) that will download the updated feeds for you automatically. Once downloaded, you can read them whenever you like! I know, pretty sweet, right? Also, if it’s a story that you like and would like to comment on (or only a snipet of the story was posted), you can still visit the site with a single click. No need to open a bookmark or type the address in your browser. It’s very very handy.

It’s all starting to make sense now, right? That’s ok if you need to go back and read again.

Next time it will actually subscribe to a feed or two using Google Reader. Great fun! Stick around.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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