Back to Basics - RSS

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amanda's picture

It’s been a while since Tim has asked me to write an article for Back to Basics. Lately I’ve been more focused on our Geek Girl Blogger series, putting together their surveys and what not. Anyway, Back to Basics!

RSS_iconRSS! You may ask: “RS whaty whaty?” Or, “I’ve heard of that, what is it?”… or what I personally said was “I use RSS to read stuff at my work, but I’ve got no clue what it is exactly or how it works! What is it?” haha.

So I started researching it. When writing articles for Back to Basics I often don’t know much about whatever I’ve been asked to write about, and so I have to learn it myself and then write about that experience!

Not long after starting my research on RSS, literally I’d only clicked my mouse about four or five times! I came across a video from the commoncraft show called “RSS In Plain English” – wow! There’s my understanding and content for my RSS article! All in one little video. If you want to learn how RSS can benefit you… this video is well worth your time!
RSS In Plain English…. I owe my understanding and content to the guys who explained RSS in that video.

#1. What is RSS:

RSS is a news feed that allows you to see from one place whether your favourite websites have added new content or not. As far as I know, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. The gist of what I’ve learned about RSS!  It is a TIME SAVER… for sure. If you often read blog posts or news articles on the Internet, using RSS will save you some valuable time. Once you understand it, like what I just experienced from watching that video, RSS is really quite simple to use!

#2. Why you should use RSS:

Like I just said, it’s a time saver. Explanation: Rather than you going to all your favourite blogs and news articles on the web to find out whether there’s anything new there for you to read, RSS brings them all together in one spot for you. You only have to go to one spot to find out whether any of your many sites have been updated. Awesome!

#3. How you can use RSS:

Like the guy in the video says, there are two steps.
One, go sign up for a Reader account. Two, go to your favourite websites, click the icon and subscribe!
Those two steps are explained in the next paragraph or so.

1. You need a home base for reading all your posts. This site is called a Reader. They are free and all you need is an account. I, just like the guy in the video, use a site called Google Reader. On the left of your Google Reader page will be a list of all your sites, and on the right you can scroll through all your posts from those sites!  So to complete step one you need to go sign up for a Reader. Google Reader, Bloglines, newsgator, My Yahoo, are probably a good place to start… so the guy in the video tells us. For more information on different RSS readers, see the details section below.

2. You need to start a connection between you and your favourite web sites.This process is called Subscribing. Nearly every blog and news site gives you the ability to subscribe to it. So that all your reading content from those sites, shows up in your reader. To find the subscribe invitation, just look for an orange icon that looks like this RSS_icon . Once you find that icon on whatever site you’re wanting to subscribe to, click on it. The page that opens up will give you everything you need for subscribing. After you click the icon, one of two pages are likely to appear. To understand what to do on those pages in a really simple way! The guy in the video shows you! However if you choose not to watch that video, you will hopefully figure it out for yourself eventually anyway.

So once you’ve done all that, any new posts from your favourite blogs and newsfeeds will start appearing in your Reader… and it doesn’t take it’s time, as soon as things get published, they get listed in your Reader!
So get a move on, sign up for a Reader and start looking out for RSS icons on any web site you use!

RSS reader details

There are three different types of readers:

  1. Web based - (can be accessed anywhere you have Internet eg Google Reader).
  2. Computer Based - Internet explorer 7 and Outlook 2007 combine to give you RSS feed reading on your desktop or laptop (Limited to where your computer is).
  3.  A separate application that you install on your computer and use to read your feeds. eg blogbridge, RSS bandit.

Earlier I explained how to use RSS with a web based Reader.
For the computer based option, it’s pretty simple, took me less than a minute to learn the process! Understanding it took a bit longer though. Anyway, all you have to do is use Internet explorer 7 and go to a website that you want to subscribe to, find the RSS link, click it, subscribe to this feed, and you’re subscribed! And then if you go into your Outlook, click on RSS feeds, and it’ll be in there! Pretty simple.
If you attempt doing that but get confused, just ask Tim using his contact page.
And to use RSS by using an application that you install onto your computer, just go to the links I provided above for blogbridge and rss bandits and it should be pretty simple from there… I’ve never tried it myself… but again, if you get stuck just ask Tim ;-)

Here are some links to other websites that explain RSS, for those of you who are looking for other explanations to broaden your knowledge of RSS.

See Tim’s previous articles about RSS -

Also see Tim’s tags for RSS on

Thanks for reading my stuff.