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Create a Personalized eZine with RSS Feeds

Do you have a long list of bookmarked web sites that you visit on a regular basis?

Have you ever wished that you could create your own custom news source that had just the information you were interested in?

Well now you can with RSS feeds.

 

What is RSS?

 RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication." It delivers content that you subscribe to right to the news reader  of your choice.

Why Use RSS Feeds

Really, you can use feeds to create whatever collage of content that you want.

Keep abreast of new developments in your industry.  You can subscribe to feeds from industry specific blogs and publications.

Going on a vacation and looking for a deal?  Subscribe to travel channels and vacation destinations to find out about the latest bargains.

Thinking about buying a new camera and trying to decide on a model? Subscribe to camera and product review sites for updates?

Need to follow your investments?  Subscribe to stock updates.

Are you a Kingwood Yard Sales junkie and want to get instant updates on new items? Forget about the "Refresh, Refresh, Refresh" strategy and subscribe to their RSS feed.  Yes, they have one. 

Are you one of those people that have a hard time tearing yourself away from the computer in fear you might miss the next great deal while you're gone?  Use an RSS feed reader for your smart phone and get the latest updates delivered to your phone.

Oh yes, you can do that.

The possibilities are literally limitless.  Whatever your interest are, the news can be delivered right to you.

When I was in college, one of my professors, a marketing guru, said that he subscribed to (and read) between 20 to 30 publications to keep up-to-date on developing opportunities.  I am sure that now he has scrapped the hard copies and has gone with RSS feeds.

Sound great?

Ready to get started?

How to Find an RSS Reader 

The first thing you need to do is decide how you are going to read the feeds.  There are four main types of feed readers: browser based, internet based, desktop applications, and mobile rss readers. 

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Web Browser RSS Feeds

The latest versions of the major web browers have built-in news readers.  Simply click on the feed icon on the site of your choice to subscribe. 

  • Internet Explorer - If you have upgraded to IE 7.0, the browser has a built-in RSS reader
  • Firefox - Firefox has a Live Bookmarks option to stay up to date on RSS feeds.
  • Opera
  • Safari (MAC)

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RSS Desktop Programs 

There are a wide variety of stand alone news reader programs.  The features and price range from free and those suitable for personal use to paid (although affordable) and for enterprise use.

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Web Based RSS Readers

With the advent of AJAX technology, online news aggregators have become much more widespread.  You are probably most familiar with Google (iGoogle and Google Reader), Yahoo, and Windows Live.  If you haven't yet jumped into the world of blogs and personal publication, you may not be aware of some of the other popular sites, such as BlogLines, Pageflakes, and Netvibes.  Even Facebook has a basic capability to subscribe to RSS Feeds. 

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Mobile RSS Readers

 

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Web Based vs Desktop RSS News Reader

 If you are just getting started with RSS feeds, the most important criteria to choosing a reader will probably be ease of use.  In that case, using the integrated news reader in your web browser will probably be the best place to get started.

As you start collecting RSS feeds to follow, you will most likely need to switch to another format to organize and keep on top of the feeds coming.

The pros of a web based reader  such as iGoogle or Netvibes is that . . . well it's web based.  You can access your RSS feeds from any computer.

The drawbacks of online applications are mainly due to user limitations.  If you have a slow internet connection or an ancient computer, reading the feeds can be painful which really defeats the purpose of subscribing in the first place.  Many of the online readers utilize AJAX, and if your computer doesn't have adequate RAM, you might want to go a different route.

The big plus to a desktop application is the wider selection of features and customization options.  The online readers do allow you to create feed categories or folders; however, the desktop readers allow more customization by category and feeds.  Alerts, filtering, and archiving are all possible with stand along applications.

Of course, if you use more than one computer a desktop application can be limiting.  However, a post in BlogAboutYourBlog recommended running the reader from a USB drive to make it portable.

How to Find RSS Feeds

This is the easy part.  The RSS icon at the beginning of the article is the industry standard to indicate an RSS feed.  It will normally be much smaller and sometimes it is a different color, but if you see that icon just click on it to subscribe to the feed. 

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There may also be a bookmarklet such as this RSS feed format as well.  In addition to RSS bookmarklets, many blogs and publications will publish custom bookmarklets for different online applications, such as BlogLines and Netvibes.

Try it Out!

The Kingwood Connection publishes two RSS Feeds, Kingwood News and Kingwood Blogs.  Click on the links below to subscribe to our feeds.