Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RSS Readers, Blog Entries and the Flute Portal

I wanted to take a moment to help explain some of the new web technology for those of you who may be less web savvy. There are some very cool software tools evolving on the web to help make your life easier. One of these technologies is (now) called Really Simply Syndication or RSS. In non-techy speak this is simply a technology which allows you 'subscribe' to your favorite websites, and have a consolidated way to check for new information posted there.

For example, you may have a bunch of favorites blogs (like this one...) which you read on a consistent basis. BUT, you might find it annoying to bounce around to these sites only to find that no new articles have been published. Well, RSS provides a method where by you can collect all of the newly published content (like this blog posting) in what's known as a RSS reader. Think of it as your own assistent to go fetch new web content and bring it all back to one place.

There are a variety of RSS Readers available out there, but the one I personally use is Bloglines, which I have found to be both powerful and relatively easy to configure. There is nothing to download (it's a website), but you do need to create a new account, and then configure it. Most of the RSS readers will allow you to enter the URL for your favorite blogs or websites and then subscribe to the RSS feed from the blog or website. You can even fetch the latest news from all of your favorite news sites.

Which brings me to my last point. This is all really only useful for websites and blogs which publish an RSS feed. There is an RSS feed for this blog, so simply entering the URL into any RSS reader will enable you to subscribe to the feed. Then when I publish a new article, your RSS reader will see the entry, grab it and let you know that there is new content. The newly opened Flute Portal also includes an RSS feed for all of the content on the site, a pretty cool feature (kudos to the Flute Portal dev team for adding this feature)

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