If you have used the internet lately you have most likely heard of something called “RSS.” If you are anything like me I am sure that you have wondered what this “RSS stuff” is all about. I am going to try and answer that question as well as explain a little bit about how RSS can be useful.
For the purpose of this article RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. I started my RSS research by going to wikipedia.org and simply looking up the term ‘RSS’.
The information in the article I found, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_%28file_format%29), is informative, but if you are like me you don’t want to have to read a huge document to understand what something like RSS is all about. You want a simple, concise definition and a few example of what RSS might mean in your life.
So, let me break the topic down in a way that we can all understand.
I have been using RSS for about a year. I discovered a use for RSS soon after I started using Firefox, which is a browser alternative for Internet Explorer. (If you would like to know more about Firefox, visit http://getfirefox.com.) Many people in the technology field use Firefox – I even have my wife using it.
One reason to use Firefox as your web browser is that it makes using RSS simple. Firefox makes it so that whenever you go to a webpage that uses RSS you will see a small orange symbol in the address bar.
When you see this symbol, you can click on it and it will bring up an option to add a bookmark. This adds a bookmark that links directly to either a RSS file or an XML file. These files are a condensed version of the website that you were visiting when you clicked on the RSS symbol (sometimes they are referred to as “feeds’).
Another great thing about Firefox is that you can read RSS files without the need for any other software. The feed will look like a folder with a collection of links that are the articles from the RSS Feed you subscribed to.
But, to get some of the more advanced feed reading features you can get an ‘RSS reader’. Firefox includes an RSS reader extension that you can install called Sage. You can download it at http://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/77/. (Note: My next article will be about Firefox and extensions so don’t worry if you don’t understand them at this point.)
You can also use an online reader put out by Google here http://www.google.com/reader/things/intro. I prefer the browser interface and haven’t used any of these on-line readers. You will to experiment with both types of RSS viewers a little bit and see which works best for you.
If you aren’t using Firefox and you still want to subscribe to an RSS feed the link will be a small orange button that says “RSS” or “XML.” These standard icons are usually used to make the RSS Feeds easier to find.
RSS feeds are also used for Podcasts and Videocasts. A Podcast and/or Videocast is an internet radio/TV program that can be listened to on an iPod or other MP3 device. You subscribe to the RSS feed using iTunes and it will automatically download the audio file and put it on your iPod (or another type of MP3 player). If you don’t have an iPod you can still use these feeds with other audio programs like http://www.podfeeder.com. You can also check out the CWAHD Podcast Directory at http://www.cwahd.com/podcasts.html . This directory is full of Christian Podcasts.
I have a Video iPod and I love to watch Videocasts when I have some free time. I have even gone as far as mounting my iPod in my car so I can listen to audio podcasts on the way to work.
I hope that you have been able to get at least a little bit of information about what RSS is and what it can do for you. I am really excited about RSS and have started a project to have CWAHM.com and CWAHD.com redesigned to incorporate RSS for all of the articles featured on both sites. I believe that RSS will change the way that you surf the internet in the near future. It is a quick way to get a lot of information from the internet in a simple, easy to read format.
Allen Hart is the founder of CWAHD.com, Christian Work at Home Dads. CWAHD.com was designed to assist dads in their quest for a work at home job or business. For more information and additional articles, visit http://www.cwahd.com or contact Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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