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The person who decided that sliced bread was the best thing ever had clearly never encountered RSS aggregators. (In fact, it’s likely they had never encountered very much at all – I mean, who gets that excited about bread!?)

Working on the assumption that some of our readers really don’t know what an RSS feed is, and perhaps aren’t very techy, either, we’ve put together a little explanation/how-to.

Imagine that you are a bee, tiring of your daily round of flowers. You’re thinking to yourself: “I spend hours on the wing slogging from bloom to blossom just to get the mixture of nectar I need for my damn honey!”. You’re probably thinking how great it would be if all the flowers -and just those ones you wanted- came to you instead. Or even better, get some other bee to go and get the nectar for you, and just sit tight and wait for the honey… Well, that’s pretty much what an RSS reader does with websites.

Most sites these days, especially those, like this blog, that are basically series of posts, will provide an RSS feed. This is basically a version of the site in which individual posts are stripped down into separate nuggets of information for an RSS reader to pick up. In an RSS feed, for example, this post would be such a nugget.

You can tell that a site you are looking at offers an RSS feed if you see either of these buttons.

rss_button.jpg

RSS acronym

(You’ll notice ‘subscribe to RSS’ buttons on the left of this page, one at the top and one at the bottom.)

If you install an RSS aggregator, such as one of these, then it will pull all of those nuggets together as they are written, right there on your desktop screen. But you will have to be at that machine, of course…

Even better (we think, anyway) is to use an online RSS reader, because you can access it from any web browser. Many people use Google’s, but there are plenty of others out there; for the sake of an easy life, it’s probably best to use the reader provided by your web email provider, E.g. Google, or Yahoo! etc. Then, all you have to do is click on the button and the reader itself will ask if you want to add the feed. (Often, when you click on the button, it gives you a list of the most common readers, and you get to pick your one from that.) Either way, that’s it. Job Done. Now all you need to do is go to your reader online, and all your RSS feeds will be there in one big honeypot, ie all the nuggets from the sites you like to read will be together in one place.

Any questions? Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.

PS… It’s even easier to handle RSS feeds if you’re using the Firefox browser!

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