What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a convenient way to get sent freshly updated information from your favourite websites (e.g. news, new blog entries, new podcasts, etc…).
See the orange buttons on this page? They’re RSS feeds. If you click one, you’ll get taken to a page that allows you to add it to your feedreader (more about feedreaders below).
Why do I need RSS?
Instead of browsing your favourite web pages to find out what’s new, you can use RSS feeds to deliver all the new stuff directly to you – to your mobile phone or to your PC(s).
The feed delivers the pure info without any of the packaging. For a news item on Google News, you just get the text and some links. For a podcast from CNet, you just get the podcast. In other words, the feed strips out all the decoration and advertising you normally see on a website.
The real advantage is that you save time by having all your favourite sites come to you, instead of you having to go to them. You can also benefit from having all that new info delivered anywhere you want – I get mine on my phone to read or listen to on the bus.
How can I use it?
Have a go.
First you need a feedreader. There are loads to choose from, but let’s start you off with Bloglines. It’s an online feedreader so you don’t need to install anything. You can also use Bloglines on your mobile (if your phone can connect to the Web). Here’s the link http://www.bloglines.com Bloglines is free.
Follow the instructions to register with Bloglines. Bloglines will suggest a few feeds to get you started. You’ll need to reply to the email they send you, and tada! you have a feedreader with a few feeds all in under 5 minutes.
Now add Zoiks!!! to your bloglines feeds by clicking one of the orange buttons on the left of this page. These buttons will take you to this web page for the feed from the Zoiks site: http://zoiks.wordpress.com/feed
At the top of that page there’s a dropdown menu where you should be able to select Bloglines. It’s as simple as that.
Now a couple of caveats.
- Some websites, like the BBC, won’t show you their whole news article in the feed reader. They’ll show you a lead, then link to the page on their site. They want traffic to their site, you see.
- You’ll need to do some fiddling about to get your feeds to show properly on your mobile phone. I can’t help you there, all phones are different. My phone’s a Nokia N73, it’s browser has a folder for feeds and it also has an application called ‘Services’ which strips out the graphics from websites (which is good).
- It’s possible to load podcasts directly a phone, but big files might crash it. Mine doesn’t like big files. The best alternative I’ve found is to download the podcasts with itunes then transfer them to my phone’s memory card.