My 4/26/09 Missoulian column
RSS news feeds are available from most Web sites – indicated by the orange icon with white “radio waves” or by a link marked “feeds” or “RSS” – and allow you to quickly gather news headlines and details from Web sites about new products or announcements on your PC or Mac. RSS stands for really simple syndication, and it is easy to subscribe and use news feeds.
The Web browsers Internet Explorer 7, Safari and Firefox have RSS readers built-in, as do some e-mail programs such as newer versions of Apple’s Mail, Thunderbird and Outlook. Look for the RSS feed icon in the toolbar or address bar of your browser or e-mail program.
When you open a news feed with your browser or e-mail program, you’ll see a list of headlines and links in that news feed, with options to subscribe to those feeds. If you subscribe, your news reader will grab the headlines and updates every time you start it up, without you having to go to each individual Web site. Or, if you leave your news reader open, you can set it to check for news every hour or more often.
If you want to try a standalone news reader, check out Newsgator. Their RSS readers have many more options than a Web browser or e-mail client. Newsgator produces readers for Windows and Macs, mobile devices, and programs to grab podcasts and work with popular social networking services, too. Go to Newsgator and see what they have to offer for individuals and organizations.
With any news reader, you can take your news reading a step further by checking into the popular news gathering sites – such as Google, Yahoo and others – because they offer news feeds on specific subjects, such as sports and finance. Many news sites charge for news feeds on financial matters, but you can do well with subscribing to Google’s Dow and Nasdaq feeds.
One way to be even more efficient is to take RSS another step and subscribe to feeds with your own keywords. For example, do a news search with keywords at Google News – such as for “Real Estate Montana” – and look at the bottom of the page of results. You’ll see a link (among others) for a news feed of those keywords. Subscribe to that feed and you won’t have to go to Google News and search for those keywords again. You’ll be able to scan those headlines in your news reader and click to go directly to the article.
Probably everything you want to know about RSS is at Wikipedia.