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What Is RSS? RSS Feed

In 1995 I put together my first website (now located at GLSmyth.com), which was intended to display my infrared images. As a moderator in the photography section at Compuserv, I had had difficulty explaining the "Wood Effect", and having just gotten access to the internet, I found that this was an excellent way to augment my description with images.

I put together an example website for my employer at that time, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as I thought it would be helpful in promoting the organization. Upon demonstrating it to the upper heirarchy, they all liked it, but decided against it because only those with access to the Internet could get to the information. They have a website now, of course, but I've always remembered that as an example of the underestimation of a great technology.

RSS is in the same category, but I don't expect that to always be the case.

An RSS feed can be thought of as a summary of the latest information on a website (of course, it is much more than that, but this understanding is a good starting point). By placing RSS feeds into an RSS Feed Reader, you can be alerted to the updates that have been made to each website without having to visit each website.

When clicking on an RSS Feed one is oftentimes confronted with what appears to be a bunch of code, which is exactly what it is. Not to worry, the only thing that is relevant is the information in the browser's Address Bar. Just copy that address into the Feed URL box at Bloglines and you're ready to go. On a regular basis Bloglines will check that address to see if any changes have been made, and if so then a description of the updates and a link to that update is provided.

It's hard to get much easier than this.

RSS Feed On DRiPInvesting.org, each board has its own RSS Feed. For instance, if you have an interest in three boards on the site, you can click on the RSS Feed button for each of those three boards, and copy the information in the browser's address bar for each into Bloglines. Each time you check Bloglines you will see the new messages that have been entered since the last time you visited your Bloglines account.

If you just use this for a single website then there is not much advantage - you're simply switching one website for another that points back to it. However, the power comes when you add more websites to your Bloglines account. For instance, if you add http://prudentinvestor.wordpress.com/rss to your account then you will be notified when a new Prudent Investor blog is offered, adding http://feeds.feedburner.com/OneMinuteHowTo will let you know when a new One Minute How-To podcast is available, and adding http://feeds.feedburner.com/tapestrydilbert will keep you up to date on the latest Dilbert cartoon.

Many websites are offering RSS Feeds for areas that get updated frequently, and the more you use this technology, the more useful you will find it. There are plenty of other RSS Readers available (I use the appropriately named RSS Reader, because it's free and more powerful than Bloglines) and there is more to RSS than I mentioned (for instance, it can be used to automatically download podcasts), but this is a good starting point.

So give it a try, I think that you will find ways to more efficiently grab information as it comes available, and if you have any questions then do not hesitate to shoot an email to George.Smyth@Gmail.com.