How can I find out when there is a new post to my favourite blogs? Is there an easier way than visiting all of the sites each day?
This is a technical post to help those new to reading blogs and other information streams. Most blogs (web logs like http://blog.heathertelford.com ) or traditional media outlets ( e.g. http://www.cbc.ca/ ) also have an auxillary web page which contains a specially formatted list of the most recent articles. Depending on the formatting used , this list might be called an RSS or ATOM feed. For the examples above the feeds are at https://blog.heathertelford.com/feed/ and http://rss.cbc.ca/topstoriesnews.xml . A news web site will often have many feeds: one for world news, one for domestic news, one for local news, etc.
A news feed is not meant to be read by humans. You subscribe to the feed by pasting the feed’s web address into an a special program called an “aggregator”. The aggregator checks all the subscribed feeds periodically, and presents a summary of new or unread articles. This can save you a lot of time if you read many sites!
Examples of aggregators:
- If you have a free Google Account you can use the Google Reader web interface (My current favourite).
- If you use the Firefox web browser there are many options. Recent versions of Firefox display the icon in the address bar when a feed is detected. By clicking on this icon, Firefox offers to add this feed to an aggregator, either as a “Live Bookmark” or using another aggregator.
- If you install the Firefox “Sage” plugin, place all of your Firefox “feed” bookmarks in a single bookmark folder, and configure Sage to look in this folder for feeds, then Sage will provide a good aggregator in a Firefox side bar(Heather’s current favourite). Below is a Sage screenshot showing feeds and feed articles on the left and the current article on the right.
- Install standalone program to check feeds. On a PC there are many free ones like FeedReader or SharpReader. There are many more, but you know how to use google.
I am interested to know how you are keeping up with this blog. Are you using an aggregator? Don’t be afraid to try one if you are not. Many of the aggregators allow you to export and import lists of feeds in OPML format, so it is straight forward to change aggregators,