About RSS feeds

THIS POST HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED This post is adapted from a comment I made here

This post is aimed at people who do not have a clue what 'RSS' and 'atom' and 'podcasting' are.

If you know all this then you can move along, there is nothing more to see here.

Regular RSS feeds are very useful, you can monitor many sites using them. A useful tool to monitor RSS feeds is "bloglines" at www.bloglines.com

A free account is a few minutes work at www.bloglines.com (you will need to provide a real email address to sign up).

Once signed up you can use it to monitor many sites, e.g. at the top of this page are graphics saying 'XML: something". Clicking on one of these will take you to a page where you can choose 'subscribe in bloglines'.

The feed choices include a 'Full Feed' of entire articles, excerpts of articles (to give a flavour of a post without taking much space), delicious (a feed of my recent bookmarks), comments (a feed of comments posted to this site) and flickr (a feed of my photos).

If you're going to follow this site, I would suggest taking either 'Full Feed' or 'Excerpts' as well as 'Comments'.

Many sites now offer feeds, if you look for them. The BBC news page offers RSS feeds which are themed, e.g. 'World News'. Look for the links at the bottom of the page (click on them for more information on RSS)

You may not like bloglines (I do). You can use any aggregator (that's the thing that monitors RSS feeds) that you wish, such as netnewswire.

RSS feeds make it very easy to monitor a whole range of sites, from slashdot to moleskinerie.

Some browsers, such as firefox (free from the mozilla pages) have built in RSS support, a feature called "live bookmarks".

Podcasting uses rss feeds to automatically distribute mp3 files. People are using this to disseminate their own radio shows.

This site does not podcast, though I am not ruling it out, I don't think such a development is likely. However, I am a fan of podcasts, and am eagerly looking forward to the BBC starting them. For the uninitiated you can get a free program called "ipodder". This is available at ipodder.org.

Using ipodder.org you can subscribe to RSS feeds which contain "podcasts". RSS stands for 'really simple syndication'. Quite often the RSS feed will be a little orange button labelled 'XML' or 'RSS', sometimes 'atom'. These names aren't something you need to worry about. If you're interested, podcasts tend to be RSS2.0.

If you see a podcast offered, you can right click on the button and "copy link", click in ipodder, click in the space provided and paste the link with control-V. Ipodder will now monitor that RSS feed for "podcasts", and it will download them automatically to your PC. You can then listen to the mp3s on your PC or on your mp3 player (e.g. ipod).

After a trial with "in our time", the BBC is to launch podcasting for things like the "Today Program" next month, you already have the "listen again" function if you want to sit at your computer, but you will soon be able to "listen again" on the move using your mp3 player! This means that looking at this now will get you in at the start.

Of course, if all that sounds like too much hassle, you could just click the links direct to download them - but then you have to remember check things manually.

Podcasting was started off in a big way by Adam Curry, who lives near Guildford.

I hope this has been of use to RSS uninitiates!