Considering my status as a Geek Girl, I’m rather late to start using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and feed readers. (I’m one of those “old-school” geeks. I still have a B&O LP player which, in my opinion. sounds better than any CD or mp3 player I could ever hope to buy.) However, RSS offers an undeniable opportunity to have text, audio, and even video content from specific sites (or links to that content) downloaded automatically to your computer or portable device.
You can subscribe to everything from NPR radio shows to sections of the New York Times to individuals’ blogs (including this one). The list of free content is endless. When you visit a sites that offer an RSS feed, Internet Explorer or Firefox will display the RSS graphic, which looks like this:
You may also see the graphic on the site’s web page. Clicking on the RSS icon will take you to a web page which will allow you to subscribe to the site’s feed and get the content in your browser.
You can also copy the page’s address (URL) into another feed reader. For example, I’ve recently discovered Outlook 2007’s built-in feed reader. I already use Outlook for my email, calendar and contacts. So using it to download and read RSS feeds is very convenient. Here’s more info from MS’s web site on how to set up and use Outlook for RSS. It’s very easy.
(Warning! This page immediately starts playing audio of the text)
Mobile device users, including ipod users, may know RSS feeds by the term “podcast”, but you can download content onto many mobile devices other than the ubiquitous ipod. I discovered an excellent RSS reader/player for my Windows Mobile device called BeyondPod. It has a beautiful interface, great functionality, and it’s FREE, with NO ADVERTISING. Check it out here:
BeyondPod provides extensive lists of content. If the feed you want is not listed, you can copy the feed’s URL (address) from your web browser.
One warning about BeyondPod: I thought the program was hanging on start-up, until I realized I had set the program to update all my feeds at program start-up. Because of the time involved to download all the audio content, it was taking forever for the program to start. Once I re-disabled this function (which is by default disabled), it started up fine.