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Reading Blogs via RSS

September 15, 2009
by

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. You can syndicate your blog and people can read your blog via the syndicated feed. Blech. Here’s what really happens: When Heather makes a blog post, Blogger (the blogging software she uses) puts a file out in a particular place. The file looks like this:

<author>
<name>Heather</name>
<email>noreply@blogger.com</email>
</author>
<published>2009-08-21T17:22:00.001-07:00</published>
<updated>2009-08-21T17:35:15.699-07:00</updated>
<title type='text'>Carson RICHARD!!!</title>
<content type='html'>So, I have these things on my table with rocks and flowers in them. Cute right? Not so much. I'm in my room folding laundry and I hear this loud noise...WTH is that?? I come out in the living room to find Mr. Man (aka: Carson) dumping the whole flippin thing down the register vent! He looked at me like "what"??? I swear,

Not super readable, but it contains some pretty simple information. Typically it will contain information about her last 10 posts. It will show Title, Category, Content, etc. So Blogger sticks this file out there and you can set your “RSS Reader” to go look at that file. I use Google Reader to read blogs.

Why Bother?

Here’s the benefit: If Heather makes a post, Google Reader will tell me (it checks every few minutes for changes in the file). Reader will go out and read the Title, Category, Content and all the other information and reconstruct the post for me to read. It does the same at Aimee’s blog, Debbie’s blog, Michele’s blog and the 400 other blogs I read. I go to one place to read blogs, not 5, 10 or 400. And the best part is that I don’t have to go check a blog only to find that there are no new posts.

I’m sold. How do I do it?

If you don’t have a Google account, go get one. Then navigate to http://www.google.com/reader/ to set up your subscriptions.

rssread

This is what it looks like when you start. It gives you a couple of introductory posts, but no subscriptions. We’ll take care of that right now. Open up a new tab in Firefox (or whatever browser you use) and navigate to nancyks.wordpress.com. On the left side near the top, you’ll see a button that says “Subscribe to Feed”.

rssread2

Click it. That should take you back to Google Reader.

rssread3

Click on the Subscribe button. Now the left side has one subscription and it shows you the last 10 posts.

rssread4

That was too easy

Yeah, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes you have to look hard for the feed link. For instance, on Aimee’s blog, it’s all the way at the bottom and it’s called “Posts (Atom)”.

rssread5

Atom is to Betamax as RSS is to VHS, but they both do the same thing and Google knows how to read both. Once you find Aimee’s link, it works the same. If you’re not signed in to Google when you click on a link, you might get to see the raw XML (that looks like the big mess above). Don’t fret, because you can add feeds manually. There’s a big button on the Google Reader page that says Add a Subscription. You can paste in the URL (such as http://www.dailydoseofexcel.com/feed/) and subscribe that way.

Sometimes there is no link. If you want to read the comments on Michele’s blog, you won’t find a link to click. But I happen to know that Blogger provides a comments feed. Once you know that Michele’s comments feed is http://michelereed.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default, you can add it manually and keep track of the comments as well as the posts. You also know that all Blogger blogs will use that same path structure so you can get the comments feed for Debbies and Aimees and whomever.

Go get five or ten blogs in your subscriptions. In a couple of days, I’ll post some tips for reading and some blogs you can subscribe to that you are sure to like.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie permalink
    September 15, 2009 9:55 am

    This is great and I want to do it on my computer. I have blonde hair, so I’m bringing my laptop over so you can set me up! Way too confusing for me and of course I’m thinking, Wow, Nancy is really getting technical on us here. Then I see that it was posted by Dick? Nobody can post on Lisa at the Lake’s blog and it’s the Atom thing, so you can help me with that as well.

  2. Michele permalink
    September 15, 2009 4:57 pm

    Yeeeaaaahhh… I’m gonna continue to read my blogs in the same manner I always have.

  3. Heather permalink
    September 16, 2009 5:49 pm

    Great idea! I’m bringing my computer to you too Dick!

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