Video How-to: Subscribe to Content Feeds



RSS icons screenshot

The best thing about the web is its role as an information resource. But all that info gets daunting and that's where subscribing to RSS feeds comes in. This article helps get you started with feeds to improve your web experience.

The video is a quick start into grabbing feeds. These accompanying notes cover 3 things:-

  • What are content feeds?
  • Why might I want them?
  • How do I get them?

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If you want a visual “how-to feeds guide”, check out the video.

Video: How to subscribe to content feeds

Watch the video for a better idea of how to do this.

Guv's on YouTube at http://youtube.com/guvnrDOTcom.

What are content feeds?

Feeds, sometimes referred to as RSS, Atom or XML feeds, are chunks of niche content, fed to you by a variety of means. What generally happens is that you surf a site, you like the content and so you want to be updated on newly published articles, video, audio (sometimes called podcasts), images and so on.

But. What a pain, having to trawl all of your favorite sites, maybe just to find a few crumbs worth looking at. That is a bit like buying a Sunday newspaper, only to throw away most of it, unread. Online, feeds are the solution.

Most information-packed sites, these days, offer feeds. So instead of surfing to your favorite sites – and spending time wading through untargetted content – with a feed you have a summary of that site's newly published content delivered to you. From the locality of your web browser's bookmarks, for example, you are updated with your favorite site's content summaries and can see easily what may be of interest, and what is not, and better focus your surfing by clicking through to the content that is useful to you.

Why might I want them?

Er, I guess I covered that above! Specifically, feeds allow you to focus on the content you want, saving time and keystrokes.

How do I get them?

There are a bunch of ways, but here are the most common.

Subscribe via Email

The easiest way is to subscribe via email, although often this option is not available. With Guvnr.com, for example, you can simply type in your email address, hit return, and a dialogue box pops up with an anti-spam Captcha code. Type in the text shown in that box, and again click “Go”. Then you'll receive an immediate email, asking for your confirmation. There will be a link to click on and, upon clicking, a message will pop up on your web browser confirming your feed subscription. From then on, whenever new content is added to the relevant site, you will be notified.

Bookmarks and Favorites

Also dead simple is to add a feed to your web browser. If you're using Internet Explorer – and far too many people are! – if there is a feed available the standard feed icon will appear in orange, as opposed to being greyed out when no feed is available. Click on that and you will have the feed added to the browser's “Tools” menu, under a tab called “Feed Discovery”. From then on, whenever you want to check out the latest content from that site, you can navigate to Tools>Feed Discovery and see the website's latest content, summarised with each article's title. Now you can get an idea of the power of feeds, and how they save you time, because you can isolate just the content you want, and click through to that.

If you use Firefox, which 45% of you do, then it's a similar deal. When browsing the site you like, you'll see the standard orange icon to the far right of the Address Bar. Click on that and up pops a dialogue box, called “Add Live Bookmark”. Click OK and then, in the Bookmarks (the equivalent of Favorites in Explorer) drop-down menu, navigate to Bookmarks Toolbar and, hey presto, there is that site's feed, listing the most recent content titles. For Safari and Opera the system is similar.

Feed Readers

A more advanced way to receive a feed is with a feed reader, sometimes known as a feed aggregator. A reader works just like an email client, just like Outlook or Thunderbird, for example. Instead of downloading the latest email, they download the lated feed updates. These were most popular before web browsers caught on and offered easy bookmarking and, in my humble opinion, for feed newbies at least, they're outdated now; unless you have a need for dozens of feeds, to use a reader means more software to install and to get to know. Then again, when you find your favorites/bookmarks overflowing, a reader is great because it allows you to organise your feeds into categories and suchlike. But hey, by the time you want a reader, you'll be too web-savvy to need the kind of basic information in this article anyway.

Go Grab those Feeds!

You are set to go. The web is mostly about niche content – content you want. Now you can control it better, and hopefully have a more enjoyable, more productive browsing experience.

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About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at guvnr.com, polices WordPress security at wpCop.com and helps noobs build web servers at vpsBible.com, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.

Discussion

  1. the_guv  February 10, 2009

    @ juanco, muchas gracias, amigo mio

  2. juanco  February 10, 2009

    muy bien Guv. Suerte tio.

  3. VIPhard  February 5, 2009

    useful video, thank you. Found you from youtube

  4. the_guv  February 5, 2009

    @ VIPhard, many tx.
    @ DaHia…sorry, just saw your comment, must’ve dozed off. Hmmn, yes, a specific feed-to-email link is needed again now. On the list…

  5. DaHia  December 19, 2008

    but you’ve changed the site and I can’t find the email feed link?!

  6. DaHia  December 19, 2008

    that’s a great video, olly. We want more of those

  7. the_guv  December 19, 2008

    PS Didactic! Damn, better look that up!

  8. the_guv  December 19, 2008

    @Tomas. Big cheers m8, appreciate that. Will endevour to throw up a whole bunch of new GuvUtorials in the new year.

  9. Tom├ís  December 10, 2008

    Hey Olly! I found you!! This is a great post, very useful, very easy to understand, really-really didactic. So all the best for your guvnr.com project and all the rest!!

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