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Feb

24

Staying Up To Date: RSS and other feeds

 Network & Internet

The web used to be a bunch of pages about particular subjects.  Once a web page was published, it often didn't change for months or even years.  One thing that makes the web so interesting now is that it changes fast.  Some sites are updated several times a day.

A web feed makes it easy keep up with rapidly changing pages.  A special program called a "news reader" or "feed reader" or "RSS reader" checks the site on a schedule.  When new information is posted, your reader informs you.  Changes are highlighted, making them easy to identify.  With a good reader it's easy to keep up even with fast-updating sites.

What kind of web page uses feeds?  You're reading one.  Blogs are probably the best-known type of feed.  You can subscribe to this one using the link at the right of this page.  Other kinds of feeds include news sites like Google News, product feeds like New Products at FindApp, downloadable audio shows (podcasts) and video shows (video podcasts) and many more.  It's the ideal way to update people regularly.

You'll see feeds described using the terms "RSS" and "ATOM".  Unless you're a seriously technical person, you don't have to worry about the difference.  Both work well and good feed readers understand them both.  You can ignore all that and just enjoy reading your news feeds.

Active Web Reader

There are a lot of ways to read feeds.  Web services like Google and Yahoo have online readers.  The big advantage of a web-based reader is that you can use it from any web browser.  On the other hand, feed reading will be slower than using an application installed on your computer.  Many people find the web interfaces difficult or awkward to use.

It's hard to beat the value of Active Web Reader.  This award-winning program lets you organize your feeds in folders, checks sites for updates at lightning speeds, and automatically detects any feeds on pages you open in your browser.  It also monitors any web pages and notifies you about changes.  Best of all, Active Web Reader is completely free!

RSS Captor has all the standard feed-reading features, plus a special filtering system to locate postings you are especially interested in.  Advanced pattern-matching technology helps you zero in on exactly the things you want to know.

Newsgroup Commander combines an excellent RSS reader with a powerful Usenet newsgroup reader.  You can search both feeds and newsgroups with a single command. If you read both blogs and groups, Newsgroup Commander can simplify your life by combining both into a single window.

Once you start using RSS feeds, you'll never go back.  The information and entertainment you want is right there waiting for you.  It's always up to date, and easy to read.  These programs can make reading your feeds easier and more fun.  Give them a try!

Regards,
John M.

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