Doctor, I Have An RSS Feed And It Itches Bad! And Then There’s This Google On My…

30 09 2006

Ahem…Or How I’ve Set Up Me Own RSS Feeds And Email Subscription Options And Also Created Me Own Google Personalized Home Page.

Got into this RSS thing a bit late. I wouldn’t blame myself because I couldn’t find a simple explanation of it anywhere. Some of these tutors use language that just goes over my head, what with their tech jargon and all. Dammit, I just want to know what it can do for me…in Real Simple English! So this attempt is to see RSS the way I see RSS, a non-techie’s guide to a techie’s world. You’ll notice that my sidebar has been decorated with these icons and things, so you can read my blog in many different ways. I care. You can suscribe to the standard RSS feed, AOL, Yahoo! feed, plain text feed, have the blog sent to your mobile phone, have it added to your Google personalized home page, or subscribe to the simplest method, have it delivered to your email inbox as a digest. See, I care. Let me go over some of these to give you a slight overview of what is what and what is where.

Basically, feeds are a method of getting blog headlines, and sometimes contents, to you without you having to visit sites you like everyday to see what has been added. Feeds bring you updates, but you choose the method and you choose the location. What if the only section in NYTimes you visit is the Media section? Well, an RSS feed in that section lets you receive items from that section only, and saves you several trips to their website for updates. If you’re using Safari, Firefox, or Opera 9 – by the way, I’m an Opera 9 convert – they have default RSS readers. But you also have access to couple of thousand, at least, readers that will read your RSS for you. Suppose you go to a blog, using any browser, and want to know if that blog has a RSS feed enabled, you can either find a tiny 16X16 pixel icon on the address bar such as this, aka Favicon,

rssaddress.jpg or you can check the sidebars to see what options are available. Note that all blogs you visit may not have a favicon even if they have RSS feeds enabled. None of my blogs have favicons, but I’ve never stopped BlogFeeding, have I? Anyone can easily set up their default RSS readers or customize it.

But how would you know your RSS reader in Safari is enabled? Can you customize how Safari reads your RSS? Well, you can click on Safari button on the top left corner of your screen


safariopen.jpg

Click on PREFERENCES. Click on RSS, which will open this box

rss.jpg

As you can see, there are a few other settings available for you to customize your feed. Your feeds will be updated at the Bookmarks bar where you can tinker with it and customize even more. I’m sure there are many more cool stuff you can do with Safari and RSS feeds, but this is as far as I go.

For Firefox, I’ll direct you to John Bokma’s blog, where he explains the process lot better than I can. You’ll notice that John has a standard feed favicon on his address bar. That takes care of that.

If you’re using Opera 9 browser, here’s a link on their website that explais how you can read RSS feeds easily with their browser.

Also check out how you can use Yahoo! to read feeds. Or AOL to read feeds.

As you can see, both this blog and The Sound Palette has several choices available. The standard orange icon, as I’ve read -and my feeds are ‘burned’ by the wonderful Feedburner – is able to convert to all RSS reader formats to suit your preferred RSS reaser, but honestly, I still can’t wrap my head around that.

Moving on. If you are an avid Google user and you just don’t want to deal with the whole RSS feed and all, then consider ‘Add to Google’ icon and the blog highlights will be available on the top left hand corner of your Google’s Personalized Home page. But let me stop and explain what the heck a Google Personalized page is and how you can have one.
Think of Google’s personalized page as a MyYahoo or MyAOL type of thing with a whole lot more bang for no bucks. It’s very simple to set.
Click to get to a default page of Personalized Home page of Google. Notice the address has a ‘/ig’ at the end of it (no reason, just for giggles). If you don’t have an account set up, it’s easy. Create one now. Once it’s created and you’re signed in, start modifying your personalized page.

I’ll show you how to create a TAB where you can upload all your favorite blog headlines and find them updated automatically whenever you sign in. Here I’ve created an account and have signed in. By the way, all you have to do get to your personalized page is type in http://www.google.com (by by the way, on most browsers, you don’t have to type the whole http://www….and all the crap…just type in google.com and it will get you there. I see a lot of people still doing that and it drives me nuts!) and click on Personal Home on the top right corner. –Aside: if you’re wondering what’s up with the GMail account sign up page, someone with an existing GMail account has to send you an invite to sign up. There must be a good explanation why it’s set up like that…somewhere —

Okay, then. Let’s roll. I’m on Google’s Personalized Home page. Check out my Hitchcock version of Google. One of the gadgets available here can give you several other choices to ‘pimp’ your Google logo.

snapshot-2006-09-30-19-37-59.jpg

I see the tab section on the left. It says HOME and OTHER, which I’d set up earlier.

three2.jpg

But I want to add a separate Tab for blogs and blogs only. So I click on ‘Add a tab’ and title it

five.jpg

Nice.

Now, at the middle of page we have this option ‘Look for new stuff to add’

nine.jpg

Clicking on that takes us to this page of wonderful little gadgets that you can add to your Personalized Home page.

gadgetiz.jpg

Pretty cool, right? But I’ll avoid playing over there and focus on this section at the top

topsection.jpg

Here, I’ll click the URL link which opens up this box
url1.jpg

I’ll type in this URL that is forwarded to my WordPress blog but curiously it gives me this message

url3.jpg

If somebody reading this knows why I wasn’t able to get that linked, please write me.
So, now I try the alternative and type in my actual WordPress URL

url4.jpg
and voila! Time to check if the blog was uploaded on my BLOGS tab. Clickity click and there it is

blogs3.jpg

Perfect. I’m not done yet. Want to add some of my favorite blogs. So I go back, repeat the same process, type in some of my favorite blog URL’s, and they’re uploaded on my BLOGS tab. Every new blog uploaded will automatically locate itself on the top left corner. I simply drag and drop them around and thus have a BLOGS tab full of my fave bloggers.

all-blogs.jpg

Those weird symbols on my Emonome blog’s first title are nothing. It’s probably because the feeds didn’t recognize the quotation marks. You’ll also notice the Life Below The Line section is empty. That doesn’t mean the blog has no entries. It means, as far as I think, that the blogger hasn’t a Feed enabled. I may be wrong, but still clicking on the blog title on the page will take you to the blog. You can also click ‘Edit’ on each box and customize how many headlines yu’d like to see from a single blog. I think between 3 and 5 headlines should suffice. Leaves you with more blogs to fit within the space.

So, let’s go back to our ‘Add to Google’ icon. Most blogs probably won’t have that icon, but I have it on both blogs because it’s a great shortcut to add my blog to your Google Personalized Home page and also because…I care. Each day, you can sign in at Google, click on your Blogs tab and read all the blog headlines and, should you choose to read more, click on the headlines and read full entry. Real Simple Syndication.

Blog owners: If you’re already on Feedburner and have ‘burned’ your blog, you have HTML codes- besides the many many wonderful perks they offer for free- you can copy paste on your blog. If you aren’t a member – and I highly recommend it – go to Google’s code generator page for your own Add to Google icon.

Alright, my peoples, hope my simpleton tutorial helped you in some way understand what the heck RSS was. Hopefully I can show you how I’ve used Feedburner and Technorati to decorate, optimize, and publicize my blog sometime. There will be lotsa pictures, if I do. Meanwhile, read some good blogs – there are some really great ones – write your own blog and share a tip with the bloggers.

Oh yes, almost forgot and this beats everything for its simplicity. Through my Feedburner account, I was able to create a link -you’ll notice it on the sidebar that says ‘Email Subscription’- that lets you receive new posts by email, as a daily digest. It will come to your inbox as headlines, and you can click to read full entries if you want to. Can’t beat that. See, I really really care.

Okie doke, peoples, Ciao for now.

Post a comment or email me at emocyber@aol.com

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