Monday, March 3, 2008

Feed Know How... for the FEED frazzled

Does this sound familiar...while drinking your morning coffee and surfing the net you find a great site, and you have full intentions of coming back to take a really good look right after you take the kids to school.

You get back to the computer and guess can't find that mind blowing site. It's like it just vanished off the face of the earth!

There's a quick remedy for's called RSS.

If you're an active internet user all the content is sometimes hard to keep up with. You want to know when a favorite site updates it's information. Your bookmark bar is great for some things but for regular updates it makes you do all the running!

RSS is brings fresh information from your favorite websites to you, rather than you going to the web, or scanning through your search history.

What does RSS mean? I'll bet you're ready for some real technical stuff here! Not from me, I'm not that technically savvy. RSS is most referred to as "Really Simple Syndication", but it actually stands for Rich Site Summary. Oprah even has her own name for it..."Ready for Some Stories".

Either way, it really is just that, "Really Simple Syndication". Why? Because it's an easy way for information that appears on your favorite websites to be regularly delivered to your computer in organized files, ready to read at your convince....kind of like the way the paper boy delivers the morning paper, but unlike the paper...its a FREE subscription!

When you "subscribe" to an RSS feed,
you are simply telling that blog or website..."Yes please, send me your story headlines." It's like subscribing to your favorite magazine or newspaper, only instead of getting the whole magazine you will get just the headlines. If you find a particular headline interesting, click on it and like'll be sent the whole article. How perfect is this?

Let me say it again, It's Free! Just look for the word "subscribe" or "the RSS icon" on this blog or any other blog/website.

There are two places to look for a site's feed.
1. In Your Browser...You can typically find these RSS symbols or text links in your browser window, in the address bar or just to the right and below the address bar. (See the orange icon shown above.)

2. On the Site...Over the last few years you may have noticed a lot of little buttons and widgets appearing on your favorite blogs. Links called RSS, XML, ATOM, little Orange Buttons, "counters", and the list goes on. (see photo to left) These can usually be found on the sides of the website page, or at the bottom of the page. Once you know what you're looking for its easy to find.

Because nothing is standard on the web many of you are using not only different operating systems (Mac vs. PC), but you are also using different flavored browsers like Internet Explorer, and Firefox. The way to get an RSS reader will be dependent on what Browser you like to use and how you like to receive and organize your feeds.

Just like there are different flavors of browsers, there are also different flavors of RSS XML feeders like RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom. Again, the flavors are only important if you want to be a techie...and if that's the case you don't need my advise. If you will just stick to looking for an RSS symbol like I have shown you above, you will do just fine.

Now here's where I'm going to hand you over to the professionals. Below you will find links to very easy instructions on how to Setup and Subscribe to people who know a great deal more than I and can explain it much better.

1. For "Firefox" users...How to set up Google Reader

  • Note: Google Reader is a breeze when using FireFox. You can download FireFox Free and still keep your current browser on your computer as I did.
2. For "Internet Explore7" users...The FEED lesson
  • Note: From my understanding Internet Explorer 6 is difficult if not impossible to use with Google Reader.
I'd like to leave you with this thought:
Now that you know how feeds work, did you ever wonder who's subscribing to your site feed? Collectors and Galleries use feeds regularly to keep abreast of the new works of artist they are interested in. Clint Watson says it like this.

Is your website and blog "feed ready"? As a collector could I subscribe and be updated each time you post a new work?

How to set up Google Reader....Firefox setup instructions
The FEED lesson....Internet Explorer 7 setup instructions
Clint Watson talks about the importance of feeds for today's artist
FireFox Free Download

Marsha Robinett Fine
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Unknown said...

lol. ah, yes, wondering who on earth is reading your blog. it's the one question always on my mind when I see someone suscribed to mine.

Great post as always :D

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Thanks for another brilliant and educational post. Now I have one my own reader page and a little icon-thing on my site!

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! Also, most tool bars (Yahoo, Google, MSN,.. ) have an "add Feed" button which will place any blogs RSS feed on your home page (my yahoo, igoogle, ... ).

Anonymous said...

Very helpful post. I love your drawings. That egg on your website is extraordinary!

Marsha Robinett said...

I know, I hate not knowing who's subscribing...but as a subscriber it's nice being invisible!

Isn't it great when all those updates come right to your computer and you don't have to go looking for it.

Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the additional information. For the computer illiterate, (I'm only one step above this), everything is a challenge!

Jan, I'm glad you found the post helpful.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Marsha. And I enjoyed your blog article for artists in Empty Easel. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marsha- thank you for linking to your blog! I hope that people learn the ease of the feeds..I think that it is worth mentioning again and agin! Best Regards, Julie.

Marsha Robinett said...

appreciate your comments and what an honor that you chose to visit.

In my search for instructions using IE, your article was by far the easiest to understand and the most thorough. Everyone seems to have agreed. I simply couldn't explain it any better! I hope the link brought you some traffic.

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