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Surfing is a waste of time January 11, 2006

Posted by Mike N. Cheese in Internet, RSS, Tips and Tricks.

I have lived in California for 2.5 years now, and I have not been surfing once.


But that’s an aside. I don’t think shooting the curl is a waste of time, but surfing the internet can be. Since I know many of you have just started blogging (I know of at least 8 blogs that have started after reading my wife’s or Stephanie’s blog), I thought you might be interested (if you don’t know already) about a tool that has saved me from a lot of wasted time surfing the internet. I will now make a bold statement. Wait for it…


Bold, right? Even if you don’t have Tivo, you’ve certainly encountered a Tivo evangalist yammering on and on about how they can’t live without it, it’s saved them so much time, improved their love life, and how they don’t know what they would save from a fire if they had to choose between their Tivo or their first-born child.

That is how I feel about RSS. If you’re still reading this, you’re likely saying to yourself, “what is RSS, and how can I make its benefits effective in my life?” Well, let me tell you. RSS is a web term that stands for Really Simple Syndication, but that’s not important (if you are really interested in learning about the details, go here or here). What is important is that an RSS “feed” allows you to check up on your favorite websites without having to surf to them.

How many times have you gone to a website, only to see that there are no new stories? Or do you know of a website that has good stories sometimes, but not often enough to wade through the stories you don’t like? Getting an RSS reader can solve those problems, and yes, many of them are free. But wait, theres more.

Get a Reader

The first thing you need to do to get on the RSS bandwagon is to find an RSS reader that suits your needs. I use NetNewsWire for Mac. In the screenshot, you can see my subscriptions are on the left, the latest headlines in the upper right (unread stories in bold), and the stories are in the lower right-hand box (sometimes the stories don’t show, in which case I have to go to the website, but at least I know the headline interests me).

There are many different readers out there, some online, some offline. My wife uses her Google Homepage to track her favorite blog (and People magazine) feeds. You can do the same with My Yahoo. Google has their own reader, and there are plenty of other choices too, like here.

Now go subscribe.

Now go to a blog or news site you like. Search for a link or button that says RSS, XML, Subscribe to feed, something like that. Many of them are orange buttons that look like this:


Now, you can click on the button or link, but be warned–you may see a lot of garbled mess. Don’t get discouraged. What you need is the web address of the feed (in the address bar). That is what you will copy and paste into your RSS reader.

As an alternative to clicking on the link, I like to right-click on it and just copy the link location.

Now go forth and subscribe. If you’re like me, you’ll start seeing RSS feeds everywhere, and you’ll want to subcribe to them all.

Phew, that was long. Let me know if it was helpful. If so, I’d like to write a follow-up on some even fancier ways to use RSS.



1. Abbie - January 12, 2006

When you say “subscribe”, it sounds like it involves a fee. Is that right? And if it is, will you throw in a free vegetable chopper? This sounds an awful lot like an infomercial.

2. Mike Court - January 12, 2006

Everything is free. You just need to get the feed address so you can “subscribe”, as in a magazine subscription that is delivered to your house because you want it to be. But you don’t have to pay.

In fact, many of your magazine sites may have rss feeds.

The infomercial language was intentional. I’m trying to be an interesting writer. Is it working?

3. Abbie - January 12, 2006

I could tell it was intentional. I found it humorous. But I still want my vegetable chopper.

4. Mikey Likes It » Ways to make parenting a breeze. - January 20, 2006

[…] Parent Hacks  (learn how to subscribe to sites like these) […]

5. Mikey Likes It » Speaking of networking… - January 21, 2006

[…] You can subscribe (via RSS, see my previous post) to bookmarks of one person, or of a certain tag. […]

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