TMO Tip - Take Your RSS Feeds With You Anywhere
by , 3:00 PM EDT, April 15th, 2005
As a somewhat jaded computer user, it's a rare moment for me when I find a Web site or application that changes the way I compute. I would have to go back to my discovery of LauchBar or even OS X itself to get that "holy cow!" feeling. Just last week, while doing research for my own blog, I found It. Eureka!
What is it all about? Bloglines, a great way to take your RSS feeds with your anywhere.
Bloglines is "a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content." Generally speaking, it doesn't seem that exciting until you look just a little bit closer. Bloglines is on the web. It can track the ever-changing content of the web, but only the parts that interest you. Did I mention that it's all on the web? I used to use a desktop news aggregator. It was nice, and told me when the sites to which I subscribed had been updated. But it only worked when I was on my home computer.
At work I am subjected to a Windows Terminal box, where I can't download applications. Even if I could, the news I read at work on that aggregator would be considered "unread" content when I got home because the two aren't connected. Sifting through news that I've already read? That's just annoying. Bloglines knows what I've read at work, so when I log on at home, there's no more sifting.
Are you new to RSS (Really Simple Syndication)? Maybe you heard about it as a future feature in Safari. Don't worry, Bloglines makes it easy to start. (And you can start in English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.) You complete their free online registration and follow their instructions.
Go ahead and do it, I'll wait...
Finished? Excellent! Take a look at the window, the left pane has three tabs.
Try entering www.macobserver.com in the field marked "Blog of Feed URL." After clicking "subscribe," you'll see several available feeds. Pick any (they're all just different forms of the same thing) and click "preview this feed." Like what you see? In the upper right corner you can click "subscribe," and The Mac Observer feed will be added to your feeds.
Once you subscribe to a podcast feed in Bloglines, it will be added to your personal My Feeds list. When a new podcast is available, you'll see the alert next to that feed. Each podcast update has a text note accompanied by an 'enclosure' icon that links to the audio podcast file. Simply click on that enclosure link to start the podcast. That will launch your desktop media player or specialized podcasting software...and the podcast of your choice will play right from Bloglines.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, Bloglines does offer a list of the most popular feeds for other subscribers. And if you care, you can even see what feeds I watch. Also, try the "Extras" portion at the bottom of the left panel. If you click on "tips," it'll teach you fancy things that Bloglines can do for you. Firefox users will be able to take advantage of some fantastic extensions. I'm currently using the Bloglines notifier and LiveLines extensions for that browser.
Bloglines allows you organize your feeds, putting them in folders and in whatever order you like. Log in but don't read everything? Not to worry, the next time you load the page, it knows what you haven't read, and updates accordingly. If you're like me, and you see something you like, but want to be able to do more about it when you're at home? Check the box to keep it as new, and it'll still be there until you choose to uncheck that option.
You can also host your own blog via Bloglines. Once you've registered, use the "My Blog" tab to begin a Clip Blog. I can only imagine more features are coming down the pike, as Bloglines was recently accquired by Ask Jeeves.
What does it all boil down to? I can use Bloglines every day to make my online experience just a little better. I can integrate the pain of my work computing to the (relatively) sublime bliss of my home computing. It's possible that I'm taking laziness to a whole new level, but I like to think I'm making my time on the computer more efficient.
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