Tell Me When You Post

At the time of this writing, the snnyc blog has been actively mentioned to only around ten people outside of those who had a hand in the site’s development.  I’d rather build some content here and get in the groove of writing prior to publicising it.  Having said that, twenty percent of you have asked to be notified when new entries are posted.  While a mailing list may be incorporated later, why not talk about how you can proactively alert yourself to new content posted on this and many other sites today?

RSS iconWe begin with a discussion of Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a technology built into the snnyc blog and most blog and news site that you visit today.  If you’re not already very familiar with RSS, you’ve almost certainly seen the RSS icon regularly for the past five years or more.  An RSS feed is essentially a list of individual posts on a web site that is updated in real-time as new posts are added.  An RSS reader can monitor one or many RSS feeds and alert the user to new content when posted.  Some sites deliver complete articles via their RSS feed while others deliver article summaries with links to the full article for interested readers.

Use an RSS Reader Application
RSS readers are available for every operating system and generally for free.  As I’m currently using Ubuntu Desktop Edition 10.10, installing an RSS reader was as simple as opening up the Ubuntu Software Center and installing Liferea Feed Reader.  After a quick installation, I fired up Liferea, clicked New Subscription, and pasted in the feed address: http://snnyc.com/feed/.  FeedDemon for Windows is similarly easy.  Using an RSS reader, while convenient enough, still requires action on your part.  You must initially subscribe to the RSS feeds and then fire up the application periodically to check to see if any new posts are available.  This is a time savings versus checking lots of blogs and sites individually, but possibly slower than just checking one particular web site that you’ve previously bookmarked.

RSS Readers

How to Identify an RSS Feed Address
As you probably noticed, the feed address (in our case: http://snnyc.com/feed/) isn’t the same as the web site’s address (http://snnyc.com).  How do we identify it?  Wherever you see the RSS logo or the words RSS on a web page, it typically hyperlinks to the feed.  If you’re using Firefox 3 or 4, you can right-click and choose Copy Link Location to copy a feed address to your buffer, after which you paste it into a reader application.  If using Internet Explorer 8, right-click on an RSS link and choose Copy Shortcut, after which you paste the address into a reader.

Use an Online RSS Reader
If you’re regularly signing into Gmail or other Google services and would like to have access to your RSS feeds from any computer without installing software, Google Reader may be for you.  After signing in to Google Reader, we can choose ‘Add a subscription,’ paste in the feed address of http://snnyc.com/feed/, and click Add.  When we enter Google Reader again in the future, we’ll be able to see any new posts.  This still requires some manual effort on our part, but requires no software installation and is typically accessible from the top menu bar across your Gmail account after the first use.

Google Reader

Use an RSS to E-mail Service
Would you rather be alerted to new posts at your favorite sites without any recurring effort on your part?  Then an RSS to e-mail service may be the way to go.  The service will monitor RSS feeds and send you an e-mail when new posts are made.  One popular option is Feed My Inbox.  Feed My Inbox allows you to subscribe to up to five RSS feeds for free and will e-mail you once every 24 hours notifying you of new posts to those feeds.  There are also several paid options that allow you to subscribe to more feeds and customize your alerts to an extent.  If you’d like to receive e-mail alerts from Feed My Inbox when new posts are made here at the snnyc blog, submit your e-mail address below.  Feed My Inbox will send you a confirmation message, after which you’re all set.

Email Address: 

Summary
While every site on the Internet would prefer that you visit them directly via your web browser on a regular basis, that’s not necessarily the best use of your time.  RSS readers and RSS to e-mail gateways can allow you to tune into new content – when available – from the sites that interest you most.

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