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4/12/2005
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Getting Started With RSS

RSS is a smart way to keep up with your favorite blogs and news sources. We'll walk you through the steps to get you up and running with this must-have technology.

Register

  1. Go to the Bloglines home page. Smack dab in the center of the home page is a link that says:

    Click it.
  2. To register, just fill out the form with your e-mail address, the password you want to use, your time zone, and language. Read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and then click the Register button.
  3. You will receive an e-mail asking you to validate your registration with Bloglines. Click on the link provided in the e-mail to confirm.
The Account Validation Window will appear, confirming your Bloglines membership. Here's where it gets a little confusing. Bloglines welcomes you and tells you that it's easy to find and subscribe to blogs.

Blogs? What happened to RSS feeds? In Bloglines terminology, they're one and the same. If you click the "most popular blogs" link, you'll be taken to a page of popular RSS feeds, some of which originate with Weblogs like Boing Boing or Slashdot, and many of which come from standard news Web sites such as Wired News, The New York Times, or Salon.com.

Add A Feed
This is a good way to get started, so let's do it:

  1. Click on the "most popular blogs" link to go to the Most Popular Feeds page. (In other RSS readers, this may be called Popular RSS Feeds, Recommended News Feeds, or something similar.) Here you'll see a list of feeds you can preview or subscribe to. You can also see related feeds that might be of interest to you.

  2. Click for full screen.

  3. Choose a feed and click the Subscribe link. You'll see a page of options. As you add more feeds, you'll want to start using these options to organize your feeds into folders, choose how to display your feeds, and so on. For now, just leave everything in its default mode and click the Subscribe button.

Click for full screen.

Your new feed will appear under the My Feeds tab on the left side of the page. The parentheses after the feed's name show how many new items are in the feed.

Add More Feeds
Okay, let's add some more feeds.

  1. Click the Add link directly underneath the My Feeds tab. The Subscribe box appears in the page's right pane. If you don't know which blogs or news feeds you want to subscribe to, you can click the Directory tab to browse an extensive list of blogs and news feeds, or you can enter a name or a few keywords into the search box in the upper-right corner. (Other readers, such as NewsGator Online, let you browse by category.)

    If you do know a blog or news site you'd like to subscribe to, simply enter the site's URL in the "Blog or Feed URL" box and click the Subscribe button. Do that now.


  2. Click for full screen.

  3. If the site you entered publishes an RSS feed, Bloglines finds it and lets you subscribe just as you did in step 2 above. If the site publishes more than one RSS feed, Bloglines displays them all and lets you choose one or more to subscribe to. If the site doesn't publish an RSS feed at all, Bloglines tells you so.

Although most RSS readers can auto-detect RSS feeds as described above, not all of them can (and not all sites that have RSS feeds support the auto-detect function). If yours doesn't, you'll need to go to the Web site you want to subscribe to and locate the feed's URL there. You might need to try a few different things.

  1. Look for this or this icon on the Web site and click it. You'll be taken to a page that contains a URL that looks something like this:

    http://www.serverpipeline.com/rss/all.jhtml

    Copy and paste it into your RSS reader's Add a Feed window to subscribe.

  2. Of course, not all sites include the handy orange icons. If you can't locate these, search the page or site for "RSS," "XML," or "Syndicate," or go to Google and search for the site's name with "RSS" after it -- e.g., "new york times rss." Then follow the step above.


Bloglines Tip
Rather than go back to Bloglines every time you want to add a feed, have Bloglines come to you. Just follow the instructions on this page to add a Sub With Bloglines link in your browser's bookmarks toolbar or Favorites menu.

Then, as you're surfing the Web and you find a site you want to subscribe to, just click the Sub With Bloglines link and follow the usual steps to subscribe.

Read Your Feeds
Now you've got lots of feeds. Time to read.

  1. Click a feed's name in the left column, and the news items for that feed will appear in the main window.

  2. Click for full screen.

  3. As you skim the list of headlines and blurbs, you can quickly decide which articles you want to read. If something catches your eye, just click the headline and the full article will open.
  4. Bloglines assumes that once you've looked at the list of items in your feed, you don't want to keep them unless you take action:

    • To add the item to your own blog or save it in a special Clippings folder for later, click the Clip/Blog This link.
    • To keep an item in your "unread" list, check the Keep New checkbox. The item will remain in your items list until you uncheck the same box. Use this option when you don't have time to read a story but don't know whether it warrants saving in your Clippings folder.
    • Click the Email This link to e-mail the item to a friend or colleague.

    If no action is taken on an item, it will disappear from your list of items when you return to the feed.

Other RSS readers behave just the opposite. NewsGator Online, for instance, keeps items in the feed until you mark them as read, indicating that you're no longer interested in them. You can click a Mark All Posts As Read button to remove all current items from a feed simultaneously.


Bloglines Tip
To change how many items appear on your feed page, scroll to the bottom of the page. There you'll see a pop-up menu that lets you display items from the last hour, 12 hours, day, week, and so on. When you've made your selection, click the Display button.

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