Cyberdude: News and views – as you choose!
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) helps the systematic pumping of information, making the business of keeping yourself informed a relatively easy task. Puneet Mehrotra shows you how...india Updated: Jan 23, 2008 02:42 IST
As the World Wide Web evolves, its huge bank of information grows as well. That could potentially confound people, but thanks to technology developing further, the accessibility of content to us as readers or users is becoming more and more easier. Thanks to newer technologies like XML syndication and applications like RSS, ATOM amongst others we can get the information we seek, from the sites we want, at our convenience on our computers as well as our cellphones.
In other words, suppose you are a gizmo freak but you don’t really have time to browse ten different Internet sites a day, all you need to do is subscribe to the XML feeds which can be in the form of RSS or ATOM and have updated content delivered to your computer or cellphone without you having to visit any site. Saves precious time and is very convenient too.
What exactly is RSS? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and in reality is a very simple and lightweight XML language format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. RSS is a win-win between Website publishers and the reader. For the site RSS is a great way of broadcasting updated content. For the reader it is a smart way to access updated content. Similar to RSS, there is another format called ATOM which allows you to choose and receive updated content.
The working of RSS is very simple in three steps. 1) Choose your feed or topic 2) Fetch the RSS feed notified by the publisher 3) Feed it into an RSS reader on your computer or cellphone, which often can be done by clicking on a feeder icon.
Suppose you are interested in subscribing to the Hindustan Times RSS feed. You can simply go to http://www.hindustantimes.com/RSSFeed/RSSSubSectionPage.aspx and choose the topics of your choice. These RSS feeds can then be fed into any RSS Reader of your choice. And you are done. Whenever there is an updation at the Website you will automatically be delivered an update “pushed” to your cellphone or desktop, without your having to log in to the site. Many RSS Readers are free, and include ones offered by well-known sites like Google and Yahoo.
Suppose you are not sure which sites you should subscribe to you can also do this topic wise. Simply go to your RSS reader. Suppose it is Google Reader (www.google.com/reader), and you want the latest updates about stock market news, you simply feed in ‘BSE stocks’ and you can then choose the feeds for your reader to fetch the content. Here are a few good readers you could use.
One of the best RSS readers is Google Reader. It’s Web-based and its simple-to-use interface is great in terms of usability. Simply go to www.google.com/reader and use it to fetch the content of your choice. You can even share your feeds with your friends if you would like to. It goes with the Google account. With a Gmail account, you can do a lot, from blogging to reading RSS feeds.
If you want a computer based “Microsoft Outlook” type of an e-mail experience without logging on through a browser, then RSSBandit is a great reader. Available for free download at www.rssbandit.org it lets you organize folders, keep content for offline viewing and flag items, besides letting you manage identities and preferences of different users.
Video and Music RSS
For the tech savvy lot who wish to listen to video and music there is FireAnt, an RSS video aggregator and media player that can automatically download media content for you to watch and listen to. Its features include plays back any media format and more.
If you are a sports freak and want to watch the latest sports videos there is Streaming Stats 4. You can use it for getting the latest news, sports, soccer, and cricket content direct to your desktop. The application also includes live feeds for news, sports, odd news, English premier league, champions league, and cricket scores.
One of the most popular RSS readers is NewzCrawler. Available in a free and a paid version NewzCrawler also has a Podcast Receiver that makes Internet broadcasts easy to consume. There are other popular readers you could try such as Feed Demon, Bloglines and Awasu.
With so many choices and yet you are lazy to download a separate RSS reader you could simple use NewsGator which works with Microsoft Outlook e-mail software.
It populates your Inbox folders with headlines from subscribed channels and organizes itself quite well with your current Outlook. If you wish to read RSS feeds on your browser then Internet Explorer 7 already has built-in RSS support. For those use using an older version of IE you could use Pluck.
RSS feeds on your cellphone
Your cell can be literally a bank of information on your chosen topic. High end phones like Sony Ericsson K790i, the Sony W Series and some Nokia models already have a built-in RSS reader which lets you decide the content fetch frequency besides other features. For those phones that do not have RSS capability, you could simply download small applications like Mobispine, DeliciousMona or News-lite and turn your tiny phone into an encyclopedia. Happy reading!