Jigar Mehta’s WebBlog

July 14, 2007

How to get started with Google Reader..

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigarme @ 6:14 am

You might have heard a lot about RSS these days at many places, if you have not explored that area, I would say, its worth giving some time for it now. In a nutshell, RSS is a technology by which you will be able to find updates to website(s).

Say for an example, we have M.Sc.IT blog at, (http://blog.msc-cait.org) which you might want to watch for an update.. What will be the possible ways to do so??

  • You go everyday to particular web-site and see if there is any update. (of course, this is not at all good way to get updated.. Its called pull method..)
  • Another method is push where somebody in the cloud works for you 24 hours a day and keep searching for updates on website(s) you are interested in and when something is updated you get it right there!! (either through email or at some web-interface!)

So, this Push technology looked promising and industry leaders came to conclusion about making a standard to get this thing going.. And what they came up with is RSS.

So, What is RSS?

RSS is just an XML stream. It will be respective web-site’s responsibility to update that XML stream immediately after making any changes.

  • So, its like, when M.Sc.IT blog is updated, M.Sc.IT servers will update that XML Stream (called RSS, and RSS has a location/URL e.g. our blog has URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/mscit?format=xml for raw XML stream about latest updates). This is one side of the story.
  • Another side is, we need something (some tool or website or server) who keeps on fetching for this particular RSS feed and when something is found different (than the previous fetch) it shows you alert saying “Boss, something is updated on the site, that you might want to look at..”

So, Now, lets concentrate on “Another side”.. What are various options available for us to fetch (or say keep fetching) RSS stream..

  • Desktop Softwares:
    • This is somewhat middle way between Push-Pull methodology (its a matter of debate what it is..) because though we are using RSS streams to get updated about various websites, desktop softwares will fetch the RSS stream only when we ask them to do so! (or say when automatic timer hits)
    • Example of such softwares is, FeedDemon (From BradSoft – now NewsGator)
  • Web Tools:
    • This is real Push technology where some website keeps on fetching RSS automatically every 5 minutes (or some other interval) and if update is found, it would list the update in its own interface. So, what it means is, you even dont have to go to website to read what content is updated, you can read that thing right away over there only. Cool, isn’t it?
    • Example of such websites is, Google Reader (Of course, from Google) Happy
    • Personally, Both of these (feeddemon and google reader) are THE BEST tools I could ever find in last 1 year.

So, I hope you have now got some idea about how RSS works. Now, How can you use Google Reader.. So, below is a nice demo about Google Reader by Robert Scoble (so called “Blogger”)

So, what are you waiting for? Start building your Feed Repository and regularly visit google reader for getting updated Happy

Something personal: I have around 285 RSS locations added in my feedDemon/Google Reader and I give almost 1.5 hour everyday to reader.. Happy There is a lot happening there every moment, getting ourselves updated sometimes helps a big time.

In case if you have any questions or need any help or wish to discuss something, don’t hesitate to leave comment..

Stay tuned.. Wave

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