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RSS - How useful, and how easy to use?

Okay, I admit it.  I am *not* the first person to try out new stuff.  I only found out what RSS even *is* a week or so ago.  (I have small children at home; RSS isn't on the radar.  I am, however, quite well-versed in "Oswald": is anyone else waiting for Henry to meet that elephant and say, "Hi Laverne"?)

So anyway, how time-consuming/annoying is it to set up an RSS aggregator?  Is it more like setting up email, or will I have to haul out my XML book and re-learn SAX to get it configured?  Any recommendations on good, free aggregators?

Also, exactly how useful is RSS?  I mean, what will it do for that I can't do now?  (I know I could Google for all this, but this is the only board whose members think remotely like I do...)

Grumpy Old-Timer
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I use SharpReader from http://www.sharpreader.net
You can paste in the URL to an RSS feed, click Subscribe and away you go. It's just like browsing newsgroups using something like Outlook Express. Not difficult.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

There are lots of good aggregators available; the one I like is Feed Demon, which is still in beta but should be gold shortly and is expected to retail for around $30...not free but cheap considering the quality of the product. It's a snap to set up, simple to use, no programming or technical knowledge necessary.

Probably in a few years RSS aggregators will be built in to most major e-mail programs, the way newsgroups are now.

Basically the usefulness of RSS is that you can use the aggregator to quickly review all new material on whatever sites you want to track (provided they offer RSS feeds).

Some people are saying that RSS will replace e-mail as a way to deliver online newsletters. Right now most RSS feeds are free of advertising, but that's starting to change -- I noticed an ad in InfoWorld's RSS feed this morning.

Brad
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I forgot to mention what it will do for you that you can't do now: it will let you view the lastest content from a whole bunch of sites in one go. Far more convenient than having twenty browser windows open.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If you read dozens of news sites every day, like I do, an aggregator will let you scan your list and see which ones have been updated. This saves me visiting each site to determine if there is something new.

Meine Hosen sind hervorragend!
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I use PopCircle (http://www.PopCircle.com) to broadcast information.

Opus
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

RSS: Pointcast all over again

Ankur
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Comparing things to PointCast can be amusing, but you're way off here. Anyone that would say something like that just doesn't get RSS and what it can enable.

Meine Hosen sind hervorragend!
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I use http://www.newsgator.com

The things I realy like most about it are:

- Integrated in Outlook, so I can use all of Outlooks features (find, forward etc.)
- Puts a "Subscribe in Newsgator" item in the rigth click on link context menu in Internet Explorer, so if you are on a website that you like and has RSS, just rightclick on the orange RSS link and you're subscribed.
- Has basic newsreader build in, so no more extra newsreader program nescessary if you are only a light news user.
- Superb support directly by the developer.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

"Comparing things to PointCast can be amusing, but you're way off here. Anyone that would say something like that just doesn't get RSS and what it can enable."

Why don't you explain the differences rather than simply implying grand advantages of RSS that only the insiders can understand?

I'm with the other person in that this is another of those "everything old is new again" type of phenomenas -- We went through this whole "push" cycle 6 or 7 years ago (97 was the big "push" year), when push was the big new thing and everyone tried to envision its use everywhere and for everything, and investors insisted that every company integrate push into their products. Remember it was a huge new feature of Navigator (Netcastor?), IE 4 (see CDF), etc. Of course, in actual use it went over like a lead balloon.

http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-CDFsubmit.html

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Could you elaborate. I never used PointCast.

- How hard was it for me to set up a Pointcast update page on my webserver?
- Were there many PointCast clients available?
- Was everything direct server -> client, or was there an intermediary?
- Was interesting content available?

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I think the original comment was more generally referring to the big push fad of 96-97, which was a fad that was kicked off by Pointcast, however it isn't the most appropriate example. Pointcast was a single feed from a single company, and that was expanded out by Netscape and Microsoft, among others, to be configurable feeds from various points, aggregating in your browser so you could choose from the channels which content you'd like to follow, etc.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

What have RSS to do with push technologies?

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

RSS is people taking the notion of push and making something useful out of it.

It's interesting.  It's there so that people can syndicate other site's content on their page.  So you can go to Slashdot and make that your homepage and still be able to keep up with 10 or 20 different other pages.

It's also a great form of advertising for sites.  If I syndicate slashdot on my page, it's a great way to have people who wouldn't go to slashdot ordinarily hit the site.

It's pretty simple to add it to a site, especially if it's already XML or a database.  So blogs and wikis generally have RSS feeds now.

I think the main reason why RSS caught on is it's a great way to keep track of blogs, which is the latest social movement on the 'net.

Flamebait sr.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Still don't like the meaning of "push" that we are using here. RSS is still a pull technology, no matter what resemblance can have with some push technologies from the past.

As a side note, RSS can be very dangerous if not used properly... (lots and lots of bandwidth wasted by badly written rss clients, for example, or dumb rss feeds that change every  5 minutes.)

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Becoming an "insider" is not hard. If you don't like to read lots of news sites, you won't care about it. If you do, get an RSS aggregator, add the feeds for all of your favorite sites, and then you'll understand.

You'll also understand when you do the same thing on your cell phone, and it still knows which things you've already read.

Another way to understand is to work somewhere, like I do, that uses weblogs with RSS feeds as a knowledge managment system.

It's not about pushing, it's about automatically pulling only what you want, and the ability for anyone to become involved with little technical knowledge. If you haven't been paying attention, we've already gotten past the ham radio phase of blogging about blogging, and are now doing useful things with these technologies.

Meine Hosen sind hervorragend!
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Of course very few technologies are actually "push": Pointcast would, at a schedule, download the newest news for the topics that you wanted information. CDF again was called a "push" technology when really it is very similar to RSS (indeed, one wonders where the hype was back in 1997 when Microsoft was pushing CDF). I guess my point is that push is definitely a misnomer, but it's what is often used for those sorts of technologies.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I find RSS less useful than most other people do:

I have 20 or so sites that I like to browse often (at least weekly, often daily). So I put them all in one mozilla "group bookmark", and when I want to review them, I just click that bookmark, and voila, I have 20 tabs, being loaded in the background, through which I can click pretty quickly - only a few seconds more than if I used their RSS feeds (not all of them have one, though - so it's more useful).

Yes, it's less concise and I do get the graphics and not just the headlines. I like it that way.

Try it guys; Mozilla, Firebird (and I suspect Opera too) can make your browsing and getting-up-to-date much, much more pleasant.

Ori Berger
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Ori, that's how I used to do it, but then I found a nice module for Firebird that adds a sidebar RSS aggregator. It's much easier to just scan a list and click on the ones showing the "updated" icon.

I can't remember what it's called, but you can find it in the registry of add-ons on mozilla.org.

Meine Hosen sind hervorragend!
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

What RSS feed software who can go through our company proxy? I don;t know how the configuration but for instance only Internet Explorer only be used to browse the web. I think it got some script accessed from IE.

meiling
Tuesday, September 02, 2003

meiling,

i use a progam called Awasu http://www.awasu.com . it uses the internet explorer dll's to grab content. To get it to work with my company's proxy, I needed to tick the security option "Enable Integrated Windows Authentication" in internet explorer-> Internet Options -> Advanced.

I haven't used other readers so i don't know what they're like, but i find very useful is the JOS forum rss feed which is available via a plug in to awasu.

ko
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

http://www.newsmonster.org/

Mozilla/Java

fool for python
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Ori,

An aggregator saves me the trouble of having to scan the sites to see if anything changed. If you anly go to sites that update more frequently than you visit them, and everything is on the front page, your method is probably fine. If you have lots of sites that change less frequently and less predictably, or changes are on many pages throughout the site, the an RSS solution really shines.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

"I found a nice module for Firebird that adds a sidebar RSS aggregator."

Opera 7 has one of these built in too.

Brad
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Mozilla is cool
BTW. there is also feature "add to bookmark & check every N minutes if page is changed".

Mozilla will notify you if page changed. But .. it will not work for dynamic pages :( Same as dynamically generated RSS do.

Notification could be - 1) dialog box, 2) change of bookmark item. "2" is the best to clik on Bookmark group and see what was changed resently :)

And RSS - people from jabber.ru developing Jabber-rss agregator service. It deliveres updates as "message type=headline" and shown correctly in "headline list" of jabber client (like JAJC or Tkabber).

Nekto
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

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