igoogle


Back in July of 2007, I taught a class that dealt with a number of “Web 2.0” topics including RSS. Why am I bringing this up again? Because if you are not taking advantage of RSS, I think you should. How can it help you? Well, for instance, I often send out emails when I post new articles on this blog. If you don’t get my email, you don’t know that I have posted something new. The beauty of RSS is that every time something new is posted, it is sent to you.

Here is an explanation of RSS from Wikipedia:

RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blogentries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”, contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually.

RSS content can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader” or an “aggregator”. The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.”

So, isn’t that cool? I certainly think so. I have subscribed to a number of “feeds” myself and find it very convenient. I use the Google Reader, but there are a number of other options. Click here for a list of aggregators. I actually have created an iGoogle page and include my Google Reader as well as my Gmail account (which I use for online purchases and anything I might sign up for online). (Can you tell I am a Google fan?) Yahoo has a similar setup though, if you already have a Yahoo email account.

Once you decide to set up an aggregator, how do you find “feeds” to subscribe to? As you surf the web, look around at sites you often go to. Do you check the news on CNN frequently? Maybe you just want updates on national news. You can have those fed to you as they come in to CNN. Look for links similar to these:

RSS

Add to Google

By clicking on the right image, you can add the feed to your aggregator.

So, it’s a new year, let’s try something new! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to make a comment here or email me: collinsj@mycitylibrary.org.

Among the thousands of free programs available on the Web, how do you find the best, most reliable ones for your needs? I love to read PC Magazine as most of you have probably realized by now. I often find their tips quite useful. In fact, I enjoy their tips so much that I get regular updates from them on a number of topics. I thought I would share with you an article that came out this year: The Best Free Software. They have recommendations for all kinds of applications, from photo editing to DVD burning to word processing. At the end of the article, there is some information on how to protect yourself from malware when downloading free applications.

I use a number of free applications myself. I especially like Spybot – Search & Destroy. This program detects and removes spyware. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven’t intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been “hijacked” (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. 

I also love Gadwin PrintScreen. This is a program I use all the time at work to capture screenshots. There is a professional version that you have to pay for, but the free one works great and is so convenient and easy to use. Instead of hitting the Print Screen key on the keypad and getting a picture of the whole screen, Gadwin PrintScreen makes it easy to get any area of the screen. Very cool!!!

I might as well mention the Google Reader. Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. It can be used in most browsers and there is no software to install. I use Google Reader as part of my iGoogle page which also includes my Gmail account. IGoogle is a personalized page that gives you at-a-glance access to key information from Google and across the web. You can choose all sorts of content to add to your page including the weather, movie show times, news headlines and a lot more. Gmail of course is Google’s email which I use when I have to give an email when I sign up for something or make a purchase.

Ok guys, I was looking at my feeds on my iGoogle page and saw this headline from Cnet News. You have got to check it out! Fake caller ID: Fun, legal and easy to do . What will they think of next? I’m sure as I did, you can immediately think of interesting and/or fun ways to use this little trick!!

Janice