What the Heck is RSS?

OK, I understand what RSS is and the whole syndication deal. It sounds brilliant. Yet I don’t use it. I don’t know any of my friends who use it (at least they don’t talk about it much). But it still sounds brilliant. Every day, multiple times a day, I go through every blog in my list of bookmarks (30+ sites) looking for interesting tidbits. Every time at least 50% of those blogs haven’t been updated. Seems like I’m a prime candidate for a news reader.

So today I signed up with Bloglines, a web based news reader. For those of you who I’ve lost, basically it works like this. Most blogs publish a file that has their most recent updates in addition to the entries you read. A news reader takes this file and displays the newest updates to you. So you have the advantage of only having to see what’s new and updated. You don’t have to go the news, it comes to you.

So I signed up with that today and subscribed to most of the blogs I read. Yet it seems a bit weird. This blog, for example, only gave entries from last month, as if my blog had stopped publishing a news feed last month. I’m not sure if it’s just funky because it’s new and it needs to be whipped into shape or what. Several blogs were like that, not always giving me the newest posts. I know Bloglines only crawls sites at most once an hour, but I think it’d do better than once a month.

Anybody have any insights? Anybody use a news reader to keep on their favorite blogs? Anybody reading this blog in a news reader? Anybody know of a better newsreader than bloglines? Anybody know what I’m talking about? Anybody listening?

11 thoughts on “What the Heck is RSS?”

  1. I use a news reader called ‘straw’, but its only for linux or other unix-like OSes that can run gnome applications (now for sure most of your readers are lost…). It scans the feeds I’ve given it to scan every 10 minutes (something you can change to whatever frequency you’d like) and supports pretty much all of the various RSS like formats out there. I’ve been using it for all my blog and news site reading for a couple months and really can’t image life without it. So much easier than actually going to web sites and looking for new content.

    I know there are quite a few nice feed readers for the mac, but I think most of the nicer ones are pay-for apps. On windows I’ve used desktopsidebar briefly, but it wasn’t terribly useful on the PII 266 machine it was installed on.

  2. Bum-ba-da-buuuummmmm! Mac OS X RSS lover to the rescue!

    I actually came to this blog through NetNewsWire Lite, which is completely free and completely Mac OS X. It’s bigger sibling, NetNewsWire (further up that same page) is fancier and also costier.

    You’ve also got PulpFiction ($25) and PulpFiction Lite (free) to choose from. Both great apps. Very new. Very cool.

    Safari is going to support RSS in Tiger, when Tiger comes out in the first half of 2005, so you won’t even have to leave your browser to get a collected feed of all your blogs with one click.

    Or, if that’s not enough, just search for RSS over at VersionTracker’s Mac OS X site, and see what comes up.

  3. I’ve been using Kinja (kinja.com) to keep track of all the blogs I like to keep track of (including yours, Kevman). But it has the same issue as Bloglines, apparently. The posts are never really that “current.” I’ve used NetNewsWire before, but it’s an app, not Web-based. So I guess I’ll keep using Kinja, until a better solution presents itself …

  4. I use FeedDemon. It checks for new posts automatically every 3 hours, or whenever I first open it (or ask it to). It keeps me very up to date with the many, many blogs I read, and I seriously couldn’t live without it… well… not reading the number of blogs I do.

    I’ve got posts from your blog from 2/3/04 in there but those are cached locally. Your RSS feed only goes back so far to save bandwidth ;-)

    My biggest pet peeve of late? Blogs I want to read that don’t have a feed. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen. Luckily many have feeds but don’t know it or link it. Once I figure out what software they are using, I can guess at the feed URL. I’m so l33t ;-)

  5. Hey I use NetNewsWireLite. It has actually upped my productivity (that’s not saying much but…) Now instead of wasting time polling all of the sites I visit looking for updates. I use RSS to tell me when sites are updated. I use RSS to tell me when my friends have blogged and when people have commented on my blog. In short it rocks! Unless of course you like wasting time checking up on sites every few minutes or so.

  6. Hmmm… apparently a lot of you do use RSS readers. I tried it this morning and Bloglines showed only 2 blogs updated. Sure saves a lot of time, though I have a sneaky suspician it wasn’t exactly acurate. We’ll see how it goes.

    I signed up for Kinja, but I must be stupid. Either that or it stinks. The “add to Kinja” bookmarklet didn’t work at all, though I’d be willing to chalk that up to some Mac problem. So I’d have to manually enter every site. Ug. Then the display is lame. No customization what so ever. And how do you drop read entries off the screen? Doesn’t seem as useful as it could be.

    And I’m eager to see the RSS reader in Safari. That’s the way it should be.

    Sheesh, all this time devoted to being more productive.

  7. I think once you got all your feeds set up in NetNewsWire Lite, you’d prefer that to having to log into a website and do it that way. It’s very slick, and it has the same kind of little dock icon indicator for new posts than Mail does for new email. In short, you never ever have to go checking any website. You don’t even have to bring NetNewsWire to the front to know if you need to look.

  8. Bloglines offers the same kind of in-the-dock notification. And when i click on it it opens Safari and I’m already logged in, so it’s pretty simple. I think what I like best about Bloglines is the ability to sort and rename and manage my blogs the way I want to. Kinja just gave me a list, which isn’t very helpful, and I couldn’t rename them. So when someone puts “Blog.” in the title of their web site, that’s what you’re stuck with. Bloglines lets me edit that.

    I’m also not so sure how I feel about never ever visiting a web site. Certainly it’s my choice, but I kind of like visiting each different site, noticing the slow, incremental design changes, seeing if anyone has commented recently.

    I think for me the ideal news reader would figure out which blogs have been updated, and then load them up in separate tabs in Safari. That’d be swell.

  9. You’re right, “Blog.” is a totally stupid title for a blog. What kind of moron would use that for a title?




  10. Sorry to single you out, but you were the best example. But let me tell you, you’re not the only one:

    The Place Where I Say Stuff
    The stuff in my head.
    The Structuralist Surreal

    You end up having to strike a balance between creativity and practicality. Some of us are tipping the scales in that battle.

  11. Oh, and just for the Mac OS X surfers who come by later after everyone else has read this, a new RSS reader by the name of NewsFire just came out today that seems really cool.

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