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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The joys of Google Reader and RSS feeds, explained in full detail.

If you have any problems following this, comment below and I will reply.

I blogged recently about various Google products. I have had some very positive results from one of these products which I would like to share with you
This is Google Reader. To access it, just search for “Google Reader” with or without the quotes.
The best way to impart my experiences is to tell you how I use it.
Google Reader is in essence a single page with a narrow column on the left with all your subscriptions and when you click on a particular subscription, all the new documents are shown as one liners with just the title.
A subscription is an RSS feed you have subscribed to. All large news websites have RSS Feeds, as do most Weblog providers.
I now have nearly 50 different RSS feeds I subscribe to, At this stage, you are probably wondering how long it takes me to read them all, especially when it must be a few hundred. OK: 6 to 10 minutes – but more about this later.
Google Reader brings in all the information that interests you to your desktop from around the web, so you don’t have to go out there searching - that presupposes that you can remember all the addresses in the first place!
First of all, I manage my website addresses by putting them in various folders within Google Reader. I have, amongst many, one for“News”, one for “Technology”, one for “Linux” one for blogs, one for “Politics” etc. The subscription list on the left then groups them all together.
Let us just look at “News” as this is the most prolific. I started out with all the newspapers but then began deleting them one by one until I ended up with a few that cover everything. I have “Reuters” and “Sky News” for the important stories, “The Telegraph” for the interest stories, such as “Polar Bears in the Arctic” or “Insects are very nourishing to include in your diet” and suchlike. Finally, I have “News24″which is South African based and of interest to me.
When I go into Google Reader each morning I first open the lesser sized folders and here I tend to read about 10% of the articles as they are of interest. Then I open the news folder with at least 200 items of news. First of all, for two whole minutes, I run my eye down the “one-liners” and at the end of that time I have a pretty good idea of what is happening in the world. If I am busy that day I mark all the rest as “read” as I have enough information to know what is happening in the world, (do I really need more) but if not so busy I may open up the window of half a dozen of them. This shows me the first paragraph of the article. If I want to read further, I click on the heading and this takes me directly to the newspaper page, where I can read the article. But I seldom need to do this.
Throughout the day, if people talk to me about what is happening in the world, I have a pretty good idea, and haven’t had the expense of purchasing a newspaper or spending hours reading them!
This would only really be of interest to the busy person. If you have lots of time on your hand, you can spend it watching the television news and buy and read newspapers.
Some websites don't have an RSS feed and, although mine does, for an example, go into Google Reader and open the subscriptions button (on the left had side at the top) type in and you will always be notified when I post another blog. 
Now that you have one web address on your reader, you will at least be able to check out how other parts works. Go to your favourite newspaper site and check if they have an RSS logo to click. It is usually a little orange square with curved white lines over one corner. If it hasn't, copy the URL (website address at the top of your browser page) and paste it into the Google Reader subscription box as described above.
Now you have two RSS feeds. And, the beauty of this is you can have as many sites as you like!

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