Atma Xplorer

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Save time with RSS

For internet-going people, frequenting to their favorite websites is fun, informative and to say the least, time consuming. Checking for updates on 20-50 sites is a daunting task that can take anywhere from an hour to all your free time. Instead of jumping from site to site, find a way to have all the updates condensed into a single, easy to read form.

What is RSS

RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. As the technology improved, pretty much anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS- a wiki’s changelog, your e-mails, etc. Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program, an aggregator or an online reader (more on that later) can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

RSS feeds are usually composed of the headline, snippets of the post or the whole article and the link to the originial post. On sites that are constantly updating content (news sites, social sites, etc), it allows users to digest a far greater amount of information in a smaller amount of time.

How to use RSS?

There are two ways to read RSS feeds. One is using a program installed on your PC and the other is an online reader.

Web based

Web based aggregators are typically web applications that reside on remote servers. Because the application is available via the Web, it can be accessed anywhere by a user with an Internet connection.

In addition to personal aggregators, planet sites are used by online communities to aggregate community blogs in a centralised location. Such sites are named after the Planet aggregator, an application designed for this purpose.

Some popular web based aggregator are:
Google
Bloglines
Netvibes

Client software

Client software aggregators are installed applications designed to collect Web feed subscriptions and group them together using a user-friendly interface. The GUI of such applications often closely resembles that of e-mail clients, with three-panel compositions where subscriptions are grouped in a frame on the left, and individual entries are browsed, selected, and read in a frames on the right.

Software aggregators can also take the form of news tickers which scroll feeds like ticker tape, alerters that display updates in windows as they are refreshed, or as smaller components (sometimes called plugins or extensions), which can integrate feeds into the Operating System or software applications such as a Web browser.

Some popular Client software aggregator are:
Feedreader
Feed Demon
utorrent (yes, the bittorrent application)
Firefox, Opera and IE7

Here’s a snapshot of my Netvibes account:

Screenshot of my netvibes account

Post your favorite RSS reader in comments and tell us why it’s the best choice.

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