On Nov 12, 2004, at 11:53 PM, Phil Tomson wrote:

> I've been meaning to get 'into' this RSS thing for a while now, but
> haven't thought too seriously about it until the last couple of weeks.
>
> So for those of us who are only just now figuring out that there's a
> party going on out there (which has apparently been going on for quite 
> a
> while now - so I guess I'm fashionably late :), how does one get in?

Start by getting yourself an aggregator. There are tons of free apps 
around, you might want to pick one from the list at 
http://blogspace.com/rss/readers or just Google around. I'm a Mac head, 
and my aggregator of choice is NetNewsWire Lite.

Alternately, you can setup an account on a web-based aggregation 
service, like http://bloglines.com/ . Same thing, only on a web site.

Use the various RSS URIs ( like 
http://rubygarden.org/index.cgi/index.rss ) to subscribe to a few 
starter feeds. You could start with the list at 
http://rubygarden.org/ruby?RssFeeds , though that misses quite a lot, 
too. You'll find yourself reading entries that refer to other sites, 
then subscribing to those new sites' RSS feeds. Typically my 
subscription list slowly grows, and then from time to time I get 
disgusted with my info bingeing and I try to pare down the subscription 
list. (I have the same problem with magazines.)

> Why is it that web pages will have an RSS link which only brings up a 
> bunch
> of XML in your browser when clicked?

What I do with those (using Safari on Mac) is right-click those links, 
select "Copy Link to Clipboard", and then switch to NNW and subscribe 
to that feed. Yeah, you're not really meant to read it in a browser, 
though some browsers make it easier to scan through XML files than 
others.

> Do some browsers double as aggregators
> and thus allow you to subscribe by clicking on the 'RSS' link?

Don't know of any yet, but I believe that browser from both Apple and 
Microsoft will have more RSS integration in their next major versions.

> Do these
> 'aggregations' get emailed to you or do you start up a tool that goes 
> and
> looks for them?

Usually you start up the tool. You can get them emailed to you, but 
that usually gives you less control over your time. Besides ruby-talk, 
I'm not actively involved in a lot of email lists. I prefer blogish 
conversations more, because I get to make a harder separation between 
personal messages (email) and group messages (blogs). When I'm trying 
to focus, I shut down my aggregator and only have the email running in 
the background.

> What if you're wanting to get these RSS feeds on multiple
> machines in different locations?

Then a web-based service, like bloglines, is probably a better match 
for you.

One cool thing is that RSS has all sorts of bizarre uses besides just 
content from a single author. PubSub Concepts, for example, is a 
company that has lightning-fast, free searching of millions of data 
sources, and you can make URIs that represent feeds for strings you're 
looking for. For example, this URI gives me every time it finds the 
string "Francis Hwang", usually within hours of the content being 
posted:

http://rss.pubsub.com/e7/93/819df23244dbc3a86c3fa46306.xml

Sw33t.

F.