So I want you all to know about RSS. Yea, I know it's been around for a while, but it's starting to gain popularity and get to the Critical Mass point so it's time to explain it to you all that don't know about it yet.
Basically what RSS allows is a way to keep track of a websites changes. You use a RSS reading tool to subscribe to the website via a RSS feed address (more on these later) and when the website changes, it posts a message to the RSS reading tool. You can have any number of sites registered in the tool so what you end up with is one interface to all the sites you are monitoring.
The beauty of the system is that the sites not only send a message that they changed, they send the actual change as well. What this means is that for example a blog would send a message to the reader with a copy of the new post. This is what is driving the adoption of RSS, blogs.
And this is what I'm going to make you try. You're going to pick all the blogs you follow daily and you're going to put them into a RSS reader and then tomorrow when you go to read them all you will have them all in one place. It's quite cool.
So lets talk about readers first. RSS reading is being built into everything. The new version of Safari (for the mac) has it, Firefox (my favorite PC browser) has had it since it was released and of course there are other standalone RSS reading tools as well. I've tried them all and the one I like best is a web tool called Bloglines.
Bloglines lets you add and organize your RSS feeds via a simple to use web interface. So essentially, you browse to your Bloglines homepage and there are all your feeds. What's nice about this is that you can check it out wherever you have a browser and you don't need to be at your home PC like if you were using a browser or email plugin. So this is what I want you to do, go there and set up an account (of course it's free) and then come back here.
Ok, addresses. Most every major website has an RSS feed. You can find the link to it by looking for a tiny graphic labled "XML" or "RSS" or similar. What you should do is click on the link and then cut the address out of your browser address bar. This is the RSS address for this site. You go back to Bloglines, click on "add" and then paste the address into the address box. From there you click on "subscribe" and you are done.
Bloglines provides shortcut for Blogger and Livejournal blogs in that you only need to enter the username of the blog you are interested in (try "Trace2000").
Once you have the addresses in your account, it will continuously update itself so you will know when anyone posts into a blog (or website). It will also show you the number of posts. It's quite cool.
There are other features that you can explore like sharing your feeds with others and the like. For example, I've placed a section on the sidebar "What I'm reading every day" that is generated by Bloglines. Also you can see all of my feeds here.
Be careful, you may be birthing a new addiction!