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Super-Quick Tutorial on RSS Feeds

Background

There are two ways to get information: someone sends it to you (think email), or you receive it because you request it. "RSS" is a way to request updates (a one-time setup) and then to have your computer/device request it and download it automatically. RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. And yes, it really is simple.

An "RSS Feed" is simply a way for you to tell your computer (or iPad, Android tablet, or smartphone) to see if there is anything new at a website you want to follow. The software takes a look at the RSS feed on a schedule and brings in anything new it finds there. It's just that simple.

How It Works

An RSS Feed can be monitored by your browser, your email program, or special software known as an "aggregator." They all work with just about equal ease, so you can use whichever type fits your needs best.  

RSS aggregators for your mobile device — iPhone, iPad, or Android device

With an aggregator app, you can monitor lots and lots of your favorite websites, news sites, and other sources of information using one of these clever, sophisticated, and easy to use apps. Most are free. Here are three alternatives:

  1. Popular: For your iPad, Android tablet, or smartphone, one of the most popular apps for keeping up to date with RSS feeds like ours — as well as from around the Internet — is an aggregator app known as Feedly. It is available from the iTunes store or the Google Play app store. It's free.
  2. Better: For Android smart phones and/or tablets, we prefer BeyondPod or Podcast Addict from the Google Play app store. We like both of these better than the popular Feedly, but they all work just fine. Again, both are free, but there are advanced features if you want to purchase them.
  3. Deluxe: A full-featured option for browsers (I've only tested with Chrome) that includes all kinds of customization (for $4.99/month) is RSS Feed Reader by Feeder.co. Sort of overkill for most people, but if you really need it, it's great.
  4. Easiest: An even easier email alternative if you use Microsoft Outlook for your email (and lots of other email programs can do this, too) is found below.

You "point" your aggregator to a special file on the site from which you want to receive feeds. This is a one-time setup. Your aggregator app will take a peek (typically once a day) at this special file to see if there is any new content. If so, it will download the new content automatically! Sweet!

Copy the URL address below and follow the easy instructions in your aggregator app to set up the RSS Feeds you want to follow. If you want to setup your email as your RSS aggregator (instructions below), use the same URL addresses in this table.

Content you want updated automatically by your RSS aggregator

Here is the URL address you will need to copy and paste into your RSS aggregator

First, we have an RSS Feed specifically for members of LensWork Online that will inform you of any recent additions to our membership website. https://www.lensworkonline.com/recentadditions.xml
If you'd like updates only on our audio podcasts and Here's a Thought… series, use… https://www.lenswork.com/podcast.xml
And finally, you can learn about each new installment of Brooks' project, Kokoro, by using… https://www.brooksjensenarts.com/kokoro.xml

 

Receiving RSS feed updates in your email program

Each email program is different, so consider this an example rather than a detailed instruction. Let's say you are using Microsoft Outlook for your email — as no doubt many of you are. Over in the email section where your Inbox is, look for the folder labeled RSS Feeds.

Right-click on the RSS Feeds folder and then click on "Add a New RSS Feed..."

A "New RSS Feed" dialog box will pop up that asks for the location of the RSS feed. It looks like this:

Use the URL address from the table above to add the RSS feed of your choice. For example, the RSS Feed location for LensWork Online is https://www.lensworkonline.com/recentadditions.xml . Type (or better yet, copy and paste from the table above) this in and click the "Add" button. You will be asked to confirm this with the following dialog box . . .

Click on Yes. That's it!

Outlook will take a peek at our RSS Feed file (usually daily, but you can set this up differently if you want to) and when it sees new entries, it will automatically download them to a special email folder called LensWork Online Recent Additions. (This way they don't clutter up your email InBox.)  It all works in the background, just like email.

You can then choose to read the feed right in Outlook, click on the "View article" link at the bottom to open the RSS Feed location in your browser, or delete the item if it is of no interest to you.

Outlook will even tell you how many unread posts there are.

Handy!

Repeat this for each new RSS feed you want to follow and be automatically informed when updates are posted.

Other email programs work similarly. Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora, Intellect!, and most others can track the RSS Feeds you want to follow. All you need to do is to set up each feed and then look for the inbound content. Unfortunately, the one really popular email program that doesn't do RSS feeds is GMail.  

That's it! Have fun and let us know if you have any questions.

Brooks Jensen
Editor, LensWork Publishing