Friday, 12 September 2008

Some info about my blog feeds

Lately I've decided to finally join the 21th century and start using feeds to read the blogs and news sites I'm addicted to, rather than hop on from site to site hoping something has been updated. Why did I wait for so long? I'm not sure, but I think the main reason was that most newsreader programs, whether desktop or web-based, looked too much like e-mail clients. Reading news or blog articles to me is an experience that is very different from reading e-mails, so I just ignored the whole RSS feed phenomenon altogether.

However, as the number of sites and blogs I went through everyday was growing too much for my manual way of doing things, I realised I needed some automation, and decided to look again at this news feed thing.

After looking very hard, and eliminating some obvious contenders (mainly Thunderbird and Google Reader, which still look too much like e-mail clients. Although in Thunderbird's case, the reason is quite obvious!), and thinking hard about the fact that I'd like my feed list to be synchronised between the various computers I use, I settled for Brief, a Firefox extension which basically transforms Firefox's Live Bookmarks facility into a simple but efficient desktop news reader. And since it uses Live Bookmarks, Foxmarks takes over the job of synchronising my feeds between computers.

So, now that I was set up and enjoying my increased blog reading productivity (I am now following 48 feeds. Switching to a newsreader was past due!), I thought of the people that might want to follow my blog via their newsreaders, and realised it was not optimal for them. For this reason I did some small changes behind the scenes, and added a Subscribe widget under my profile widget on the page.

But if you want to do it manually, here is the feed's URL:

You needn't worry about Atom or RSS: the feed is automatically translated to the optimal format for your newsreader.

A few months ago, someone asked me whether you could subscribe to the RSS feed for a specific tag (or label, if you use the Blogger terminology). At that time, I thought it was not possible, but it actually is, and here is the kind of URL you need to do that:

  • Atom 1.0 feed:
  • RSS 2.0 feed:

Just replace tagname with the tag you want to subscribe to. There's a list of the tags I use on the right column of my blog, and I try to be both consistent and slightly redundant when I use them, so you should be able to use them without missing a relevant post. Note also that those feeds are not automatically translated, so you need to specify it if you want an RSS feed rather than an Atom feed.

So people, I've given you all the needed tools for comfortable newsfeeding. Fire up your newsreaders!