I have been trying to write about this for a week now, finally kick it up. Many of us out there use some sort of aggregator to quickly see what is happening in the news and the bloggosphere. If you aren’t, you should. It is a fantastic way to see what is being written. I have about 15 or so blogs, as well as news sites and sports sites, on my aggregator. I can easily see what is happening over at Little Miss Attila or the Captains Quarters (among others) or some news, rather then surfing, and I know when there is something new or updated. I add some and remove some, as they interest me.
Me, I use Feedreader. I find it to be easy to use, updates fast (like marsupials, for Bob and Tom fans), and, it’s free. Here is an interesting article, which includes some aggregators and some links, from CNET, and here is a good, long list of the readers that are out there. Pick what works for you.
Next, you now need to find the feeds. Most blogs seem to have a feed. Some don’t (hint, hint, Powerlineblog, Right Wing News :)) On one had, that is good, on the other, bad. I will get into that later. Look for something on the web page, whether it be blog, news, tech, etc, that says "syndicate me," or XML, or RSS. Click on it. If it takes you too another page that has lots of weird writing, you just copy and paste that as a new feed in your reader. As a side bar, you probably want to create different categories for your feeds. If no page shows up, then you will have to manually type it in. Click on mine, up near top left. Says Syndicate this site (XML). You get a download box. Click cancel. Put the pointer over the link. See down in the bottom left corner of IE, it says http://piratescove.typepad.com/piratescove/index.rdf? That is what you would type in as the feed (hint, hint). Now you have a feed. Next, you go and set up how often you want it to update, how many headlines to keep, and so on. Depends on your aggregator. Go for it.
What are you seeing in the reader? It is the "excerpt." Most blogs have excerpts set up automatically. If you do not, check, because someone might be syndicating you! You know when you take a look at who is tracking back? That is an excerpt (if I am patronizing you, I apologize. Just want to make sure that anyone who reads this has the full 411.) Don’t make yours too big, or too small. 40-50 words is a good length.
BUT, a big part of the web is how many hits you get. We get ranked by links, not traffic, at the TTLB. But, it is nice to have traffic, right? Here is the problem. There is no page view to the site, as registered by Site Meter, unless you click on the "read more" link! So, you have your favorite folks syndicated, but you aren’t hooking them up with traffic until you click the "read more" link. What I do is to click on at least one link a day, even if there is nothing new, or anything that floats me sloop. I also do this from my blogroll on my blog, for those I do not syndicate. I did check with Site Meter about this issue, and they said that a click on the read more button does count.
I hope that helps a bit. Let me throw a few other miscellaneous tidbits your way. Programs you must have:
- anti virus program. Lots out there, some free with your Internet connection. My personal recommendation is to get the MacAfee version. I had Norton, and I am about 1000% more pleased with MacAfee’s performance. Norton used to tell me that I had a virus, but couldn’t remove it. I am pretty good with fixing that stuff, but it takes time, and, with all due respect, the knowledge of the OS. Not everyone wants to play with the registry. I also back up to 4.5MB DVD RW+ disks about once a month or more. I have MacAfee Security Center, which has anti-virus, firewall, and spam-blocker, among others. Pop on down to Circuit City, Best Buy, where ever, pick it up.
- a pop up blocker. I use Pop-Up Stopper, but, I also have the version they charge for now, has a few extra features. Try their current one, or search at CNET downloads.
- a firewall. If you do not have one, you cwaaaazzzyyy. MacAfee Security includes one, which is what I use on my WiFi’d laptop (the router also has one). On my desktop, I have it too, but I also use (and have always used) Zone Alarm. It is free, and top ranked. One other benefit is that it allows you to monitor traffic from the task bar, which is why I keep it on my desktop, giving me 3 firewalls.
- a spyware killer. My personal favorite is Ad Aware. The new SE Edition is incredible, and removed spyware that the previous edition did not. Again, you can search CNET, there are many others available.
There are sorts of other good programs out there, but, maybe later. One last hint: do not use Windows XP to burn to CD. Get a program. I have blown my CD burner 2x doing that.
Update: I have now switched to using Bloglines for my RSS reader. It is server based, so all your links reside on their server, not your individual PC. This means that you can pull them up on multiple computers. Give it a whirl, maties!