Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How to Read Blogs and Not Waste Time, Part II

Today I want to continue talking about reading blogs. For a long time, I just created a big links list, a “blogroll” of other blogs I was reading, and I’d just click to those one at a time. The problem was, that took a long time, clicking, loading, reading, and half the time there wasn’t any new postings at the blogs I was reading.

Then I learned about RSS. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. It’s basically a way that you can keep track of sites with regularly changing content, like blogs, news sites, webcomics, etc. without having to go there every time. You simply check your RSS reader program and it will tell you if there’s anything new or not. If there’s nothing new, you can skip that site and go on to the next one that is new. Pretty cool? Great timesaver!

Unfortunately, I’ve not found it to be “Really” simple. I think I’d call it “PSS” for “Pretty Simple Syndication”, or “SSS” for “Sorta Simple…” you get the idea. It’s all relative, ya know? Setting up and using RSS IS simpler than, say, configuring a server, troubleshooting a bad hardware driver, or even negotiating a lasting arab-israeli peace treaty. But not by much.

Nonetheless, once you’ve set it up and gotten the hang of using it, it is a much more streamlined way of reading blogs and keeping up with things you’re most interested in.

First, you have to have a program capable of reading “RSS feeds”. There are a lot of programs out on the market today that you can use for this, many of which are programs that you might have access to already, others of which are free. MyYahoo! is one of these programs. You can set it up to access feeds you’ve subscribed to. I find this one to be a bit clumsy. Microsoft Internet Explorer, V7.0 is also set up to subscribe to RSS feeds, but I found this one to be even more difficult to understand and clumsier to use.

By far the system I’ve found that is the least amount of trouble to setup and use (though it’s not as feature-rich as others) is the “Live Bookmarks” feature of Mozilla FireFox. As a website owner (and I’m assuming that most of you reading this are here because you want your own websites to do better), you should have FireFox on your computer anyway, because it’s good to be able to view and check your website in both browsers (MSIE and FF). If you don’t have it, go to and download it for free.

Once you’ve gotten or chosen a system that can read RSS, go to the blogs that you like using FireFox as your browser. If the blog has an RSS feed available, you’ll see this logo:

It will be much smaller, of course, and it will be at the far right-hand end of the browser address bar, like this:

When you click on that icon, it will ask you how you want to save all of your RSS feeds, and you’ll select “Live Bookmarks”. Then it will ask you where you want to save them. In your “Bookmarks Toolbar, you’ll create a folder called “Blogs I Read” (or words to that effect), and save it in there.

Then, up under your “View” menu, point to “Toolbars”, and make sure that the “Bookmarks Toolbar” is checked.

Go on, and add the RSS feeds of all the blogs you’ve been reading into this folder.

Then, when you go to read your blogs and keep up on what’s going on in the world, you can simply go up to the Bookmarks Toolbar just below your address bar, click on the “Blogs I Read” link there, and it will drop down all the blogs and sites you’ve added to your RSS reader. Roll the mouse down the list. As it crosses each blog, a menu will pop out to the right showing the list of the most recent updates to that blog. You’ll be able to see the title of that posting, and decide if you want to click on it and read it or not. If you’ve already read it, roll on to the next one and see if there’s anything new there!

Having a way to run through all the blogs and see which ones have updated and which ones haven’t is a big, big timesaver. And that’s what these two articles have all been about. Reading blogs WITHOUT wasting time!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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