Monday, September 3, 2007

Tech Tip of the Day (Courtesy of Pike Speak)

Several people have asked me if it is possible to 'subscribe' to a blog on Blogger, so that we don't have to continually check and see if someone has updated. Even though there is no way to technically 'subscribe' to a blog - there is a cool way to keep track of people's blogs and who is updating.

Thanks to my friend Barry Pike, I now know a way to keep track of all my favorite blogs and other websites.

Barry says [with my comments in brackets]: "It is through the use of an "aggregator" (which is a fun word just on its own merits). An aggregator is an online service that you can access that goes out and collects the "feed" from any number of websites and blogs that you specify. There are several aggregators out there and while I can't tell you which one is necessarily best, I will gladly tell you about the one I use. I use Bloglines, which I learned about from Kem Meyer at a Willow Creek Church seminar that I attended over the summer.

First and foremost, it is free!. Essentially the way it works is that it enables you to set up a personal Bloglines page on which you select the sites that you would like to monitor, or "subscribe" to. Every blog of any type, and nearly all other websites, too, feature some kind of syndication feature, the most common of which is RSS ("Real Simple Syndication"). Basically, several times a day, Bloglines sends an inquisitory ping to all of the websites on your subscription list to see if the site has been updated. If it has, that site will appear in bold font on your Bloglines page and you can then click on it to check it out. When you click on it, a basic, kind of raw version of the website shows up on the screen. Then, you can click again if you like and go directly to the website. Or not. So it is possible to quickly and efficiently keep up with any number of blogs and websites with out wasting time. Kem actually has a couple of hundred blogs and sites on her page that she monitors; I have about 35-40, myself. By no means does that mean she necessarily reads those sites all of the time, but the point is that IF she wants to, they are under her fingertips.

For example, on my Bloglines page I have subscribed to most of the blogs listed on my blogroll as places I like. But instead of having to actually go to each website every day to see if my favorite blogs have been updated, all I have to do is access my Bloglines page and it tells me if it has. I don't have to check Steve's
[my uncle] blog everyday, for example, just to see if he's got something new [good thing, Steve hasn't been updating much lately!!]. Also, it is super easy to add and delete sites from your Bloglines list. You can be reading a blog, decide you want to subscribe to it, and there is a one-click method to add it to your personal Bloglines page

Another good use of it is for news. I have subscribed to the RSS feed for the Palladium-Item
[local newspaper]. They post 10-12 headlines each day. I can quickly peruse the headlines and the first one or two sentences of a story and then, if I'm interested, I can click on a story to go read it. This is much faster than pulling up the P-I site and fishing around.

Bloglines works great. Basically, I keep my Bloglines page open on my computer all the time. Sometimes, you will get "false" notifications, but very seldom. That will happen sometimes when a blogger, say, updates or changes their blog template or customizes their site, but does not actually post. No big deal.

Kind of a long answer, but I really like this tool. It is one of the few internet things that actually gives you time instead of takes it away (heh).
[unless you're like me . . . where one click always leads to another . . .] It really saves time and effort, streamlining the whole blog experience and making it more fun and useful."

Thank you so much Barry for giving us this great Tech Tip. I look forward to setting up my own Bloglines page so I can keep track of all my friends, family, and interesting blogs.

Have a great labor day!


Barry Pike said...

You are welcome and thanks for making me famous on your blog.

I would like to add that aggregators also taste especially good deep-fried with beer batter. But then, what doesn't?

IzzyBeth said...

Thank you for giving me the great information - I am now addicted to Bloglines. :-)

Beer Batter Aggregators . . . you should patent it. Ha ha.