Mac Tip #150/19-May-2004
Some 10 years ago I had a job that involved encouraging community groups to use the Internet. “The What?” they’d say as no-one had heard of the Internet at that time.
Carefully I’d explain the benefits of email and being able to communicate with others who had similar interests. I couldn’t explain about the Web as it had only just been invented at that time and wasn’t yet available in New Zealand.
Well now everyone’s using the web and email, including spammers and virus writers. It’s becoming harder and harder to communicate effectively by email.
And if you want to keep up with a subject by visiting web pages you have to wait for each page to load, sort your way through ads and images and columns of information.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get back to basics? We could just get the information quickly, skim the headlines and follow up interesting points in depth.
What say we didn’t have to sift through hundreds of spam and virus-laden emails to find the MacTips and other newsletters?
RSS feed buttons
Perhaps on some web pages you visit you’ve spotted a small orange XML button, or something mentioning RSS?
These links and buttons are the doorway to a new way of handling information. These “News feeds” let you draw down clean, “pure” information, skim it and then follow up on the points which interest you. And my favourite software for doing this is NetNewsWire.
Install NetNewsWire and open it up. There will be some example “subscriptions” in a pane on the left, but you could add my Blog. Connect to the Internet, then go to the Subscriptions menu and choose Subscribe… . Paste in this address: http://knowit.co.nz/feed .
Now see how the centre Headlines area lists my recent contributions. Click on one headline and you’ll see what I’ve written in the area below.
If you decide you want to see my whole web page then go to the News menu and choose Open in Browser.
Now let’s say you’re visiting a Mac news site such as MacNN.
You see an orange XML button on the page. Drag that button to the Subscriptions pane on the left of the NetNewsWire window and in future you can read the news items without even opening your web browser.
The button for these Tips is below the header (above).
Be sure to visit the NetNewsWire Help menu for plenty of information about the program and how to use it.
[Update 2009: NetNewsWire is also available on the iPhone and iPod touch.]
I sense history repeating itself here. 10 years ago my readers hadn’t heard of email, yet now they use it daily. This year my readers haven’t heard of RSS. I hope that within the year though you’ll all be wondering how you managed without it.