What is important to me, as a web user, programmer and community member, is the ability to access information both online and offline. I have long used the internet as a means of keeping in touch and keeping up to date, whether through reading British and American newspapers, writing email, using Skype to talk with family or keeping a blog going. If I want to know what’s on television this evening, it’s more likely that I’ll open my laptop and pull up the television channel website than open a newspaper or use teletext.
That said, there is a part of my day when I can’t access the information I need directly: when I’m travelling to and from work. As I’m not travelling on Intercity trains between Bern and Zürich, which are due to begin providing wireless internet access shortly, I have to be prepared and work offline for two hours each day, when I have a lot to do. (Every day, at the moment).
I’m keeping abreast of technical developments in the online world through a couple of blogs, for a number of reasons, and my lifeline for offline reading is RSS). RSS allows me to download articles and information in the background whilst my computer is connected to the internet, so that I can read them (or listen to them) at my leisure. I have subscribed to the Chris Moyles podcast, which gives me the essence of this BBC Radio 1 show without the unnecessary music, news and travel reports. The show, which is automatically downloaded to my laptop whenever a new show is published, is for relaxation, but I am also subscribing to technical websites which publish video and text content too. It’s taken me a while to get into RSS, but it’s a boon. I no longer have to spend (waste?) time visiting websites to see if there’s an update: instead, I just have to look in my RSS list to see which are highlighted. In this day and age, when more and more people are becoming busier and busier, RSS is for everyone, not just the geeks. Since Microsoft released version 7 of Internet Explorer, even less experienced web users can subscribe to RSS feeds and see immediately (well, within 30 minutes) when a new article or show has been made available.
The RSS feed for this blog is here, by the way. I will be endeavouring to update my blog a little more often and with RSS, you’ll be able to see how often I’m managing it.
» RSS in Internet Explorer for users of Internet Explorer 7
» RSS for Apple Mail/Safari (Mac users)
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