How to use this site’s feeds

See also: weblog, about the author.

If you’d like to see the latest updates to this site without having to come by every day, there’s an easy and convenient way to do it: you can use a program called a feed reader in combination with “feeds” published here, and it’ll let you know when there’s something new to read. If you already know what that means, you’ll probably want to go straight to the instructions. If not, bear with me for a moment and I’ll explain.

Feeds, aggregators and other interesting wildlife

If you spend much time online you’ve probably noticed that, after a while, it gets hard to keep up with all the things that interest you. Each time you find a site you like, that’s another site you have to bookmark and check on regularly; eventually you just don’t have time to keep track of them all. So wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way for those sites to let you know when they had something new?

As it turns out, there is: all the site has to do is publish a special file called a feed, which lists all the latest items posted to the site. Sometimes they’ll go by strange names like “syndication feed”, “RSS feed”, “Atom feed” or “XML feed”, but as long as you see the word “feed” it’ll be OK. A lot of sites now are also switching to using a standard icon to show that they offer a feed; sometimes you’ll see it in a page, and sometimes you’ll see it next to the site’s address in your browser. It will look something like this (expect some variations in color and size):

Universal feed icon

When a site offers a feed, you can have a program called a feed reader automatically check on it several times a day and let you know when there’s an update. You can tell a feed reader program to watch as many sites as you like (this is called subscribing and, despite the name, it doesn’t cost you any money), so this can be a huge convenience.

There are lots of good feed readers out there, and many of them are free. Some run on your own computer, while others run through a website, so you don’t even have to download anything to use them. Like feeds, feed readers sometimes go by lots of names — you may see them called “aggregators”, “news readers”, “feed aggregators”, “news aggregators” or some other big word — but they all work the same way: you just tell the feed reader what sites you want to subscribe to, and it does the rest. If that sounds good, check out this list of feed readers and find one you like.

OK, so how do I subscribe?

There are two main feeds for this site: one for my weblog entries, and one for my links. Depending on how your particular feed reader works, you have a few options for subscribing:

The specific feed reader you use may also provide other instructions; in that case, follow them.

Here is the link for the main feed:

There are a few other feeds around the site (for example, one for each category of entries in my weblog) as well; wherever they’re offered, you’ll see an icon just like the ones for the main feeds above.