After my earlier post on being able to stalk me, I've had literally a couple of people asking me to explain what RSS is after I included it in the list of ways to keep track of the blog.

Fair do's.

I included it without explanation because it's something I use a lot at work. Unforgivably, I assumed everyone knew how to use it. I was probably thinking that if an idiot like me can use it, everyone can.

So, here's Phil's guide to RSS...

To save the hassle of checking lots of websites to see what's been updated I use something called an RSS reader. I use Google Reader* as it's browser-based, so I can look at it on any computer with an interweb connection.

This tells you when there are new items on the sites you've told it you want to check (in my case mainly news sites).

Most news sites and blogs have an RSS button. To add it to your reader, simply click on it and copy the web address it gives you. For Google Reader, you then go to your reader, click on “add subscription”**, paste the address into the box and click "add".

Then you'll see the “feed” in your reader, which will be updated when something new is put on the website you want.

At the risk of sounding like I'm talking to a child, you do have to have your reader on to see updates. I know there are a lot of technophobes out there, so I'm trying not to isolate you.

Not sure comparing your mental capacity to a child is helpful, but there are also technophiles out there who probably think this is so very 2002.

When a new story comes up, some sites let you read the whole thing in the reader. Others (including this one) only give you the first few lines, so you have to click to go to the site to read the whole thing.

If, like me, you keep any eye on lots of feeds (in my case about 60) it saves lots of hassle. Also, you can usually create different labels/folders for different feeds. This means you can, for example, group all your sports feeds under one label, your news ones under another.

If none of this makes sense, just use one of the other ways, unless you fancy emailing me to try to explain it to you in a better way.

Alternatively, the BBC have a decent guide that might make more sense than this gibberish.

* Needs Google Account, which is free, and you can use it for Gmail, Google Docs and loads of other web-based stuff (I hesitate to use the term “cloud” for fear of confusing people even more).
** “subscription is just the term used for the RSS feed, it doesn't mean you have to pay anything!

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