Blogging


I thought I’d done a fairly thorough job of demonstrating the use of Bloglines. But Preetam Rai has gone the full monty on this one by teaching you how to keep track of blogs, news feeds, podcasts, Yahoo! Group messages, Flickr photos…yeah, all with Bloglines.

Check out his in-depth tutorial here.

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This final installation of How To Subscribe To A Blog (Part 2) will add a few minor details that you might find useful.

ADDING A RSS FEED IN BLOGLINES

Let’s start by taking you over to the newly acquired YouTube by Google. It’s a short tutorial on how to add a RSS feed in Bloglines. Yes, it’s different to the way I showed you in Part 1.

HOW TO READ YOUR WEB FEEDS IN BLOGLINES

Once you’ve a few RSS feeds added to your feed reader (for this tutorial, Bloglines is used as an example again), you’ll want to know how to read your web feeds. Click here for your tutorial.

SAVING A POST IN BLOGLINES

If you happen to like a blogpost that you’re reading on your feed reader, and would like to save that post in your feed reader, here’s how to do it in Bloglines. You should have a similar feature in your feed reader, if you’re not using Bloglines.

MANAGING YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS IN BLOGLINES

Get your feeds organized into folders. The fun in visiting your feed reader can fizzle out the moment you find your feeds piling up in all directions, and suddenly finding yourself spending more time finding your feeds, than reading them.

You can sort your feeds out at the stage of adding a feed itself, or after. Here’s how to do it after adding a feed, assuming many of you might have already added a feed without organizing them into folders:

  1. Click the feed you want to put into a folder.

  2. Now look at the right window pane of your Bloglines feed reader. Near the top-right hand corner, you’ll see something called ‘edit subscription’.

 Screenshot 1

  1. Click on ‘edit subscription’. You’ll see a pop-up like the one below. Look for the drop-down box with the title ‘Folder’.

 Screenshot 2

  1. Click on the drop-down box. Choose ‘New Folder’. A javascript prompt will ask you to type in the name you want, for your new folder. Type the name in and click ok.

 Screenshot 3

  1. Now click the ‘Update’ button at the bottom of your pop-up ‘edit subscription’ window and you’re done.

Up to this stage, you’re practically ready to add, organize and read blogs that you’ve subscribed to without worrying about anything else.

But if you’re the kind who gets a high from tinkering with added features, feel free to look all the way down the left pane of your Bloglines window.

 Screenshot 4

Click on each link to read and follow the instructions Bloglines gives. That is, if you so choose to use any of the added features. It’s there to make your Bloglines experience a little more pleasant.

Not to marginalize those who are not fond of Bloglines, allow me to take you to a great tutorial that guides users on subscribing to feeds, using other types of feed readers and browsers.

This should do it for subscribing to blogs. If you’re in doubt about anything that has been covered, feel free to post your comments or shoot me an e-mail.

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I’ve been told time and time again by my daddy, “not to make things harder than it already is.” That was during my hormonally-charged, incorrigible teenage years. Today, I find it difficult to ignore the significance of that statement.

I should not make things harder than it already is for you. You must be stretched for time. So if I’m able to help lighten your load a little, I’ll do it. I understand that some of you are still unfamiliar with the concept of syndication and subscribing to a blog. This post will walk you through the process, step-by-step.

If you’re ready to subscribe to a blog, I assume you’re already familiar with the term, RSS. If not, here’s a little refresher course for you.

Syndication, from an RSS point of view, is simply put, sending you the latest updates or changes from a website or blog. And how do you receive these updates? Through something called an aggregator or feed reader.

You’re going to need a feed reader if you’re going to subscribe to blogs. There are desktop feed readers, which you have to download to your Mac or PC, and the slightly more popular, web-based feed readers.

I shan’t go into detail about the features of each feed reader for obvious reasons, but I will point you to a resource that will (The feed readers reviewed there are only web-based).

For desktop-based feed readers, I would recommend the following:

·        FeedDemon – Windows based (it’s not free)

·        Pluck RSS Reader – Windows & Mac based (Free)

·        NetNewsWire – for Mac users. Integrates well with the Safari browser (it’s not free)

The choice of feed readers is entirely up to you. But for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to demonstrate with a feed reader of my choice, Bloglines (a FREE web-based reader). I will walk you through subscribing to a blog which, I believe to be worthy enough of sitting in your feed reader – ChalkTalk (talk about shameless!). Alright, let’s get started!

Creating Your Account With Bloglines

1.      Go to Bloglines.

2.      Click on Register.

 Screenshot 1

3.      Fill out the short form to create your account. Click Register and follow Bloglines’ directions. It will send you an e-mail to verify if it was truly you who signed up or your mischievous computer-literate cat.

 Screenshot 2

4.      Check your e-mail account now and click on the confirmation link which Bloglines had sent you. Congratulations, you’re now an official Bloglines account holder.

5.      You should now be looking at Bloglines’ recommendations of feeds, nudging you towards adding them to your new feed reader. If it’s relevant to your interest, then add them. If not, don’t clog up your reader with unnecessary feeds.

6.      If somehow, you’re not already logged into your account yet, you can do so now.

 Screenshot 3

Subscribing To A Blog With Your Bloglines Feed Reader

7.      Now let’s try subscribing to ChalkTalk.

8.      Upon logging in to Bloglines, you will see a page that looks like this.

 Screenshot 4

9.      Look at the left pane, with the three tabs. Notice that My Feeds is highlighted. You should also see a single default feed from Bloglines in your feed reader if you had not added any feeds yet.

 Screenshot 5

10.  Go to the ChalkTalk blog now.

11.  On the right, you will see a column showing Subscribe Here with four orange buttons.

 Screenshot 6

12.  Click the top most button which looks like the one below.

 Screenshot 7

13.  The next page you will see, is this.

 Screenshot 8

14.  On the right side of this page, you’ll see a box that says, Subscribe Now!

 Screenshot 9

15.  Look for the button that says SUBBLOGLINES and click on it.

 Screenshot 10

16.  It will now take you to your Bloglines feed reader with a page that looks like this.

 Screenshot 11

17.  Scroll all the way down to the bottom of that page and click the Subscribe button. For the moment, don’t worry about setting your Bloglines preferences. You can play around with that at your own leisure. But, I would suggest placing your feeds in folders; for organizational purposes.

 Screenshot 12

Voila! You’ve just completed a subscription process. You will find your feed on the left panel of your Bloglines’ My Feeds page.

Part 2 of How To Subscribe To A Blog to follow.

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Now that you understand what a blog is, I think its time I introduce you to its engine, a turbocharged 12-cylinder 750 horsepower (but purrs like a pussycat) file format called, RSS. If the name is not menacing enough, well, it was not meant to be.  RSS Logo

Why would you be interested in getting to know RSS a little more intimately? After all, most of us rarely lift the bonnets of our Fords, Toyotas, BMWs, Hondas to understand how and why engines power our car the way they do. There’s just not enough time in a day and moreover, we just don’t want to get our hands dirty.

Well, RSS is a little more different than a car engine. Let me correct that; it’s a lot more different. If you’re planning to start a blog, paying attention to RSS will guide you towards increasing your reader base and potentially turn you into something of a cult figure in the eyes of your readers. Vice-versa, it will help you keep track of blogs you find interesting – without having to fire up each blog individually. This means, you don’t even have to visit the blog you plan to read at all.

How is this possible? By using something called an RSS feed reader, sometimes known more menacingly as ‘the aggregator’. But however its called, its job function is exactly the same.

If you’re a news junkie, then RSS is like a Godsend. With fresh news dripping into your RSS feed reader faster than the time it takes to decipher a Rumsfeld’s press statement – you’ll be taking your news addiction to a whole new level.

Take the time to read this short primer on RSS. If you’re pressed for time, then just watch this video. It will take about 4 minutes, but contains enough information to instill in you the confidence to take on RSS once and for all.

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Blogging

One of the simplest explanations of what a blog is can be found here.

Once you’re done reading that, I suppose you would want to know how a blog compares to a website. Sheila lays it down nicely for you here.

If you’ve still got doubts about what a blog is or what it does, post your comments and let’s clear it up.

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