RSS is a relatively new type of way to get news and such on the internet. Few people know of its existence – or its broad range of uses – so I thought it would be fitting to introduce it to you as well as review a program that works extensively with it. If you are one of those who do not know much about RSS, here is a link to explain it a bit more thoroughly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format)
RSSOwl is an Open Source program that reads RSS feeds and displays them in an organized list of categories, making it easy for the user to work with and separate different newsfeeds. It can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/rssowl/
What separates RSSOwl from other forms of RSS readers is its capabilities. It has a broad range of settings that allow for easy customization, allowing you to set how you want feeds displayed, how often you want to check for new newsfeeds, and categories for easy organization. It offers tabbed viewing, so you can view multiple feeds within one window.
When you download the program, it comes with a variety of pre-configured RSS feeds from various sources, which are available on the left directory tree. Some feeds of interest that are pre-configured (like Slashdot) can be found under the software and technology sub-headings.
Configuring it to read newsfeeds from other sites is quite simple – all you have to do is type in the address of the syndication page (if a site allows syndication), and it will read from it. Pretty simple, huh?
You can also view multiple feeds in PDF, RTF, or HTML format. This allows for easy printing of multiple items in one feed. It is very handy for something like the “Tip of the Day”, as you can print it out for easy retrieval.
RSSOwl has a pretty cool “favorites” feature, which works very similar to your browser favorites. If you have it set to update feeds manually, you can add your favorite newsfeeds to your favorites and be able to update them all at the same time.
It also has search functionality built in. This can come in handy if you are looking for a certain piece of news or a Tip of the Day that slipped away. It saves a lot of time compared to digging through all your newsfeeds.
Did you just get RSSOwl set up the way you want it, and a virus trashed your hard drive? I hope you made use of RSSOwl’s export feature to save a backup of your newsfeeds to a floppy. It allows you to go back and import your settings after a fresh install of the program has been loaded.
Some other newsfeeds of interest include:
* PCMech: PCMech itself has recently integrated an RSS syndication on the news, new articles, and even offers their “Tip of the Day” by RSS. If you look on the homepage, you will see orange buttons that say RSS on them. If you hover your mouse over them, it will show you the address you need to link RSSOwl to.
* Bungie (Halo 2): Many fans have become fanatical about their stats while playing online games. Bungie integrated a “Stats by RSS” feature that will send your personal stats to you in an RSS feed. It’s a very cool idea, and it works well. (If you view as a PDF, you can print a string of your stats very easily, too!)
* Slashdot: Get geek news by RSS! It is a great feature to have, because I can wake up in the morning, open up RSSOwl, and read current tech news without much trouble
As RSS becomes more popular, it will be used much more in web sites across the internet. RSSOwl is a great way to start out using RSS, and I highly recommend it to readers. It is clean, efficient, and stable. Download it, and give it a try for yourself!
The PCMech.com weekly newsletter has been running strong for over 8 years. Sign up to get tech news, updates and exclusive content - right in your inbox. Also get (several) free gifts.