Last month I mentioned in my opening
comments that TechTrax was now a member
of the RSS world. I didn't have time for lots of details at that time. In
this article, I'll explain what all this means a bit more and how you can
take advantage of this new technology.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. And what it does is allow publishers
who have something to say, to say it in a manner that passes their words
to the people who want to read them. As I explained last month, rather than
you having to go to all those individual web sites to search for the information
you want to read, you can subscribe to various news and information
services that offer RSS feed, and when new information is available, it'll
automatically be added to your RSS reader. This means that you are
immediately notified when new information is available, thereby saving you
surfing time. For a further description of what RSS is all about, check out
Daffron's article: Answers
to Your Questions - RSS in Computor
Companion. (And for those of you on the more geekier side, who might want
to learn how to code your own RSS feed, see James Bryd's article: Write
Your Own .NET RSS Feed in C#, also in Computor
The only problem I see, personally, as a publisher, is that a lot of folks
might not bother to enter their name as a subscriber. To me, that means I
might have a lot more readers reading TechTrax than are listed in our free
subscriber's database. I mean, why bother asking for a notice when you'll
automatically get the information sent to you via your reader...no official subscription
to the individual magazine web sites necessary. But at this point I don't
see a way around that fact. Well, other than saying you can't enter our drawings
if your name isn't in our database so we can count you!<evil smirk>
How to Use an RSS Reader
As more and more folks jump on the RSS bandwagon, there will surely be more
and more readers available. And, although most are free now, they'll probably
start charging you once you're hooked on their product (or bombard you with
ads)! For now, I'll show you the one I'm currently using: RocketInfo.
Rocket is a web based application that provides me with the info I have listed
in my subscription list. But as I also told you last month, there are others.
If you prefer to have one that works as an addin to Outlook so all your important
news articles will find their way to a special folder in Outlook, Greg likes
Newsgator, which you can get here: http://www.newsgator.com/.
And if you're running a MAC, Ranchero Software puts
out a Net News Wire reader for the MAC that you can get here: http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/ .
With RocketInfo, you just need to go to their web site, which you should then,
obviously, bookmark. Or better, create a shortcut on your desktop. This will
add a direct link right to their site.
Create a Shortcut to TechTrax RSS
To add a direct link on your desktop to
RocketInfo, right click on your desktop. Choose New > Shortcut from the mini
menu that will appear, as shown below.
A dialog box will open. If you were creating a shortcut to a file, you could
then browse to that document. But since this is a web shortcut, just
enter the URL into the input box, as shown in the following image.
If you want to just go to the main RocketInfo site, you would enter this
However, you can also enter a detailed shortcut that will go to the site
and immediately open the current article being passed from TechTrax.
To create a shortcut directly to TechTrax, use this URL:
After you enter the URL, click Next. The dialog box shown
below will appear. Here you can enter any name your little heart desires.
This is the name of the shortcut icon that will be displayed on your desktop.
Once named, click Finish.
You'll now see an Internet shortcut on your desktop, using the name you entered.
Click to open this shortcut and you'll not only zip over to the RocketInfo
page, but the available article in the current issue of TechTrax will be
displayed, ready to access.
Note! Realize that if you use a Popup Blocker to get rid of all those annoying
advertisements that appear when you go to various web sites, you'll need
to temporarily turn that off when you use the direct TechTrax shortcut.
This is because the article will be displayed in a separate popup once
you arrive at the RocketInfo site.
To temporarily turn off your popup blocker, hold down the
Ctrl key when you click a link.
True, you could just create a shortcut right to TechTrax Ezine (using this
without all the fuss of setting up a Reader. The advantage to using an RSS
Reader is that you can subscribe to many news articles
from many sources
and they'll all show up in the same location. This makes keeping up with
the tons of information you want...easier!
As you can see in the above image, you can not only read TechTrax, but also
Lockergnome and other top services.
In fact, TechTrax was recently approved by RocketInfo and is now listed as
a featured RSS source!
If you don't find TechTrax, or some other service in which you want to subscribe,
you can click the Subscribe button and enter the RSS feed
URL that you want, as shown below. Of course, you'll need to know the
correct RSS URL before you can enter it. But if you contact your news source,
they should either have a link on their site or you can ask them if they
offer RSS feed.
To add a subscription to TechTrax, if you can't find it in the listing, enter
the following URL into the new Subscription dialog box:
In a recent issue of FreeTechMail,
the Editor, Deb Alloway, predicts that RSS feed will replace email newsletters.
I agree. Rather then having to sign up for dozens of newsletters
and have them emailed to you, you'll just need to add their RSS feed URL
to your reader and updates will be available to you upon publication.
I'm sure most all newsletters and ezine will be available to be delivered
to you this way...in the future.
Isn't it nice to know, however, that when it comes to TechTrax, the future
is already here!<wink>