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Subscribing to Website Updates
Do you sometimes wish that instead of having to go to the NSW Fencing website to see if new material has been added, you could be notified whenever the site is updated?
Well, you can.
The NSW Fencing website is equipped with an RSS feed. This is the same technology used by blogs, news sites, and numerous other pages on the Web. You can normally tell if a site has an RSS feed, as it will display some form of RSS logo:
An RSS feed is basically an extra document that lists all the changes made to the site. If you open this document, you can therefore see a record of what has been done on the site (though if you are using an older browser, it may look like gibberish: newer browsers display it in a readable format).
More importantly, though, the RSS feed generates individual messages every time the website is updated. You can receive these messages by email, or by a specialist programs, websites and browser plugins known as feed readers.
Whichever method you use, when you want to subscribe to a feed, you will be asked to enter the location of the feed. For NSW Fencing, this is:
If you are only interested in receiving the feeds for one or two websites. then you will probably find that email is the most convenient option. But if you like to follow a large number of news sites, blogs, etc, then a feed reader may suit your needs better.
Some email programs, such as Outlook 2007, are set up to receive RSS feeds as emails. In your email program's Help file (or instructions manual) look up how to subscribe to a feed. When you get to the bit that tells you to enter the location/name of the feed, type in http://www.nswfencing.org.au/feed.xml.
But don't despair if your email program doesn't have this functionality built in (e.g. pre-2007 versions of Outlook). It may still be possible to install a plugin that does the job: a Google search should tell you if a plugin is available.
And even if this is not the case - or if you don't feel techo enough to install a plugin - there are numerous third-party organisations that can arrange (free of charge) to have any RSS feed sent as emails. Try doing a Google search, on something like "RSS email". When you find a service you like the look of, you will need to provide your email address, and the location of the feed you want: the NSW Fencing feed is at http://www.nswfencing.org.au/feed.xml.
There are even some organisations that can send your feeds via SMS!
NOTE: As with any other third party organisation, do read the terms and conditions and make sure you are comfortable with the privacy levels offered before providing them with your email address/mobile phone number.
A feed reader gathers all your feeds into one place, so you can check on them together, rather than looking at each website individually (or getting a massive number of RSS emails). There are several different types of feed reader available.
There are feed reader websites that let you set up an account, and then subscribe to all the feeds you are interested in: a popular website feed reader is Google Reader, though there are many others available. Website feed readers have the advantage that you can access your collection of feeds from any computer in the world.
However, you may be more comfortable with the idea of installing a feed reader program, such as FeedDemon (Windows) or NetNewsWire (Mac), on your computer. In addition, most modern web browsers now have a feed reader incorporated, or available as a plugin, and you may find that this suits your needs best.
Whether you are using a website, an installed program, or the feed reader function of your browser, the method for adding a feed is basically the same. You look for a button or link marked Add subscription or New channel (or something of that nature), and then enter the location of the feed you want to subscribe to. In the case of the NSW Fencing, this is http://www.nswfencing.org.au/feed.xml.
If you're not sure which type of feed reader would be best for you, try reading The Web-Based vs. Desktop-Based Newsreader Showdown.
Page last updated 17 August, 2009
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