If you’re reading this then you’re officially a member of the information age. You’re a driver on the information super highway but stuck in the slow lane.
So how do you keep track of all the news, entertainment, and information available on the internet these days? Click, click, click, click, and 47 more clicks? Or, just one click?
Over the past couple of weeks we’ve come to know our neighbors better. It’s some kind of bonding thing that occurred following our evacuation in the wildfires around San Diego.
What I came to find out is our neighborhood has more Mac users than I suspected. About one in four. The rest are Windows PC users, with the lone exception of a Linux user way down the block, at the end of the cul-de-sac. They’re loners, I guess.
Following the fire scare, we had a couple of neighborhood block parties to get to know one another a little better. That’s when I started asking neighbors what kind of computer they use, and why. Just for grins, I also asked each one if they use an RSS reader, and which one.
Not surprisingly, only one Windows PC user knew what RSS was, and a handful of Mac users recognized it from using Safari. Mac360 trumpeted the usage of RSS years ago so we consider it rather common. Guess what? It’s not.
Many computer users can’t even spell RSS. Some Mac users found it almost by accident in Safari.
Yet, nearly everyone who tries out RSS, whether in Safari, Firefox, or with a standalone RSS reader, loves it. Why?
RSS is one of those simple little protocols with a huge impact. Think of it as the HTTP of information getting. RSS is also known as RDF Site Summary, also as Really Simple Syndication, and sometimes as Rich Site Summary. Sometimes you’ll hear or read the term RSS feed, or “web feed” or “channel” or syndication.
At a basic level, RSS is a headline and summary of a web site or recently updated news or information from a web site. You can subscribe to RSS feeds using Safari or a standalone RSS reader, such as Vienna (you were wondering when I would get to something useful, right?).
Apple was wise to include an RSS reader in Safari, which, by the sheer numbers of Mac users, exposes the technology to even more people. Vienna is one of those highly recommended Mac utilities which is also free. Would you expect less from Mac360’s Value Vixen?
In a nutshell, Vienna is a very straightforward Mac utility with an uncluttered, easy-to-understand interface. Vienna uses the same built-in browser as Safari, so the web pages you see in Vienna will look familiar.
Using Vienna is pleasant. It’s uncomplicated. Navigate your browser to a web site, find the RSS feed link (Safari will identify the link by the little “RSS” button in the bowser’s link window). The idea is to find those RSS feed links and collect them in Vienna.
Once you have a few dozen or few hundred RSS links in Vienna, you can organize them however you wish. Vienna will check each site on a regular basis for updates, and download the summary for you to view. Of course, there’s more bells and whistles than the RSS reader in Safari, but the basic idea is the same.
One utility on your Mac tracks your web sites for updates, and downloads what you want, when you want it.
You don’t even have to go back and forth to Safari to view the pages, as they’ll show up in Vienna as if a proxy for Safari.
The advantages of using an RSS reader become obvious once you’ve added a few RSS feed links, whether to Safari or to Vienna. One place displays everything you want to see each day on the web. No more 47 clicks to find the day’s news, headlines, gossip, entertainment, or updates. The RSS reader does it for you, collects the web page information and puts it in one convenient place.
If you could not spell RSS before today, then take a look at what Safari gives you. Click the Safari menu, then select Preferences, then click on the RSS button. When you come across a web site with an RSS feed, add it to Safari. When you click on Safari’s RSS menu, you’ll see all the RSS feeds in one place, one page.
Vienna lets you graduate from the basic Safari RSS reader to a utility with many more features and capability, yet Vienna retains the simple nature of RSS.
The Mac has probably a dozen or so RSS reader utilities available. There’s Safari and Firefox and other Mac browsers with built-in readers. Then there’s the standalone readers such as Vienna. Did I mention that Vienna is Open Source, and free?
Do you use RSS? If so, which RSS reader? Safari? Firefox? A standalone RSS reader? Talk Back to Mac360’s readers and leave your experience in the Comments section below.