Many of you might have noticed how blogs and news sites use this nifty thing called "rss" or "Really Simple Syndication." Most of you have no clue what that means. Well, let me explain it for you.
In a effort to make the internet more simple and streamlined, news and blog sites have a striped down, easy to read text file for computer programs to read. What does that mean for you? That means you don't have to visit every website you want to follow or read. Much like you can subscribe to a e-newsletter, you can subscribe to websites so you will know when things get updated. How? You might ask. Simple I say. You just need a feed reader/aggregator. It's a web service that does all the work for you.
Here are some simple steps to using a feed reader (Google Reader).
#1. Visit http://reader.google.com
#2. Sign up for a Google account if you haven't already
#3. Click the "Add a Subscription" link
#4. Find a web page that you want updates from and copy the address from your address bar and past the web page address into Google Reader.
#5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each blog/website you want updates from.
#6. Make a link to Google Reader in your favorites or bookmarks (I like to keep my link on my bookmark toolbar for easy access).
Now every time you want to see if someone you know has updated their blog or any of your favorite news sites have made updates all you have to do is go to Google Reader. Simple.
*Note: Any page that has one of these images in your address bar or on the page has a news feed you can add to your feed reader. Some sites say "rss" or "news feed" or similar things. All you are looking for is a link to the small *.xml file that has the information your reader is looking for. Google Reader is usually good about automatically detecting a feed on a site when you enter in the site address to add a feed. In rare occasions you may need to copy and past the direct link to the "rss, xml, or atom" feed.