Wednesday, May 18, 2005 in I'm a computer geek

How to read all those blogs

Here’s an internet lesson for you all. It’ll cover your blogroll, feeds and how to read everyone on your list in one fell swoop.

First off, almost all blogs out there have a feed set up automatically and you, the blog poster, may not even know it. If you are using a publishing platform, I am 99% certain the work has been done for you already. For something like Blogger or Blogspot, go into your settings tab, click where it says “site feed” and in the drop-down box that says “Publish site feed?” please choose yes. 😀

And now for something really handy. Most people have on their sidebar a list of blogs that they read and/or link exchange. This has come to be called a blogroll because of the initial blogrolling service. All it does is manage your links for you, in this case a big ol’ list of blogs. When it first came out, one of the defining features was the ability to not only spew out a list for your sidebar, but to have a little character, like an asterisk or tildy – whatever you wanted, next to each updated blog.

Frankly, that never worked accurately for me.

Shortly thereafter, feeds became possible. XML, RSS, Atom, you really don’t have to know what it is to use it. A feed is really a stripped-down version of your main site page. That’s all, nothing fancy. I think it was initially developed as a way for hand-held computers to surf the net.

So where does this all tie in? Ah, here is the snifty stuff. There is a feed-reading service called BlogLines which enables you to read the feeds of the sites (blogs) you “subscribe” to. I have it bookmarked like a regular webpage, and when I click on it, it shows me a split-frame with my recently updated feeds (blogs) on one side, and text on the other. When I click on a blog link on the left side list, the content show up on the right. You can play with my list here. I also have a “subscribe with bloglines” button on my toolbar, so when I find a new site I want to continue reading, I just click the button which finds the feed(s) and adds them to my list for me.

Now you’re probably thinking this is a lot to set up. Ha! Programmers are lazy people, so the bonus here is you can import your blogroll! No more clicking repeatedly on everyone’s link to see if they updated yet.

So that’s how I get a lot of blog-reading done, aside from the fact I’m a fast reader. Oh, I almost forgot: I browse with Firefox, so as I read my feeds list, I can open up any site page, where I want to read more or comment, in another tab. Tabbed browsing is much faster that opening new windows, and as you should know Firefox is many times safer than IE.

Thus endeth the lesson for today.


  1. I use the Sage extension for Firefox to read RSS feeds for my blogs. It works well for me. As for the tabbed browsing, I haven’t caught the hang of that yet. Whenever I click on a link, they often open a new window instead of a new tab. I’m still trying to figure that out.

  2. Tabbed browsing is set up under Tools->Options->Advanced->Tabbed Browsing

  3. I can import my blogrol?!?!!? I just may have to try this.

  4. I use the live bookmarks feature in Firefox to syndicate the blogs I read, I don’t read anywhere near as many as you! 😛

  5. :grin:Bloglines is pretty cool actually. Never knew it could be so simple. I might try to sign up for it…even if it takes me squarely out of my stubborn type in everything by hand mode I’ve been sticking with for so long!

  6. Thanks for the lesson! I’ve been hearing about this RSS feed business and how much time it saves, and feeling pretty clueless. Now I’m all set up on bloglines, thanks to your tutorial. And the big question is: will this cut down on my computer time, or simply allow me to add more blogs to my reading list?

  7. This sounds like it could be very helpful to me, but even this post is confusing me. I su, uh, STINK at anything computer.