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Introducing RSS, or: How to waste (a little) less time on the Internet

Introducing RSS, or: How to waste (a little) less time on the Internet

January 15, 2014 00:001 comment

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get all of your favorite sites delivered to you automatically, like a magazine? You wouldn’t have to keep checking them throughout the day for updates, so you could use that time for other purposes. And if you hate internet ads as much as I do (a lot!), what if I told you that you could easily avoid them as well?

Well, luckily for you, I’m about to!

What is RSS?

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a very common (though not widely known by many people) technology that collects the content from a web site (blogs, news headlines, YouTube videos, etc.) and delivers them to you using software called a feed reader. Personally, I have been regularly using RSS since 2007 and it has been one of my favorite productivity secrets for using the Internet.

Why use RSS?

By using RSS, you will no longer have to visit every single website that you regularly read every time that you want to check for new content. Instead, new content from all of your sites will be delivered to your feed reader so that you can read all of your sites in one place, like a personalized magazine.

Another side benefit is that the annoying ads on most websites are not delivered with the RSS feed, so you can read

Sounds good! Where do I sign up?

The de facto leader in RSS used to be the excellent Google Reader, but with Google’s decision to kill it last year, a company called Feedly has moved to the forefront. I recommend Feedly for its ease of use and wide compatibility with other RSS services (like smartphone apps).

To start, visit Feedly and sign up using your Google account. If you don’t already have a Google account (unlikely), I suggest that you get one because they are extremely useful around the Internet.

How do I add sites to Feedly?

In Feedly, click the +Add Content button in the upper-left part of the window.

Then, in the search box, search for the site you are interested in, or type/paste a URL directly if you already know which site you want to read. You can also browse Feedly’s site collection if you are looking for something new.

You mentioned smartphone apps. Tell me more.

You can access your Feedly subscriptions using your smartphone, letting you read all of your sites from anywhere. Feedly has their own official apps for iOS and Android which you can use:

Feedly for Android
Feedly for iOS

If you don’t like the official apps, there are alternative RSS reader apps out there and most of them work with Feedly. I have an Android phone and personally I use an excellent app called Press. I don’t have personal experience with iOS apps, but I have heard good things about Byline.

Adding YouTube subscriptions to Feedly

If you are an avid YouTube watcher (like me), you probably have many YouTube channels that you subscribe to. It’s possible to get them delivered to your Feedly so that you don’t have to go to YouTube every day to watch them!

Step 1: Ensure that your subscriptions are public

Click here and confirm that the Keep all my subscriptions private box is unchecked:

Step 2: Get your YouTube user ID

Go here and copy your ID listed on the page:

Step 3: Enter this URL into Feedly

Take the user ID that you copied in Step 2 and replace {USERID} with it in this URL:

http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/base/users/[USERID]/newsubscriptionvideos

Paste it into the search box on Feedly and add it to your subscription list.

Now you can watch your YouTube channels in Feedly!

Conclusion

Using RSS will save you a lot of time and needless clicking around on the Internet just to read the sites that you love. Instead, you will be able to speed-read your content in minutes, often without ads. You can also have your favorite YouTube channels delivered to you automatically along with all your other content. This way, you will waste less time getting to the content you want and more time enjoying it!

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