How to subscribe

New: Quick and easy method for someone who doesn’t read a lot of blogs

(Note that this works in Firefox; it’s slightly different in Internet Exploder.)

  • In the rightmost column, scroll down to “OTHER THINGIES”
  • Click on “Entries RSS”
  • If you see “Subcribe to this feed using”, select “Google” and click “Subscribe Now”.
  • Google will give you two options; choose “Add to Google homepage”
  • You may have to create a Google account before you can do this (to set up a personalized Google page), or log in if you have one already. Go ahead, it doesn’t take long.
  • Now when you go to google.com, you should see a box with any recent Over Here posts listed. If not, look for the “iGoogle” link and click it.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this blog, like most, offers an RSS feed. In case you don’t know what that is, I’ll tell you.

RSS, which stands for Rich Site Summary (or, as others claim, Really Simple Syndication), uses XML to syndicate a list of summaries of posts to a site. That is, it’s like a newsletter that lets you know when there’s something new. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for a particular site using an RSS reader, or ‘aggregator’.

This site offers a subscription to the posts themselves (“Entries RSS”) and the comments (“Comments RSS”). See the bottom of the sidebar. Once you have subscribed to the RSS feed for a site, you can easily find out if there are new posts to the site without actually bothering to visit it and look. There are two ways to do that. One is to use some sort of feed reader; Google Reader works quite well. It checks all the feeds you’ve subcribed to and shows you only the new stuff.

The other way is to create a link to the feed in your browser. Firefox makes this very easy; I’ll tell you how to use it. If you’re not using Firefox, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own. (But why wouldn’t you be?)

Firefox calls RSS feeds “live bookmarks”, as documented here. Let’s say you use the Personal Toolbar, which is basically just a toolbar with some frequently used bookmarks on it. You can add a link to the RSS feed for a site, and it will look like a button that, when clicked, gives you a drop-down list of posts to the site.

Here’s how you do that in version 2 of Firefox: Go to a page (say, this blog’s main page), and see if you see a little icon in the address bar (to the right of the current URL) that says “RSS”. If so, click on the icon, and you’ll go to a page where the feed summaries are shown. You will have the option to subscribe to the feed using Google (as mentioned above) or Live Bookmarks. If you choose “Live Bookmarks” and click “Subscribe Now”, you’ll get a dialog box that will allow you to add a live bookmark anywhere you like. For example, you could add it to the Personal Toolbar.

Then, any time you click on that button, you will get a list of all the posts to the blog. If there’s one you haven’t read, you can just click on it, and you’re there. It’s a bit easier than having to go to the site and see if there’s something new.