Firefox and RSS (Live Bookmarks)

from the February 2006 Newsletter
by Rob Zorn

Last month we looked at what RSS (Really Simple Syndication) was, and how to set it up on a computer quickly and easily. An RSS reader can deliver updates and new articles from news pages and blogs straight to you, avoiding the need to visit all those pages individually.  Click here if you'd like to access that article.

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This month, as promised, we're having a quick look at how Firefox handles RSS, avoiding the need to download and install your own RSS reader.

Firefox is an alternative browser to Internet Explorer (IE). It's produced by Mozilla, and is rapidly gaining a following of people who prefer it to IE because they believe it to be quicker, better designed, more secure, and they like the fact that it is produced by the open source community for free. Some use it just because they like to be different. Estimates vary, but it could be as high as 11% of Internet users who now prefer Firefox, and that number appears to be growing.

Personally, I really like it (its built in RSS feature is just one of the reasons why) and that is really the focus of this month's article. But if you want to try Firefox, it's a 5Mb download from http://www.getfirefox.com/. *

If a news or blog site is RSS capable (syndicated), Firefox will let you know by putting a little orange symbol in the browser address window (see top picture above). In the pictured example, if I wanted to add the BBC News site to my automatic live feed feature of Firefox, all I would have to do is click that orange symbol. An Add Live Bookmark box pops up and all I then have to do is click Okay. The box will allow me to choose various options as to where I might want to save the live bookmark, but the Bookmarks feature, which is selected by default, will do fine.

The third picture to the right shows how I can automatically read the news stories from the BBC page as they are syndicated to me. First I click on Bookmarks on the menu at the top of the Firefox browser, then on BBC News in the drop down menu. Once I do that, all the latest news headlines magically appear in a new menu that pops up to the right.  

Every couple of days, old links will disappear whether I've read them or not and this stops the list of new pop-up links getting too large and unmanageable.

Some Good Syndicated Sites

NZ Herald - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
The Register - http://www.theregister.co.uk/
The BBC News Page - http://news.bbc.co.uk/
CNN - http://edition.cnn.com/
Computerworld - http://www.computerworld.co.nz/

* Mike Cooper wrote a newsletter article about Firefox back in December 2004. If you're interested, you can access that article here.