Surfin’ Lessons

 |  April 2, 2009

I’m a news junky; BBC, Bangkok Post, news online, I need my daily fix. Meanwhile I find myself missing out on important business updates. That’s why Google news alerts and RSS were invented, and for the luddites among us, here’s how they work.
The easiest way to keep abreast of a topic is to subscribe to it in Google news alerts. With a gmail account you get to customise the news that appears when you visit Otherwise simply set up email alerts for anything from ‘Avoid Songkran’ to ‘Zimbabwe inflation’, though they do come annoyingly frequently, so choose, daily or weekly. A good old fashion way is to subscribe to email alerts compiled by a website, like Citylife e_zines, or Bahtsold’s Thailand’s weekly news roundup.
Really simple syndication (RSS) is more complex and clever, and is practical to use now that the latest versions of browsers, email and also Vista, have integrated a reader that checks up on your favourite web pages regularly for ‘new’ news. It then displays the headlines and even whole articles in your browser, email or RSS reader so you needn’t even visit the site. A good RSS reader will go looking for news for you, if you feed a few keywords into it. Any page you see with the little orange RSS icon is compatible and will be added to your reader/browser once ‘clicked’. This technology has been widely used for a few years now, but not everyone is familiar with its setup. It’s particularly useful for subscribing to blog updates and new podcasts (short audio or video broadcasts for download). But you do need to take the time to customise what news you receive by selectively subscribing, lest you are inundated. All I have space for here is to suggest two free multi OS feed readers; Gnus and FreeRange, or find a basic RSS reader in your Outlook, and other mail programmes. Firefox 3.0, IE7 and Safari 3.2 also now offer them in the Favourites/Bookmarks function, but they’re not very customisable, so once again, you end up with news overload!