Recently, a few people have asked me whether they can get automatic updates when new posts are published here on the Stubborn Mule. The short answer is “yes!” And of course it’s all free.
Those who are familiar with RSS feeds will already know all about this and need read no further (but should also feel free to subscribe). For everyone else, I’ll give a longer answer, explaining how it all works and describing some of the options available for subscribing to the blog.
You may have seen icons like the one here on various web-sites before. It is the RSS logo and indicates that content is available via subscription. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and over the last 10 years it has become a standard mechanism for distributing content online (for example, podcast subscriptions are built on RSS). True to its name, the way it works is quite simple. A specially formatted file* is created with a list of blog posts, podcasts, news headlines or whatever the subscription content is, along with a link to where the content is located. Whenever new content is added to the website, this file, called an RSS feed, is updated to reflect the new content. The feed can then be read by an “RSS reader” which will periodically check to see if new content is available and then download it, ready for you to read, watch or listen to.
The trick then is to find the best RSS reader and there are a lot of them, as is evident from this list of readers. Readers may themselves be on the web, like Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice), or can be stand alone applications like NetNewsWire. Some email applications can also be used as RSS readers. With an RSS reader, you can manage subscriptions to a wide range of feeds and always keep track of the latest content. Some readers, including Google Reader, also allow you to share you favourite content with friends.
If this all seems too complicated and you are not interested in a large number of subscriptions, you can also have updates to the Stubborn delivered to you directly via email. To do this, simply enter your email address in the box below and click on “subscribe”.
I have the RSS feed for the Stubborn Mule managed by a service called “Feedburner”, which is now owned by Google. As well as providing extra features like the email subscription, this allows me to track how many people subscribe to the blog…so subscribe now, I am watching!
* Like so many web standards, the RSS format uses XML.
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Thanks Stubborn Mule, I’ve been trying to get up to speed with all this stuff, as I am planning to start my own blog.