RSS – what is it?

Nov 9, 2011 by

Do you read the newspaper every day? If so, how do you get it? Do you get dressed, jump in the car, drive to the shops, park, get out, go into the shop, buy the paper, then get back to the car and drive home before you can read it? Or, do you get the paper delivered and read it in your PJs while sipping tea and eating toast?

Have you looked at any family history related blogs yet? If you have, do you have to check them periodically for updates? Do you forget at times? Wouldn’t it be good if you could have them delivered just like the newspaper? Actually, you can!

Many of you will recognise these symbols without really knowing what they mean and what they can do for you. In short, this indicates that new content from the website you are looking at is able to be sent to you as it becomes available, sort of like getting the newspaper delivered!

The RSS symbol stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ or others know it as a ‘web feed’. Simply put, it’s a uniform way to share web content, but you don’t need to understand or remember that, you only need to know that it is a secure way for a website to deliver news to you.

We could go on and on for pages but here’s a nifty little video that explains it all much better than we can – RSS in plain English, and it’s from YouTube: to play the video just click on the right pointing arrow in the middle of the video screen.

Although the video RSS in plain English highlights Google Reader, which is not a bad thing because many of you probably already have a Google account anyway, there are other feed aggregators like RSS Owl  and FeedDemon and FeedReader3  – all are free and just need to be downloaded and installed (get the grandkids to do it). It’s just a matter of personal preference as to which one you use. A feed aggregator can work hard bringing in all the latest news from your favourite websites and blogs while you’re boiling the kettle in the morning and have them ready to read with tea and toast! Well, you’ll have to cook the toast; they can’t do everything – yet! Just open the program and it will check all your subscriptions for new content and tell you what it has found. Just think, with one click you can keep up with the latest news from us, the GSV, AIGS, the State Library, PROV,………

Or, you can utilise your email programs like Outlook and Thunderbird to bring in RSS feeds. Or, you can subscribe to the feed by email if you’re not comfortable with aggregators, see our post about email subscriptions for more information.

Which is better? It’s up to you really; the one big difference between news feeds and email subscriptions is this: if you’ve got an email subscription then the website has your email address. It has no other information about you, just your email address. How else is it going to deliver your news? Most sites and organisations have privacy policies and will not divulge your information but you should check. If you use a news feed, the website has no information at all about you, it doesn’t need to, your email program or aggregator gets the content from them.

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Legacy Webinars, Facebook and Genealogists

Sep 16, 2011 by

I used to think that eating breakfast in front of the TV was a bad habit until I started eating breakfast in front of the computer – and I’m willing to concede that it’s not the most social thing to do, but if there’s no one else here, does it matter?

Anway, this morning I sat down with toast and coffee and watched the latest Legacy Webinar, Facebook for Genealogists with Thomas MacEntee, because I didn’t want to get up at 4 in the morning yesterday. Now I realise it might not be too good for anyone with a dial up internet connection but for anyone who has broadband and is interested in what Facebook is all about – this is a not to miss webinar. The bad news is that it’s available on the site until 26th September – after that you’re going to have to buy the CD if you want to watch it. I should also tell you that it’s about 90 minutes long, so if there’s nothing on the TV this week ………..By the way, if you’ve never watched a Legacy Webinar before don’t blame me if you don’t come up for air for quite a while. Not all the presentations are to do with the Legacy program itself, many of them are about general family history, how to do it, how to use resources, how to organise your files, how to use social media like Facebook and Twitter. Legacy Webinars are easy to watch and more importantly, easy to understand. And for a limited time after each webinar, they are on site for free! I think they’re probably a very under used resource for everyone, beginners and the more experienced.

Thomas MacEntee (professional genealogist) takes you through the process of activating your Facebook account, explaining recommended privacy settings (and most importantly why they are important) and what you can do and how you can find other family historians, genealogists, family history and genealogical societies, archives and museums, in fact, anything to do with family history and genealogy. Still wondering why you’d want to join? Well, there’s 750 million people who’ve already done it, and don’t think that they’re all kids either. In today’s webinar I learnt that 50+ females actually rule Facebook. How many of them are researching some of the same people that you are?



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What’s this subscribe by email thing all about?

Jul 21, 2011 by

email clip artWell, we’re glad you asked!

Don’t get us wrong – we just love it when you visit us. However, there is a way to make sure you get to ‘see’ every new post without having to come all the way over here. We can send you one email every day containing any new posts for the day. Very handy, don’t you think?

It’s easy to set up, this is how you do it:

  1. you enter your email address in the box and click on the button that says ‘click’
  2. you will see a little screen asking you to enter some letters or numbers because we need to make sure that you’re a real person and not a computer (we know it might sound silly, but you’ll just have to trust us on this one)
  3. we then send you an email with a link, this is how we check that you’ve given us the email address correctly
  4. you click on the link and then we start emailing you our latest posts, once a day. So, if don’t get an email, that means we haven’t posted anything new
  5. if for some reason you don’t want to receive any more emails from us you just click on the ‘unsubscribe’ button at the end of the email and we’ll talke you off the list.

How easy is that?


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