12 January 2012

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Simple Tech Series #4: Google Reader

I get a lot of emails and messages asking for help on websites I frequent. In response, I thought like a teacher: if a few people have these questions, a lot of people might have the same questions! So, for your convenience, and mine too, I guess, I am writing a series of tutorials for popular websites. Over the course of this series, I will cure your ails with Pinterest, Twitter, Blogger, Google Reader and Picnik. I will give you the basics on the problems that are troubling you most, and if you have any other questions or sites you would like me to explain, please let me know in the comment section below.

Tutorial Four: Google Reader
What is a feed reader?
A feed reader is a (usually) free service you can sign up for that compiles all of your frequented websites and blogs into one area so you can read them easily without having to check each individual website for updates. When you sign up for a feed reader, you can add your favorite websites and blogs, and from that point, your reader will gather every new post from those sites for you to read at your leisure. It's a real time saver for those of you who like to keep current with news, blogs, recipes etc.
 
What is an RSS feed? 
RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. It enables blogs and webpages have their articles and posts delivered to their readers without the readers having to constantly check favorite sites for updates. to This is becoming quite popular, and can be found on most websites. To identify if a site has an RSS feed, look for this symbol:
Sometimes the symbol will come in various shapes and colors, but that is the basic RSS icon. An RSS feed might also be called XML. Once you have identified this symbol on a webpage or blog, click it, and it will allow you to add that site to your feed reader.

How do I sign up for a blog or website's RSS feed?
As I mentioned above, click on the site's RSS icon, and it will direct you to a page where you can choose which reader you would like to use. That's it. Now every time you sign into your feed reader, any updates from that site will be there waiting for you. (For those of you who have a Google account, you can also follow a blog using GFC or Google Friend Connect. If you look to the right sidebar of my blog, you will see little pictures of some of my followers. Clicking here also allows you to follow my blog via Google Reader.)

How do I use Google Reader? A Step-By-Step Guide. 
1. If you don't have a Google Account, sign up for one
2. Visit www.google.com/reader
3. When you enter your reader, it will look like this (click to enlarge): 
 4. Every site where you signed up to follow via RSS will appear here. As you scroll through, your reader will mark your items as read, but you can always go back to visit them by starring your favorites or emailing them to yourself. The email option can be found at the bottom of each article. 
5. There are plenty of other options available with Google Reader, and they are pretty self explanatory once you are logged in. The above steps will enable you to sign in and start reading - simple as that! 
6. If you don't feel that you have the time to read all of the articles in your feed, don't be overwhelmed. A reader is meant to make your life simpler, not more stressful. Just mark them all as read or read as you have time. Don't worry about staying on top of it if it's not a priority to you.
 
What do I do next?
Well, you can sign up to follow my blog via RSS. Do you see my RSS symbol? If you scroll all the way to the top of my blog, it's in light blue.

So, did this tutorial help? What else would you like to know? What other sites would you like to learn to use? Tell me in the comment section below!

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