RSS Unveiled

RSS Feed
RSS Feed

So you are a regular internet user who has a long series of frequently updated websites or blogs that you visit everyday. But you are a busy person also, and one of the biggest chagrins in your life is opening a website or blog only to discover it hasn’t been updated. Well then congratulations! RSS is the perfect solution for you. But what is RSS exactly, and what does it do? Read on to find out!

What is RSS

RSS is an acronym for either “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary”. It is a really easy and efficient method to publish and distribute regularly updated content such as news, blog posts, update notices, headlines, and web content to people in a standardized format normally called a “feed”.

History of RSS

Developed in the late 1900s by Netscape, RSS is an XML format that can quickly and easily distribute information and updates to a large audience. The initial version of RSS was called “RDF Site Summary”, and was based on a similar format created by UserLand Software sometime earlier. Several versions came out before Netscape decided to transfer the rights of RSS back to its original developer, UserLand, who continued to expand it. Meanwhile, another software group came up with a new version based on the original principles of RSS, but UserLand was not very happy with it and in 2002 introduced RSS 2.0, that quickly became popular. Now, RSS is widely used by people all over the world.

How it Works

RSS creates a list of notifications referred to as the “RSS Feed” of a website or a blog. This feed is actually a small and light weight XML file that resides on the web server. Subscribing to this feed will keep you updated with the latest headlines and updates of that particular website or blog. There are special programs called “RSS aggregators” or “RSS Feed Readers” that are designed to automatically access the websites and blogs regularly for the latest feeds and provide you the results in an organized, readable manner.

Why use RSS

RSS helps you to stay up to date and informed all the time by bringing you the latest highlights and updates from your favorite websites and blogs. It also saves a lot of your time as you don’t have to visit each website and blog individually to check for updates. It also provides you the facility to control the quantity and quality of the information you receive from the feeds.

How to Subscribe to a Feed

There are two ways you can subscribe to a feed of your interest:

  • Enter the feed’s URL into your RSS feed reader
  • Click on the orange feed icon on the desired website/blog to initiate the subscription process.

How to Generate RSS Feed for your own Website or Blog

Again, there are two ways of doing this:

  • Use free specialized tools called Feed Generators to extract data from your web page or blog
  • Use the RSS library of PHP. A PHP script will build an XML file by using the titles and the descriptions of pages and blog posts from the content of your website or blog.
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How to Change File Associations

What is File Association
The term ‘File Association’ means which item is associated with which program. For example, an image on your computer may open with Windows Photo Viewer, and a text file may open with Notepad. More often than not, a single file may have the capability of opening with multiple programs. It is important that the right type of file is opened with the right program, otherwise it may not open successfully. For example, if you try to open an audio file with a photo viewer, you may get an error message stating you cannot do so. In this article, I will show you step-by-step how to set or change the file associations on your computer.

Changing the Associations
There are two ways you can change the file associations of your system. Before you start, you need to know that you may need to be logged in as an administrator to carry out the steps below.

  • The Shorter Way:

Step 1
Right click the file you want to change the associations of.
Step 2
In the menu that appears, scroll down to ‘Properties’, and click it.
Step 3
A window appears. In the ‘General’ tab, go to the portion where it says ‘Opens With:’. Here you will find the name of the program that it currently opens with. Click on ‘Change’.
Step 4
Another window appears. You will see a list of programs under the title ‘Recommended Programs’, which are, as the name implies, recommended to be used by the file. Select the one you want, and click on ‘OK’. If the program you need is not in the list, then click on ‘Browse’ and select it from your ‘Program Files’ folder.
Step 5
In the ‘Properties’ window, click on ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’. Your file association has been changed.

  • The Longer Way:

Step 1
Click on ‘Start’, and then on ‘Control Panel’.
Step 2
In the search box on the top of the window, type in ‘Associations’. Now click on ‘Change the file type associated with a file extension’ under the sub-heading Folder Options’.
Step 3
Now wait a while for all your file types to load, this waiting time largely depend upon how many different programs you have installed in your system. When all the file types have loaded, scroll down the list and select the file type whose associations you want to change.
Step 4
Highlight the file type whose association you want the change, and then click on ‘Change Program’.
Step 5
A window appears. Select the program you want to use under the heading ‘Recommended Programs’, and click on ‘OK’. If the program you need is not in the list, then click on ‘Browse’ and select it from your ‘Program Files’ folder, and click on ‘OK’. Make sure the program you are selecting supports the opening of it.
Step 6
Now click on ‘Close’ to close the window and save your changes. Your file association has been changed.

How to send a Website Link in Email

Ever happened that you came across a totally awesome website that you want to share with your friends or family, but the URL is so long that you decide against the idea? Well, your days of frustration are over. This article will teach you how to send a website’s URL in email.

Step 1

Sign in to your email account, and click on the button that lets you create a new email message. In Yahoo Mail, it is called ‘Compose Mail’, and in Hotmail it is called ‘New’.

Step 2

In the “To” field, enter the email address of the person(s) who will be receiving the email, and in the “Subject” field type in a few words describing what the email is about. You may leave the “cc” field blank.

Step 3

Now type in your message in the body field of your email message.

Step 4

In a new tab, open the website whose link you want to send to your friend.

Step 5

Select the entire URL of the website in the white box at the top of the web page, then right click it and select ‘Copy’. You may close the tab now.

Step 6

Return to the tab in which you were composing the email message, and right click and select ‘Paste’ in the body field of your email. You will see that the link has been added to your email message. Note that the link is blue in color, which means that it will be clickable after it is sent.

Step 7

In case it is not blue (I am sure that will not be the case though), select the link you just pasted, click on ‘Format’, then click the button with the chain link which says something along the lines of ‘Make new link’. In the box that appears, paste the link again and click on OK.

Step 8

Click on ‘Send’ at the top of the page. Your email containing the link to the website has been sent.

Website Design Principles

You may have heard people say that content is more important than the design of a website. This piece of information, in fact, is not true at all. A good design is integral if you want people to come, and keep coming back to your website. Think of a restaurant that serves the tastiest food in the city, but fine food is the only good thing it offers. The service is crappy, the tables dirty, the chairs creaky, the lighting poor, and walls chipping paint; how many times would you go to that restaurant before leaving it for good? Not many, I’m sure. Websites work in the same way; you may have the highest quality content, but people may not be able to use that content in an effective manner because of problems in the design. Therefore, you should always focus on the design at least as much as you focus on the content. Here I have described a few principles to remember when designing a website:

The Design-How it Looks

This refers to the actual design of your website. Strive for a design that is beautiful and easy on the eye, as well as one that keeps the potential user in mind. For example, a website designed for kids will differ greatly with respect to design features than one designed for a law firm.

Precedence-What Comes First

Precedence means the order of all the elements in a web page. It also means what element of the webpage is displayed first when a website is loaded. Generally the header comes on the top of your webpage, with the navigation buttons just below it. There is a menu on the extreme left of the page, your content in the middle and banner ads on the right. A footer comes below everything. This is, of course, the general precedence, you may set the precedence any way you like as long as it highlights and complements your content.

Spacing

It refers to the spacing between the individual elements of the web page as well as the empty ‘white space’ on a web page. A rule of the thumb: do not try to cram the page with too much information; the user may skip things if the page is too crowded. Keep the webpage clean and spacious so that the use is immediately directly towards your content.

Alignment

All the elements in the web page should be properly and consistently aligned with each other. Tables can be used to help align the content, but it is advised to use CSS instead.

Typography

This refers to the font type, font colors, and their sizes. Do not use a too-small font, as it will reduce readability, nor use a too-large font that will look unprofessional. Also, make sure the background color contrasts with the font color. One thing to keep in mind, patterned backgrounds are a distraction where there is a large amount of text to read, so try to avoid those as well.

Consistency and Uniformity

The design and color scheme of the web pages should be consistent throughout the website, as should be the nature of your content.

Usability:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the information I am providing usable to the reader?
  • Do the buttons click?
  • Are the links correct?
  • Is it easy to navigate between pages?
  • Is it easy to read?

If your answers to these questions are ‘yes’, then congratulations, your website is functional!

Navigation-Moving Around

Navigation means the ability to move around the website. Provide working links and buttons for easy navigation throughout the website.

Clarity

It means whether your design is clear and user friendly or not. It is basically about the relationships between the individual elements on your webpage. Group similar items together, be clear in your instructions if you have any, and try to make your website self explanatory.

Content Placing

Always put your most important content in a place near the top of the webpage that grabs the users attention first. Do not write in long paragraphs; instead break your content down into smaller chunks with subheadings. Place different kinds of media together such as text, images and videos etc. to give your website an appealing look.

Build your own Website in 5 Easy Steps

So you want to create your own website but don’t know where to start. No problem! You have come to just the right place! This article will tell you all you need to know to create your own website in five easy steps. So, hold on to your seats, and dive right in!

 

Step 1: Register a Domain Name

Registering a domain name for your website is the first thing you need to do in order to create a website. A domain name is nothing but the address of your website, and is sometimes also called a URL (www.exampledomain.com). Select a suitable domain name for your website and have it registered from a reliable domain registration company. Remember to keep the following points in mind when choosing the domain name:

1. Make the domain name short and easy to remember. Remember that people tend to avoid the websites with long, difficult names unless the content is very, very good.

2. Make it relevant to your website content. This can help increase your website’s ranking in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

3. Make the domain name creative, unique and catchy. Make it something that is easy to remember for a long time.

 

Step 2: Get a Web Server/Web Host

After you have selected and registered your domain name with a company, your next step is to select a company that would host your website. A web host stores your website on one of its many servers, and then transmits it to the internet so it can be accessed by users all over the world. The domain name and web hosting is usually provided by the same company, but you can get them separately if you wish. There are many resources on the web that offer you free domain name and/or hosting. These are good for newbies who are exploring the world of internet through their small personal websites. However, if you plan on making a website on a larger scale or for a company, it would be better if you paid for the domain name and hosting.

 

Step 3: Design your Website

This is the most fun step of all. It is also the most important of all. Your website has to be designed in such a way that it is appealing to the eye, relevant to your content, and easy to navigate. As I told you before, it is the best part of creating a website. You get to show off your great designing skills to the world at the same time as promoting your website.

You can design your website using either an HTML editor like Dreamweaver or use one of the many free website templates available on the internet to create your website. You can also design a website in the popular designing tool Photoshop. Also, if you don’t want to do it yourself, although I would recommend you do, you can hire somebody else to do the job for you, but its always better to do it yourself if you’re on a tight budget or if want to give it a more personal touch.

 

Step 4: Put in the Content

At this step your website is almost ready; you just need to put in the content. You may have heard the quote: ‘Content is the King’, and actually it is. Content is the most important part of a website. Some things to remember regarding your content:

1. Use a language and tone that is respective to the age and type of your target audience.

2. The content should be informative and interesting. Remember that only a small percentage of people actually read complete articles on the internet. So make your articles eye catching and easy to read.

3. Try to keep the material original. Do not just copy-paste from other resources.

3. Check your spellings and grammar before publishing anything to the web. These things really matter.

4. Keywords are very important for your website, but not as important as the quality of your content. Do not ruin your content by using too many keywords.

5. Keep your articles short and simple. 300-600 words are quite enough for most articles.

6. Use subtitles and bullets wherever possible. Make your articles “scannable”.

7. Use a clear font type that is easy to read and understand. Avoid using italics.

8. Insert graphics where you can, but not too many. The main focus should be your article.

9. Remember the fact that quality is more important than quantity.

 

Step 5: Publish your Website

All you need to do now is to put your website on the internet for everybody to see using the web host. Upload your complete website including all multimedia content to the root directory of your web hosting server space, and your website is ready!

 

Good Luck with your website :)