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Ten RSS Hacks

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Here, for no reason at all, are 10 RSS power user tips that you can use to enhance your life. Some of these you might already know, others you may not.

1) Build Feeds for Your Favorite Writers
Wouldn’t it be great to have a feed for your favorite columnist or journalist? Some sites, like ESPN, already offer these. But most don’t. Here’s a trick.
Search for their byline and/or their column title on Yahoo! News and then subscribe to the search as a feed. For example, here’s a Yahoo! News search for Dr. Mac – Bob Levitus with the Houston Chronicle. The search has a link to this feed. Now anytime there’s a new column from Dr. Mac, they come direct to me via RSS. Here’s another feed I built to track Ed Baig’s columns. The trick is setting up the right search. (Hint – this hack
works nicely for sites that don’t have feeds)

2) Got a Car? Subscribe to its RSS Feed
Topix.net has a plethora of topical news pages on virtually any subject. Every one of its 300,000+ topical news pages has its own RSS feed. This includes feeds for dozens of automotive make/models, like the Honda CR-V (aka Steve’s Micromobile). I subscribe to the feed for this specific page on the CRV. You can also use Topix to track many top sports stars and even celebs. For example, I subscribe to the feed listed on this page about Curtis Martin, the star running back for the New York Jets.

3) Merge Several RSS Feeds Into One, Then Stick it on Your Firefox Bar
Like most bloggers, I subscribe to PubSub, Google Blog Search and Technorati search feeds for my name. I combine these all into a single feed using FeedShake and then stick the feed in my Firefox bookmarks toolbar as a Live Bookmark. The result is this nice drop down.

Picture 1-7

4) Track New Audiobooks with RSS
Who here likes audiobooks? I love them. Thankfully,
Audible has tons of them with new ones coming in every day. How do I know? Yup, they have an RSS feed for new releases and much more.

5) Find Cool Stuff with a del.icio.us Inbox Feed
One of the most powerful tools I use to find stuff to blog about is my del.icio.us inbox. This tracks all bookmarks people are adding to the community under certain tags that I have flagged. The nice part is, I don’t have to continually hit the site to scan these. My inbox has an RSS feed. (Bonus tip – use del.icio.us to build yourself a custom vidcast feed)

6) Build a Library of Search Feeds in a Heartbeat with gada.be
Last week I talked about gada.be – a new metasearch tool. Gada.be is terrific for setting up a series of
blog, news and web search feeds with just a single step instead of ten. I am going to use this method for every new client we sign. Simply type the search term and tack on gada.be/opml. For example, microsoft.gada.be/opml. Save this page to your desktop as an OPML file (be sure to add an “.opml” extension). Then just import this file into your favorite aggregator and bingo, you’re set.

7) Track Wikipedia Revisions with RSS
I don’t know about you, but when someone messes with Homer Simpson’s reputation on Wikipedia, I wanna know. The good news is I can. Wikipedia’s recent changes page generates an RSS feed.

8) Find New Desktop Wallpaper with Flickr
I like to change my desktop wallpaper as often as I eat. So I used to subscribe to Webshots Premium. No mas. Thomas Hawk posts new original images every day in Flickr that are just incredible. I subscribe to his feed and download ones I like.

9) Subscribe to RSS Feeds in Gmail
This is a snap because Randy Charles Morin cooked up RMail. It takes feeds and converts them to email subscriptions. I subscribe to a few and as they arrive in my Gmail box I have them automatically labeled RSS and archived so they don’t clutter my inbox. More info here.

10) Take a Break with RSS
OK, the previous nine tips were a lot of work. It’s time for a break. Go subscribe to Roger Ebert’s movie reviews via RSS. Or head over to Eventful, surf through their listed events by tags and then subscribe to these topic feeds. Like this one for Maryland. Or even better, go subscribe to some TV listings via RSS.

Whatever you do, go super size your RSS experience. It’s the best tool to come along since the web browser.

Reader Comments

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

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