Keeping up with Internet news sources
What’s your favorite website where you go to catch up with what’s happening worldwide? Maybe you’ve got more than one. Perhaps, like me, you have several. What if you could gather all the news from those locations and have it fed into one list of articles you can read in one place?
- You need Google Reader!
- This article will tell you the basics of what it is and how to set it up.
- What is Google Reader?
Many websites that publish news or regular updates use a feature called “Really Simple Syndication” (RSS). This is a list of links to all the articles published on that site. Google Reader is an online RSS Reader. You tell Google Reader the website that you’re interested in, and it fetches the article headings. You can then choose to click on the articles that interest you. When finished, click a button that marks them all as “read,” you can come back and read the next lot when you’re ready.
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You’re not limited to reading every article published on a particular site; if you have an interest in the Sydney Morning Herald, you can subscribe to the entire site or just a subsection that interests you.
Sounds good. How do I set it up?
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a Gmail account. Setting up Reader without Gmail is possible, but the steps are simpler if you use Gmail. To sign up, go to the Google homepage and click on Gmail at the top. Click on the Create An Account button to get started. (You can also sign in to Google with an email account from somewhere else, e.g., Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.).
Once you have a Gmail account, you can sign into Google Reader. There’s a link to Reader at the top of your Gmail Inbox screen, or you can go to the Google homepage, click on More, then click on Reader, and sign in with your new Google account. You’ll see a Welcome screen.
From here, the next step is to add some subscriptions (websites) to your reading list. The latest articles from those websites will be automatically fetched every time you log into Reader.
There are several ways to add subscriptions:
The real deal is when you add the sites that interest you. Go to an area with the news you want to read, copy its address from the address bar to the clipboard, and paste it into a new subscription in Google Reader. All recent articles published on that site will appear in your Google Reader list.
For example, if I want to read the Life & Style section of the Sydney Morning Herald, the easiest way to set it up is:
Go to The Sydney Morning Herald website and click on Life & Style.
Note the address at the top of the screen. It will be something like http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle. Highlight the talk with the mouse, then copy it to the clipboard using CTRL-C (or Command-C on Mac). Go back to Google Reader, click Add A Subscription at the top left, and paste the address you previously copied using CTRL-V (Command-V on a Mac). Press ENTER to continue, and your new subscription will be added. But wait, it tells me, “Your search did not match any feeds”!
This illustrates my next point – not all sites can be set up by copying their www address into Reader. The SMH is one example. If you come across a place like this, go to the site’s homepage and look for the text “RSS,” which generally gives you a link or list of links that comprise the site’s true news feed. In this example, the SMH site has a tiny text ‘RSS’ link at the bottom of the home page, which takes us to a list of sections we can subscribe to. This page then lists the different areas. Most sites will work just by copying and pasting the address of the site’s home page into Reader.
What happens after I’ve set it up?
Once you have a list of Subscriptions set up, you can click on All Items at the top left of the Reader screen, and you’ll see a list of all new items across all your Subscriptions. (My interests may differ greatly from yours, as you can see from the diagram!) Click on a particular subscription at the bottom-left to see only the articles from that news source.
How do I clean up my reading list?
I read all the articles I’m interested in, then I click Mark All As Read. If you’re on the All Items list, this will clear your entire reading list until new articles come in. If you’re looking at only a particular subscription, only themes from that subscription will be marked as reading.
What if I want to remove a subscription?
Click on Manage Subscriptions at the very bottom left of your Subscription list. (you may need to scroll the window down, as in my example above.) Click the small rubbish bin on the line corresponding to the subscription you want to remove. Beware! The Reader can be quite addicted. Add too many sources, and there will be days when you’ll feel like you have a mountain of news to read! (e.g., “408 Unread Items”…sheesh!)
I hope you enjoy Google Reader as much as I do. In the tech world, it helps me keep up to date with current events. In a computer repair business like mine, sometimes that’s critical! Over time, you can review your subscriptions. Reader gives you tools to answer things like, ” How many articles from this particular news source do I ever actually open?”