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What in the heck is this thing called RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. What it actually is can simplify the lives of the information-starved from the comfort of their home computer, laptop, or mobile phone.

There is a technical side to RSS and to go into great detail would probably lead me down the path my family likes to call, “Will’s World.” As wonderful of a place as it is, it reads like stereo instructions with the schematics to boot. I’d have to cover XML, channel elements, version history (it is now at 2.01 in case you’re wondering), and a ton of other techno-gobbly-gook.
altSo for simplicity’s sake, let’s say that RSS is an easy way to have information sent to you where you want it on the topics you want to know about. Using Internet Explorer 8 you can add an RSS “feed” to your Favorites menu. In Vista, you can add them to a Sidebar with an RSS reader.
Why use RSS
Rather than go to each of your favorite websites one at a time to see what’s new, you can subscribe to a feed from them and scan the syndicated headlines (or photos, or podcasts, etc.). See something you like. Click it and get the rest of the story!
Think of it as your own personal assistant scanning the websites you visit and the newspapers and magazines you read and giving you a quick summary of the latest news. It is almost like your very own news ticker scrolling through your life (think CNN®, ESPN® and other news channels with the informative news bar at the bottom of the screen).alt
I have RSS feeds on my Microsoft Vista-based computers at home and work (Adobe products, news, and the IPPF Forums) .
You saw that right – the IPPF Forums as an RSS feed! I like to keep them on my desktop so I can keep my finger on the pulse of the Community. I know, cliché, but it really does help.
Want to give it a try
Go to the Community Forums ( and click on the RSS icon at the bottom of any forum page. When that window opens, you need to copy and paste that URL into your RSS reader. That’s it!
What’s the Catch
You can’t reply to an RSS feed. You can read the forum post, but need to log into the Forums to post your reply. However, in the bottom image you can see the word Link under the story; click it and it takes you to that posting (you may have to log in first). Unless you respond to nearly all postings, this is a great way to get your daily dose of the Forums on your phone or computer when you have time.
Prefer the newspaper look Check out and turn RSS feeds into a printable .pdf file!
If you have a question, drop me an email at [email protected]. Enjoy!

titleHere is an image of the RSS reader on my work desktop showing feeds straight from the IPPF Community website. You can see that when I click on a feed of interest it gives me a flyout of the actual information from the Community Forums. And yes, it is a brisk 69 degrees at 9 am as I write this article. Can anyone tell me where Summer went Alas, while that is important, it is not as important as me being able to glance at the feeds and stay up to date with the Community.
Posted in Issue 58 - Fall 2009


The P/P Registry has been approved by the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) and is actively enrolling participants.