What Is RSS and Why Do I Want It ?
We are quite certain that you have noticed a dramatic uptick in the amount of spam that you receive in your email box. By some estimates, spam makes up nearly 85% of all sent email. Getting a real message through, like our newsletter, can be quite a challenge these days. Automated spam filtering systems have not developed to the point where they are reliable enough to guarantee delivery of all wanted email. That's where RSS comes in. RSS, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” is an attempt to remedy this by providing a subscribable “News Feed.” Once you subscribe to the feed, you'll be kept abreast of the things the author of the feed thinks you might want to know about. The headlines will be delivered right to your reader, and you can choose to read the rest of the article or not. Pretty spiffy, eh? But, how do you use it? It's a great way to keep up with things without having to check a bunch of different sites every day.
To use RSS, the first thing you'll need is an RSS News Reader, sometimes called a News Aggregator. Some web applications, like the FireFox browser, Apple's Safari browser, and Mozilla's Thunderbird mail client, have built in support for RSS feeds. You can also use a stand-alone application, like NetNewsWire (Mac OSX only), or an on-line service, such as NewsGator. [Please, do not email us for detailed instructions about setting up your reader. We spend almost all of our time selling pipes and tobacco and aren't really good at technical support!-jeff]
Once you have decided on how you want to receive your news, you simply need to subscribe to the feeds that interest you. Often, you may see a button like this one (which actualy works, by the way):
This is basically just a link to the page that will provide the RSS content. (The Smokingpipes.com button is on the bottom of all of our pages.) Technically, an RSS feed is just a type of XML page, and if your browser is equiped to handle it, clicking on the button will do the trick. If not, you may be able to configure a “Helper Application”, your RSS reader, to automatically launch when you click on a page of this type. If all else fails, you can enter the URL of the feed manually into your RSS reader of choice (ours is http://www.smokingpipes.com/freshpipes2.xml). If your system or your browser is not configured to correctly handle an RSS feed, all you will likely see is a page of HTML code in browser.
How do I get an RSS Reader?
There are quite a few choices of RSS readers, with new versions appearing frequently. You'll have to do a little searching to find the one that's right for you and your OS. Click here to be taken to a regularly updated compendium of choices.
For now, our news feed will change (automatically) each week, coinciding with our newsletter. If you have had difficulty receiving our newsletter, you should consider subscribing to this feed. We have big plans for our RSS feed, including the ability to update more often and the ability to choose specific items to subscribe to. We hope that this feature proves to be quite useful. A big thanks to Greg Pease, master tobacco alchemist, who provided much of this text.