No, I won't be publishing reruns. I'm not out of original ways to bore you yet! You may notice that I have added a link in the sidebar for my site feed. Here's why I did it, and what the heck it means, for those who may not know.
I've been watching the statistics for how people come to visit my blog, and it seems there are several ways. Some people follow links from other blogs, sometimes their own. Others don't seem to remember the URL (sjaustin.blogspot.com) and do a search for "postus frequentus." I'm flattered that I chose a title comprised of made-up Latinish words that are apparently more memorable than my own name.
But the best way to access my blog (or any blog, really) is through the site "feed." You may not know this, but Blogger provides a syndication feature for all its blogs. Every time I post something new, Blogger notifies anyone who has subscribed to my site's feed that there is new content available. The technological details are probably unimportant, but here's a quick rundown. Site feeds are generally referred to as RSS ("really simple syndication"), which is a little bit like calling a tissue a Kleenex. Technically not all site feeds are RSS; in fact, Blogger's feeds use a service called Atom. But "RSS" is increasingly a catch-all term that includes both actual RSS feeds and Atom feeds.
In order to gain the benefits of an RSS feed, you have to subscribe to it. There are two major ways: within a special application (called a news reader or a new aggregator), or through a web-based service. For those who might be interested, I've broken it down for you here. It is easy, even though it might seem a little overwhelming at first.
Note: Since it has been three years since I have used Windows for more than a painful half-hour here and there, my knowledge is limited. Windows power users, feel free to add your advice in the comments.
I don't know very much about stand-alone news readers on Windows, and for most people, a web-based alternative will be preferable anyway. My quick research indicates that Newz Crawler might be a good app for ambitious users to try. If you just want to use a web-based version, here is my advice:
Use Firefox as a browser. Use Internet Explorer exactly one more time, long enough to navigate to the Firefox website and download it. Seriously, if the little blue "e" on your desktop is all you've ever known of the internet, you are missing out. Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer, and it has many more features, to say nothing of the fact that it does a much better job of keeping you safe from malicious software you might accumulate on the web.
When you browse with Firefox, you can add a "Live Bookmark," a drop down bookmark in your toolbar that shows a menu of the most recent posts from an RSS site. Here's a screenshot of what this looks like (click to enlarge):
As you can see, the menu contains a list of my most recent post titles. I can click those titles and go straight to the new content.
This is a nice feature, but wouldn't it be nice if Firefox would notify me that there had been something added since I last looked at a site? Firefox itself does not do this, but a simple extension (plugin) does. There are actually several extensions that do this, but my Windows-using friends overwhelmingly prefer Sage. I don't use Firefox for RSS, so I don't have Sage installed and can't provide a screenshot. But it's a simple, efficient tool, easy to install and use.
Of course, you could wait for Microsoft to get its act together with Internet Explorer 7.0, which will (finally) support RSS. IE7 has just entered the testing period, however, and it will be a while before it's ready for public consumption.
If you must stay with Internet Explorer but still want to use a web-based RSS reader, try Google Reader.
For a stand-alone application, it's hard to imagine a better product than Ranchero's NetNewsWire. The lite (read: free) version is plenty to get you started, and it's good to support an indie Mac software developer.
But for simple pulling of RSS feeds, just use Safari. (You could also use Firefox and/or Sage, just as you could on Windows, but I find Safari to be faster and much more pleasing to the eye.)