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11/08/2013

Who remembers channels and the active desktop launched as part of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 all those years ago now? The idea was to push web content to you rather than you having to 'go on the web' to get it for yourself.

Although this seemed like a good idea it quickly became apparent that it wasn't going to immediately catch on for a number of reasons not least of which were the fact that the 'Active Desktop' and channels worked properly with an 'always on' internet connection whereas at the time the majority of people were still using dial up and that the technology was restricted to a Microsoft platform for both the client and the server.

Of course this isn't the first time that a good idea has failed due to poor timing or bad implementation and the fact remained that the idea of push technology for web content was a very good one. All it needs is to be cross platform compatible and allow the user a modicum of control as to what and what doesn't get delivered to them.

Enter RSS or Really Simple Syndication to give it its full name. RSS is a cross platform technology that allows web sites to make their content available through a syndicated "feed" that users can subscribe to receive. Users then view the feed with the help of an RSS reader.

These days many websites and blogs publish summary level content through their RSS feeds which are constantly updated with the latest information from the site. Using RSS, users receive the most up-to-date information delivered to them in their RSS reader without having to specifically visit the site.

The orange RSS button at the bottom of this page is the standard indicator that a site has an RSS feed available and clicking on it will usually link you directly to the feed which, depending on your browser, may take you to an inbuilt RSS reader or may just load the raw (XML based) feed in the browser window.

You can click here to try out the Pitpass RSS Feed.

So what does this mean for readers of Pitpass? Well if you download a suitable RSS reader plugin for your browser, device or mail client (just search online for "RSS readers") and 'subscribe' to the Pitpass newsfeed by clicking the RSS button at the bottom of the page or, as built into some browsers, the button in the tool bar at the top you will get news headlines and single line summaries delivered directly to your desktop as and when they are published from where you can click on them to open the full story in your browser. Note that the refresh interval for checking the feed for new content is configurable in most RSS readers.

Here are a couple of comments from Pitpass readers that have tried the service:

"I can say that the RSS Feed is a gem. Really nice and easy to use. Very good for an F1 addict like me." - Robert, London

"Your new RSS feature is very cool. Many thanks.

I used to have F1 news from Reuters via RSS courtesy of Yahoo, but they discontinued it. I've missed having F1 news at my fingertips each time I log on to the net. You've put F1 news back on my page!" - Tom, Seattle.

Many of the general news sites also have RSS feeds some of which may be of use to you.

Chris Balfe
Founder and Editor
editor@pitpass.com

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