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How RSS saves you time, Keeps you focused & gets you more out of Life.

What’s RSS?
RSS stands for Really Sweet Stories. Okay it doesn’t stand for that, but the stories is what it’s all about. It’s a web-technology that helps these Really Sweet Stories (like this one), news & information reach you in your web-browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) rather than you going after it, day after day. If there’s one tech habit you acquire in 2008, let it be the habit of subscribing to various RSS feeds and getting your information through there.

How will subscribing to RSS, make my life better?
1. A Huge Time Saving: Most of us are spending more and more time on the web. Although the web is a great tool (the best really) for information, entertainment, staying connected with friends etc., it is a HUGE time-waster too. By getting information via RSS you can iscan through 40 to 50 webpages within 5 easy minutes, with no stress whatsoever. You settle upon which you’d like to read, then with the help of some RSS Readers you can choose to read it right away or mark it for later.

2. Keeps you Focused: By having subscribed to RSS feeds of only the websites that matter it will restrict you & hence be focused on the information you need to receive. Furthermore in an RSS reader you are spared from the clutter such as Ads & other distractions such as cute graphics and other information on the side panels of a website. The absence of which keeps you concentrated on the core message. Otherwise it’s very easy to be swayed away link to link and then forgetting what it was that you initially came to the website for.

3. Keeps you updated with the latest News: Instead of buying the newspaper, waiting for someone at home or office to finish it, or even instead of typing the URL to go to the website, the RSS reader pulls the News from BBC, Times of India, The Hindu or any news website and has it delivered to you for it to be read at your computer or your phone (more on this below). It’s a highly efficient way to stay on top of things, with minimum effort, very little time and without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Helps you restart your lost hobbies, interests & passions: Here’s where RSS has really helped me. I love writing, but for some reason either lack of organisation or motivation couldn’t get myself to write regularly. By subscribing to a whole lot of writing Blogs, I was exposed to the material regularly for 6 whole months. It supplied not only with the motivation, but even the method and the tools to finally make me take my passion seriously.

What is that one thing that you really want to do but can’t seem the time to do it? Is it some sport, exercising, starting a book or even a business maybe? Whatever it is your interest lies in there are hundreds of quality websites & blogs on the topic that are regularly updating information on that topic. By subscribing to RSS you don’t need to go to visit that information every time. It will be delivered to you. And reading it for long enough witll eventually spur you to go and do something about it.

5.Keeps you in touch with friends: Many of my friends have Blogs now. Thanks to RSS it’s really easy to keep up with the ongoings of their lives and their writings in just a few clicks.

6. Keeps you updated when you’re on the go. Sometimes, days pass by when I don’t go online on my laptop. I don’t need to. Just one glance to the RSS feeds in my mobile and I get to know the latest headlines, the weather and any info on the blogs/websites that I track. This is another huge time saver, as very often I’m at our various sites or I come across 10 minutes of time when a meeting is delayed and thanks to RSS in that small bucket of time I process a massive amount of information then.

How do I subscribe to RSS? Well it’s really very easy…

Step 1: Get an RSS Reader. There are plenty of Free readers out there. Google Reader seems to be the more popular one, we (me and Ali) prefer NetVibes. You can read Ali’s review of how useful NetVibes is by clicking here. Google Reader or NetVibes, either one is absolutely fine.

Step 2:Look for the orange icon.Be it a news site, a sports site, or even a filmy site, most of them now support RSS. How would you know, just look for the Orange icon. You can see one on top of this blog post, on the right hand side of the home page of our Blog.

Step 3: Subscribe.
a. Just Click on the Icon,
b. Copy the web address from your browser
c. Head over to your RSS Reader.
d. Click on Add/Subscribe to Feed.
e. Paste the web address there and click on Subscribe.

Step 4: Make your Rss reader your home page. Now to ensure that you read your RSS regularly, it would be a good idea to make this page, your home page. So that whenever you open your browser, it’s this page you are directed to. Which again is quite simple to do:
a. Click on Tools and then Options (or Internet Options) from your web browser.
b. Click on ‘Use Current’ under the Home Page option, beneath the Main/General tab.

That’s it. You’ve Done it! Hey, hey, now go treat yourself to warm cup of cappuccino with Hazelnut syrup. :-)

RSS in Plain English: a video on RSS:
I particularly like the short video right titled RSS in Plain English. It’s only 3.5 minutes seconds long and explains the benefits and how to subscribe to RSS in an very nice & simple way.

[wp_youtube]0klgLsSxGsU[/wp_youtube]

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Click here to Subscribe to Arif & Ali Blog for Tech tips for beginners, productivity tips, thought-provoking ideas, spiritual ponderings and occasional dose of fun.

Yuuguu: Free Desktop sharing application

 I often get asked from friends to help them troubleshoot their PC problems. It’s not a problem if they’re sitting in front, but more often than not they’re communicating from somewhere far and that’s when you wish there’s an application out there like Yuuguu!

Well here it is! Yuuguu is a free service allowing it’s users to share each others’ desktops. It means you can view/use your friend’s PC as if you were sitting right next to them. Imagine the uses:

1. Work remotely:
You’re at home and need to login to your Office PC. With Yuuguu you can remotely logon to your PC, and interact with colleagues as though they’re next to you.

2. Web Conferencing
I’d recommend using Yuuguu with skype. It’s a great combination to give anyone a presentation remotely and also speak to them live.

3. Troubleshoot PCs
IT Admins of small businesses can trouble shoot PCs in their offices which may be in their premises or somewhere else. All you need is an internet connection.

Any more uses of Yuuguu you can think of ?

Signing up is as simple as signing up for Yahoo Messenger or Gtalk. A user can control what level of permission and share your desktops with as many users as you want!

How Netvibes.com will save you several hours each week

Has the Internet changed how you read the news? It certainly has changed for me, and saving me lots of time. I remember the pre-internet days when I had to wait for dinner time to watch the news, or wait for next morning, to read the headlines.  The internet of course changed all that. These days all the small and big news & content providers have an online presence that provide the news that is up to date. From CNN and BBC to The Hindu and Times of India.

So how can Netvibes.com save you several hours a week? Well, instead of sitting infront of the Idiot box during dinner time waiting for the news to show up, or spending hours visiting all the websites to track the news. You can use Netvibes.com to brings the latest news from the sources you select, neatly arranged in a nice package, waiting to be read.

Below are some steps I’ll show you on how to setup your page at Netvibes, and add your favorite news source to track, with some cool tips & tricks to manage them.

1. Visit Netvibes.com and setup your account

Setting up your account is as easy as clicking on the ‘Register Now’ link and then entering your email and password.

netvibes-register

 

 

 

 

2. Add your news sources to your netvibes page

Now comes the main part! At this point you have to select the content that you want to display on your netvibes page. To start with you will find lots of useful widgets already present on your page, but other that this you’ll also have the option to add custom news feeds to your page.

For example if you would like NDTV headlines to appear on your Netvibes page, visit www.ndtv.com and lookout for the RSS link. You can find it on top of the page:

ndtv

 

 

 

Click on that will give you the option to select the news feed you would like to insert on your Netvibes page:

ndtv-rss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I’m interested in ‘National News’ I copied that link, and added it to my netvibes page by clicking ‘add a feed’ and pasting the NDTV feed URL:

netvibes-add-feed

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’re done click on the finish button. You’ll now have NDTV coming to you instead of you going to NDTV :-) Neat!

ndtv-widget

 

 

 

3. Create Tabs

Soon you’ll find that you’ve got lots of news & blogs that you’d like to track. Netvibes’ Tab feature allows you to organize your feeds Tab-wise. Here’s how I’ve done mine:

tabs

 

 

4. Add Widgets

You would have realised by now that besides displaying news, you can add some pretty cool widgets ranging from Email to Calendars, tasks & Notes.

widgets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Access from Mobile 

Ok, last but not the least, you can access your netvibes page from your Mobile phone! This is a really time saving feature. I no longer have to be on my PC to read the news, I can read them when I’m on the go from my Blackberry. So if you own a GPRS enabled mobile phone, then visit http://m.netvibes.com and login to your account, to read the news you want!

MapMyIndia.com: The Google Maps of India

I was really surprised to see this site! Inshort, it’s like the Google Maps for India. MapMyIndia allows the user to search any place on the map of India by entering the location details. eg:

“S block, Greater Kailash II, New Delhi”

It’s not there yet, ’cause when I tried entering the Vakil Housing office address, it just recognised the ‘bangalore’ in it. But nonetheless it’s a great start, with some cool Ajax features like dragging the map & zooming! Some of the other features available:

* When browsing a city or town it shows the popular places to visit.
* Registered users can create & save their locations. (e-locations)
* Right click to see driving directions from

Below is the location of our office which I’ve marked with a blue indicator (e-location):

Go Riya!

Here’s a Web Service that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. Riya.com is a free photo sharing website with a difference. Once you upload your photos, using it’s face recognition technology it can match the faces of the same person across all photos!

So once you’ve got a whole bunch of photos uploaded on Riya, you can automatically browse through them by the people present the in photos! Try Riya today!

Interesting Fact: Riya is founded by an Indian, Munjal Shah. Check out his Blog here: http://munjal.typepad.com

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