No. 2 Article 1/April 3, 2009

The Bulletin Now Available as an RSS Feed

Those of you who access the Bulletin through our website may have noticed that we have added a modest new feature called an "RSS feed." RSS feeds are becoming a popular way for web users to learn when new content has been published on a website or a blog that they follow.

For those of you already familiar with getting information through RSS, we hope you find value in the new feature. For those who are unfamiliar, an explanation might help you decide to try it out. There are many national and regional websites that distribute information by RSS feed, and you will start to recognize them by the icon shown here. The icon may appear anywhere on a website, but it is commonly found on the right-hand side of the URL window.

RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, is a means by which web publishers can syndicate, or distribute, their content automatically. An RSS feed provides a summary of the new content, and it benefits subscribers by allowing them to receive new information immediately upon its posting. You might be thinking that this is just the same as receiving the notification for the Bulletin by e-mail, and in some respects it is.

However, with an RSS feed, you can choose among formats or programs in which to receive the information, including an e-mail program such as Outlook. Even if you already receive the notification for the Bulletin through Outlook, the advantage with an RSS subscription is that Outlook will automatically organize your RSS subscriptions, and you can view titles and read article summaries without scrolling the entire newsletter.

You can also receive RSS feeds through a personalized homepage application, such as My Yahoo, iGoogle, Windows Live Personalized Experience, and others. These personalized web pages manage multiple web-based subscriptions and applications, such as e-mail services like Gmail; social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; and blogs like AgNewsWire and The Soy Report.

So now you have a snapshot description of an RSS feed and some ideas for computer applications with which you can manage your subscriptions. How do you subscribe? Simply go to the home page of the Bulletin and click on the orange RSS icon. The subsequent page will prompt you to choose a program to manage your subscription. Choose your desired program, and that's it. If you want to use a personalized homepage application, you will need to set that up first. If you are not familiar with one of those applications, I recommend at least checking them out as a new Web browsing tool.

This is not, of course, a detailed technical review of any of these applications, nor are we endorsing any program or product. We provide this information simply as a brief explanation of the new RSS feed for the Bulletin, one more method for continuing to provide you with timely and helpful information. You can learn much more about RSS feeds and the other services discussed through a Google search, or you can start with this Wikipedia explanation. I hope you find the information useful and that it allows you to take advantage of this new service.--Vince Davis

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