What are feeds?
Feeds are a simpler way of keeping up to date with web sites. Rather than having to regularly check your favourite web sites for new stories and articles, you receive summaries of articles automatically as soon as they are published. There's no better way of keeping bang up to date. If something interests you, simply click on it to be taken to the full article on the web site.
Feeds (also known as RSS feeds) are free and so is the software you need to receive them. In fact, online services like Google Reader allow you to use feeds without installing any software on your computer.
What software do I need?
There is a wide array of feed-reading software available for PCs and Macs, or you can use an online service. Some web browsers also have feed reading built in. For PCs we recommend FeedReader3 (www.feedreader.com). For Macs, Vienna (www.vienna-rss.org) is an excellent choice.
If you'd rather not install software on your computer, or you want to be able to access your feeds from any computer, use an online service. GoogleReader (www.google.com/reader) is especially good, though Yahoo and Microsoft Live! have similar services.
Users of the popular iGoogle personalised homepage (www.google.co.uk/ig) can add feeds to their homepage by simply clicking AddStuff, Add feed or gadget, then pasting in the feed web address. You can specify how many articles appear in each feed on your iGoogle homepage using their drop-down menus.
How do I subscribe to a feed?
Some web browsers make it especially easy to subscribe to feeds. For instance, when you click on a feed in Firefox it automatically detects that it is a feed and offers to subscribe you to the feed using a web-based feed reader like Google Reader or Firefox's own Live Bookmarks facility - whereby feeds are displayed in your bookmarks and bookmarks toolbar. Safari and Internet Explorer 7 onwards also streamline the process of subscribing to feeds.
If your browser doesn't help in this way, subscribing to feeds is still simple. Just click on the feed and cut and paste the URL from your web browser to your feed reader. Often you can achieve the same affect faster by dragging the icon of a feed (usually an orange button with a 'radar' icon) into your feed reader.