I just figured out how to receive news feeds by e-mail!

To be clear, I’m excited because I’ve discovered a truly useful bit of technology, not because it required rocket science to set up.

I’ve been subscribing to “feeds” (automatic notifications of changes on a web site: new articles, blog posts, etc.) for a while through Internet Explorer’s Favorites, but I never remember to check them. There are also separate “news aggregator” programs, but I figure I wouldn’t remember to check there either.

Then, when a site of interest recently started offering a news feed, it provided instructions on how to get feeds by e-mail. My first attempt to set it up didn’t work, and I forgot about it for a while. I got back to it later and was successful, so I did the same for a bunch of other sites. Now every day I get e-mails containing such goodies as job postings, poems of the day, and updates from The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

One reason I procrastinate about looking into good technology like this is the discouraging complexity of computers today. Once upon a time I was relatively tech-savvy—for an English major anyway. During my first job as a technical writer, e-mail and the World Wide Web were just beginning to be used more widely and more and more things were being done electronically. My company was starting to add on-line help to its software, so my boss and I taught ourselves how to create WinHelp from rtf files. I also learned what went on behind the scenes in the software I was documenting, tweaking configurations and data in order to understand how it worked.

I left tech writing for a while and forgot much of this stuff, but even if I hadn’t, I don’t think I’d be much farther ahead today, as technology keeps getting more and more complicated. I feel like an amateur auto mechanic who used to be able to fix anything, but now, with cars being run by computers, is stymied by anything more complicated than an oil change.

The good news is that some things are still easy, like Feed My Inbox. This is what you do:

  1. On the web site or blog you want to subscribe to, find the link to the news feed. There is usually a feed icon somewhere on the page or in the browser window. It probably looks something like this: feed-icon-14x14.
    • Warning: This is potentially the hardest part. It’s where I messed up the first time, because Feed My Inbox’s handy how does this work? page indicated that you would find the feed icon in the browser’s address bar, but nothing was showing up there in Internet Explorer. I found that instead there is a button on the toolbar in IE8 that is highlighted if a feed is available and gray if one isn’t. If you can’t see one anywhere, try using a different browser or just see if the link to the site’s home page works in step 3. But remember that not all web sites have news feeds.
  2. Copy that link and then go to http://www.feedmyinbox.com/.
  3. Enter the feed link and enter your e-mail address. Click the Submit button. You’ll then get a confirmation e-mail, and once you click the appropriate link in the message, that’s it!

P.S. You can subscribe to my site’s feed (see the “Subscribe to feed” button under the page heading), but don’t expect to get daily updates!