Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Using Bloglines.com to read many blogs

During the Genealogy Blogger Summit at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree on Saturday, several attendees wondered how readers can read many genealogy blogs without spending a lot of time. Dick Eastman answered the question by suggesting signing up for an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed and receiving blog posts via email or via an aggregator web site like Google or Yahoo (and several others).

Many blogs, but not all, permit using an RSS feed to capture blog posts. On Genea-Musings, you can sign up to receive blog posts using Feedburner by entering your email in the box down on the lower right column of this blog. Many readers have chosen this option, as you can see!

If you want to minimize email in your Inbox, but still want to read blog posts in a reader of some sort, you can use Google, Yahoo, or another aggregator.

I use http://www.bloglines.com/ because it is free, it is easy to use, and it is reliable. I am not a really ept "techie" - I like simple things that I can understand and control.

Let me walk you through signing up for and using Bloglines to read blogs (and it can be any type of blog - genealogy, history, politics, religion, whatever you find!).

First, go to www.bloglines.com. You can create an account by putting in a real email address and a password of your choice, choose your time zone and language. The registration box is shown below.

When you click on the Register button, you get the screen below that tells you that you are registered and that you have an email that will complete your registration.

At this point, go to your email address, find the email from Bloglines, and click on the link to activate your account. Another window with your registered account will open, and you can now choose any pre-selected type of blog that interests you. Genealogy is not on the list, as shown below:

The key step in this whole process is to now select the Feeds tab on the far left top of the left-hand frame, just under the Bloglines logo. The screen will look like this:

You automatically get the Bloglines news feed.

Do you want to add genealogy blogs to your Bloglines? Click on the Add link just below the Playlist tab.

You will see the box in the center of the right-hand panel that says Blog or Feed URL. Type or copy the blog URL into this box (please start with www.geneamusings.com). Then click on the Subscribe button below the box.

Now, you have to select some items for each blog you want to subscribe to. Some blogs have more than one feed, and you need to select one. I always select the one that has the most subscribers. Then you have to choose options in the Updated Items (I always select Display as New) and Display Preferences (I always select Complete Entries). Then you can click on the Subscribe button below the comment box. See below:

Bloglines revises the list of blogs that you have subscribed to, and usually chooses the last 10 blog posts for the added feed. The screen with Genea-Musings added looks like this:

Finally, you can click on the blog name in the left-hand panel and see the blog content in the right-hand pane. In the screen below, I clicked on Genea-Musings in the left-hand panel and received 10 posts in the right-hand panel, as shown below (you have to scroll down to see the others).

If you want to comment on a specific blog post, you can click on the post tile on the right-hand panel and it will take you to the specific blog post where you can read it, see the previous comments, and comment yourself if you care to (we genea-bloggers love comments!).

If you want to add another blog to your Bloglines list, you can do it any time by finding the blog URL (the Internet address) somehow (you can use my list of blogs on the right-hand side of my blog page), copying the URL (use Ctrl-C for Windows computers), then click on the Add button and enter the new blog URL (use Ctrl-V on Window computers) into the box, and now you have two of them. You can add as many as you like!

That wasn't so hard, was it? I was able to create a Bloglines account, get my registration email, and start my blog list using the Add button in less than 3 minutes.

When there are new blog posts in each blog on your list, the blog name will be in bold print with the number of new posts since you last clicked on that specific blog.

As you find new blogs that you want to read, you can add them to your list using the Add button process above. Each one takes about 15 seconds to add, but then you have it available for your use. In Windows XP, I leave Bloglines on one tab and open other tabs for other web pages. Bloglines updates the list every 30 minutes or so. I presently have 279 blogs I read whenever there is new content. My blog reading takes no more than 30 minutes each day, and often less.

If you want to edit your subscription to a blog, you can do that easily by clicking on the Edit Subscription link above the right-hand pane. If you want to delete a blog, you can do that by clicking on the blog name in the left-hand panel and then clicking on the Unsubscribe link above the right-hand panel.

Don't forget to put your Bloglines account into your browser Favorites or Bookmarks - then you can click on it and see what blogs have added content since you last used it.

Bloglines saves me a lot time online, is easy to use and permits me to read the latest information from my fellow genea-bloggers.

1 comment:

DearMYRTLE said...

Ol' Myrt here had just plugged BLOGLINES into her lineup for innovative websites for NEXT week, when I saw this posting.

As genealogists become mobile, the thought of carrying around a computer to read our favorite blogs becomes cumbersome. I do favor reading my favorite blogs online when I am at a computer in the Family History Library. That was I can keep up with the blog postings about every hour when I need to take a break from reading microfilm.