Update on Subscribing to Blog

Blog and other types of online subscriptions depend on something like RSS or Atom to tell an application, usually a browser or e-mail reader, where to find the information. My Blog supports RSS. The RSS feeds are simply a kind of document that describes content. OK, yes, they’re a little more complicated than that, but really, when you click a link for an RSS feed, you’re requesting a special kind of a document. What happens next depends on your browser and how its configured.

It’s the what happens next part that is confusing some people. My browser has a plug-in installed for Outlook. Whenever I click on an RSS link in my browser, the plug-in redirects the request to Outlook. A copy of Outlook opens (even if Outlook is already active) and the blog subscription information appears in Outlook. I actually see a little dialog box like the one shown here:

A dialog box showing how an RSS subscription looks in Outlook.
A Subscription Dialog in Outlook

All you do to create the subscription is click Yes. Of course, you might be using another e-mail application. Whether you can even subscribe to RSS feeds depends on the capabilities of your e-mail reader. However, even if your e-mail reader can handle RSS feeds, your browser needs to know about it before the e-mail reader will be activated in response to an RSS feed click. In some cases, the two applications simply aren’t talking to each other. Unfortunately, because there are so many conditions and so many software packages, there really isn’t any way I can tell you how to create a connection when there isn’t one. You need to talk with someone who can actually look at your machine.

You can still use your browser to review the feeds. Only one of my browsers (I have three installed) has a plug-in for Outlook installed. So, when I click on the Entries RSS link (see Subscribing to My New WordPress Blog (Reposted) for details) in Internet Explorer, I don’t see a copy of Outlook open. Instead, I see the following page describing the feed.

The Internet Explorer window containing the RSS feed for this site.
An RSS feed page in Internet Explorer.

The page contains a listing of all the current posts. Notice the yellow box. At the bottom of this box you see a Subscribe to this feed link. Click this link and you get a subscription to the feed in your browser, not in your e-mail reader. This means that you need to open your browser, rather than your e-mail reader, to see the latest posts, which is admittedly inconvenient. Even so, you can get a quick listing of the posts for all of your favorites sites using this approach.

I wish that there was an easy fix for this problem, but the fact is that if you’re seeing the browser, rather than your e-mail reader, when you try to subscribe to the blog, the problem is one of connectivity. All that I can provide is the document containing the description of the posts and where to find them. Please let me know if you have any additional questions about subscribing at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Subscribing to My New WordPress Blog (Reposted)

A number of people have reported that they’re no longer getting their feeds from the blog. So, I’ve reposted these instruction from June 27th to help out. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I want to be sure everyone who wants access, has access.

During the moving process from my previous blog software to WordPress, I lost all of the comments that people had offered in the past, along with all of the blog subscriptions. What this means is that anyone who subscribed earlier is no longer receiving the posts automatically to their inbox. Unfortunately, I can’t perform the task of recreating those subscriptions—you have to be the one to do it. With this in mind, follow these simple steps.

  1. Locate the Meta heading on the blog page.
  2. Click Entries RSS. You should see the RSS feature of your e-mail reader open. As an alternative, you could see a feed summary in your browser. In either case, you should see something new that tells you about the subscription process.
  3. Subscribe to the blog using your feed software. When working with an e-mail reader, this usually means answering Yes to a dialog box that opens asking whether you want to subscribe to the feed. When working with a browser, it usually means clicking a Subscribe to this Feed button. In both cases, the application creates a new entry for this site that will automatically update as I add content, so you receive the feeds automatically.

I don’t have access to every kind of application software out there, but I may be able to answer some specific questions about subscribing to the blog. Please let me know about any questions you have at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com. It’s really important to me that you have a great experience with my blog, so never be shy about asking questions :).

 

Subscribing to My New WordPress Blog

During the moving process from my previous blog software to WordPress, I lost all of the comments that people had offered in the past, along with all of the blog subscriptions. What this means is that anyone who subscribed earlier is no longer receiving the posts automatically to their inbox. Unfortunately, I can’t perform the task of recreating those subscriptions—you have to be the one to do it. With this in mind, follow these simple steps.

  1. Locate the Meta heading on the blog page.
  2. Click Entries RSS. You should see the RSS feature of your e-mail reader open. As an alternative, you could see a feed summary in your browser. In either case, you should see something new that tells you about the subscription process.
  3. Subscribe to the blog using your feed software. When working with an e-mail reader, this usually means answering Yes to a dialog box that opens asking whether you want to subscribe to the feed. When working with a browser, it usually means clicking a Subscribe to this Feed button. In both cases, the application creates a new entry for this site that will automatically update as I add content, so you receive the feeds automatically.

I don’t have access to every kind of application software out there, but I may be able to answer some specific questions about subscribing to the blog. Please let me know about any questions you have at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com. It’s really important to me that you have a great experience with my blog, so never be shy about asking questions :).

 

Subscribing to this Blog

Sometimes the simplest things cause problems for people, even those of us who have been working with computers for a long time. When Really Simple Syndication (RSS) first came out, it took me a while to figure out that I could subscribe to news stories or other items of interest online by clicking a link. Because Outlook was behind the technology curve, it took even longer for me to find, install, and learn how to use a third party RSS feed reader add-on. The feed reader makes it possible for Outlook to receive and use RSS posts (something that Outlook 2010 provides by default). Once I understood how RSS worked, it seemed so simple, but getting to the point of actually using RSS was daunting in a way because it was something new.

That’s one reason why I think this post is important. I imagine that there are many people out there who are just like I was—they don’t understand that RSS makes it possible to read this blog every day by having it automatically delivered to their e-mail application’s inbox or to their browser. So, just how do you subscribe to my blog? Look at the left side of my blog and you’ll see a category called Syndicate as shown here.

BlogSubscription01

Within this category you see links for subscribing to my posts, comments people make about my posts, and any podcasts I upload. Clicking these links subscribes you to various portions of my blog using either Atom or RSS. Atom is simply an alternative to RSS, but both technologies work essentially the same way. You click the link, your feed reader receives a request to make a new subscription, and then you subscribe to the content. Once subscribed, you receive updates about content on the site automatically through the feed reader. Feed readers are normally part of a browser or e-mail application.

In order to choose the right link, you need to know what sort of post notifications your feed reader supports. The help that comes with the application should provide the information you need. In addition, you need to decide whether you want to see posts, comments, or both. I don’t currently provide podcasts, so even though there is an option for them, you won’t receive any notifications at this point.

What happens after you click a link depends on which feed reader you’re using. For example, I use Outlook 2010 as my feed reader. When I click on an RSS link, I see a copy of Outlook 2010 open and a dialog box telling me about the feed like this one.

BlogSubscription02

When I click Yes, Outlook adds a subscription to the RSS feed for me. Every time I check for updates from that point on, I also receive any RSS feeds that I’ve subscribed to and can read the posts they contain. In my case, the RSS feeds appear in a site-specific subfolder of the RSS Feeds folder in Outlook. It really is that simple.

Many RSS feed readers support additional features. For example, clicking Advanced displays other information about the feed in Outlook as shown here.

BlogSubscription03

I can use the options on this dialog box to tell Outlook to download articles, rather than just headers. I can also automatically download any enclosures supplied with the post, such as source code. The point is that you can use your RSS feed reader settings to modify how your system works with RSS. Downloading complete articles makes sense only when you intend to read entire articles most of the time—headings make more sense when working with sites that you read some of the time.

This is a brief introduction to RSS that should make it easier for you to subscribe to my blog and enjoy it on a daily basis. Please let me know if you have any questions about subscribing or if you encounter any difficulties at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.