geek love

Last night, I went out and had a couple beers with a few folks from the Ann Arbor blogging crew. I had a good time, but I got the sense that what I consider blogging and what they consider blogging are two very different things… or, rather, that we approach blogging from two completely different directions. I’m sure there were exceptions, but, in general, I got the sense that they were more interested in the technologies that enable blogging (and the sharing of information in general) than they were in the content being developed for distribution through these newly available channels. And, as I’m hopelessly non-technical by nature, I didn’t have a hell of a lot to contribute.

So, I just sat there in silence as they talked about the intricacies of pod-casting, RSS readers, and all the rest of it, occasionally smiling and nodding as though I had the slightest fucking clue what they were talking about. Occasionally, the topic would turn to politics and I’d peek up from behind my beer long enough to mutter something, but, for the most part, I just sat and listened. It was still cool, and I’m glad that I went, but I felt as though I was a bit out of my element. (Beer, as usual, saved the day.)

Anyway, at some point during the evening, one of the guys there, a fellow named George who runs the Arbor Blogs site, asked me if I’d started using Bloglines to capture my RSS feeds yet. In response, I just kind of stared blankly back at him, my mouth hanging open in a silent “duh.” I felt other people looking at me. I thought about saying, “It’s a piece of shit,” and then just storming off, but, after an awkward silence, I finally said something like, “Look, I wouldn’t have my blog if a programmer friend of mine hadn’t felt sorry for me.” I think I may have started sobbing and repeating the phrase, “I have no skilz” at this point, but I can’t remember. What I do recall, however, is that George hugged me and said that he’d send a remedial lesson in Bloglines my way… Well, I just received said lesson, and I thought that some of you might benefit from it as well, so here it is.

Bloglines.

So here’s the short version of how to get started. It will take 10 to 20 minutes of your time, depending on how many blogs you read. I’ll let you know when to expect it to be cool.

1) Go to http://www.bloglines.com/ and sign up for a free account

2) Go to http://www.bloglines.com/help/easysub?tip=6 and drag the “Sub with Bloglines” button to your bookmarks bar

3) Go to a blog that you read and click the “Sub with Bloglines” bookmark. This will take you to the Bloglines subscription page, where you can probably hit

4) Repeat step 3 for all the blogs you read (note, we’re still in the tedious setup, the cool part is coming soon)

5) Now go to http://www.bloglines.com/myblogs and click the “Mark All Read” link on the left side. This will tell Bloglines that you’ve already read all the old stuff on the site.

6) Here’s where it gets cool. Go do something else for an hour or two, then go back to http://www.bloglines.com/myblogs and you’ll see which sites have updated and with what. I usually Ctrl-click on interesting posts so that they open in new tabs in Firefox, so that I can read through everything in Bloglines and then go back through the interesting stuff.

I haven’t talked with George about it yet, but I was thinking that I might ask him to write something like this for the next issue of Crimewave… maybe explaining, step by step, how to create and distribute pod-casts, or get the most out of a new tool like del.icio.us. I’ll keep you posted, my loser friends.

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12 Comments

  1. Ken
    Posted March 17, 2005 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Was Arturo there?

  2. mark
    Posted March 17, 2005 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to blog with flippers. The kid’s determined though.

  3. Posted March 17, 2005 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    The new version of Mozilla Thunderbird has an awesome built-in RSS reader. You just have to add an account for “News and Blogs” and then add the feeds. Some blogs even have a feed for comments.

    http://markmaynard.com/xmlsrv/rss2.comments.php?blog=2

  4. Posted March 18, 2005 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    most helpful post ever

  5. Posted March 18, 2005 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I had rsvpeed the meetup but instead found myself at the special meeting of the Ypsi school board.

    Like you, I’m more focused on blog content, but I’m a sucker for techie tips.

    Thanks for the meetup report. I’ll try to make the next one.

  6. Posted March 18, 2005 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I use Thunderbird (my email client) rather than Bloglines. That way I have to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (not even visit the Bloglines site) – I just watch for new messages in each feed.

    RSS is good for the lazy and the obsessive blog-checkers. As I am both, it works well for me.

  7. Posted March 18, 2005 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    March 2005 Blogger Meetup Followup
    It sounds like we geeked out too much at the Meetup and didn’t engage people on the actual connections that blogging can lead to. I think that Mark and Dave are in the right, and it’s unfortunate that the geeking out that we did overshadowed an attempt…

  8. Posted March 18, 2005 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Bloglines is also suitable for reading AP headlines, the Washington Post, etc. Quite a timesaver.

  9. Posted March 18, 2005 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for inviting your protege, man.

  10. Posted March 18, 2005 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I had a good time and don’t regret going, even if I wasn’t able to contribute much to the discussion. And thanks to George for the skinny on Bloglines.

    Mark, I like your term, “Beer with Bloggers” — sounds about my speed.

  11. Posted March 18, 2005 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Thunderbird rocks for rss feeds.

    I’ve got feeds for blogdex, reuters, slashdot, and at least a dozen blogs in there. I find I can keep up with way more blogs in this way.

  12. mark
    Posted March 19, 2005 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the input. Right now I’d say I’m leaning toward Thunderbird. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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