Thursday, January 7, 2010

RSS, Feed Readers, and why dial 411?

This month my daughter incurred over $7 worth of charges from calls to 411 on our latest cell phone bill... frustrated, I told her to "just text me and I'll look up the number for you"... her friend, listening in on the conversation, says "just text GOOGLE" (466453)... she quickly demonstrated by sending a text to GOOGLE, with the contents of "Cold Stone Creamery"... boom, within seconds, the nearest Coldstone Creamery location and phone number was texted back!  You can also get weather information, stock quotes, and more... check out more texting tricks at

Ok, so ever get annoyed by all those quizzes and game invitations on your Facebook News Feed?  Did you know there's a way to avoid visiting the Facebook site but still get all of your friends updates?   Here's how to avoid it but still see what's going on with your friends:  RSS.  Really Simple Syndication.  Blogs, news services, audio, video, etc. are all fed by syndicated "feeds" to whoever wants to subscribe to them.  With a feed reader, you can monitor all sorts of information in one location.  A favorite feed reader of mine is Google Reader.  To follow Facebook with Google Reader, you need to subscribe to the feeds you want, i.e posts, notes, and status updates :

To subscribe to your friends posts, go to On the upper right in the shaded box is a link titled "My Friends' Links" with the RSS logo next to it. Copy that link address/URL (right-click on it and copy the link address) and then subscribe to that URL in your feed reader.  In Google Reader, you would "Add a subscription", and paste the URL you just copied.  You can get the Notes feed by going to and repeating the same steps.  For the status updates feed, it's a little trickier as the Facebook powers that be don't advertise the feed... but it's there, just take one of the URLs you copied above and edit it... change the text in the URL that says "friends_notes" to "friends_status."   I edited the text in the browser location dialogue at the top of Google Reader... make sure you keep everything else that came before and after that text the same... after the feed loads, subscribe to it...

Ok, so it's a bit cumbersome to set up and it's not the true Facebook experience, but you may find it less noisy as you wade through all the updates...and with a mobile phone it's ideal... Google Reader is a great iPhone app.  Now you know how to avoid the Facebook noise and we learned a bit about RSS feeds in the process...  while you're at it, add to your feed reader!

1 comment:

  1. see also for a lower calorie version of facebook