RSS stand for "Really Simple Syndication". It is a technology that allows easy dissemination of information to subscribers (you). News Corporations use it to show current headlines, Blog writers use it when they've posted a new blog, and a teacher uses it when there is new information on the class websites.
RSS Feed Readers are small programs that allow you to get a notice when stories are added to a news site, someone blogs a new message, a teacher posts your grades, etc. It helps to quickly see headlines, so you know whether or not you should waste time reading the full articles. It also saves time in that you don't have to visit all of the websites in order to keep up with the information you need. There are two types of readers: online and standalone.
Online readers exist online on places like Google Reader, My Yahoo, and Bloglines. You can place feeds of various things on your "home pages" with these sites. Each time you access your "home page", it updates with new information from the feeds.
However, I would recommend that you install a standalone reader. They notify you of changes to the website, without running a browser, such as Firefox or Opera. They can run in the system tray of your operating system and listen for updates to RSS feeds, then notify you with a popup.
Some of the standalone readers include Feedreader, Pears, or Liferea (Linux Feed Reader). Feedreader is a Windows application that installs as a system tray program and updates at a regular frequency. Pears is a feed reader for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux (I've only used it on Linux, but it says it works for the Mac OSX and Windows). Liferea is a feed reader for Linux, and also works from the system tray and notifies you of updates at a regular frequency. If you know of a good feed reader for Mac OSX, let me know. There is a list of RSS readers for Apple at here (not much luck there) and a list of readers for several platforms at this site.
I'll go through the procedures on how to download FeedRreader (it is completely free since it is released under the GPL license), install it, and manually subsribe to feeds.
Instructions should be similar for MacOSX and Linux readers (and perhaps some of the more obscure platforms). You can access the instructions by using the menu at the left.S. Hyde Last modified: Mon Aug 4 16:26:27 HST 2008