April 8, 2008

Tech Tip: Reading RSS Feeds Using Prism

I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds that are frequently updated. To read these I use a web reader (Google Reader) but I prefer to keep my RSS feeds separate from the many websites I usually have open. My email client (Mozilla Thunderbird) supports RSS feeds but it would have to remain open all the time to check for new items or else it would miss some. Futhermore unlike email, there is no IMAP for RSS feeds so there would be duplication when I use Thunderbird on one computer and then another – read items may just be downloaded again without being marked as read.

As a compromise I decided to try out Google Reader with Mozilla Prism. Basically what Mozilla Prism does is allows you to run web applications from your desktop in a stripped down browser. This allows you to use the web application independently from your browser (in a different process) so it does not interfere with browsing. Also because of this a crash in the browser will not affect the web app or vice versa.

It should be noted that Mozilla Prism is still in development so you should use it only if you are comfortable with better software. Also some aspects of getting it to work may be a little tricky and require following instructions in the wiki linked to above. If you do get it working however you could have the benefits of a web based RSS feed Reader with the convenience of separation from your main browser.

Update: Google Reader and Mozilla Prism have since been discontinued.

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