Two technologies I was late to embrace, and now regret waiting so long to use

I’m usually one of the first people on the block to try out new tech. Some of it isn’t quite ready for primetime (most of the “hand-held Internet devices” I’d tried before the iPhone, like the Nokia N series, the Sony Clie, etc) and some was fantastic but ahead of the curve when I tried it, but is mainstream now (Tivo, for example).

Two technologies I never could get working to my satisfaction I now can’t live without: RSS Feeds and IMAP.

RSS Feeds:

RSS (“Really Simple Syndication”) is a nifty way to get updates from almost any website. Pretty much all blogs and content-driven sites now offer RSS feeds, and they simply make life a gazillion times easier. I’d tried RSS several times before, but a combination of poor readers and a lack of feeds always made it a mass of fail. Now-a-days, with readers like Google Reader and everyone offering an RSS feed (and with sites like Feedburner that let you make a feed from anyone who doesn’t) RSS is very ready for primetime.

Put simply, a decent reader and a bunch of RSS feeds let me make a custom “newspaper” that aggregates all my periodic content together in one place. Its especially useful for sites that *occasionally* update (like a piece of software, for example) — I don’t need to remember to regularly check them for updates.

I also cut about an hour per day out of my “check all my followed sites for updates” routine, easily.


IMAP is the “other” common method for checking email on a client, the other being POP. POP is like checking real mail: it takes the mail from the mailbox and into the house (the client). IMAP is like keeping the mail in the box, but I can look at it from anywhere, and anything I do to it (like toss a piece of junk mail) means I don’t have to look at it again.

When you access mail from multiple places (in my case, my iPhone and a web browser, as I’ve tossed any stand-alone client), its the only way to go. Shortest version: If you use an iPhone or other remote reader to check your email in a supplementary way, use IMAP. It’ll save you time and endless “Oh, did I reply to that?” and “Oh, I downloaded it to my phone!” nightmares.

(Edit: the title was badly worded. I love RSS/IMAP, and regret waiting so long to embrace)