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).
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)