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Innovative Uses For RSS Feeds

We’ve all grown used to forcing news sites and blogs to come to us through RSS aggregators instead going to the Web to find them. It’s convenient and it’s fun — but really how hard is it to open a browser and click a bookmark?

Most uses of RSS are pretty simple. They add a few minutes to our day rather than changing our lives. They’re useful apps rather than killer apps.

But with a little thought and a bit of neat searching, it is possible to load up on the sort of information that makes a real difference.

Here are some of things you can find in your RSS aggregator if you know where to subscribe:

A Job
Both HotJobs and Monster.com issue RSS feeds of search results. So if you’re a programmer looking for a job in Houston, for example, you’d be able to hear about new postings as soon as they go up.

That would certainly reduce the chances of forgetting to check a source, but it would also give you a wider range of options to choose from and it might even put your name at the top of a pile of resumes.

A Home
Having job posts come to you will make sure you don’t miss an opportunity, but being the first to know won’t be a huge advantage when you’re in the job market. Employers tend not to hire the first person who answers an ad.

Being fast can be a big plus in the housing market though.

A number of realtors have cottoned on to the benefits of putting the properties they represent in RSS feeds, and even newspapers are now delivering their classifieds by syndication.

When you’re looking for property, getting all the listings you can by RSS should be part of your search — and if your Realtor doesn’t offer it, you could show him how.

A Date
Once you’ve got a job and own your own home, you’re ready to find love… if you can. Fortunately, you don’t even have to log off your RSS to do that.

The big dating services like Match.com might be looking at building a presence on Facebook and other social networking sites, but few have got to grips with RSS yet. Craigslist though lets subscribers see when someone places a personal ad in their area and erm… ConservativeMatch will let you know about events where you can meet people who are pro-life, small government and single.

A Cheap Vacation
And if that thought has you searching for a plane ticket, both Frommers and SmarterTravel tell their subscribers about great deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. Again, it beats searching for them and when an offer is limited, it pays to be in the know first.

Traffic Reports
It’s hard to see RSS-delivered traffic reports replacing radio stations. Radios are more likely to be up-to-date and they don’t require you to take your eyes off the road to listen to them.

But to pick up a traffic report while you’re driving — or before you set out — you have to be tuned in, and that means you’re not listening to the music you want to hear. Subscribe to Weather.com’s traffic feed with a jailbroken iPhone though and you can find out where the blackspots are while you’re driving and without having to hear “Hotel California” three times an hour.

Package Progress
Package tracking might take the wondering out of waiting but it does add a big dash of frustration. When you don’t know when the package is going to move to the next shipping center, you end up refreshing page every five minutes to see if it’s gone now. And what about now? How about now…?

Simpletracking.com lets you know when your package is on the move by sending a message to your RSS aggregator as soon as it happens. It’s so simple. So why didn’t FedEx think of it themselves?

Currency Rates
And finally, with the dollar dropping against just about every other currency faster than a lemming from a tall cliff, exporters to the US can even watch their income fall by RSS. The Financial Times is just one publisher that sends currency news by syndication but there are plenty of others who’d love to share the bad news.

Of course, if you’re a real glutton for punishment, you can get your stock news this way too. If only we could get Prozac by RSS too.

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