RSS Explained

Barter's back, new home networks and more
2 min read

This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Need the Feed?
RSS could stand for really simple syndication, but getting started with the relatively young XML technology can be a bit of a hassle. Being able to aggregate news alerts to more efficiently keep up with the latest information is a nice draw for RSS, but it's been somewhat slow to catch on with users. Still, tons of websites and blogs are on the RSS bandwagon, making it hard to ignore. Quite a few software options are now available to make the process easier. FireFox users have a built-in way to get started: Look for sites like Yahoo! News that have an orange icon in the lower right-hand corner of the browser. Clicking on the icon lets you bookmark the RSS feed.

For more advanced features, check out a third-party product like the free Pluck RSS Reader. Pluck features tight integration with FireFox and Internet Explorer, and it lets you find and manage feeds in a straightforward package. Pluck also offers a Web Edition that lets you keep up on your RSS feeds from the road. Other free RSS readers to check into include Awasuand The Big Feed Reader. The Standard Business edition of News-Gator, an RSS reader that integrates with Microsoft Outlook, is $1.95 per month.

Swap Hop
Bartering hasn't disappeared; it's just gone high-tech. SwapThing.comis a site designed for exchanging goods and services. The thousands of listings cover everything from used computers to graphic design and branding services. Businesses can swap their excess inventory, equipment or services with customers or other businesses.

Cash can still be part of the equation. Some items can be purchased outright, or deals can be evened out with cash. A recent browse found more than 267,000 service listings, including PC training, business-plan help, editing and ghostwriting. Making your way through the categories can be a bit cumbersome, so your best bet is to search for what you need using relevant keywords. It's free to list, but small transaction fees apply once a swap takes place--costs top out at $1 for completed transactions. It's a low-risk way to get into bartering for your business.

Worldwide, the number of installed home networks grew from roughly

24 million

in 2003 to

37 million

in 2004.
Statistic Source: In-Stat


of IT executives say they back up remote offices to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster.
Statistic Source: Asigra
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