Over the past few months, I've discovered 'blogs', RSS and news aggregation.
A 'blog' is like an online diary. The word itself is short for 'web log'. There are dedicated blogging sites on the net, where people talk, generally about themselves, and what is going on in their life. I think that it's a great mechanism for sharing information on topics that you know about (benefits others), as well as a great way to verbalise what you are thinking about, which can help in learning and understanding (benefits the author). Getting things off your chest and getting on your soap box is nice too. ;)
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is expressed in XML, and is used to feed 'news aggregators'. Basically it provides headlines from news services. The thing here is that a blog is like a news service, since it has articles that are submitted periodically.
A news aggregator is a software service that periodically polls subscribed RSS feeds. A user can then be notified when new news has arrived, and read their news, all from one program (thus 'aggregator').
My blog is hosted on my home computer. This may change in the future, but I intend to keep 'blog.jj5.net' as the standard locator, and hopefully I'll never have to break the links. Because I host it from my home office (I'm not sure if it's more my home, or more my office - I live here, hardly ever leave here, but I'm always working - make up your own mind and go with whatever feels more comfortable for you), over my ADSL line, it may be periodically unavailable. Yesterday, due to all the storms in and around Sydney, my house blacked out for over an hour, my UPS fought valiantly, but was only able to keep my Internet and servers up for about 10 minutes (I was forced to read things on *cringes* paper for an hour, hehe, remember books?).
I use .Text to manage my blog. This is free, open-source software implemented for the .NET platform / IIS (aka ASP.NET). It took 7 minutes and 37 seconds to set this up last Sunday just before I ran out the door with a mate to go to the computer markets. I used basically defaults, made a few CSS hacks, and that was it. I have the source, but am running from a publicly released compiled version, not a modified version (yet). I'm pretty happy with how it works, and haven't got any firm plans to modify the software, but time allowing I'll tweak a few of the pages.
In addition to having a blog, I also read a few too. The news aggregator that I use is SharpReader. I heard about it, installed it, and stuck with it (so far). There are regular releases, but I don't try too hard to keep up with them. Its free, and runs on the .NET platform. If you get this software, or another news aggregator, you can subscribe to my RSS feed (this is the 'Syndication' link on the main page, if you were wondering what all that was about).