As a part of a update last month the Autodesk Discussion (news)Groups now have RSS feeds. I’ve been using them for a while to monitor a few key groups which I used to visit in Outlook Express. I use RSS Bandit as my feed reader so what follows applies to it, other readers may handle or display the feed differently.
You subscribe to the feed by right clicking on the tiny (really tiny) RSS icon on the web page view of each Discussion Group. If you have an RSS Reader you should see an option to “Subscribe in default Aggregator” or similar.
Once subscribed the feed delivers headers for each message with a short extract. Clicking on the header opens the web-page view of that message thread. RSS Bandit does this using tabbed views so its a nice way to compare several threads even if from different discussion groups.
Each time you update the feeds you see new content highlighted and history of read messages. The length of the message history is controlled by a “retain messages” setting in RSS Bandit. I keep 3 weeks but at any time you can alter that to go back further and feed history can be set (in days) globally or per feed. I tend to use the search function on the web-page for material older than this.
RSS Bandit has a “Newspaper View” which I use to scan messages across multiple groups in one view. Clicking on the Autodesk Newsgroups category folder in my feedlist shows all new messages in all the feeds it contains. This makes it really quick to scan multiple groups, open those that interest you or mark them as read.
I upload/download my RSS Bandit state (RSS Feedlist and read/non-read status) to a USB Drive. You can also do this via web upload/download if preferred but our corporate firewall doesn’t allow it. It means I can read threads at home and carry the feed list and “read state” to synchronise my work desktop. That is a major productivity boost as I don’t see the same post twice!
After a few weeks working with the RSS Feeds & RSS Bandit I’ve not missed my old Outlook Express News-reader.