RSS Offers AV Pros an Easy Way to Keep Up

It’s almost like having a press pass for all the year’s major trade shows and getting exhibitor news releases as soon as they’re issued.
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RSS Offers AV Pros an Easy Way to Keep Up

Sep 28, 2006 8:00 PM, By John McKeon

It’s almost like having a press pass for all the year’s major trade shows and getting exhibitor news releases as soon as they’re issued. Or knowing what the industry’s leading consultants and gurus are thinking almost as soon as they do.

To keep up with the sometimes dizzying pace of product introductions and technological developments in the AV industry, a growing number of professionals are relying on RSS feeds.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It’s a way of having news releases, announcements, opinions, and other material delivered right to your computer screen, continuously. For both systems integrators and their AV-savvy clients, RSS can be a really simple way of staying more current than has ever been possible before.

Want to keep up with the news at photokina, the huge international digital imaging, photography, and multimedia show now underway in Cologne, Germany? You could skip off for the banks of the Rhine, of course... or simply visit the show’s website and subscribe to its RSS feed.

Same goes for next year’s Siggraph. The show’s management already has an RSS feed operating for the August 2007 event. These RSS feeds will deliver dozens, or hundreds, of brief news items right to your computer, including both show management news and announcements from exhibitors. Each item consists simply of a headline and perhaps a line of detail, but users can decide for themselves whether to access the full stories.

Of course, show managements aren’t the only ones producing RSS feeds. Industry professionals who couldn’t attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year could, instead, visit the CNet’s website and subscribe to an RSS news feed direct from the show. Similarly, the immense CeBit show in Hannover, Germany—by some accounts, the world’s largest trade show—has become the hub of a growing network of RSS feeds, including a special CeBit news feed at Thinktecture, a full menu of feeds from engadget.com, and video feeds produced by both cebitvideo.com and Reuters, among many others.

In fact, it may seem as though everyone attending this enormous show not only had opinions and news, but had an RSS feed to disseminate them!

Individual companies are increasingly launching RSS options through their websites. All of the new product releases published by AMX during the recent CEDIA Expo, for instance, were distributed by RSS. Companies such as Sony, VBrick, and many others also offer RSS subscriptions through their websites.

Readers may also opt for a special interest RSS service such as the Dynamic Digital Signage and Interactive Kiosks Journal distributed by wirespring.com.

To take advantage of all this free-flowing information, users must have an RSS reader installed on their computer. The software is available from dozens of sources—a Google search for “RSS reader” will produce a lengthy list—and is often free. RSS capabilities are expected to be built into the new Microsoft Vista operating system when it is released, as well as Internet Explorer 7.0.

On many websites, a small red rectangle enclosing the letters XML or RSS is the link to subscribe to the organization’s feed. Right-clicking on the graphic will do the trick—generally opening a wizard within the RSS reader that adds that feed to your portfolio.

Over time, users will add and subtract from their collection of feeds, identifying the ones with the most valuable content and developing their own, personalized news tickers.

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