Getting SSCC Announcements via RSS

The SSCC makes important announcements available through our Broadcast message, which appears when you log in to our Windows domain or our Linux servers. This includes information about downtime, hardware and software upgrades, any problems with SSCC services, and anything else SSCC users need to know. However, you will only see Broadcast when you first log in, not when it changes--and if you don't log in to the SSCC you won't see it at all.

Thus we also make these announcements available as an RSS feed. With RSS you can get the information that's currently in Broadcast at any time and from any place, and get updates as situations change.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. At the technical level, an RSS feed is simply a file that a web server sends out when asked, not that different from a web page. However, the file has a standard structure which allows an RSS reader to pick out the various items in the feed and display them in any way it wants to. Thunderbird, for example, will display the items in an RSS feed as if they were email messages, while Firefox turns them into a set of bookmarks leading to small web pages. RSS readers check on the RSS feeds you are interested in on a regular basis and let you know when new items are available.

There are many different RSS readers available, and Thunderbird, Firefox and Internet Explorer have RSS readers built into them. The Google Reader (a web-based service) is also quite popular.

Setting Up an RSS Reader

You are welcome to use any RSS reader you prefer. Once you have one installed and configured, the only information you'll need in order for it to get the SSCC's RSS feed is the feed's location: https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/wp/?feed=rss2&cat=-12. However, this article will step you through the process of setting up Thunderbird, Firefox and Internet Explorer to read the SSCC's RSS feed.

Thunderbird

If you've never used Thunderbird as an RSS reader before, you first need to add an RSS reader account. Click Tools, Account Settings, Add Account.

Adding an Account

Then for the type of account choose RSS News & Blogs and click Next.

Choose RSS

Now tell Thunderbird how you want to refer to this account. The default News & Blogs is probably fine. Click Next when you're done.

Name the account

Finally review what you've entered and click Finish. Thunderbird is now ready to read RSS feeds, but you haven't told it what feeds you are interested in. To do so select your RSS account and click Manage Subscriptions.

Manage Subscriptions

Next click Add.

Add a feed

Now all you have to do is type or paste in the address of the RSS feed you want to add, which for the SSCC's feed is https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/wp/?feed=rss2&cat=-12. Then click Ok and close the RSS Subscriptions window.

Type the feed address

This will put you back at the main window for your RSS account. While you're there, you may want to set how often it checks for new articles to something smaller (say, every 15 minutes) and have it check automatically when you start Thunderbird.

Once you close the Account Settings window, you'll see your new RSS account underneath your main email account. Remember it may take a while before it checks the server for items.

Firefox

To set up an RSS feed in Firefox, you must first open Firefox and go to its location. You can do so by clicking on the previous link, clicking on the orange RSS icon (RSS Icon) you'll see in the address bar of your browser whenever you visit an SSCC web page, or by typing https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/wp/?feed=rss2&cat=-12 in the address bar.

You'll get a page which allows you to subscribe to the feed using one of several methods (it will also give you the current tables of the feed). If you want to use Firefox itself, choose Live Bookmarks and click Subscribe Now.

(Note that while this page will give you the option to subscribe using Thunderbird, it doesn't actually work. To use Thunderbird as your RSS reader use the method described above.)

Subscribing using Live Bookmarks

You'll then be asked where to put this bookmark. The default, the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder, allows you to make the feed available on a toolbar, but it doesn't really matter where you put it.

Adding a live bookmark

To see the feed, click on the folder you put it in, then the feed itself. Each item will show up as a bookmark. Click on the bookmark to see the tables of the item.

Using a live bookmark

Internet Explorer

To set up an RSS feed in Internet Explorer, you must first open Internet Explorer and go to its location. You can do so by clicking on the previous link, clicking on the orange RSS icon (RSS Icon) you'll see in the address bar of your browser whenever you visit an SSCC web page, or by typing https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sscc/wp/?feed=rss2&cat=-12 in the address bar.

You'll get a page which allows you to subscribe to the feed using Google tools if you have the Google toolbar installed, or using Internet Exporer itself. To do the latter click Subscribe to this feed.

Subscribing

You'll then be asked where to create the feed. The default location (Feeds) will probably be fine, so just click Subscribe.

Storing the feed

To access the feed, click on Favorites (the star) and then the Feeds button. You can then click on the name of the feed to view its tables.

Accessing the feed

Web-Based Readers

Web-based RSS readers have the advantage of being available anywhere. Thus you wouldn't need to set up the SSCC RSS feed on both your office computer and your home computer, for example. However, they do not check for new table very often and can go up to two hours between updates. Thus they're less useful for time-sensitive information, such as finding out when we've fixed a problem.

Last Revised: 3/14/2012