Thursday, February 26, 2009

Start using RSS in 5 minutes

RSS rocks. In addition to consolidating all the news you read on a single page, it's also handy for keeping up with the latest publications in your favorite journals without ever going to PubMed. If you're not using RSS, give it a shot and you'll never look back.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. You might also hear it called "syndication", "news aggregation", "news feeds", or simply a "feed." Nowadays, nearly every blog, news, or other website that continually updates content uses RSS and allows users to subscribe to those feeds, and that includes most scientific journals. CNN, Nature Genetics, PNAS, Getting Genetics Done, ESPN, and even Barack Obama's blog all broadcast RSS. An RSS reader will aggregate updates or headlines from your favorite websites as they are posted into a single page, and usually lets you read the first paragraph or so of the article. You can then click to link out to the full article and continue reading if you're interested. It's a great way to aggregate all the news or blog content you read on a daily basis into a single web page for quick viewing.

To start using RSS, you'll need a reader. A great one to start with is google reader. They have a one-minute long video to show you the basic features. It's web-based so you don't have to install anything. All you need is a Gmail account, which most people already have nowadays.

Now let's subscribe to a few posts. Go to the NY Times' Science page. If you're using firefox, you should see the shiny orange RSS symbol in the address bar. Internet Explorer and Chrome have similar functionality built-in. Click it, then click add to Google Reader. Let's add a subscription to Nature Genetics. Click on their "Web Feeds" link near the right hand side of the front page. If websites don't have a page dedicated to the feeds they offer, many times your browser will realize that the content is syndicated with RSS, and you can subscribe using your browser. Now go back and check out your google reader page. It's easier to skim through headlines if you click the "Show: List" view rather than the expanded view. Click "Mark all as read" when you're done scanning through headlines. Any new stories published on either of these websites will show up here as a new item.

Monday, February 23, 2009

GGD Launches!


You've reached the first official post of Getting Genetics Done. The idea for this blog was a spin off of the short courses and workshops that Vanderbilt's Computational Genomics Core has recently been offering. Our goal for writing this is to share anything we use or hear of that makes life easier in genetics research, or boosts productivity throughout the workday in general. Topics here may cover anything from a specific software to workflow philosophy, and anything between.

Here are a few prominent features of GGD:

Open access - This blog is open to anyone who wants to read it, not just CHGR members. No registration, no VUNet ID sign-in, no VPN authentication. So if you read something you like, feel free to share with anyone.

Comments are encouraged - You can comment on any of our posts, without having to register, so please share your thoughts with us and other readers.

Contribution is welcomed - Posting here is dead simple, and we'd love to have anyone in the CHGR contribute. And that's certainly not limited to the "statistical" or "computational" folks here on the 5th floor. If you have an idea you'd like to post or a topic to write about, let one of us know, and posting permission is an email away.

Archive & Tags - All of our posts will be archived by month, and tagged with keywords relevant to its content. You can navigate these through the links in the upper right sidebar.

Publication feeds - In the right-hand sidebar of this blog you'll find links to publications in the current and advance online issues of various journals.

And finally, a few disclaimers:

Support - While we'd love to be able to help out as much as we can, we may post something here about a software or method we come across that we think may be useful, without necessarily being experts in said tool.

Security - Since all posts and comments are visible to anyone that stumbles upon this blog, please don't link to any data or information that would violate any confidentiality agreements.

If you'd like to post, or if you have any topics, suggestsions, or anything else you'd like us to share, please email us.

Be sure to check back with us every week or so, and let us know what you think!

Stephen Turner & Will Bush
Creative Commons License
Getting Genetics Done by Stephen Turner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.