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Information Comes to You

Improving your productivity with Lotus Notes 8.5 – Part 2


 

In my first installation of improving your productivity with the Lotus Notes 8.5 client, I covered the Day-At-A-Glance component in the right sidebar panel. In this article, I’ll show you how the Feeds and Sametime components can benefit to your Notes experience.

Feeds

With all of the information out there, it’s a huge task to keep up with everything going on. One of the ways to stay with the beat is to subscribe to RSS feeds and have information pushed to you rather than expending the time and energy to pull information you need. It’s a huge waste of time to go out to a site or a blog only to find out that nothing has changed. That’s what RSS feeds were created for, to provide a way to alert us that new content is available for our consumption.

The Feeds component in the Notes client lets you subscribe to the various feeds you’re interested in and aggregates that information in one central place, making it efficient and easy to consume. Here are some tips for making the most of the Feeds component.

Start by adding an RSS feed to the Feeds component. You’ll first need to determine what RSS feed you want to subscribe to. My blog is shown in Figure 1. At the bottom of the graphic, you’ll see a link to the RSS feed for my blog. By clicking on this link, the URL provided is what you want to copy and add to your Feeds. To add it, click the ‘subscribe to feed’ icon highlighted in Figure 2. You’ll be presented with a dialog box that asks you to enter the feed URL. Paste the RSS feed URL and click “Go.” You’ll see the screen shown in Figure 3.

The Feed name is what’s pulled from the RSS feed, but you can change it to whatever you’d like. The other two entries let you specify when to check for updates and how long to keep entries in the sidebar. The default is to check for updates every hour. You can specify an interval to check for updates from as low as one minute up to every seven days. Alternatively, you can choose the manual option, which means you want to check for updates yourself. To me, this totally defeats the purpose of having an RSS feed in your right sidebar.

I’ve found the default of every hour is sufficient for all of my RSS feeds. I definitely wouldn’t recommend setting the update interval to every minute, otherwise you’ll be getting a visit from your network specialist as you’ll bog down the network. Not only that, you’ll also cause a performance issue for yourself, so stick with every hour or more when selecting how often the feed should check for updates.

You can also specify how long entries should be kept in the sidebar Feeds component for each RSS feed you subscribe to. The default for this setting is to keep entries for up to one week, but you can keep them for as short as one day, up to two months or forever.

Now that you’ve subscribed to an RSS sidebar panel, how do you consume them? It’s quite simple actually. The Feed component keeps an unread count for each RSS feed you subscribe to. The unread count is shown at the end of the feed title. You can click the plus sign to the left of a feed subscription to see the contents of a feed. By simply clicking on an entry in a feed subscription, a flyout box will display the contents of the blog entry or article as displayed in Figure 4. You can read the entry in the flyout box or you can click the “Open” button in the lower-left corner of the flyout box to be taken to the entry on its resident webpage. Once you’ve opened an entry, you’ll see the unread mark tally update. To close a flyout feed entry, click anywhere outside of the flyout box, press the Escape key or click the red X in the upper-right corner.

You can drag the flyout box wherever you’d like it on your screen. Drag and drop is a persistent theme in the Lotus Notes 8.x client. In future installments of this article series, I’ll be showing you where you can utilize the numerous drag-and-drop features. You can also resize a flyout box once it’s been moved to make the feed entry more consumable.

By clicking on “Settings” as shown in Figure 5, you can choose to see a subset of blog entries as displayed in Figure 6. To see all RSS feeds, select “All Feeds” in the dialog box.

The default is to view your feeds in the groups they belong to. For example, all of my blog entries are grouped under the “Domino Diva” feed. You can also select to show feeds as a list as indicated in Figure 7. In doing so, you’ll see a chronological listing of your feeds from the most to least recent. An example is shown in Figure 8. The icons show which feed each entry is associated with and you can easily see which entries you’ve read.

By right-clicking any feed, you’ll be presented with several options also shown in Figure 8. You can select to refresh all of your feeds, mark a selected item or all items as read or unread, unsubscribe to a feed, edit a feed subscription or copy a specific feed as a link.

If you haven’t been utilizing the Feeds component of the right sidebar, I hope you see now how it can save you valuable time by having information you’re interested in pushed to you.

 

Kim Greene is the owner of Kim Greene Consulting Inc. and an IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems—IBM i edition technical editor. Kim can be reached at kim@kimgreene.com.



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