Change Notification Tools

By kfreelskfreels (1261532876|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Here's how I used the change notification tools to help me with my project on the fast food industry.

Email Alerts:

Using the Google Alerts tool, I set up to get alerts on several keyword searches once a week. One thing I've noticed about the RSS feeds I've subscribed to is that a lot of news articles come through that aren't at all what I'm looking for. For example, my RSS feed for search results for McDonald's has a lot of articles related to crime at McDonald's restaurants. With Google Alerts, I will easily be able to manage the email alerts that I receive, adjusting the keywords to meet my needs. As of right now, I'm signed up for weekly emails about each alert, but that also can be adjusted if the volume is too much to sift through once a week. Additionally, you can choose what kind of sources you want to search. I've chosen Comprehensive but I could have searched News, the Web, Blogs, Video, and Groups. Here are the email alerts I've signed up for so far:

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Google Alerts is really easy to set up and is a useful tool for any research project.

Monitoring Changes

Using WatchThatPage.com, a free page monitoring service, I signed up to be notified of any changes to specific fast food restaurant web pages. On the McDonald's corporate web site, they have pages for corporate press releases and financial press releases. I elected to be notified once a week to any changes on those particular web pages. The financial press releases page actually has an option to sign up for e-notifications or an RSS feed, so I decided to sign up for their e-notifications just to compare it to WatchThatPage. I will update the blog later on when I get the first notification about McDonald's financial press releases. Wendy's, Burger King, and KFC also had similar options for their recent news and financial news web pages. For each one, I signed up on WatchThatPage and for the email alert services through the actual website. Taco Bell, unfortunately, has a web site format that doesn't have different URLs for its various sections, so I didn't add it to WatchThatPage because it would have informed me of every change on the entire web site. Taco Bell also didn't have a service to receive email updates. Here's what I subscribed to on WatchThatPage:

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Feed Creation

Remember how I said I got a lot of junk with the RSS feeds I'm subscribed to? Well, I signed up with FeedRinse to try to filter the content that I'm not interested in. It will help narrow down the posts that come through on my RSS feeds.

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After two days of using FeedRinse, I'm semi-pleased with the results. As I expected, I've had to go back and tweak my filters in order to sort out the good from the bad. When I first imported the file from FeedRinse to my Google Reader, I made the mistake of not checking the box that said "Only export feeds you have updated since last visit". My failure to do this meant that I uploaded every single feed I have, all 26 of them, into my Reader, and then had 300 articles to read through; not fun. So remember to check that box!

What didn't work:

Unfortunately, there aren't many email alerts searchable on the web available for the fast food industry. My search for OR inurl:alert "email alerts" OR "e-mail alerts" OR "email alert" OR "e-mail alert" along with keywords like "fast food", "mcdonald's", "burger king", "wendy's", "taco bell", and kfc" didn't result in anything relevant. Apparently it's not a common enough search keyword to generate email alerts!

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