I’ve mentioned ZapTXT in my RSS talks as a way to get RSS feed updates by e-mail if you just can’t stand the thought of using an RSS feed reader. Recently I heard from one of the folks from ZapTXT, pointing out that their monitoring service has expanded far beyond e-mail updates.
ZapTXT is available at Http://www.zaptxt.com. You will have to create an account to use ZapTXT, but that’s free and doesn’t ask for much besides the information required to contact you (e-mail, IM, and mobile #. Obviously if you don’t have all those you don’t have to fill them in.)
ZapTXT in its simplest form, and the way I’ve been recommending it, allows you to monitor a single feed for keywords you specify, and get the results by mail. However, ZapTXT also allows you to get results by instant messenger or mobile device. Furthermore, ZapTXT allows you to monitor entire groups of RSS feeds, instead of one at a time.
Once you’re logged in, ZapTXT gives you the option of creating your own “ZapTask” or using the “Quick ZapTasks” panel. I decided I wanted to monitor gadget blogs for upcoming news on the Nintendo Wii. I clicked “Gadgets” entered the keyword “Wii”, and chose from a checklist of gadget blogs to monitor, including Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and Engadget. Choose where you want your updates sent (e-mail, IM, or mobile, or any mix of the three). Clicking next prompts you to name and tag your ZapTask, as well as specify how often you want to receive alerts (as frequently as they appear, once an hour, or once a day.) Later you can go back and edit the ZapTask to add some feeds you want to monitor.
(If you just want to get all the contents of a feed or feeds, leave the keyword field blank. However bear in mind that this can lead to a lot of mail/IMs/mobile messages.)
There is apparently no limit to the number of feeds you can monitor with a ZapTask — woo hoo! (And even better, if you manually set up a ZapTask and use the advanced button, you can import an OPML file. And if you export a ZapTask, you can export the URLs into an OPML file. >swoon<) With that in mind, I would ask this: "how specific should I get with my query, considering that some RSS feeds provide only summaries and some RSS feeds provide full text?" Words like Wii, being unique, are probably okay, but if I wanted to monitor a topic, I'd probably do some experimenting with my searches. (Once you've set up a ZapTask, they're all available in a control panel, and easy to edit/turn off/delete, etc.)
If you're looking for a simple way to get RSS feeds by e-mail, ZapTXT is usable. But where it really shines is when you want to monitor controlled lists of URLs for specific keywords and get your results in a variety of formats. And that OPML support is a really nice bonus.