Windows: If you want to keep up with breaking news from a few sites Feed Notifier could be right up your alley. Instead of logging in and reading all feed updates a la Google Reader, Feed Notifier offers popups directly from your system tray as soon as a feed receives an update.
The worst part about this program is that you have enter each feed manually. That's a pain in the arse if you want to follow multiple feeds, but you can get around it with Chimpfeedr.
I used this program all day today to monitor tech news updates and it seemed to work better than checking Google Reader several times a day as I usually do. Given that it's a free download, if you routinely use RSS feeds you may want to check it out and see if it fits into your routine.