I have been having a look into more things that it is possible to do with WordPress.com once you are past the basics of writing a few posts and making some pages.
First off today was changing the sidebar so that just the main Pages links showed without all the sub pages being visible as well. Unfortunately it wasn’t a clickable solution – it was either show them all or none via the widgets. Not quite what I was looking for.
The trick to getting it to look like it does now is to add a text label, called Pages. Add in the html code in the text field (i.e. view source on the site if you want it to look like the existing) and delete the unwanted sub-pages from the html list. Not so tricky but not exactly intuitive either. Easy once you know how.
Secondly today I had a look into rss feeds and how to get them into the sidebar via the rss widget (you can see them bottom right of the sidebar with the orange livefeed icon). It turns out to be relatively trivial as long as you know the feed url. The first test was to a friends site, Hermitage Place. WordPress blogs helpfully automatically post the feed at http://sitename.wordpress.com/feed. In the settings for the rss widget all you have to do is paste this string into the url field and specify the number of entries you want to display. A google search revealed the same code for google news. Piece of cake.
After further reading in the WordPress.com FAQ’s and forum there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get the rss feeds to enter themselves as posts which would have been nice. RSS widgets only (at this stage).