Results tagged “Bloglines” from kwc blog

Bloglines Beta -- not yet

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I tried out the new Bloglines Beta to see if it could win me back from Google Reader. I had stuck with the original Bloglines for quite awhile, even through the first release of Google Reader, but it has stagnated under the guidance of Ask.com. Bloglines Beta is the first real attempt to catch up with Google Reader 2.0 and, for the most part, that's all it really is. It adds new message reading views that are pretty much restyle-ized versions of Google Reader. The one notable exception is that you can drag-and-drop feeds onto a "Start Page" for that My-Yahoo-ish feel.

I wasn't particularly won over. The two major annoyances for me are:

  1. You can't read "Everything". In Google Reader, I like to breeze through All Items if I'm not feeling picky. The Bloglines Beta requires you to view their fancy new "Start Page." This forces you to read folder-by-folder, which for my habits is a bad choice.

  2. There is a major bug for the speed readers. I tend to type "j" quickly to go through one item after the next. It will often jump to the next feed before finishing the one I was scanning through. My best guess is that it caches a certain number of items from the current feed and thinks you've reached the end when the cache is empty, instead of fetching more items.

These are both fixable, but as they both pertain to my feed-reading workflow, there's no way I can make the jump. I ran across these annoyances within a minute of using the new Bloglines.

Google Reader switch

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update: now sorting by oldest (thanks davextreme for the link)

Yes, I have finally abandoned Bloglines, which has carried me so far into the world of feeds. I have some quibbles with Google Reader, but the big win for me was the fact that it doesn't mark items as read until you read them. I tend to power through lists of hundreds of items at a time; Google Reader lets me stop halfway through, Bloglines demands I finish the job. It still took bp teaching me a couple of keyboard shortcuts I missed (shift-n, shift-p, and shift-o for navigating the list of feeds) to become fully comfortable with the switch.

Pros: * Doesn't mark items as read until you've read them, which makes it much easier to plow through feeds incrementally. * Better keyboard navigation. Bloglines has a shortcut for reading the next feed or folder, but there's no way to really tell what is next. * Can have more than 200 unread items in a feed, which means that you can catch up on everything you missed while on vacation.

Cons: * Not as easy to create feeds for things like weather, packages, and social sites. * Organizational system for read items is poorly integrated and modelled -- its not terribly clear what tags are, you can't browse by tags ('gt' -- goto tag -- is not the same as browsing), and you can't segment starred items by tag. Bloglines only has clip blogs, but at least they made sense to me. * Only loads entries 20 at a time. Once you make it to the 20th item, it loads the next 20. This wouldn't be so annoying if they loaded the next 20 when I got to the 18th or 19th item, but as implemented it means you have to wait for the next 20 items to load.

A New Reader

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Bloglines is still getting the job done, but I like the fact that Google revamped Google Reader to get rid of my many, many annoyances with the first incarnation. The new expanded view makes it much easier for people like me with 100+ subscriptions to actually make it through our feeds. There is also a big improvement over Bloglines: Google Reader only marks items as read as you scroll through them, which lets you catch up on the last 100 posts of BoingBoing in more manageable chunks. My only real annoyance so far is that Google Reader loads posts into the Expanded View in 20-post chunks, waiting until you are on the 20th item before loading in the next 20. As I tried to catch up on some feeds in Reader, I would have to sit an twiddle my thumbs constantly.

What would be a switcher feature for me is if they could integrate their GMail package tracking link with Google Reader. I've been playing around with Bloglines package tracking feature, but I have to copy the UPS/DHL/FedEx tracking number out of an e-mail, go to Bloglines, click add, click on Package Tracking, paste in the number, and then select a folder to add the information to. That's a lot of steps. If GMail and Reader were integrated, I could do it in one click as GMail already detects package tracking numbers.

Google + Blogs

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This involves Google and blogs, so of course I'm obligated to post: Google Blog Search.

Pros: 1) It's fast. 2) It's really fast. 3) It places a "References" link next to blog entries that are linked to by others. 4) You can get feeds of your search queries (ala IceRocket).

Cons: 1) I can't make heads or tails of their relevance. 2) Their index isn't impressive yet (both in depth and recency). 3) It's pretty easy to get a spam blog or two in the top search results page.

Relevance is a difficult issue. When I search for 'jython' do I want a blog about Jython-related issues, or do I want a recent blog entries mentioning Jython. They try to offer both by having a short list of "related blogs" at the top of each search result listing, but it's far from perfect: I get bp's comment feed instead of his main blog when I search for 'bp.'

You can get off-results even for very prominent blogs. I searched for Scoble, author of "the scobelizer weblog." Presumably, someone who is #30 on Technorati's Top 100 with 6,087 links from 4,003 sites be an easy search result. For related blogs, Google returns "Alex Scoble's IT Notes" (a different Scoble). The top result in the main list of results is "the scobelizer weblog," but the URL listed beneath it is http://www.velveetaland.com, which is a blog that links to Scoble. I get similar problems if I search for "John Gruber" (author of Daring Fireball, #76 on Technorati's list).

Of course, a normal Google result for either Scoble or John Gruber gives the desired result.

Sites like Technorati are all but unusable because of slowness and frequent database outages, so speed is IMHO the competitive advantage here. It's hard to care about feature XYZ when it only works 50% of the time and takes 30 seconds to complete.

BTW: My favorite blog search is still Bloglines. It's slow, and it does have frequent outages, but lets you exclude your subscriptions from the search results and it contains a very broad index. I'm also a fan of IceRocket, which has RSS search subscriptions and tends to catch tons of people who link to my mythbusters entries. It's also pretty zippy, though not Google zippy.

Peter Norvig, Google; Ken Norton, Yahoo!; Mark Fletcher, Bloglines/Ask Jeeves; Udi Manber, A9; Jakob Nielsen, NN Group

I went with bp and Neil to a BayCHI talk on "Recent Innovations in Search." I agree with bp's sentiment -- there were some interesting moments, but the talk was short on revelations or insights. I guess that is to be expected as the title of the talk is past focused ("Recent Innovations") rather than future focused ("Future Innovations"); it's hard to believe that the panelists would give away yet unrevealed technologies they were working on. I'm going to try and save as much effort as possible, given that bp posted his notes. In fact, as I am going to crib from his notes, or just omit what he already has, you should just go read them instead.

Flickrhoo

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I'm more worried about the recent acquisition of Flickr by Yahoo! than I was about Bloglines being bought by Ask Jeeves. Both are great tools that are on my most-frequently-used list*, but my perception is that Yahoo! is more capable of screwing up their acquisition considering that everything they've bought in the past looks Yahoo-like, which is to say that everything they've touched has acquired the bad aesthetics and UI of Yahoo! proper -- anybody know of counter-examples to assuage my fears?

With the recent Flickr outages, though, perhaps the Y! infrastructure will be a plus, and I'm sure my friends over at NetApp are looking forward to an increased storage demand from Y!.

FlickrBlog

* Actually using Chameleon, Josh's extension to Bloglines. Try it out. It's great.

BlogPorter

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I've been playing with blimp-master Josh's experimental blog-reading tool, Chameleon. It's a modification to bloglines that does some additional tracking and mining on top of your reading. To crib from Josh's description:

Do you like Bloglines? I do. But the number of feeds I was trying to deal with quickly got away from me. I don't think folders are the answer. Therefore, I've created this work-in-progress, which does a few cool things: * Keeps track of which feeds you read, how often, and when * Figures out which feeds are your favorites (based on some heuristics), and highlights them -- in the feed list, as well as bringing them to the top (you can adjust the threshold on this) * Periodically identifies the top links in your subscribed feeds -- much like Blogdex, but for your feeds only. * Shows you your usage 'score', per feed

This uses the Bloglines Web Services, so you'll need a Bloglines account. And you still have to use Bloglines to do most of the maintenance of your account (add/delete feeds, etc.). But use BlogPorter to read your feeds, and you'll see the features start to emerge as it learns about you.

I'm waiting until my usage score starts stabilizing before I start commenting more on that specific feaure, but I will say that the blogdex-like feature that shows you which links are popular in your current feeds is pretty cool, as it has already pulled out what the hot conversations are as well as the hot links.

Josh is looking for some more people to test it out and provide feedback, so if you're a bloglines user you may want to give it a shot. It utilizes your existing bloglines account so there's no additional setup.

Cool bloglines feature

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The new citations feature that I have just recently noticed on Bloglines makes it even more useful than Technorati in finding entries linking to your blog. It's improvements over Technorati include: * speed (though this is probably due to the # of users on it) * the ability to customize your search to search inside or outside your bloglines subscriptions, which makes it much easier to find the random strangers who are linking to your blog. * includes LiveJournal entries. * seems to preserve entries much longer than Technorati, so you can find much older links.

Of course, it doesn't have the same level of API openness that Technorati has, and despite the inclusion of LiveJournal blogs, Technorati seems to carry some blogs that Bloglines does not, which makes their search results complementary, rather than competitive.

Citations search

Another day, another blog

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Bloglines has updated their service with a major new feature: clip blogs. Bloglines is an online service that lets you subscribe to RSS feeds and view them within a browser window. It is currently my feed reader of choice, as it works from any computer with a browser and Internet access, and the interface offers the features I want in a feed reader. With the new clip blogs features you can click on an entry to publish it to your clip blog while you are reading your feeds. Here's mine:

http://www.bloglines.com/blog/kwc

For many people, I imagine this is a simple and easy way to start sharing links and get involved in the blogging world. It's integration with the feed reader is also nice, as it creates a simple workflow between finding the links and publishing them.

I still think that MovableType bookmarklets are easier-to-use because they work outside of the feed reader. Also, the current bloglines service doesn't make it very easy to quote the original entry (unless I'm missing something). Most people don't have easy access to a MovableType installation, though, and Bloglines is a good feed reader that is also completely free. Personally, I'm still waiting for the service that makes it easy to do remaindered links posts into my blog ala kottke.org (perhaps a future MT plugin?).

As a follow-up to bp's entry on RSS Comments, I now give you a bookmarklet for bloglines and My Yahoo! users that will let you subscribe to RSS comments:

Subscribe to Comments (Bloglines)


Subscribe to Comments (My Yahoo!) (NOTE: you must add the RSS Headlines content to your My Yahoo! page)

Of course, bp's site is the only site supporting RSS comments right now, but I plan to add that feature to every movabletypo site, as well as kwc.org (when the real server comes back online).

Update: added My Yahoo! bookmarklet.