Results tagged “Google Reader” 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: now sorting by oldest

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davextreme just informed me via comment that Google Reader has added that he, bp, and me all seem to want: sort by oldest. Sorting by newest starves those older entries and sometimes it just doesn't make sense to read feeds in reverse chronological order.

The also announced the "sort by auto" feature, though this has actually been live longer. The sort by auto feature tries to give your least frequently updated feeds (i.e. friends) higher placement so that you can get to them sooner, while leaving things like Gizmodo/Engadget/BoingBoing further down for the daily feed slog.

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.

Quick thoughts

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No time, no time, some rapid fire rants and praise:

The good

Zimbra: I just check out their demo of their Web-based e-mail/calendar suite and it has some great stuff that makes me think, "why haven't more companies done that?" If there's an address in an e-mail you can mouse over and it pulls up a Google Map and if you mouse over a date reference ('tomorrow', 'Aug 20') it shows your schedule for that day. It's all about saving that extra step. The rest of the UI is pretty fancy and desktop-like, but I'm no longer sure why desktop-like is a plus.

Microsoft Max: A Microsoft product that I actually had fun with, though I have no idea why I would use it on a regular basis and the UI is confusing in all its modalities. I can't think of any other Microsoft product that I thought of as fun -- most just cause me to break DVDs (others agree). The feature I most enjoyed was the mantle, which arranges your photos in 3D space. (Examples: my nephew, Pinnacles, Red Bull). It looks great and it also lets you view more photos in less space. You can rearrange the clusters that it creates, but the ones it chose seemed intereresting. Side note: are the clusters in the mantle view randomly assigned? Some of their clusters are great, some make little sense, but overall it's a nice new spin on things.

iPod nano: strap one of those to the back of my cellphone and another to the back of my PSP. Slide another into my Elph case and ... oh, now I'm getting greedy.

Lost: is there anyone in the 18-35 demographic not watching this show? Everyone at the wedding was either watching the new episodes or catching up with the DVDs.

The maybe good

PSP + TV: The head of Sony says that soon you'll be able to watch video using the wireless capabilities of the PSP and sync with your DVR. Sounds pretty cool but I won't jump for joy unless I hear "TiVo."

The almost good

Google Desktop ate my CPU: I had to uninstall because the new Google Desktop decided that 99% of my CPU was quite nice to utilize, even when instructed to pause indexing. Rather unfortunate as there were some aspects of the sidebar I liked, even if it was ugly. You can tell that it's paying attention to what you're doing and trying to help and with a couple iterations I could imagine it becoming a great product, but not quite yet.

The probably ugly

Google Reader: davextreme pulled me aside during the wedding reception to let me know that Google had released a feed reader, news that I have been waiting to hear for a long time. Less than 24 hours is not enough to evaluate a feed reader properly -- for now I'll say that it's slick, but who wants to read through your feeds one entry at a time. BoingBoing alone has 20-40 entries a day -- even with keyboard shortcuts that means I have to hit 'j' 20-40 times to read just one site, at which point I want to rent a helper monkey to break up the monotony.

The ugly

iTunes 5.0 (Windows): can't seem to play a song without skipping and the 'streamlined' UI makes me wish for ole' big and bulky.

Flickr + Yahoo: the extra year of service plus two free giveaway accounts were nice presents, but Flickr still goes out for massages all the time and I don't want my Flickr ID linked to my Yahoo! ID.

TiVo: what the hell are they up to? I love my three TiVos, but their current directions have been entirely pro-broadcasters and anti-consumer. It's a very capable platform that they try to do less and less with every day. Why can't I play shows on my PSP? Why can't I share episodes with friends? Why is TiVo Desktop so buggy? Why why why?