Tag: Google Reader

NetNewsWire finds a new sync friend in Google Reader (UPDATED)

netnewswirenewI’ve been a fan of the NetNewsWire/NewsGator Online combination for some time. Along with NewsGator Go! for the Blackberry (the one I got rid of because I couldn’t seem to manage the three emails I get per day, unpopular as I am I found myself spending inordinate amounts of time reading email when I should be working, lack of popularity notwithstanding) the system provided me with the ability to efficiently manage all my feed consumption whether at the desk or on the road. And one leg gone I still loved it – away from the desk (and not on the water) I could just log into NewsGator from any available computer and read my feeds without duplicating efforts thereafter.

Today that system has changed in a significant way, although the process has not. NewsGator just announced that effective August 31, 2009, NewsGator Online will no longer be available as a consumer application. NewsGator Enterprise users will not be affected, but then again they are paying customers. Nevertheless, NewsGator hasn’t left anyone hanging – the rest of us will be able to sync our desktop feed readers with Google Reader – all you have to do is download the latest and greatest app, whether it be NetNewsWire or one of the other platform specific readers NewsGator produces (individual product transition instructions are available here).

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Links for the Lazy – 1/15/09

Mixed bag

    Technology

  • Google starts axing services, but Google Reader is safe for now. There might be something to all that attention data value, but it isn’t going to benefit you anyway. I’d be looking for a substitute reader (preferably desktop) just in case.
  • New Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz on the [first] dotcom bubble“I’d go to investor conferences—with standing room only at presentations by Used-Fucking-Golfballs.com—and I’d get four shareholders listening to me.” I love it.
  • XRDS-Simple at home – I’ve added Will Norris & Company’s WordPress plug-in to the previous OpenID install. Now I do my OpenID logins here instead of at a third party. As expected, works nicely.
  • Finance

  • Ready to play The Bailout Game? Personally, no. Like Hasbro with Scrabble, Parker Brothers will probably sue the makers for the likeness to Monopoly, and when that doesn’t work out they’ll join the RIAA in suing the players.
  • TED spread shrinks, so the TARP is working – Greg Mankiw concludes as such, although Citigroup and B of A equity investors might want to hold on doubling down right now.
  • Do you know what the multiplier for government spending means for you? You might want to brush up, as with the amount of public cash being dumped into failing institutions to compensate for idiocy, Zimbabwe-style currency destruction could be in your future.
  • Fly Fishing

  • Cuba Releases Hemingway Archives – Fishing Jones has more.
  • Strike indicators find love – Call it a bobber if you like, but I always laugh when high-profile guides talk about how they always see the fish eat the nymph. While using indicators.
  • Winter sucks – But the Frying Pan makes it more than tolerable.

Adieu.

Revisiting NewsGator makes a fan out of me

Smart work regarding user experience

I’ve been intermittently testing some new feed reading resources, hence I’ve been spending a little more time on Google Reader and a lot more time on Bloglines Beta (being as Bloglines has been my default reader for years). NewsGator, which I’ve tinkered with intermittently over the last few years, has renewed my interest too. Each has its quirks, but for now I think NewsGator has me wrapped up. The reason…seamless, ubiquitous access.

Read anywhere

[singlepic id=399 w=240 h=183 float=left]I’ve always been a fan of speed, and desktop readers win in that category. Having tested NetNewsWire long ago, and Vienna since, I’ve found desktop suits me for real-time use. I can keep the application launched and hidden, and check the toolbar every now and again for new posts. However, should a person find themselves away from the desk – say sitting in a conference room at someone else’s office with an offering of a desktop in the corner with which to say check email, that favorite desktop feed reader becomes useless since it’s no longer available. You become a slave to whatever web-based reader you happen to keep maintained as a backup. Not so with the NewsGator offering – you subscriptions are your subscriptions, wherever you are. I’m using NewsGator Online to funnel through the large inbox first thing in the morning, and then I use the application to check news during the day – everything marked read is sync-ed between the two. On my latest test runs with NetNewsWire, I also discovered a great feature – Growl notifications. Every time the application polls for new postings, I get a little pop-up window telling me so – it’s not intrusive – and I don’t have “to act” to know there’s news.

[singlepic id=449 w=100 h=75 float=left]Let’s go a step further – a run to the post office and meet an hour long line. I’m one that can’t even talk on the phone without pacing back and forth – I’ve got to have multiple things to do, always. So I get an itch to catch up on some midday reading. I could steer the Curve to the mobile versions of Bloglines or G-Reader, but they are fairly slow and not particularly user friendly from an interface standpoint. And I’ve found (at least with Bloglines) that messages I’ve read remain in the “inbox” when I return to the desk. None of this is a problem with Newsgator Go!. On my Blackberry, said mobile version is an application – it’s simple to install (they even identify your device and operating system for you ahead of time), and almost as easy to use as the desktop unit. When I read, it’s read – on the desktop app and online.

I believe this seamless integration between desktop app, web interface, and mobile access is what dummies are missing. Everyone in my age bracket I try to explain RSS (and readers) to first looks at me funny, and then exclaims that they either can’t install applications at work, or if they have to open a browser anyway so why shouldn’t they just go to the site of interest. At least I know where to point them now.

My favorite features

  • Sync-ing – Did I say you could sync your feeds between the web-based, desktop, and mobile editions? Yea, I did, and that’s clearly my favorite feature of these products.
  • Blackberry access – After wondering where the RSS for dummies explanation was hidden, and laying particular emphasis on the lack of tools for the Blackberry, I got it. I’ll admit I played with NewsGator Go! when it was still in the beta-ish stages (and even found a bug with the mobile clipping function), but I thought when the final release came the company would be charging for it. That didn’t happen, and the mobile app is now good enough that I frankly wouldn’t even mind seeing an ad now and then.
  • Respecting the privacy – NewsGator went free with their apps some months ago, foregoing direct sales revenue for accumulation of attention data. But you can “privatize” that attention data nonetheless. I know…I should be sharing (and therefore I should also being using Google Reader). Sorry, but I don’t see the point when everyone else is already sharing what they read and doing it a heck of a lot faster than I anyway. Let’s face it – sharing what’s coming through your reader is probably great for journalists and/or professional bloggers, but I’m neither (and 99.9% of the internet using population isn’t either).

Some recommendations

I don’t think the NewsGator “suite” should rest on its laurels. I’d like to see:

  • The online reader allow “mark as read” upon scrolling through the items (like Google Reader and Bloglines Beta) instead of just marked when accessed (like Bloglines classic);
  • The mobile reader allow viewing headlines by folder, versus just feed source by feed source. Everyone using these types of apps likely has an unlimited mobile data plan (so let ‘er rip);
  • NewNewsWire should allow me to set my own refresh time, instead of going with the minimum 30 minutes.

Hardly outrageous demands – in fact they’re fairly picky. Some of feature ideas may seem a bit complex to the RSS newbie, and I’ll admit even I spent a fair share of time tweaking the NewsGator suite as best I could. But to the new feed user I’ll say “don’t worry.” The stuff is plug and play – just create a free account, add a few feeds (the company will suggest some for you if you don’t already have some in mind), download the apps (if you like speed), and just read. I actually found some pretty good news selections on the web-based version too – I’ll have to do a bit more exploring as time permits. For those just catching a clue, simply look for little icons like this ( ) wherever you may surf, copy the URL of the page you are on from your browser’s address bar, and paste into you reader after clicking the caption that says “add new feed.” Good feed readers (like the ones I am talking about here) should take care of the rest.

Still don’t have a clue what RSS is and how it can keep you better informed while actually saving you boatloads of time? An RSS dummy, so to speak? Then click here and you’ll find the best thing since sliced bread for the uninformed, a simple Q&A.

Side note: NetNewsWire is a Mac OS X application. If you are a Windows user, the desktop apps you’d be going after are FeedDemon and/or NewsGator Inbox (for Outlook). I haven’t tested those, but I’d suspect they work much the same. And I am curious to know too.

On the first day of Christmas my Google gave to me..

..a violation of my privacy.

I don’t think this is a big deal, and it’s certainly not surprising.

UPDATE: Mathew Ingram says get a grip. A poll of Mashable readers rings similarly.

UPDATE 2: Paul Kedrosky wasn’t surprised either.

“If you don’t like it, leave” is not a good answer

I’m obviously not fishing this morning, and I’m still blaming a Friday afternoon meeting…

RSS’s daddy, Dave Winer, voiced some concerns with Google’s FeedBurner acquisition. Fred Wilson responded by noting how easy FeedBurner makes it to leave. What Wilson is talking about is FeedBurner’s redirect service – you can delete a feed and FeedBurner will redirect requests back to the original RSS source. In a perfect world, your subscribers continue to get the crappy content you create, and by the time the FeedBurner feed dies they’ve hopefully changed their subscribed URL back to the base feed. We don’t live in a perfect world, and the “if you don’t like it, leave” argument has some holes…

  • If Google were willing to toy with feeds as Winer suggests, what’s to prevent them from making it more difficult to get out? If you can imagine someone tinkering with feeds to favor a certain reader, why can’t you imagine them “accidentally” redirecting your feed into a black hole (except for Google Reader users, of course)?
  • Switching costs are generally inversely proportional to the number competitors offering a product or service. And when it comes to distribution channels, logistics make those costs inherently high. FeedBurner is a distribution channel – a heavily used distribution channel which some content producers rely heavily upon. And I don’t see a bunch of strong competitors to FeedBurner waiting in the wings.
  • I agree – services that make it easy to leave are often an attraction, but that’s not the main reason I use the service; FeedBurner sold me on their great attitude. Google bought the company, and they can do as they please with it.

    I just hope that pigeon-holing folks into a single point of consumption isn’t one of them.

    A side note: There are probably some neat things that could be done with FeedBurner and Google Reader…things that might entice me to OPML-up my subscriptions and move there. In particular, I rarely bother looking at stats, tinkering with FeedFlares, etc., but if I could do this all within Google Reader I might pay more attention. Claim my feeds within and do the manipulation from there – I’d be combining my feed management and feed consumption – one less stop. Allowing me to compile a list of FeedFlares that would be available for all Google Reader users to play with, without me having to embed them in the feeds themselves, would also be nice. And last but not least…I have no intention of putting any ads in my feeds because I believe feed ads are aggravating and discourage both consumption and re-distribution. But I’d consider putting ads (linked to a proprietary Adsense or FeedBurner account) in feeds if they were only available to Google Reader users (since Google users in generally are so used to seeing ads on just about everything Google anyway).

    UPDATE: Day 2 – “The most common rebuttal was the user’s ability to opt out. If you don’t like it you don’t have to use Feedburner. But that’s not any kind of a rebuttal.”

    UPDATE 2: “One of the things I’ve heard over and over from non-technical users who have the same concerns now that Feedburner is owned by Google, is where do we go if we want to switch? Ahh. There is no place to go.” Where have I heard that before?