Tag: RSS

The Search for a New RSS Reader


The search continues.  It’s interesting to see the folks that are still finding out today that their beloved Google Reader is no longer an option.  If you go to the Google Reader site, they do offer some alternatives.

In fact, they direct you to http://alternativeto.net/software/google-reader/ where you will find a goodly list.

Another source for alternative products can be found at: http://www.alternative.to/Google_Reader,29653017#alternatives

How are those for alternatives?

But, the best source is to turn to the public and get their input on what works.  A blog post from Anil Dash titled “The Golden Age of RSS” was very interesting.  In the middle of the post, you’ll find a list of over 100 web based RSS alternatives suggested by the crowd!  From a simple start, people just kept adding ideas!

But read his comments.  I like his point – we don’t need another RSS reader.  He talks about the need for a blog reader instead.  I agree.  Like I said in yesterday’s post about Noowit, I appreciate a reader that finds new stuff for me based on a concept.  And yet, I do want to continue with the principles behind RSS reading.  I want to be loyal to those bloggers who have inspired me over the years and I want to visit them when they post new content.

The saga continues.  What does the future hold for us in the realm of online reading?

 

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Rethinking RSS – Noowit Comes To Beta


Like many people, I feared that the end of the world was coming when Google announced that they would be retiring the use of their Google Reader.  After all, it had been the source of news for me for years now.  Some of the notable RSS feed that I read regularly appear right here on this blog over to the right and down a bit in the Blogroll.

I’ve highlighted these excellent resources but certainly have more that are pulled into my RSS reads.  They’re blogs, news services, Diigos, Delicious, and more.  When I’m reading something and like the quality of it or find that it’s contributed to my immediate learning, I immediately go hunting for the RSS or Atom feed and track it.  I even have included the feed from this blog in my reader just as a double check that everything is working as it should.  dougpete has paranoia, don’t you know?

Between Google Reader and NewsSquares in Google Chrome, I’ve always had a tonne of things to read and ponder on a regular basis.  These were my personal calls to action in terms of awareness, new learning, and consolidation of old learning.  So, I was concerned when the thought was that this service would go away.  I’ve downloaded my subscriptions from Google Takeout a few times just so that I don’t lose track of all of the resources that have been so helpful to me.

Somehow, it was comforting knowing that Stephen Downes was going through much of the same process.  He had a nice summary of what he thinks about the top replacement players here.

And like so many, I’ve been looking for alternative solutions.  As I blogged a couple of days ago, incorporating RSS into Hootsuite has been a great solution for me so far – on the computer.  I do do so much of my reading on my portables – it’s a great way to pass the time while waiting in line for appointments or lying in bed or on the couch or so many other places.  I’ve been playing around with Feedly and the new Digg as well.  However, even Feedly which seems to be everyone’s choice of reader is having problems.  You’ve heard of “failed whale”; how about a “failed cloud?”.  To their defense, everyone is looking for a solution.

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Every analytic, I’ve come to recognize that I really do most of my portable reading on Zite and Rockmelt.  Both have allowed for the importing of RSS but more importantly you can set your reading to a concept and not just a pre-defined feed.  This allows the services to discover content wherever there is a feed to scrape.  I’ve run into some very unique and interesting resources.  Zite doesn’t have a desktop version but Rockmelt does so that gives me a shot of serendipity when I need it.

But, recently, I was invited to play around with a pre-Beta version of Noowit.  Somehow, the best way I can describe it as combining the best of everything into a web application.  So far, it’s been very impressive.

Noowit

Like so many readers on the market, it imported my Google feed and let me “Discover” related content.  So, as a reader (and sharer), it performs very nicely.  There is another feature that I haven’t got to yet and that’s the ability to create my own Nootwit Magazine.  I’ve started but haven’t stuck to it long enough to generate something worth sharing yet.  For right now, it’s all about the discovery, reading, and sharing.

Like many programs of this type, you add categories and ideas.  Noowit claims to learn what you’re reading.  I’m hoping that once I get a chance to start my own “Mag” that helps discover more related and interesting content.  Plus, sharing is nice.  It has the feel of a paper.li to me.

Right now, I’m kind of fascinated by its navigation.  If there ever was a web app that works like a tablet app, this is it.  Navigation by mousepad feels and reacts just like I’d reached out and swiped the screen.  I wonder if the developers are programming with Windows 8 in mind.  The whole layout and preparation is interesting.  You can pick by author or category or sources.  There’s also a “cut the noise” setting that’s definitely going to take some playing with.  There is so much in this project and I know that I’m not taking the best advantage of it.

The whole experience, combined with what I’ve done in the past has convinced me that I’m in search of more than an RSS Reader.  In that regard, perhaps Google’s move has been good for the entire reading industry.  Perhaps we’ll become better and more diverse readers because of it.

Check out Noowit’s description:

and the best news….

What about you?  Are you looking for just a Google Reader replacement or do you want more?

Hoot Reading


Like many people I suspect, I’m on the search for a good replacement to the Google Reader when it stops operating on Canada Day.  For so long, Google Reader has been my go-to for news reading and I will really miss it.  But it is what it is and we’ll have to change.  I’ve installed Feedly on my computer and I’m actually go to go with that but I got sidetracked.

In my web browser, I have Hootsuite open all the time in a tab.  It may not necessarily be the open tab but it’s there should I have the need to take a look at what’s happening on Twitter.  When I discovered that Hootsuite had made RSS reading available, I had to give it a shot.  My first reaction is very positive.  Rather than having a separate application open for RSS reading, incorporating it into my existing social reading routine makes so much sense.

Here’s how I did it.

First, I had to get my Google Reader data.  It’s a step that everyone should do – you get it by going to Google Takeout and downloading your content.  The nice thing about this is it also lets you take control of your information.  The content comes down as a .zip file which you need to expand.  Inside, you’ll find a few files but the important one for this process is subscriptions.xml.  Got it!

Now, the standard Hootsuite installation doesn’t do the trick.  You need to download the Hootsuite Syndicator.  It’s part of the Hootsuite Hootlet for Google Chrome.  (Try saying that five times)

It installs itself into Hootsuite as an application.  (I already had the Evernote application installed)

Launching the Syndicator for the first time gives you the opportunity to import your subscriptions from your Google Reader.

Or, you could start from scratch/add even more.

Next step is to work with the Subscription Manager to look at your existing subscriptions.

Each blog that you’re monitoring or potentially monitoring has to be selected.  If you have them in groups, add a group or add the individual feeds.  I actually liked this process.  It reminded me of how much I have chosen.  (I did decide to not activate a couple)

And you’re off!  Refresh the column or let Hootsuite do it based upon whatever time interval you have set and the reading resumes…right in your social media browser!

You’ll undoubtedly want to play around with the configuration options to make the installation your own.  What is particularly nice is the age of sharing pops up when you cursor over a story.

Favourite it, share it (Yeah!), mark as read, or mark it to read later.

Clicking an individual story opens a reader…

Story

 

With a hot link to go to the original story in a new tab.  I like this feature.  I don’t tend to sit down and read stories one by one.  I tend to read the title, consider the source, read the snippet and then open the story in a new tab if I want more.  Once I have a bunch of tabs open, only then will I do the complete article reads.

The implementation is quite nice.  There will be critics, I’m sure, that will indicate that it doesn’t have the full set of features previously found in the full blown Google Reader.  Individual users will have to make their own decision but, for me, the fact that it’s just another column in one of my most used applications is really appealing.

Tweaking Rebelmouse


I’ve had a Rebelmouse account for a while now.  I think it’s a terrific way to summarize things that I’m doing with social media.  Quite frankly, I’m just using it to gather my activity from Twitter so that it’s all in one spot.  I could add links to Instagram (I don’t use), Tumblr (not really using it now), Pinterest (which is a collection of my blog posts) or an RSS feed (I use Feedly for that.)  So, it could be bigger but I’m good with what I’m doing now.

I’ve blogged a couple of times about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

Just recently, the developers have added a great deal more functionality to this wonderful program.

1)  You can now customize colours and fonts.  Those that know me know that that will involve Verdana fonts and lots of green.  It’s not one of the standard templates that they provide, however, a little editing of the CSS to create a customized theme.  I’m not done with it yet but am pleased with what I’ve done so far.

2)  Now, that’s really cosmetic.  The really handy feature in the revised Rebelmouse is the ability to create pages based upon the source of your content.

Now, instead of everything being lumped into one stream of resources shared, tabs across the top of the landing page let you zero in on, in my case, the source for what I’ve shared.

I’ve just started to get the knack of this and really like the way that it allows for a review of what I’ve done recently.  I suspect that anyone who is interested in what I’m doing will find it helpful as well.

If you don’t have a Rebelmouse page tracking and sharing your activity, why not?  Give it a try – you’ll like it.

It’s a terrific way to review and organize your resources – if you’re looking for a handy way to organize classroom resources, this may be the tool that you’re looking for.

Powered by Qumana

 

News Junkie


Within the past hour, I have confessed to a friend that I’m a news junkie.  I read and try to understand as much as I can.  Consequently, I’m constantly looking for the best way to read what I want to read.  On my iPad, I have Zite, Flipboard, Pulse News Reader and the LCARS RSS Reader.  (all of which have had previous reviews on this blog!)  On my computer, I’ve experimented with a number of RSS readers and seem to have settled in on Google Reader and Newsquares.  On top of that, I do have the Newseum and a couple of other newspapers all queued up!

I read a number of blogs and some of my favourites, you’ll find on my own blogroll.

 

There’s lots of good reading to be had at all of the above sources.  Still, I search for more efficient ways to stay on top of things.

Normally, anything that I write about on this blog is part of my regular routine and I’ve tried them long enough to have an opinion.  But, given the conversation with @doremigirl tonight, I thought that I’d share a service that I literally signed up for this morning while reading something somewhere else!  It’s called Planetaki.  Their description of their service is:

A planet is a place where you can read all the websites you like in a single page. You decide whether your planet is public or private.

My first reaction was that this service would be a good way to assign reading assignments that involve multiple sources to students.  Just create a “planet” with all of the resources cued up for the students to read.  It probably would serve well in that function.  But then, I started thinking — could I use this to make me a more productive reader for the things that I read every day.

Essentially, when you create a “planet”, you put together websites that you want to read.  Planetaki then assembles the websites into a single reading document.  I would just scroll down the computer reading what I want to read.  It sounds intriguing.  Where to start?

I just happened to be looking at my Blogroll at the time.  Why not start there?  So, I created a “planet”.  I wasn’t alone.  Here are some of the recently created planets…

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I figured that I better focus on mine.  I already was looking up and down the list eager to check out the other “planets”.  Now, these “planets” can be public or private but it seems to me that the best route would be to go public.  So, you can read my blogroll at http://www.planetaki.com/dougpete.  You can read the list – when I read it, the newest items are highlighted as new since the last reading.

As I’m creating this entry, two of the most recent posts where from Peter Skillen and David Warlick.  Planetaki gives a decent amount of a preview for the post with a link to the original post.  Not bad for a preview.  If an item is newsworthy, then I can click on the keep button where the story is preserved.  Viewing the complete post pulls in all of the artifacts from the original blog so that you can do things like add a comment, digg it, tweet about it, or whatever the author has configured.

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As I kept checking the resource today, I realized why I have these resources on my blogroll.  They write great content and there were updates during the day.  As I mentioned earlier as well, there are some people with blogrolls that haven’t had a post in three years.    But, I guess it’s important to do some name dropping.

I took a look at it and really like it.  It definitely is sequential but when you bring up the “planet” on the iPad where scrolling is so important, it really performed nicely.  Ditto for the iPod Touch.  It does reaffirm to me that this would be the perfect tool for assigned student reading.  The only real problem that I’ve run into is adding Alfred Thompson’s blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/alfredth/.  I get him plus a whole bunch of other Microsoft blogs.  They’re actually pretty good reading but not what I had in mind.

For me, I’m going to give it a shot.  I’ve made it a bookmark on my Tizmos page which is my default.  I’m going to give it a shakedown and see if it can’t change my reading lifestyle for the better and make me more productive.

A New “Spin” for Social Media


Fuse Labs has done it again.  Another offering from there has my interest.  One of the handiest things that you can have in a social browser is to have all of your social content easily presented and collated for you.  Spindex does that for you without installing anything.  Just fire up your web browser, configure your Twitter, Facebook and any RSS feeds that you want to monitor and Spindex does the rest.

And a great deal more.

Updates to these services come across as a stream right in your web browser.  Nothing more is needed to download or install.  In many ways, it reminds me of Friend Stream on my phone.  It’s handy on the phone since you don’t have to wander from application to application to pull it all together.

In addition to just the stream though, Spindex also collected the media that has been shared recently from the resources.  I find this very interesting.  Rather than scrolling through the history looking for something, the most recent is sitting there, in the right panel, just waiting for you to do something with it.  It’s a handy collection of photos, links, and stories that the people that you’re following have mentioned.

That takes care of the recent past.  For what’s happening right now, images are embedded right in the middle of the post.  Want to know what’s trending right at the moment?  Spindex has you covered there.

Because it’s a Microsoft project, you just have to know that search will be a key component in all this.  Not only can you search your own information stream (which is always helpful), clicking on a particular tweet seems to somehow pull the key words from the message and returns a collection of related searches in the right panel.  It’s very slick if you want to do some research on a topic right in your social browser.

Finally, how many times do you wish that you could post to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time?  There are configuration options in Facebook that make it happen.  But, because you’ve connected both services to Spindex, you can post to either or both with a simple click like you would with any service.

I find Spindex and interesting “spin” on the concept of social monitoring.  I would encourage you to give it a try and see what you think.  The nice, clean interface may change your thoughts about how to best monitor your accounts.

 

RSS is Boring


Well, maybe I can change your mind about this.  As I was playing around with Google Chrome and trying to work solely in the browser, I started to think about RSS feeds.  It’s yet another way to gather all the news that’s fit to read.  I’ve actually moved away from my computer based RSS Readers in favour of picking up current reads from announcements from Twitter or by reading through Flipboard of Pulse on the iPad.

As I poked around inside Chrome though, I stumbled across a find that’s worthy of keeping and sharing with you.  The application is called NewsSquares.  Like many of the apps that I talked about yesterday, it’s available through the Chrome Store and installable with a click.

In order to use NewsSquares, you need to be logged in to your Google account.  On first launch, if you have items in Google Reader, NewsSquares uses that as a starting point.  Starting point for what?

It’s a little difficult to describe so here’s a visual.

Each of the items appear in your screen as a news square.  In the top right corner, you’ll see a count for unread messages.  In the bottom right corner, an arrow lets you browse through the stories.  The individual stories clips appear in boxes along the bottom of the screen.  You’ll scroll across the bottom with your mouse or trackpad until you find a story of interest.

Each story comes with a time stamp so that you’re not reading ancient history.  Find one that’s of interest to read to access it.

As you would expect with stories, it’s important to share the news and so there are buttons available to share on your favourite services.  Need more than just a clip?  Then, ask NewsSquares to take you to the original so that you can read it all.

On their FAQ, they do respond to the unfair question about being compared to Flipboard or Pulse.  I like the response that this is a project in HTML5 which distinguishes this from the other products.  If you like the Chrome version, you’ll also want to snag the Android version of this product.

If you need more than just what your RSS provides, you can search for and/or add your own content to feed the reader.  Configuration items include colours and frequency of updates.  I think that this is a real find and well worth the time to click once and get if you’re a fan of RSS.