From April 2010

I like to keep myself informed on different topics, as such RSS feeds are a great way to keep informed. They allow you to follow a site, without having to visit a specific website and scan for the latest articles. Moreover, it can keep you updated of software updates or news that would not enter your radar.

Over time, I have accumulated around 600 RSS feeds and the challenge to manage them all was a challenge in itself. Thought, today I have a very satisfying setup which I like to share.

The old workhorse

In the past I would go nowhere without NetNewswire. I’ve been a huge follower of NetNewswire for a long time. I can’t remember the companies name of the past, but it was one guy doing the whole work and the application was great. Then he sold it do Newsgator and they had this very great setup with their online RSS client which would sync the read statuses with the desktop client. Furthermore, they also had a iPhone client. All in all a winning team.

After some time, they gave up this setup and recommended all their customers to use Google Reader and use NetNewswire, both on the desktop and on the iPhone, to sync with Google Reader. Thought, I did not like Google Reader at first I have to say that i use Google Reader as my main “RSS server” nowadays.

Unfortunately, or let’s say fortunately, the move from the Newsgator platform to Google Reader has also brought new opportunities and ways in my RSS reading workflow, I would have never experienced with NetNewswire alone.

This brings me to my current setup.

The new workhorse

Today, I have replaced NetNewswire on my iPhone with Newsrack (it used to be called Newsstand). Newsrack is a full featured RSS reader, displays your news in a news stand like display (I don’t use it and simply like the “standard” view) and it is blazing fast in loading the feeds.

The big plus, apart from syncing with Google Reader is the ability to share the feeds by eMail, with my Google Reader followers, post it to Twitter, Delicious or Instapaper.

Sure, Newsrack itself is not a free app, unlike NetNewswire, but for my taste NetNewswire just did not scope it anymore for me. It did not sync properly anymore, the displaying of ads bothered me after some time, but apart from that, it was just painfully slow in syncing with Google Reader.

All in all, I’ve been buying Newsrack after around 2 hours playing with it and never regret it in any way.

I’ve looked into other RSS readers that have the option to sync with Google Reader, but could not find one that would work well for me. Especially the sharing feature and the way it works, just does it for me.

On to the Mac Desktop.

One might wonder why I would want to use a desktop RSS reader if Google has made Google Reader so easy to use in the browser and especially with Google Chrome the reader is just plain fast. Still, for me, desktop apps have benefits over their web counterparts. Some of the benefits are the possibility to read the feeds offline, be able to easily drag and drop them to an email client and post to a blog with MarsEdit.

So far, I have used NetNewswire also for Google Reader replacement, but here also, I experienced slow syncing and the ads really were annoying. Thus I set out on my quest for a replacement. Foremost, I did *not* want an AIR application (don’t get me started on AIR’s RAM usage). Luckily, it did not last long until I found the perfect Mac desktop Google Reader. Enter Gruml

Gruml is a pretty young project (Version 0.9.17) and (surprise?) comes from a person in Germany. But what really got me hooked on Gruml is the usability that just makes it so much fun to use. Also, for just about every action you have shortcuts. Want to post a article to Twitter? Hit shift+T, Want to spread the news with ping.fm? Hit shift+G. Best of it, it opens a new tab with the build in browser.

But one of the really neat feature is the icon in the menu bar of MacOS X itself. First it lets you now how many unread items you got and when you click on the icon it gives you a preview of the feeds in its own window. Me thinks, that is really slick!

Moreover, I have found that Gruml is really in sync with Google Reader all the time. In my testing I saw that it syncs almost instantly with Google Reader and as such you have Google Reader, Newsrack on the iPhone and Gruml in sync almost by the beat.

Of course, one of the best selling points for Gruml is the price -  free by the means of Gratis, pay nothing, enjoy and follow the feeds :-)

Times_ads

Right, so I’ve been on the internet for quite a long time. Like many of you, I most of the time “could” ignore those ads when visiting a newspaper website, but today, while reading the times.com website, I was just simply annoyed. You have to look at the screenshot to understand what I mean:

I mean, what do those editors think when they place an ad like this? Does the newspaper think that we will click on it? As you can clearly see, the ads and navigation takes up around 70% of the screen estate. Never mind the usability of the website, less then me finding my way around.

Thought, this is just one of the examples I’ve seen in recent time, it is clearly the biggest one. Maybe more annoying are the ones that hover on top of the news text and you need to close them or the ones that act on your mouse movements.

Now, I’m not blind and I know that you guys have to make money. But please, find a more decent way to make money. As an example, cooperate with Apple on their iPad offering and place your ads there. Or make a paid subscription model, that makes us readers, a follower of your newspaper instead of one leaving your site immediately (as I did).

If you run out of ideas, I got plenty left and they have proven to work. I’m available at your disposal…