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Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Dave!And so Google Reader is dead.

Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.

As in I opened up my feed reader this morning and it returned no new articles.

Now, before I jump into things, I should probably talk a little bit about why I even give a crap seeing as how blogs are dying and most everything ends up on Facebook anyway. The short answer is "clutter." Yes, many blogs and news sources post their articles (or, more likely, a link to their articles) on Facebook. The problem is that my Facebook newsfeed is also jammed up with tons of other stuff. And that's fine... I actually enjoy keeping up with my friends by all the crazy crap they post... but I don't want to have to go digging through all that to find the blog and news posts I'm looking for. I want them in a separate place so I can quickly get to the material I'm seeking. And that material generally breaks down like this...

  • Apple News. As a Certified Apple Whore, it's required by law that I keep on top of all the latest news and rumors concerning the world's favorite fruit-themed computer company.
  • Photography Blogs. As a hobbyist, I'm always looking for ways to improve my pictures. I've got a dozen photography/photographer blogs in my feed bank for just that reason.
  • Marginalized Blogs. I firmly believe that the best way to keep abreast of where we're headed as a society is to monitor what those persons marginalized by it are experiencing every day. And so I read blogs like Racialicious which explore racial issues... and blogs like Joe. My. God. which explore gay issues... and blogs like The Politics of Poverty which explore poverty issues. The things I learn from these sources have been invaluable in helping me better relate to those fellow humans who have lives different from my own.
  • Religion Blogs. World religions are a hobby of mine, and I follow a number of religious viewpoints on different sites around the globe. Christian blogs, Buddhist blogs, Muslim blogs, Hindu blogs, Jewish blogs... you name it, I've probably got one in my feed bank.
  • Foreign News. Not trusting American news organizations as my only source of what's going on in the world, I subscribe to a number of sources outside the US to make sure my opinions on current events are shaped by as many viewpoints as possible.
  • Science & Tech News. As a science geek, I try to stay on top of science and technology. The future is now.
  • Travel Blogs. As a frequent traveler, this is kind of a no-brainer. But I'm kind of a snob in that I only subscribe to feeds from people actually out there doing it... not those that sit in an office and speculate about it.
  • Friend Blogs. Granted, not so many of my friends are blogging any more, but I still want to keep up with those who do.

And so... where am I at now that Google Reader has gone the way of the dodo?

Well, I can't very well give up having a central service to keep track of my feeds so I can make sure things are synced between all my computers and iDevices, so I went looking for another service. At first I hopped on the Feedly bandwagon as most my friend have because, hey, it's free. But what happens when they too realize there's no money to be made in free webfeeds? And so I bailed from Feedly and signed up with Feed Wrangler. Unlike other "free" services with no business model for actually staying in business, Feed Wrangler is charging $19.95 a year to manage your feeds. A relatively small amount that I am happy to pay so I won't have to go through the Google Reader crap again.

And how am I accessing Feed Wrangler?

Well... their web interface is really good. Very clean. They have smart feeds there which is a spiffy feature. But I prefer to use an offline app so I can have a more feature-rich experience and a cache of my feeds so I can read where I don't have internet.

My first "real" feed reader was NetNewsWire. Brent Simmons clearly new what he was doing when he created it, as the thing Just Made Perfect Sense. It worked like a dream. Everything was so smart in implementation. But then Simmons sold it to NewsGator who in turn sold it to an app house called Black Pixel back in 2011. Black Pixel was more like a Black Hole from which information never escapes, so I finally ditched NetNewsWire for a new app called Reeder.

Reeder was slick looking, but pretty much brain-dead. When you "mark all as read" in NetNewsWire, it assumed you didn't want to read any more from that feed and popped you to the next one. Reeder just sat there like a turd after choosing "mark all as read," which made me hate the fucking app every time I had to manually step through shit I wasn't interested in.... WHICH IS WHY I MARKED IT ALL AS READ!!! Even worse, you could only navigate backwards to the previous post IF IT WAS IN THE SAME FEED! If the previous post was in a different feed, too fucking bad, you can't see it. Dumb stuff like that permitted Reeder, but I used it most of the time anyway because the alternatives were worse. Reeder for Mac doesn't work with Feed Wrangler (yet) even though the iPhone version does, so I was forced to dump it at long last.

The app recommended for connecting to Feed Wrangler that works right now is ReadKit. Unfortunately, ReadKit is even more mind-bogglingly brain-dead than Reeder. Not only does it have BOTH the "mark all as read" stupidity AND the navigation failure... it also has stupid keyboard shortcuts that ARE NOT USER DEFINABLE! With NetNewsWire, Brent Simmons picked the biggest fucking key on the keyboard to go to the next article... THE SPACE BAR! With ReadKit, it's the "J" key or something like that. A key you have to hunt for rather than lazily smashing the bottom of your keyboard. Not that it makes any difference... ReadKit doesn't even have a "Next Unread" button. It has a "show only unread" option, but it doesn't work until after you leave the current feed. Insanity.

Meanwhile, Black Pixel finally released NetNewsWire4 Beta. Desperate for a feed reader that actually made it easy to read my fucking webfeeds, I downloaded it. Even though it doesn't sync with any feed service. The good news is that after you "mark all as read," you actually jump past all the stuff you don't want to read to get to the next unread article (would be nice if it popped you to the next feed automatically but hey, it's beta). So far so good. Does it manage to navigate to the previous feed when you hit the back button to navigate back through the stuff you've read? Oh... this is new... there's no back button. NO FUCKING BACK BUTTON!! I know this is beta software, but how in the hell do you justify releasing a feed reader without a fucking back button? There may be a key for that, but I couldn't find it. And there's no documentation to speak of, so whatever.

I give up.

The only person I trust to write a feed reader that makes fucking sense is Brent Simons, but he's out of that game. I suppose I could cross my fingers and hope that on of the many alternative reader developers take a minute to truly understand what makes a good user experience, but I'm beginning to doubt that will ever happen. Everybody seems to be releasing the same reader with the same failings... they just look a little different and have a different name.

And so I'm back to reading my feed bank by using Feed Wrangler's website.

Maybe one day I'll spend the time to develop my own feed reader. One that will remember what articles you've read regard of which feed they're in and let you backtrack through them. One that will actually MARK SHIT AS READ AND THEN MOVE PAST IT SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ANY MORE. One that has keyboard shortcuts that make fucking sense. One that syncs with Feed Wrangler. One that doesn't make me start dropping F-bombs every time I go to talk about it.

Maybe.

But probably not.

Perhaps I should just follow Google's lead after all and give it all up.

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Categories: Internets 2013Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Seals says:

    I hate Google so much right now. I don’t know how such an integral part of Internet activity can just go away.

    They took the RSS feeds for Google Alerts away as well. I had already shifted to two separate feed readers (one personal, one business) but I wasn’t prepared for my alerts to disappear. I go through hundreds of stories for work every morning and now I have no idea how I’m going to fill that void.

    I do know one thing. I will exorcize Google from my entire life. They can go suck eggs!

  2. brandon says:

    well, this was the first personal blog i picked up through feedly, so i’m happy it at least functions, but oof, it took 5 or 6 unintuitive clicks before i actually got to your real site. still, it’s nice to see someone keeping the flame.

  3. I went with Feedbin, and pay $24 a year. Over the years I’ve realized that paying for decent web services is preferable over becoming “the product” and enduring ads or having my info sold to third parties.

    Feedbin also syncs handily with Reeder, my favorite iPhonr feed reading app. So it’s win-win all round really.

  4. Poppy says:

    I am using feedly. The end.

  5. TheQueen says:

    I am using Feedly, only to be told every time that it has exceeded capacity.

  6. Lynne says:

    I downloaded “The Old Reader” (http://theoldreader.com/)which is the older version of Google Reader that someone else scooped up. Has the same feel and so far seems to work okay.

  7. martymankins says:

    I decided to go with Feedly, but also imported my RSS into AOL Reader, which is in beta and only works if you have an AOL account. Limited, but I do like it’s interface.

    My only issue with Feedly is that your blog is the only one on my list that I can’t click through and have it open the link to the specific post. It always opens each post with ‘about:blank’ which makes me curious if there isn’t some type of config issue. Your posts open just fine from the AOL Reader, which was imported from the same OPML feeds.

    As for Reeder, I’ve not experienced what you have. I used the iPad app more than any of the other two versions of their app and it worked very well on just about every blog (except for TypePad which is a different animal when it comes to needing a login to post)

    I wish Google would have just left Reader alone.

  8. I still can’t believe that Google wouldn’t just charge us to keep their service. How much could it really have cost and if they’d gotten $10-$20 a year from a hundred thousand of us, that seems like it’d be enough. I’m going to be shaking my head at this one for a long time….

    I switched to Feedly, it was free and super super seamless, literally no effort at all. Super-important to me: it remembered my starred articles! The web interface is decent, but not perfect; it’s fast though!

    The new version of Reeder for iPhone supports Feedly and I run it at 2x on the iPad since the iPad version is not in sync with the iPhone version (way out of date). The desktop app is out of date too (they’ve both been free for a while), I really don’t like the desktop app, but it was nice to cache the data when I was on slow connections.

  9. Leah says:

    I’m using The Old Reader… it’s everything that was nice about Google Reader before they killed sharing.

  10. I’m a bit saddened by the decline of blogging. Quite frankly, I don’t have time to blog. Yet, through personal blogs, I found many interesting, random people online. You can’t really do that the same way through Facebook.

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