Saturday, June 29, 2013

The End is Nigh

We're about two days from the demise of Google Reader (which also means the loss of a go-to topic for blog posts). Here are some last minute links for anyone who has not switched yet:
  • ReplaceReader.com has a Twitter poll listing various options. (Hat tip to The Endeavour for the link.) Be advised that some of the options in the poll are not really replacements for Reader (they're ancillary services and such), some are single-platform options that will not sync across devices (for instance, desktop only), and at least one requires that you run your own server.
  • Google Reader: With the End Near, Here Are Some Alternatives is a recent (week-old) eWeek article that lists a few popular alternatives to Reader.
For what it's worth, I've been using the free version of Netvibes for a while. Netvibes is strictly browser-based, at least for the moment. The desktop version is quite good. On my Android tablet, the mobile version works, but it lacks some of the usability of the desktop version. That's to be expected, since the mobile version is presumably designed for use on a smart phone. My tablet has a 10" screen, though, and I want the missing features. The desktop version works tolerably well in the Chrome browser but does not display properly in Firefox, and there are quirks with scrolling and using certain links in Chrome. (I'm not sure if the quirks are the fault of the page design or something in Chrome.)

I've just started testing InoReader, the preferred choice of the author of the eWeek article. InoReader is also free and web-based. I like the interface, and the desktop version appears to work identically in the desktop and Android versions of Firefox, but there may be some quirks with it. Some posts are time-stamped incorrectly. More worrying, when I checked this morning I had 10 unread posts. When I checked back after lunch, there were only five, so some of the posts that I did not read either disappeared or were marked "read" (but not by me).

Update: I just discovered that one of the default settings in InoReader marks articles as read after you scroll past them. This, like "blow up building upon exit", strikes me as a setting that might possibly be useful but perhaps should not be the default. Barring evidence to the contrary, I'll assume that accounts for the "lost" posts. I also discovered that InoReader decided (again by default?) that I live in the Hawaiian time zone. (I wish!) We'll see if timestamps appear correctly now that I've disabused it of that idea. InoReader, by the way, has a truly impressive (if not dizzying) set of options that you can configure.

Update #2: InoReader is now my sole RSS reader, and I have no complaints at all. The one item on my wish list would be a mechanism to create RSS feeds on their servers to follow Twitter accounts. As mentioned in this post and this post, Twitter dropped support for RSS. Various third parties stepped in to provide free JSON-to-RSS bridges to follow Twitter accounts, but unfortunately they all seem to be getting slammed by use (despite Twitter's contention that RSS is "infrequently used today"). It would be nice if InoReader could provide a bridge of their own. Meanwhile, if you're still shopping for a GReader replacement, PCMag.com published an article "9 Great Google Reader Replacements" that might interest you.

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