Friday, 15 March 2013

Reading Google

You may have been wondering why I haven’t been posting here much lately. The short is answer is simple: time.
The more elaborate story is to do with me being roughly able to conjure about a post a day. Given that we have been watching lots of stuff lately, that post tended to be a review for my reviews blog rather than a post here.
Last night, however, things were worse. Even Hitler was shocked at that day's bad news, and for the first time ever I can say I agree with every English subtitled word of his:



So yes, Google decided to shut Google Reader down. They claim this is because they could not monetize it, which is a fine argument; it is a free service, after all. However, I suspect it is more of an effort on their behalf to direct our Internet surfing in a way that would generate them more income. In other words, as far as Google is concerned, RSS stands between them and more income.
Me, I am pissed off big time. I have been using Google Reader for much longer than I have been using Twitter and probably longer than this blog had existed. During that time it has been the undisputed number one source of my Internet consumption. Sure, Twitter is good for the latest news and social updates; but Google Reader was there for everything else and more. Everything of consistent, reliable substance.
I could not rest until I find myself an alternative. My chief concern is work: while I can find plenty of RSS readers to work on my platforms of choice and provide superior experience to Google Reader, at the office I am unable to install stuff and I am limited to the archaeological Internet Explorer 8. A browser that was never particularly good to begin with. With that limitation in mind, I went looking for alternatives.
I am proud to say I found a spectacular looking RSS reader that works on IE8 in the shape of Netvibes. I was able to import all my Reader feeds in and start reading feeds pretty quickly. It would probably take some getting used to and my normal workflows would be interrupted, but the transition would not be the cataclysmic event I was afraid of.
Newsblur also offers a nice alternative, but if you follow more than 12 feeds – which you would if you were a Google Reader user – you would need to pay $1 a month to gain proper access. It’s not much but it’s not free, either.
While at it, I’ve adopted a new RSS tool for my own platforms: Feedly. Feedly is a free solution that comes in the shape of a Google Chrome or Firefox app I can run on all of my own computers (Mac, Ubuntu and Windows). I can also install the app on my iPad/iPhone (there is an Android version, too).
According to Feedly, they are working on “Project Normandy” so that when Google Reader is killed, Feedly users feeds would continue uninterrupted. I Feedly them well, and in my role of Commander Shepard I commend them on their choice of a name for their project.

I ended up going to bed at close to 2:00am. It’s strange, but overall I felt good: This quest for a quick alternative, even though Reader would not be put to rest till 1 July, brought me to realize Google was actually doing me a favor.  For a while I have been looking to disconnect myself from Google, currently the biggest invader of my privacy; Google Reader was, by far, the Google service I was tied to the most. In other words, good riddance, Google!

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