Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader ... Time To Move On To The Next Shiny Object

I am a news junky.  I get news mostly from RSS feeds and Facebook.  This week a very useful tool for keeping up with the happening around me began a three month process that will end in its demise.

For years now I've been been among the thousands ... millions (???) ... of people who used Google Reader (GR) as their RSS feed reader.  GR brought me my daily news,  my morning funnies, my tech news, and, most importantly, my blog posts from my Internet friends.  When I learned Wednesday that Google, in it's attempt to clean up its portfolio of services, will be killing GR, I went into mourning.  It was like I was losing an old friend.

By coincidence, a few days earlier ... I can't remember when ... has it been a week? .... more?  ... anyway, I decided to dip my little toe into the Twitter puddle.  I'd thought of doing it for a while.  What had stopped me before was I didn't know what I would get from Twitter that I already didn't get from my RSS feeds.  I finally took the plunge when I realized that I'd better stake a claim to my Twitter handle before someone else got it (yeah, I'm a bit late but I was lucky as it was still available).  My Twitter handle is @HomersTravels.  I haven't tweeted anything yet but I plan to tweet my Homer's Travels posts just like I auto-post them to Facebook.  As a matter of fact this post should be my first official Tweet (apologies to everyone who is both my Facebook friend and my Twitter follower for the redundancy).

What does Google Reader and Twitter have to do with each other?  Turns out a lot of my RSS feeds (like Engadget, Gizmodo, Boing Boing, etc.) are also tweeted.  Following a sites twitter feed does the same as subscribing to their RSS feed.  Twitter is not a complete replacement for GR though.  Many of the blogs I follow do not have a twitter account so I will still have to find an RSS reading solution.

That's where FlipBoard comes in.  My relationship with Flipboard has been a bit rocky.  The app allows you to combine multiple social networks/aggregators (Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Flickr, YouTube  among others) into one slick, magazine style, user experience.  At first I found it confusing and difficult to use, especially when using it to read GR RSS feeds.  The app seems to have a limit to the number of RSS articles it would download at a time.  It took a little snooping to realize this and, after you've read your feeds, you had to reload to get more articles.  I was so frustrated that I uninstalled it ... and reinstalled it ... at least three times before I decided to buckle down and just learn it.  My experience with FlipBoard changed when I used it to read my Twitter feed.  The Best Man had said he used FlipBoard to read Twitter and I can see why he likes it - it can be pretty slick.  As I have added twitter feeds, I have deleted RSS feeds and this, in turn, makes GR work better with FlipBoard because there are fewer RSS feed articles and you don't bump up against the limit as often.

So, how does FlipBoard help with the whole GR is going away issue?  This FlipBoard blog post says it all.  It appears that if you link your GR account with FlipBoard, they will copy all of your feeds over.  It also explains that you can add any RSS feeds to FlipBoard.

So, it seems that a combination of Twitter and FlipBoard will solve my problem while giving the added benefit of aggregating all my updates into one app.  No more checking GR then checking Facebook then checking Twitter then back to the beginning ... ad nauseum.  With the addition of Twitter to my news repertoire I will never be starved for news.  If anything my news obsession will go into overdrive.  The only issue I have now is that FlipBoard is a mobile app only and there is no desktop interface.  Since I am finding I'm using my Nexus 7 much more than my desktop for casual browsing, I don't imagine this will be a problem.

A side benefit of all this Google Reader brewhaha (on Twitter the shut down of Google Reader trended higher than the new pope for a while) is that I'm taking the time to trim out the chaff in my RSS feeds and doing a little housecleaning.  Turns out I have a lot of feeds that I rarely read or rarely update.  All this cleaning ... and just in time for Spring.

4 comments:

  1. VERY nice!! Kudos for finding a good solution. AND now I can follow you on Twitter!! :D

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    1. Miss McC: Awesome! I'm already following you ... in a non-stalkerish way ;-)

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  2. I may have shed a single tear when Google announced they were shuttering reader. Just one. In a very manly way, of course.

    I still think it was a dumb decision. Obviously, they burned a lot of extremely techy people by doing it, and it wasn't like it was exactly a resource hog. From what I could tell, they weren't pouring development money into it, and no one was complaining.

    My understanding, though, is that everything at Google has become all about tying stuff into Google+, so maybe they just couldn't see a way of making that a profitable revenue stream.

    I'm still pissed, though...

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    1. GH: Totally agree ... dumb desicion on Googles part.

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