I’ve used the popular Sage extension for all my RSS reading needs until a few months ago when I discovered bloglines.com. Essentially the advantage of an RSS aggregating website vs an offline RSS aggregator is twofold:
- You don’t have to worry about polling the various sites
- You can use multiple computers to visit the website and not see the same stuff twice. In my case I use my laptop (work), my pc (home) and sometimes my phone (Nokia E70) or somebody else’s computer.
Bloglines.com was nice while I used it but I had some issues from the beginning:
- A lot of time appears to pass before bloglines updates its feeds.
- Sometimes stuff is presented as unread while in fact I already read it
- Sometimes that was months ago
- Sometimes it is everything in the bloody feed
- All of the above seems to be happening a lot lately. I’m not getting updates from sites that have multiple updates when I visit them manually (including the sites that I visit multiple times per day normally). The same stuff from the same sites keeps reappearing as new when I know for a fact that those sites are not experiencing technical difficulties. Also it seems to affect a lot of sites.
So basically it broke both reasons why I was using it in the first place! Bye bye bloglines and hello Google Reader. I exported my feeds as opml from bloglines and imported them in Google Reader. When I tried it aÃ‚Â few months ago it basically sucked (hence I moved to bloglines) but they’ve made loads of improvements since then and it is now pretty damn good.
- It’s got nice AJAX features so it doesn’t waste my time letting me wait while it fetches the same page.
- Navigation is excellent, fast and intuitive. I had some minor issues with pages not refreshing though.
- I disabled the mark read when scrolling feature. This feature basically marks stuff as read when you scroll downwards using the scrollbar or your wheel mouse. Since I scroll before actually reading stuff (to get an overview of what is on the page) that means stuff gets marked read that I have only glanced at of 0.5 seconds. Not good, should be off by default.
- With this annoying feature disabled, the behavior is quite nice. You can click an item or scroll to the next with the spacebar. Doing so marks it read.
- There’s a mark all read at the top of the page. So what I do now is review the new stuff (in chronological order); middle click stuff I want to read (on the original site) and then mark all read.
- So far I’ve not been able to catch Google Reader to be more than a minute or so behind on my favourite site. Pinochet died yesterday and I knew almost right away because the relevant feed updated immediately. I saw the post on a blog within 20 minutes after it hit the news. With bloglines, I would probably have been ignorant of the whole thing until I bothered to visit the site myself. Probably google is hooked up to pingomatic and has enough capacity to download updates more less right after the ping arrives.
So far, I like Google reader a lot better than bloglines, even when it was working properly.