Friday, March 22, 2013

RSS Reader Alternatives for Library Students

I think most people are starting to allow the weeping to cease. For days now people have been in a ruckus about the closing of Google Reader.

Google Reader allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed so that you could have the web site or blog delivered to the reader instead of you remembering to go to the site. It is one of the ways people keep up with a specific block of interest. There are users that have thousands of links to web sites in their readers.

I will tell you as an information junkie this hit hard. Yes, I have bookmarks but using Google Reader helps me to to stay on top of the sites that I need to visit on a daily or weekly basis. I keep my RSS subscriptions private. I love sharing a good link on Twitter but you don't need to know every web site and blog I visit. I have this thing about privacy. I'm in favor of it.

Mind you, I'm not ashamed of my links. You should visit Too Busy Thinking About Comics but there are some places that you might not want a potential future employer to know that.

Wait, this is a library blog and if your future library doesn't understand about comic books and graphic novels then you don't necessarily want to work for them anyway.

I digress.

When news broke of Google's decision to close the site July 1, 2013 there was much grieving and gnashing of the teeth.  Out of misery comes opportunity. There are replacement RSS readers ready to welcome you but first you gotta get your feeds out of Google Reader.

Nick Barber from IDG Network News and Tech Tips has a video on how to extract your feeds from Google Reader.

After you get them extracted then what?

Well, you have options. But before you begin you will need to do some research. Many of the RSS readers use Google Reader as a back end synchronization support. Without Google Reader the software either has to create a new back end of support or it ain't gonna work after July 1st.

You will need to make sure there is independent support for your feeds.

Clouds, Web and Social Media Based Readers

There is something to be said for web based RSS readers. You can use them with smartphone and tablets, you have universal access no matter where you go and for those that are truly social media beings of habit you can share them with your connections.

Feedly works with both Firefox and Chrome browsers. When it senses that a web page or blog has a feed link it will allow you to add that page as a feed. Feedly then displays the pages in a visual magazine like format. Feedly is also available for Android and iOS devices.  Feedly has a number of sharing options with all of the major social media outlets.

Flipboard is very popular and allows you to connect and share your finds and subscription with your social networks.

Pulse is another visual reader that works on the desktop, Apple iOS and Andriod platforms. In addition to added RSS feeds you can pull content from their catalog. You also can sync your feeds across other devices.

Desktop RSS Readers

I have been testing out Feedreader. So far so good. It is easy to add the subscription feed links. I like that I can quickly spot what is incoming. I like that I can type in a search term to see if it pops up in any of my feeds.  I can minimize it and have pop-up show me incoming or shut it down when I need to get work done. There is a version for on-line use as well.

RSSOwl is a Java based reader. Java is a programing language that may or may not be installed on your system. It has an e-mail like interface that you might like.

The e-mail client Thunderbird has a very good RSS reader function. I know because I also use that as an additional reader software. For RSS only I don't think it would be worth it to install but should you happen to need an alternative e-mail program and RSS reader this is a keeper.

Other reader choices are:

Please remember to check if the RSS software or App uses Google Reader as a back end synchronize.

Which is why I can't recommend FeedDemon because it is shutting down. It will work after July 1 if you disable the Google synchronization but it will no longer be supported.

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