Monday, September 30, 2013

Replacing Google Reader - Part 1


It's been a while since I've kept up with reading my RSS subscriptions.  Earlier I mentioned my issues with transitioning between jobs.  However, one big deterrent has been the demise of iGoogle and Google Reader.  Yes, I know iGoogle is still around for another month or so, but it no longer comes up automatically.

I used to love the convenience of having everything pop up on one page ... calendar, RSS feeds, news articles, etc.

Now ... it's all gone.  Supposedly I could upgrade to Chrome, but to be honest, I'm a little unnerved by what Chrome does to our computers.  It tries to take over everything ... it deactivates functionalities in the other (evidently "inferior") browsers.  It was the weirdest thing.  Once we removed Chrome, the other browsers started working again.

Also, do we really need to continue supporting Google's attempts to monopolize EVERYTHING?

But I digress ... I need to find a replacement for Google Reader.  If you're anything like me, you panicked in June and did the "Takeout Service" and created these cute little JSON files.  And then you did nothing with them, because you never got around to finding a replacement.

So, here goes nothing...

First up, I tried Feedly.  I've heard great things about them, and about how you can import your Google Reader settings and subscriptions ... but really?  I've tried to get it to work on my Mac, and I'm not having much success.  On the home page, there's a link "Import an OPML file."  I click that and it asks me to sign up through my Google account.  I say, "Sure" ... and then it peters out.  It doesn't ask for a location of the JSON files, or the subscriptions.xml file.  It just does ... nothing.

Then I did some research ... other people are having the same problems.  Plus, it appears Feedly will only take the subscriptions, but it leaves behind your starred selections, and other important Google Reader information.

Honestly, I'm surprised, as these JSON files are nothing much more than souped up text files.  If I had to, I could manually go in and set up every single subscription I had, and find the starred articles, etc.  But I didn't do the "Takeout Service" to have to resort to doing something a computer could easily do for me automatically.  I mean as a programmer, myself, I'm at a loss trying to understand what could be so hard to write some simple code to read in a text file and set up subscriptions ... heck ... even I could write that code!

But then again, I don't think that's the real problem.  I notice how fancy the website's trying to be ... the whole fancy look and functionalities.  Perhaps they're going way too fancy when all I'm looking for is a simple reader that will show me the text and pictures and videos.  What good is a "fancy" feed when basic functionalities don't work?  Mac Users need not even try?

I'm sure I could search the Help files to figure out how to make it work, but I searched for 15 minutes, and that was way too long.  By then, I've just lost interest ... and I'm just going to look elsewhere.

Stay tuned as I continue my quest.  Suggestions welcome!


mabills said...

I've been using Feedly on my ancient (6 1/2 years old) MacBook Pro with no problems.

M.A. Bills

Aaron Wright said...

Hi Melvyn,

This is a very thoughtful review of Feedly. If you are still looking for a RSS reader, check out Feed Fiend. You can browse feeds and subscribe with one click. You can also get unlimited feeds for free. You can import your feeds from Google Reader. Let me know what you think.

Aaron Wright