Grid Preview in Chrome

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A while back I wrote about my dream RSS feed reader. This plugin does nothing to get me there, but it’s kind of cool so I figured I should share it with you all (in case it gets you closer to your dream reader). This from Lifehacker:

Google Reader is still one of the best ways to get through your mass of blogs, but it’s never been the prettiest way to read. The Grid Preview extension for Chrome makes browsing through those blogs a little nicer with an image-focused grid layout.

Once you install the extension, you’ll have the option to organize Google Reader in two to twelve columns, letting you browse your favorite websites and blogs easier to see what you actually want to read without clicking next so many times.

If you like things to be more visual, and use Chrome, then this is the extension for you.

Looking for the dream RSS Reader

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I’ve been hunting around for ages now and figure I should turn to my librarian friends (please no sales comments). I’m looking for my dream RSS Feed Reader. I use Android for my phone and tablet and Google for my email (both personal and work) so I want Google Reader to be this tool, but it’s just not. The tool can be web based or desktop based (I use Mac) but it has to sync 100% with Google Reader so when I’m mobile I can access it still.

I want to see both titles and previews (or full posts) when looking at the list of unread items – just like Google Reader, but I also what email like functions, like the ability to select all or select all unread or select all from a search and mark things read or starred or whatever (this last bit is what’s missing from Google Reader and is really bugging me – I tried Greasemonkey scripts but none of them see quite right). I subscribe to a lot of blogs technology blogs and when there is a new iPhone I don’t need to read 300 posts about it – one is fine – so I’d like to find all unread items with a keyword in the title or body and mark them all ready to get them out of my way.

My ideal RSS feed reader would work just like my Gmail inbox except that it would show the previews/full text when I click a folder (instead of just a list of titles) like Google Reader does now. Finally it needs to be free of cost very little because I’ve been dealing with Google Reader for ages now and can continue to do so without paying anything new.

Here’s my mock up of what my dream RSS feed reader would look like – a mashup of Gmail and Google Reader (this is just my wish – not something I’ve seen – it’s totally photoshopped):

A mashup of Gmail and Google Reader photoshopped by me to show what I want in my dream RSS feed reader.

RSS Dying?

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I’ve been using RSS since before we had aggregators, since before we used it to keep up with blogs and other social sites. I was using RSS to syndicate content from other sites on to my own back in the day, and now this post from Ken Varnum points me to an article that is talking about the death of RSS. Adam Turner writes:

RSS is one of the universal open standards which underpins the web. Clicking on that little orange icon lets you easily subscribe to updates from a vast range of websites and services — regardless of your technological allegiance. Your RSS reader then notifies you when new content is published. You’ll either get the entire article or just the intro and link to the original webpage, depending on what the publisher wants to provide.

In this age of format wars, corporate takeovers, legal battles and patent trolling, RSS is one of few great standards we can all rely on. Which could be exactly why the control freaks of the internet want to kill it.

Ken adds:

While I regret the change in philosophy that has led popular social networking sites from making it harder for the content on the site to be used in other venues, I suppose I understand it. I imagine the Twitters and Facebooks of the world are thinking something along the lines of this: “If we can prevent that scourge of openness, RSS, from liberating individual user’s content, we can sell more ads or control more interactions.” In a commercial sense, that’s plausible, even if not wholly reflecting reality.

I can see where both authors are coming from, but being an advocate for openness and for collaboration, I’m pretty annoyed. Why not slap ads in our RSS feeds if it’s a matter of making money? Why make it so hard for me to get all the information I want in one place? If I have to go out to several places to get information, I’m going to be less informed because I’ll never be able to follow as much as I do now.

My husband and I were just talking about IFTTT (which I mentioned earlier this week) and how we can’t use it to post our blog content to Google+ automatically – in fact there is no way to post content automatically to Google+ (that I know of) and he asked a good question – how are they ever going to compete as a social network if they don’t offer the same services the other sites do … but maybe what’s going to happen is that the other sites are going to follow in Google’s footsteps and make it harder and harder to share content automatically.

Social networks, RSS feeds and automated posting services have made it so that we can all share and absorb so much more than we were ever able to before – why take that technology away from us?

Google Reader Pet Peeve

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 at Mon, Jul 23 - 11.05 AM

So, in getting started again with reading blogs and writing here I decided to go through my Google Reader account and clean things up. I’m actually very surprised that three years after my last Google Reader rant the same problems still exist.

Hopefully I’m wrong and one of you can help me. I want to be able to share a list of blogs that I subscribe to. I find lists like this very useful in finding blogs that I might not know about and I want to share with you all, but I do not see any way I can do this in Google Reader. It seems that you can share individual posts, but not a list of your subscriptions.

Being an Android phone and Android tablet user I want to use Google Reader, but I need some tips on making it do some of the things I want it to do.

Any tips??

Switching from Bloglines

I’ve read a few people complaining about Bloglines recently and it seems that people are moving to Google Reader. I have tried Google Reader several times – and have looked at it recently and it’s still not what I want to use. For me it still seems inferior to Bloglines – even if Bloglines is having errors.

Personally I only had one blog not updating (or one that I noticed) and it’s back so I’ll just stick with Bloglines and I’ll keep telling my students that Bloglines is better than Google Reader.

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Library Association Rant

Okay, so part of my job is to keep up with news from libraries and seek speaking engagements on open source. The best way for me to do this is to subscribe to not only the big association feeds and mailing lists, but the state level associations. Which leads me to my rant!

Why is it that so many library sites still don’t offer RSS updates?? And if you don’t offer RSS updates why the heck can’t I subscribe to your mailing list? I’m curious what’s going on in other states – I want to learn and keep up with library news – and all you’re doing is keeping your info in a silo!

Libraries are about sharing information and these locked down association news sources bug me!! Come on people – we’re librarians – open the silos up and start sharing and using your colleagues to get information from.