Bloglines beta RSS Reader

These days, I use RSS to keep up with the blogs and other news feeds that I follow. There is a problem with this, however. The problem is RSS readers.

OK, it’s partly my fault because I am a cheapskate and don’t believe in paying for something if I can get it free. So in choosing an RSS reader, my two main requirements are these: it must be a Web-based reader (to save me cluttering up my hard drive with all those articles) and it must be free.

It seems to me that RSS readers (or “aggregators”, as some people insist on calling them) are today where email clients were about 10 years ago. That is, they are pretty sparse on features, clunky to use and, all in all, not very good. Some have some imaginative features but unfortunately none has all of these.

I have for some time used the Google reader. I think it’s pretty good, compared with what’s generally available. What I don’t like about it is what I don’t like about Google in general: this brand is just too omnipresent and has fingers in so many pies that I at least yearn to escape from it. Add to this the fact that once you sign in to the reader (or to Blogger), your Google ID follows you around like a bad smell until you log out.

I have tried all the usual free online RSS readers. They all have something wrong with them. It’s less a case of choosing the one that has all the features you require than choosing one that has the least disadvantages. I am not going to review them all, you will be glad to know.

While using the Google reader, I was also playing with Bloglines. This is a popular reader but it has several annoying features. The main one is that when you open a “channel”, it immediately marks all the articles as read. This is bad news if you haven’t got time to read them all. Google at least allows you to mark each article read explicitly.

Plinking away yesterday, I made a discovery. I don’t know how well known this is, as they don’t advertise it on their main page, but Bloglines are working on the beta of a new version and I have to say it’s jolly good. It still marks as read all the articles in a source but there is a tick-box labelled “Mark read” and you can untick this to keep the article’s status unread.

It is a simple and straightforward reader but I find it pleasant to use and it allows you to edit each feed sufficiently for my purposes. For example, I like to edit the names of my feeds and I can bo this easily with Bloglines beta.

It doesn’t have folders but you can create “tags” and all sources with the same tag are grouped together. To my mind this is as good as folders and perhaps even slightly neater. It doesn’t sort your feeds but you can do this yourself by dragging each one to where you want it in the list. This means you can group titles without them being in alphabetical order.

The only quirk I have discovered so far is that when a new article appears in a feed, Bloglines beta sometimes marks old articles as unread too, so that you now have one new article and 9 old ones all pretending to be new. No doubt that will be sorted out.

I must say I like this reader. (Never thought I’d hear you say that – Ed.) I will be giving it a serious run for its money in the days to come and hoping it continues to please.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to Bloglines beta RSS Reader

  1. emalyse says:

    We all use what works for us. I flit between several readers for different features but am currently mostly using the feed reader built into the Flock browser. As I always say ‘no such thing as better, only different’.

  2. athinkingman says:

    Thanks for the info. I’ll give it a try.

  3. SilverTiger says:

    Flock seems to be a browser with an built-in (or bolt-on?) RSS reader. I mistrust these all-dancing, all-singing softwares. For one thing they tie you in. I would rather use softwares that do one thing but do it well. If I switch, I can do so without changing many other things as well. For example, Firefox is a jolly good browser but a rotten RSS reader so I am happy to use it as a browser and to use something else that is a competent RSS reader.

    I agree that people’s differing tastes are met by different software, as with everything else: we don’t all drive a Rolls Royce, for example. I wouldn’t dream of saying that everyone should use Bloglines, either classic or beta. On the other hand, it may well be the sort of simple software with good basic facilities that would appeal to a lot of people.

    I suspect that the whole concept of “feeds” read with “readers” will soon become archaic. It is a rather clunky system, after all. I don’t know what will replace it but I’m pretty sure something will.

  4. Emalyse says:

    Well like I say we all use what works for us. Flock is just a variant of firefox but focused on social networking and blogging users (it is open source after all) so I find it helps my productivity (I get more things done more quickly but we all ‘click’ more easily with some software than others) which is why I use it.Currently RSS is a more efficient way of getting lots of web site and blog updates when compared to plain web browsing. Not sure I currently find RSS in itself ‘clunky’ (compared to vanilla web browsing and bookmarking) or maybe you meant RSS readers themselves .RSS is pretty flexible and allows enclosures for music, podcasting and rich media content etc to be read by browsers, phones,i-Tunes etc. I can imagine it developing certainly. Few things stand still for too long.

  5. Pingback: Another RSS reader « SilverTiger

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