July 29th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

The Old Reader logoThat’s why The Old Reader has to change. We have closed user registration, and we plan to shut the public site down in two weeks. We started working on this project for ourselves and our friends, and we use The Old Reader on a daily basis, so we will launch a separate private site that will keep running. It will have faster refresh rate, more posts per feed, and properly working full-text search — we are sure that we can provide all this at a smaller scale without that much drama, just like we were doing before March.

The private site?

Accounts will be migrated to the private site automatically. We will whitelist everybody we know personally, along with all active accounts that were registered before March 13, 2013 — those are the people who had consciously signed up for The Old Reader rather than were simply looking for “a Google Reader replacement”. And of course, we will migrate all our awesome supporters and people who donated to keep the project running (if you sent us bitcoins, please get in touch to get identified). Later this week your account will get a distinct indication whether it will be migrated to the private site or not. If you see that message and believe that it’s wrong, or if all your friends are getting migrated and you are left behind — please, drop us a line.

Read the full post @ blog.theoldreader.com.

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July 3rd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

RSS MagazineThis isn’t an issue of “openness”, per se — Twitter, for instance, has very good reasons to limit its API. You aren’t entitled to unrestricted access to someone else’s service. Those days are gone for good, and we’ll all be fine. We don’t need big web players to be completely open.

The bigger problem is that they’ve abandoned interoperability. RSS, semantic markup, microformats, and open APIs all enable interoperability, but the big players don’t want that — they want to lock you in, shut out competitors, and make a service so proprietary that even if you could get your data out, it would be either useless (no alternatives to import into) or cripplingly lonely (empty social networks).

Google resisted this trend admirably for a long time and was very geek- and standards-friendly, but not since Facebook got huge enough to effectively redefine the internet and refocus Google’s plans to be all-Google+, all the time.4 The escalating three-way war between Google, Facebook, and Twitter — by far the three most important web players today — is accumulating new casualties every day at our expense.

Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything.5 While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing through it, it conflicted with their far more important Google+ strategy: they need everyone reading and sharing everything through Google+ so they can compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.

RSS represents the antithesis of this new world: it’s completely open, decentralized, and owned by nobody, just like the web itself. It allows anyone, large or small, to build something new and disrupt anyone else they’d like because nobody has to fly six salespeople out first to work out a partnership with anyone else’s salespeople.

Read the full article @ Marco.org.

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July 3rd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Google Reader LogoIt was later that year when a Google colleague challenged Wetherell to construct an Atom parser in Javascript. Atom was yet another XML language, and the dare called on Wetherell to expand on his old passion project. If successful, he would have “something that turns something into something else which could be used to represent data that was basically about cat photos,” as he transliterated for the layman. The parser worked. One night, while testing and debugging, Wetherell had a Frankenstein moment. “A little wheel reinvention occurred,” he recalled, “as a square. The parser became a reader by accident.” Most of the time, software developers write additional code to describe complex data. By a stroke of luck, Wetherell’s reader actually bypassed a layer of complexity. Wetherell designated the creation as his 20% project. In a pitch meeting, he drew a circle on a whiteboard, and wrote below it: “Feed reading is inherently polymorphic.” The kind of RSS reader Wetherell envisioned would be “athletically flexible to match a wide variety of reading styles.” He drew spokes out from the circle to delineate the different use cases he imagined. Finally, his colleagues said, “OK, then.” Work on “Fusion” — the prototype for what became Google Reader — would begin.

Read the full story @ Buzzfeed.com.

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July 2nd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Wow, I guess I should have seen this coming but I still don’t get it. Google killed Google Reader but it also killed RSS delivery of Google Alerts. Hello, Google? What is the logic behind this short of just trying to kill RSS?

Here’s what I saw in Feedly this morning:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 1

When I got to Google Alerts I say this:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 2

I clicked the CHANGE ALL button and now have this:

Google Alerts - No More RSS 3

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March 29th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

RSS Magazineio9 has a very interesting take on the end of Google reader and the differences between open content and siloed content:

But most people using the web today don’t have a history that stretches back to Usenet in the 1990s. When it comes to reading, their history is informed by two things: if they’re younger, it’s social networks like Facebook and Tumblr; and if they’re older, it’s paper magazines. And RSS is irrelevant to both experiences…

Information in the world of RSS is not organized into silos that resemble magazines or social networks. And RSS no longer feels like the native land of the new web generation. And by “new web generation” I mean young people entering from Facebook, and older people entering from the world of print. For this generation, Usenet is not a touchstone. And so RSS has no context, and even less meaning to them.

Read the full article @ io9.com.

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March 22nd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

wordpress logoIf you read this blog via RSS, you may have noticed that the images that I’ve floated to the right on the blog, now actually float to the right in the feed.  (Like that one over there ==>) How did I do that? I stumbled over the Align RSS Images plugin:

Align RSS Images is a simple plugin that scans your RSS feed and ensures that every image has the correct alignment and margin settings. This is useful if you want the images to appear correctly aligned not just on your site, but also in your RSS feed.

There is a warning on the WordPress codes page that the plugin hasn’t been updated in more than two years and therefore you may want to avoid installing it. But I, like others I found, think that if the plugin just works, there’s nothing to update so there’s nothing to worry about.

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March 22nd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

imageThis one is for those of us running multi-site WordPress installs. In my case, a co-worker was following each and every RSS feed for each of the participating libraries hosted by Nebraska Libraries on the Web. Trouble is, that’s 50+ feeds and she had to subscribe to a new one every time a new site went live. So, she was looking for a single feed that she could subscribe to which included every post from every site on the system. I looked and found Inpsyde Multisite Feed. Once installed, it adds a “Multisite Feed” item under the Network-level settings. There you can give your new feed a title, description, custom URL, along with some options regarding entries, caching, and the ability to exclude certain sites. Now she has one URL which will send her every post from every blog in the system. (Sorry for the blurring, but I don’t really want to advertise the feed for the general public.)

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March 17th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

I was just pointed toward The Old Reader as a possible Google Reader replacement. Although at first glans it doesn’t support folders, which is a must for me, I figure I’ll give it a try. I’ve submitted my OPML file for importation. I wonder how long this is going to take…

Screenshot (57)

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March 16th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Has Google got it out for RSS?

Oh Google. Thought we wouldn’t notice that you’re trying to kill off not just Google Reader, but also your support and endorsement for the RSS format itself? People have just started noticing that Google’s own RSS Subscription Chrome browser extension has disappeared from the Google Chrome Web Store. Though it’s unclear at this time exactly when the extension was removed, the change appears to be recent.

But now the extension is gone, and the message is clear: Google is getting out of the RSS business. It’s more than Google just shutting down a product that never gained mainstream traction and moving resources elsewhere – it’s about distancing itself from the RSS community as a whole.

Read the full article @ TechCrunch.

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March 15th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Bloglines LogoSo, I’ve been running Bloglines instead of Google Reader exclusively for the past 24 hours. Overall it’s getting the job done but there are a few downsides I’ve found so far:

  1. The spacebar doesn’t work. When I get to the last new item in a feed, I should be able to press the space bar to go to the next unread items. It just doesn’t work. Multiple browsers, multiple OSes. (Nor does the “Next unread” button in the lower-right corner work for me.)
  2. The widget view. I just don’t use it. I don’t want to see headlines, I want the articles.
  3. Deleting a feed is clunky. Especially the last light-box that says its done and needs me to click close. Yes, it’ll disappear on it’s own but only after a few seconds. Also, the feed list then moves back to the top of the folder I’m in when I deleted a feed. Please leave me where I was.
  4. No ability to add other send-to options. In Google Reader I was constantly sending articles to my Instapaper account. In Bloglines, I can just send it to their Read later category.
  5. Lack of apps or even a mobile site. I tried bringing it up on my phone. This interface does not work on a small screen at all.

It’s still good enough and I’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the Digg folks come up with.

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