RSS and Atom are here to stay. That’s for sure as more and more sites are putting up feeds, and it’s a great way of checking updates fast and ruthlessly efficient just like the Spanish Inquisition.
Keeping up with a number of news sites and fora (yep, all those php boards should have RSS feeds imo) has been a lot more convenient since I found out about RSS aggregators or feedreaders. I started out using the Open Source RSSOwl, written in Java, to keep track of my favorite feeds. It does just that, and it does it well, but the thing that annoyed me was that if I read a number of feeds at home, and I checked the same feeds at work, they where unread again… which is completely normal, since there is no way to synchronise the two different systems. Well, there might be a way, by manually exporting to OPML from RSSOwl oslt, but that’s too much hassle for me anyway.
But basically I started looking for an online, web based RSS reader, which would solve this issue nice and easy.
It was harder to find one than I thought, mainly because there are a lot of RSS aggregators online, and to filter out those that are purely web based isn’t as easy as it seemed at first. But after some clicking and refining searches I found a few, of which most I discarded quite quickly because they where either too limited, or because they required payed subscription.
I know! What are they thinking! Isn’t the internet supposed to be freeeee!!?.
Anyway, then I came across Bloglines, which turned out to be just what I was looking for.
It’s concept is simple. You register a number of feeds, you get those in a frame on the left, when you click a feed, you see the new items on the right. When you click the folder you’ve assigned the feeds to, you get an aggregated version of the feeds inside the folder.
Simple as that.
The GUI is basic, which is what I prefer, and quite responsive, which is nice.
Blogs can be added manually, or you can use the built in search function, and even check out some of the blogs/feeds they suggest you might like, depending on the ones you have already picked out.
A nice feature is the possibility of marking posts as “Keep new”, which keeps them.. euhm, new… as in, “you’ll see them in the new items as long as you keep that checkbox checked”. Handy for those, need-to-checkout-when-I-have-more-time things.
The feeds are updated server side, every hour or so, so that is in fact not as fast as your offline reader since that one will fetch the feeds itself over the internet, which will ensure you always have the freshest and latest at your fingertips.
Just a small inconvenience imo, and looking at it from a bigger perspective, Bloglines is doing us all a favor by saving our precious bandwidth by caching the feeds onsite for all subscribers.
Yes, Bloglines is making the internet a better place for all us geeks to surf in, and as a geek you might also appreciate this neato feature no offline reader has to my knowledge (with is pretty limited when it comes to this subject in fact, but I’ll take this chance anyway). Each feed also displays the number people that have it in their feed list… so if your own blog is in there, you can see how many people are actually reading your ramblings! Now how cool is that from a geeky ego tripping perspective!? Pretty damn cool if you ask me, and I have like one subscriber for my blog, and it’s ME!
Oh, wait, that kinda sucks… oh well.
Oh yeah, you can set up a blog there too, but as you can see, that wasn’t really necessary in my case.
And I’ve added this button on my blog as well that allows you to easily add it to your feed list in a single click! Well, maybe not a single click, but you wont have to touch your keyboard if you’re lucky.