Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life After Google Reader

A few weeks ago, Google announced that they would be shutting down Google Reader on 1st July.
I used Reader for 2 things: keeping up with podcast episodes and keeping an eye on rarely-updated blogs. I didn't subscribe to anything with more than 1 post per day, as I couldn't keep up with so many new articles.

Once I recovered from the shock and disappointment of Reader itself going away, I came to the conclusion that none of the alternatives are really there yet.
  • Feedly - requires a browser plugin, and is still based on your Reader account details
  • - threatening a freemium model
  • rss2email/tiny-rss - you have to run your own server - the only option that makes sense long-term - but it is a lot of hassle
  • Just about everything else shows large photos on their homepage and thinks that social media buttons are a good idea. I don't think we'd get along.
Since the spring-cleaning announcement I have gone cold turkey on Reader. My RSS-reading solution is now to imagine we're in early 2005 again and use a local client ☹

The client I'm using is newsbeuter. It's a text terminal application (this is a good thing) and has podcast queuing integration too. It can import an OPML file, which is a list of the feeds that you subscribe to. Reader has a URL to export your feed list as OPML too, so migrating is not difficult.

One nice feature newsbeuter has is the ability to export and import a list of articles that you've already read. This means that, using a git repository on bitbucket, I can synchronise read articles in a crude way between PCs. Fortunately I had mostly weened myself off Reader on portable devices, as my Google password is too annoying to type in.

The real downside is that refreshing articles is pretty slow. A couple of tweaks help here. Instead of reloading all feeds in one thread, newsbeuter supports multiple threads. 4 seems to speed things up a bit, I couldn't notice much difference using more than this.

Here's my .newsbeuter/config file:

bind-key k up
bind-key j down
reload-threads 4
reload-only-visible-feeds yes
This is far from ideal, but better than relying on free internet services that could disappear at any moment. The irony of this blog being hosted on blogger is not lost on me. I fear for its future too.

1 comment:

  1. I have the same problem. I use Google Reader on a daily basis and have not found any good alternative.


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