Monday, October 08, 2007

Google Reader

I read a lot of blogs. Make that a LOT of blogs. It seems I keep adding one or two every week or so. I've tried some RSS (Real Simple Syndication) readers in the past, but they were slow to load and locked up if I hurried them. I've been using Firefox for the past several years, and some of the blogs I have bookmarked aren't Live Bookmarks.

Firefox will keep track of new posts if you load a bookmark as a Live Bookmark, and it has the option of opening all the posts in tabs.

As I write this, I'm reminded that some of you probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Earlier versions of Internet Explorer - 6.0 and older, do not have tabs. 7.0 does - ripping off Firefox. Tabs are just like tabs on index cards - just at the bottom of the header bar on the browser. The header bar is where File, Edit, etc, and the address bar (where the http://stuff goes), where Yahoo inevitably installs a Yahoo Toolbar and so on. Rather than open a new browser window every time you want a new page, it can be set to open a new tab. It takes less system resources to open a tab within the current window rather than open a new window. You don't end up with fifteen IE windows open, and trying to figure out which window you want from the bottom, when it says Internet Explorer (15).

One of the disadvantages of Firefox is not showing the posts that are read. So, if you choose to open all in tabs, you get posts you may have already read. A blog that updates once a week might still open up thirteen dozen stinking tabs, all entries you have already read. This is where a reader comes in handy - as you read them, most will indicate they have been read. Today, tomorrow, or next week. You don't have to waste time by going to that site just to see if it has been updated.

But, like I said, the readers I tried I didn't care for. Now, evil Liberal Google has come out with the Google Reader. I've cut my blog reading down at least a half hour or more for the day. Some pages are shown in completion, but some are in the "read more" format. All links open a new tab in Firefox (if you have it set that way - new links open a new tab) - it will depend on which version of IE you have and how it is set up as to how it will behave. In Firefox at least, you still have the home tab with all the info. Signing up probably requires a Gmail account, but I'm not sure. I have a Gmail account (I got it back when they were invitation only - the mark of the Geek is branded deeply into my skin and psyche).

The blogs you have loaded show up on the left side of the page, and the right side displays the posts. It does seem that some hotlinked graphics won't show up, and the only the post is shown. All the sidebar goodies at the regular site are not displayed - the blogroll for example. It is just a trimmed down version. If you want to comment, you click on the title of the post, and it takes you to the page - in a new tab or a new window. I don't comment on each and every post I read, so this saves a lot of time - if the post intrigues me, it takes only a second or two to get to the page and comment away.

A lot of blogs use different RSS types - the original RSS,Atom, XML, and a few others I have forgotten and am too lazy to Google up at the moment. The important thing is Google Reader seems to be compatible with them all. After you have signed up, subscribing is simple - in the address bar in Firefox, off to the far right, is a symbol for a blog. When you are on a blog with a recognized feed format, this symbol shows up. Click it, and a page comes up with the option to subscribe with Google or Firefox. Choose Google. There is a box to check that you can check to "Always Use Google" but I might want to have the address stored in Firefox, so I never check it.

Then, depending on the blog software, a certain number of posts will come up as unread. If the blogger hasn't posted in a long time, there are no new posts. The reader keeps a running total of unread posts on all the blogs in the tab and on the Reader page. As you scroll through the posts, they are marked as read and the total drops. When you first subscribe, and you've already read all the posts on a blog -just hit the "Mark all as read" button and only new posts will show up.

All in all, it's pretty simple and slick - it really didn't need "War and Peace" to describe it, but I'm long winded. So there.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I did not understand anything you said. That is no fault of yours. It's all me.