So. Google’s shutting down Google Reader

Frankly I’d not thought about my RSS reading process in a while. I use NetVibes (pictured above) as my main reader, and it’s been pretty stable up until today; they posted a note saying they’re dealing with an influx of new members — likely emigrants from Google Reader.

I like NetVibes because it gives me a simple headline-in-a-tile view that makes it easy to quickly scan my news, and NetVibes manages my feed subscriptions.

This is where the pain will be felt by those using Google Reader when the big G shuts it down. Many 3rd party apps for mobile devices use Google Reader as the ‘subscription management’ feature of their app. When Google Reader closes on July 1, these apps will have to have in place some sort of replacement for subscription management, or they’ll break.

Update: If you’re looking to migrate your Google Reader subscriptions to NetVibes, the team at NetVibes have this handy guide. (Thanks Randy!)

For now, this won’t impact me or my newsreading habits, but as I mentioned at the top, I’m rethinking my RSS reading, and as Dave Weiner states, rethinking my use of Free when applied to services I’m coming to depend on.

 

Many flavours of RSS readers for iPad

title.jpgEarlier today Feedly was reintroduced to the iPad iOS world with significant buzz — Robert Scoble profiled the reader (check the video below).

One of the notable things about Feedly is its HTML 5 base — which allows the majority of functions to be device agnostic (Android, Windows Phone, etc).

But on iOS devices, there are a number of RSS readers that have made names for themselves, and are happily co-existing on my iPad.

All of these readers, in some way, tap into your various social media streams, as well as an existing Google Reader account — which is cool, as you can use the power of Google Reader to manage the feeds, then simply consume the content on your mobile device as is convenient.
 
Photo May 03, 12 25 25 PM_480.jpg

Some are my daily use RSS reader, and others, while interesting, just haven’t managed to keep my attention.
Here’s a few of the ones I like, and why:

 

Zite.jpg

Zite
Currently my daily use news reader, grabs content from your Twitter stream, your Google Reader RSS feeds, and your Delicious bookmarks.

Zite gives you a very clean and polished interface consisting of algorithmically-selected stories from your content feeds.

Interestingly, you can rate and share the content. As you do this, Zite ‘remembers’ the content you’ve rated and will get smarter about displaying content to you as it learns. After a few weeks, you’ll have your own tuned and personalized digital magazine made up of the content you like to consume.

The only downside? The danger of too much ‘sameness’.  I do occasionally like to read outside my regular patterns, and I fear Zite will not expose me to some new and interesting things by only showing me more of what I like and review. Time will tell.

 

FlipBoard.jpg

FlipBoard
Initially my regular reader, now it’s down to about once a month. Nice display, nice method of reading, but not good enough to keep me coming back. Zite has replaced FlipBoard as my ‘visual’ reader.

 

Reeder.jpg

Reeder
The 500lb gorilla of RSS readers — quickly and efficiently manages your content. Displays RSS feeds cleanly and allows you to easily browse your feeds. Simple and elegant design has kept me using this as my regular RSS reader when I want to drill down to see what content I’ve missed from a particular source.

 

PULSE.jpg

Pulse
I have a love / hate relationship with Pulse. Nice display. Easy to use and share content. It’s my Number 2 RSS reader…except when it crashes. And it has, usually once a session when I use it, which is becoming less frequent.

 

Flud.jpg

FLUD
An odd one that has stayed on my device, for the time being.

Similar to Pulse in layout, but not quite as efficient in handling feeds, at least from an end-user perspective.

 

Feedly.jpg

Feedly
The new kid on the block. Ties in to Google Reader, has a nifty swipe-sensitive interface to flip pages, and a very nice look and feel.

I don’t like the way the content is locked in a vertical orientation (portrait mode)…and am somewhat concerned as a blog owner that they’ve blocked out an area for inserting advertising in my blog content stream — yes they ask you to ping them if that’s your content stream, but what if I don’t — will they insert their own advertising on my content?

Regardless, Feedly is new, and has my attention for now — time will tell, especially as it grows on other mobile platforms.

Your turn — what mobile RSS reader is your daily go-to reader, and why?

Oh, and here’s that Feedly video I promised :smileyhappy:

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Tweaking your FeedBurner / FeedSmith plugin to support WordPress 2.5+ tag feeds (easy!)

FeedBurner Logo (© FeedBurner, Inc.)
Creative Commons License photo credit: magbag

Sorry for the uber tech in this post, but I thought this was a simple fix that anyone running a WordPress 2.5+ blog could do if they wanted to enable ‘Tag Feeds’.

Before I get into the how, let’s explore the why briefly.

Some background:

  • Feedburner is the service I (and many many other) bloggers use to improve RSS Feed performance and measure readership of our RSS feeds.
  • The FeedSmith / FeedBurner plugin is a component for WordPress (the blogging platform I use here) that simplifies the administration and implementation of Feedburner.

The current incarnation of the FeedSmith / FeedBurner plugin doesn’t support the new WordPress feature of RSS Tag Feeds. No big deal if you don’t care about allowing your visitors to subscribe to your content based on Tag. But you’re missing an opportunity to allow your readers to better filter the content if that’s the case.

For example, lets say a visitor is only interested in receiving my posts on photography. They don’t care about all this technology, web content, usability, or search engine optimization that I may be writing about. They only care about my photography posts. WordPress 2.5+ allows you to subscribe to any Tag Feed or Category Feed. But not if you’re using an unmodified FeedSmith plugin. Fear not, I’ve got a fix for you in a moment.

The way the current FeedSmith plugin works is that it takes all my feed subscription requests (comment, category, tag, etc) and returns only the main blog RSS feed, which is the main feed at Feedburner. Not good if you want to have an RSS Feed of only my photography tagged posts.

The workaround is quite simple and requires slightly modifying your FeedBurner / FeedSmith plugin. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the main Plugins page. Scroll down until you find the Feedburner / FeedSmith plugin. Click on the Disable link in the right-hand column. When the page refreshes, scroll back down and click on the Edit link.
  2. The Plugin Editor screen will open. Scroll down in the edit window until you find the function function ol_feed_redirect()
  3. In that section you’ll be adding text to a line of code. Change the text that reads
    is_feed() && $feed != 'comments-rss2' && !is_single() &&
    to read
    is_feed() && $feed != 'comments-rss2' && !is_single() && !is_tag() &&
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and press the Update File button.
  5. Then, go back to the main Plugins page, and re-enable the FeedBurner / FeedSmith plugin by clicking on the Enable link.

Congratulations, you’ve just re-enabled Tag RSS Feeds for your WordPress 2.5+ blog whilst maintaining Feedburner compatibility for the main feed.

Bonus for the advanced student: Since your Tag RSS Feeds are now separated from the main blog feed, you can set up discreet Feedburner feeds for select tags. Unfortunately the little hack above won’t automagically redirect RSS Subscriptions to Feedburner for you, as the FeedSmith Plugin does. You’ll have to manually publish the Feed URL, thusly:
<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/BlogbradgriercomWordpress">My WordPress tag feed hosted on Feedburner</a>

Which would render thusly:

My WordPress tag feed hosted on Feedburner.