Google Reader: Before it snuffs out

Thursday 27 June 2013, 1.50am HKT


GOOGLE will end its Google Reader service on Monday, 01 July 2013, at midnight UTC. Before you trundle off to find another RSS service, test drive a simpler RSS method before the day Google Reader actually snuffs it.

Some of you lot are die-hard, hardcore RSS subscribers for anything. If you actually want your subscriptions to die from natural causes courtesy of Google, then skip this post altogether.

If per chance you actually want to stay subscribed (to this or any other blog), then I highly recommend one of the two methods below.

Email subscription

Email easily has to be the best choice. If not the best, then the easiest. For starters, you’ll always have email (either as Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, or email provided by your ISP) — unless you’ve deliberately upset the National Insecurity Agency, in which case your email is chickenshit dogmeat.

logo email subscribe

(via cre8tivenerd)

Some of you prickly types out there hate and detest blogposts and sundry sexual propositions coming to you via email. These types suffer from the ‘My Little Kingdom of Inbox Syndrome,’ which explains pretty much everything — including why their girlfriend or boyfriend is their left or right hand.

The main problem with email subscription is that some bloggers incredibly don’t (or refuse to) offer it. So potential readers are forced to use RSS or the horrific chore of visiting their blogs on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis.

But if you’re anything remotely like me (a follower of 250+ blogs, mailing lists and sundry other perverted websites), email is the only workable solution to keep up. Posts come to you, instead of you going to them (as is with RSS). If you can’t stand the inbox bombardment, just delete the incoming. Simple as that.

If you’re running any kind of website (which includes a blog), be sociable and offer readers the choice of email subscription, for pete’s sakes.

Import your RSS feeds into Outlook (Outlook Express)

PAY ATTENTION! CLASS IS IN SESSION! I NEED YOU TO BE FOCUSED!

This is the ‘simpler’ way to get your RSS feeds that I’m recommending before Google Reader actually kicks the bucket on 1st July.

If you’re a Mac fanboy, skip this post altogether. I”m on a Windows machine, not exactly liking it, not exactly hating it either, so consider me biased out of convenience.

outlook as rss reader

(via Device Magazine)

Truth is, even if you’re NOT using Outlook for email, use Outlook just for the RSS. The stories act like email messages and show up in a program that you already own in your Windows machine (unless you’ve moronically scrubbed it from your machine).

Step 1: Export your Google Reader feeds

Export all of your Google Reader RSS feeds at Google Takeout’s Reader Page (https://www.google.com/takeout/?pli=1#custom:reader). This is always your first basic step to do anything.

1. Click Create Archive” and it will start building all your feeds, follows, starred items and crap.

2. Click “Download” when it’s finished building, so you can download your feed-stuff to your local drive. It will be a ZIP file.

3. Unzip the ZIP file. Go through the folders inside. In the “Reader” folder, there is a file called “subscriptions.xml” — the actual file that contains all your subscribed feeds.

4. Copy (not move) this .xml file to the desktop on your computer for use below.

Step 2: Import your feeds into Outlook

5. Start up Outlook (or Outlook Express) on your computer.

6. Right-click on “RSS Feeds” section, and select “Import an OPML File…” from the context menu.

7. Now navigate to where your subscriptions.xml file is located (desktop).

8. A list of all the feeds will then show up. Select the individual feeds you want to import (or all of them).

That’s it.

Now you have the assurance that your RSS feeds are (relatively) safe and sound residing in Outlook Express, and you can look for an alternative, favourite RSS reader at your leisure.

Here’s a huge list of Google Reader alternatives (courtesy of Gini).

Problems

Any substitute for Google Reader will always come with some problems. Simply put, Outlook is a Microsoft product, and no Microsoft product can replace a Google product.

broken window sky

(via c4c)

Here are some of Outlook’s more famous hiccups as an RSS replacement:—

  1. syncing RSS entries between work and home can be a chore
  2. the feeds sometimes don’t update regularly, properly or even at all (for example, I can subscribe to Tested.com, see the initial feed, and then it never updates after that)
  3. Outlook 2010 (depending on your Windows configuration) can be too unstable for RSS and often fails to load feeds or refresh them properly

Another problem not usually mentioned in the press is Outlook’s usability via smartphone or tablet. You can add feeds through the Outlook desktop client or the Outlook web interface in Office 365. The syncing works fine enough, allowing you to check RSS entries via Outlook on any PC or via the Web. But on a Windows phone, there’s no way to read the RSS feeds, let alone on an Android phone or some other tablet.

The other readers

The biggest usability issue (and therefore annoyance) with the other RSS readers is that most of them use a magazine-style layout. The eye candy is dynamite at first, but most people eventually find the eye candy just gets in the way. The magazine layout doesn’t make it easy to organise large number of feeds or label them, to skim large numbers of headlines, or to tag articles for reading later. In that sense, Outlook (despite the hiccups) is perfect because it cuts out the graphics and crap that you don’t to be bothered with.

Then again, it boils down to individual tastes. You pays yer money, you pick yer goods.

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. (B13213)

2 Responses to “Google Reader: Before it snuffs out”

  1. I find that I’m really enjoying Feedly. Although it does offer the magazine layout, it also offers a list layout somewhat similar to what Google Reader had. I really enjoy the bookmark feature they have to, which lets you save a particular article for later perusal. What it doesn’t have the moment (unfortunately) is offline availability (which would totally take the cake so far as I’m concerned). Most importantly, though? I can categorize all of the sites I follow to keep them organized. (I have a couple categories just for blogs, one for tech, one for DIY blogs, and so on.)

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    • Yeah, I agree with you, Feedly seems the odds-on favourite right now with most people. I use it – sadly only for those blogs that don’t offer email subscribe. I decided to write about Outlook because it’s something that already exists in nearly all Windows computers so that the undecided of mind can save/salvage their RSS feeds whilst in a state of panic to find some RSS service.

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