I’ve never really gotten over the hurt. I’m stuck in that murky ground between steps three and four of the Five Stages of Loss and Grief. I’ve tried to move on but I’m starting to think nothing can ever take your place. Sure, some have tried to fill the huge void left after you were so cruelly put down but sadly, and despite potential, most have come up short. I miss you dearly Google Reader.
What?!?! I take my RSS subscription and news aggregation seriously. Doesn’t everybody?
When Google pulled the plug on its Reader service Feedly immediately stepped up its game by upgrading their servers and making the transition from the Big G simple and painless. The goal was for Feedly to position itself as the biggest and best news reader in all the land. They succeeded quite well and emerged as the defacto standard for RSS readers. It was a heady few months and I honestly felt I could finally find happiness. Then things got weird.
The decision makers at Feedly introduced a very expensive “pro” product that stripped functionality from the service and essentially made some aspects pay-for-play. Team Feedly followed that up with a very sudden transition from Google OAuth logins to Google+ only logins that prevented users without Google+ logons from using the service. They wisely reversed that decision but the pièce de résistance came next. Feedly began hijacking their users links.
Content that users were linking to and assumed would lead to the original source was now hosted on Feedly’s own servers. Uncool and heavy, to say the least. Not surprising they felt it was prudent to role this “feature” back as well. For me it was three strikes, take a seat for Feedly.
On this week’s 75th episode SPECTACULAR I run down my alternatives to Feedly now that they’ve so thoroughly nuked the fridge and successfully jumped the shark. The top contenders include work-in-progress efforts from AOL and Digg plus offerings from smaller companies like Inoreader and The Old Reader.
Take a listen and find out which RSS aggregator gets the nod from El Kaiser.
With the pain of losing Google Reader still fresh and Feedly a disappointment after repeated missteps, El Kaiser looks at RSS feed aggregators. J.D. breaks down the differences between Ultrabooks and notebooks and helps us make the right choice between the two laptop flavors. In the news, a campaign encouraging kids to try computer coding; several technology companies issue a joint statement calling for restrictions on US government spying; Microsoft helps users know when and where their accounts have been used; Google continues to add apps to its Chromecast TV streamer; and predicting weather patterns for Middle Earth.
This week J.D. and El Kaiser entertain pastry-slinging guests in the studio and in between bites of cannoli, Pedro explains the tech term “Internet of Things” while J.D. provides details on alternatives for Google Reader which is set to shut down July 1st. In the news, Sony debuts a new smartwatch; the Ouya open-source Android-based game console makes the scene; Microsoft reverses course on its Xbox One policies; and Apple looks into Wi-Fi issues with its new MacBook Air laptops.
Google Reader will go away on July 1, and with it, the ability of its users to quickly keep up with the world through their meticulously curated updates from various news services, blogs and websites. Many people have been expressing outrage since the announcement and many have scrambled to find a substitute before the virtual axe falls. There’s even the Replace Reader survey page that asks what people via Twitter are using as alternatives to Google Reader.
The Next Web and other sites have gathered up some contenders, but three current programs have emerged on the leaderboard, along with two new entries hoping to snap off a piece of the Google Reader audience. Here’s a quick look at those five options:
- Feedly, which has stepped up its game since Google announced Reader was headed for the dustbin, can run in most popular Web browsers and also has app versions for Android and iOS. You can just log in with your Google account and all your old G-Reader feeds get imported automatically. Feedly has been getting hammered this week as the End is Nigh, so you may see their version of the Twitter Fail Whale — the Over Capacity Sad Cloud — but keep trying. Feedly also has a fairly detailed Help Guide for those who need it.
- NewsBlur bills itself as a personal news reader and comes in both a free version that lets you track 64 sites or a premium version or $24 a year that gives you unlimited sites to add to your feed. You get real-time RSS (important in these days of breaking news), the power share and hide stories from your feed and the ability to view the stories on their original sites. The site has Web, Android and iOS versions.
- Flipboard, the mobile app that lets you create your own dynamic digital magazines on your iPad or Android tablet from things you find around the Web is another Google Reader importer. You just need to create a free Flipboard account or log in with your Facebook credentials. Once you log into Flipboard, log in with your Google account to pull in your Reader feeds.
Two big names have recently entered the fray as AOL and Digg have each been working on their own Google-esque RSS reader to fill the void.
- AOL Reader, which lets you sign in with an AOL, Google, Facebook or Twitter account, promises to be a highly customizable RSS system where you can import subscriptions from other readers, star and tag articles and tweak the page layout to your liking. AOL is also making the API available for anyone who wants to create AOL Reader mobile and desktop apps. AOL itself plans Android and iOS app versions and the ability to share with other AOL Reader users within the system.
- Digg Reader, which was a whirlwind three-month race to release before Google Reader rode off into the sunset, had a short beta period to generally positive reviews. It imports existing G-Reader feeds and uses a layout that’s noticeably similar. The first version was made for the Web, an iPhone app is expected and a premium edition that costs money is also said to be in the works. It’ll probably be a work-in-progress for a while.
Don’t like any of the current options? Just wait — Facebook is working on a reader of its own, too, although it sounds a bit different from other straight-up RSS reader apps. Seriously, though, if you have a Reader feed that you don’t want to lose, visit the Google Takeout page now — or at least before July 1 — to export your info as an XML file. That way, you have it on hand to import whenever you find a new RSS reader that you like. And here’s hoping whatever new RSS Reader you find sticks around for awhile so you don’t have to lose your news all over again.
Hate unauthorized robocalls on your cellphone that eat into your monthly minutes? The Federal Communications Commission has issued citations to two big political robocall companies accused of spewing audio spam to mobile numbers in 2011 and 2012. The firms could face up to $4.8 million in fines for this particular investigation. FCC rules and the Communications Act ban robocalls to mobile phones unless the recipient has given permission to be contacted by the company doing the calling or unless the call is part of an emergency information system. (Dirty tricks are an unfortunate part of politics and it appears there was even a cyberattack on the online election system last fall. )
Samsung finally whipped the veil off its Galaxy S4 smartphone last week and the fancy new model should be on sale by the end of April. The Android-based Galaxy S4 is bringing Samsung a lot of attention for its hardware design, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some Google executives are getting worried about that because it may mean Samsung wants to horn in on mobile-search revenue. Samsung has been tinkering around with its own mobile operating system as well.
Google itself it keeping busy and is said to be working on a new note-taking app called Google Keep that works a bit like the popular Evernote service and uses its own Google Drive cloud storage system. Some sources are also saying the company will soon be unifying its multiple messaging services — which include Google Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Drive collaboration, and the Google Talk for G+ — into one fresh new service called Babble that can go up against Apple’s iMessage service and BlackBerry Messenger. Google’s recent decision to kill off Google Reader has proven to be good news for the Feedly RSS service. The Los Angeles Times and others have reported that Feedly gained half-a-million users after Google announced it was dumping Reader and robbing the faithful of their favorite RSS software.
Electronic Arts says that customers who buy and register SimCity 5 before March 26 can choose a free game from a selection of EA digital downloads including Mass Effect 3, Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled 3. Since SimCity 5 arrived in early March, many players have blamed the “always online” requirement for causing bugs, in-game glitches, crashes and long waits to even get on to play the game. Electronic Arts is also investigating a security issue with Origin, its online distribution system. Security researchers have experimented with exploiting a loophole in the way Origin handles links to games users have downloaded and installed, and they’ve been able to make it run code that compromised a target machine. (On a happier note, visitors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art can now see SimCity 2000 on display, along with several other classic games in the Applied Design exhibit.)
Microsoft would like you to update your Windows 7 machine to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 if you haven’t already done so. If not, Microsoft will start doing it for you this week as part of Windows Update. Microsoft has also stamped an end of mainstream-support date of July 8th, 2014 for its Windows Phone 8 software, which has started speculation that Windows Phone 9 may be on the way soon. And over in Cupertino, Apple released iOS 6.1.3 this week to fix a pesky flaw that knowledgeable intruders can use to blow by the lock screen.
And finally, Verizon could be to changing up the way it charges its customers for channel subscriptions on its FiOS TV service. The company would like to charge subscribers just for the channels they actually watch. This move could potentially weed out little-watched channels from the lineup, change how Verizon pays networks for their shows and make for more stable pricing. It could also make room for newer, more interesting channels. (Yo, Disney, how about a 24-hour Star Wars channel?)