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Last post Author Topic: Google Reader - Mini-Review  (Read 22935 times)

IainB

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Google Reader - Mini-Review
« on: December 16, 2012, 05:32:47 AM »
Originally posted:2012-12-16
Last updated2013-03-13:Product is to be terminated July 1, 2013

Basic Info
App NameGoogle Reader - Product is to be terminated July 1, 2013
(Online RSS feed-reader or "news-reader".)
Thumbs-Up Rating :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:  :down:
App URLhttp://www.google.com/reader/
App Version ReviewedThis is a free online, browser-based, service, and the version is always "latest".
Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home Premium, using latest Firefox browser.
Supported OSesAny web browser.
Support MethodsHelp: is via Google help forum.
Trial Version Available?N/A
Pricing SchemeN/A - is a $FREE service only.

Intro and Overview:
I thought it might be helpful/useful to post this review, as it could potentially save people a lot of time (if they were not already using a feed-reader).
There are some discussions in the DC Forum that refer to Google Reader, and these two seem most relevant:

If you don't want to have to spend time wading through the often confusing mass or clutter on a website in order to read something of interest, then you can subscribe to posts on the website, or comments in a forum (e.g., including the DC Forum) without having to post something and requesting email notification of responses - as you normally would have to do.
To do this, you have to subscribe for yourself rather than expect the website to do it for you. For example, I have been doing this for several forums and blog sites for years, including the DC Forum.

You could do this too by subscribing to the RSS feed for the forum/website, and getting all the posts/comments delivered in your feed-reader – as I do. I currently use Google Reader, but others are probably just as good. The reason I settled on Google Reader (in Firefox) is that it has some excellent add-ons that greatly improve on its otherwise rather basic filtering tools – e.g., including one such useful tool as Google Reader Filter for Greasemonkey (https://userscripts....g/scripts/show/23671).

Screenshot of the GR UI.
Reading the comments from DC Forum.
This is via Firefox, using GR's "Compressed" setting and add-ons that control the layout and colour of the GR display screen. (This results in some of the on-screen artefacts appearing as black or opaque objects, but that doesn't particularly interfere with the efficient reading process.)
One of the subject lines (about Cody) has been opened, displaying the contents of the comment.

Google Reader - 01 Reader view.png

Description:
To get started, all you need is a Gmail account. Then you sign up to use GR (Google Reader), and you start to add to GR the websites or RSS feeds that you want it to deliver to you (these are your subscriptions). If the website does not have an RSS feed, GR will make a decent attempt to feed the site from its URL, if it can. I have found that most sites can provide a feed this way, with few exceptions, and for the exceptions, you can often obtain a pseudo-RSS feed by searching the net for same (usually for free).

The comments on some websites, or the discussions on some forums make for very cluttered GR pages, and, because GR has limited filtering tools, it is difficult to escape the clutter. Hence I use the aforementioned Google Reader Filter for Greasemonkey (https://userscripts....g/scripts/show/23671). This declutters the bulk of the website subscriptions in GR, according to your preferences.

However, a few discussion forums do not seem to feed through in conformance with the same labelling standards that one finds in many/most other forums, thus making them currently difficult to filter in any useful fashion even if you have Google Reader Filter for Greasemonkey.
For these sites, I am still playing about with the filters and exploring other approaches to see if I can get a workaround to this issue from my (the reader’s) end. It would be unlikley that the site Admin. would fix it.

From a website’s perspective, the probably bad thing about feed-readers is that you can read a lot of what you want on a website without actually going to the website itself – unless you want to read more about a certain post or comment thread, or post a comment. Thus, the website probably doesn’t get all your “flypaper clicks” to support advertising revenue as they otherwise probably would if you were always having to wade through the confusing mass on the website.

The really good thing about using a feed-reader (used with good filtering tools) is that it can usually be a tremendously useful timesaver – of your valuable time. Your reading material is served up to you on a plate in the Reader, grouped in whatever order you have chosen, for you to pick and choose by scanning headers/labels and then clicking on those items you want to read more of. We only have so much spare time or cognitive surplus, and I’d rather not waste either on wading through clutter and trying to scan/read everything useful on a website. I rarely actually visit a website unless there is something I want to do whilst I am there – e.g., to read more of an article or related posts, to seek help or points of view for some debate or resolution of an issue, or to make a point, or to communicate something that might be of help/use to others (as in this post).

Who this software is designed for:
Anyone who might wish to automate their reading input as far as possible, and minimise waste of time or cognitive surplus on material which is peripheral to their main needs.

The Good:
Does what is is designed to do, and very simply and effectively.

The needs improvement section:
The layout of the UI (User Interface) is somewhat less than perfect and is subject to periodic changes by Google. The current layour, for example, is the Google "White space" theme, and wastes a lot of space on the limited screen real estate.
Fortunately, their are add-ons (in Firefox) which can improve on this, though they sometimes succumb and fail when Google makes an ad hoc change - e.g., a theme change.
The limitations of GR can be rectified to a greater extent by using add-ons and Greasemonkey scripts.

Why I think you should use this product:
If you would like to optimise the use of your time/cognitive surplus, then automating your reading input via GR as far as possible would help you to focus on material which is central to your core needs, and avoid the clutter of subject material that might be peripheral to those needs.

How it compares to similar products:
Very favourably, but your effective use of GR would tend to depend on your preferences and meeds.
Some feed-readers and news-readers are browser-based online tools - e.g., as is GR - whereas others are client-based. I find that by using GR, Scrapbook and Read It Later (now called "Pocket"), most of my news-reading needs are met.

Conclusions:
GR is a very good online browser-based feed-reader and news-reader.
You don't need to install anything on your PC (except for the Firefox browser and any Firefox add-ons.).
The Firefox add-ons overcome the worst of GR's constraints and make GR much more effective than a lot of other Readers.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 08:07:44 PM by IainB, Reason: Note that: Product is to be terminated July 1, 2013. »

Rosaura1234

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 01:13:20 AM »
I haven't use this one, I use Nook reader app.

rgdot

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 06:44:37 PM »
 :o and  :huh:

Quote
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

http://googleblog.bl...ing-of-cleaning.html

alivingspirit

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 07:16:33 PM »
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
and
WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHY!
 :( >:(

Google has by far the best feed reader. It seriously baffles me as to why they would do this.

IainB

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 08:02:33 PM »
^ +1 from me. I feel the same (disappointment) as @alivingspirit.
Really annoyed me, as I find GR is such a useful information gathering/sifting tool.
I only knew about this when a pop-up appeared in my Google Reader a few minutes ago, saying that it would be terminated on July 1, 2013, and giving a link to a post where it says:
Quote
How can I download my Reader data?
Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013. If you'd like to download a copy of all your Reader data before then, you can do so through Google Takeout. You'll receive your subscription data in an XML file, and the following information will be downloaded as JSON files:

    List of people that you follow
    List of people that follow you
    Items you have starred
    Items you have liked
    Items you have shared
    Items shared by people you follow
    Notes you have created
    Items with comments

Click here to start downloading your Reader data from Takeout. Once downloaded, your subscription data should be easily transferrable to another product, where you can continue to keep up with your online reading.

    Mar 13, 2013

So, where to now?
Well, a quick search on DC Forum shows lots of discussions that have mentioned Google Reader or alternative RSS feed-readers - e.g. as follows: (not an exclusive list)

Bugger. Methinks I had better start prudently migrating/mirroring my Gmail and Google Drive elsewhere. The last thing I want is to get caught off-guard by an apparently unreliable supplier.

IainB

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IainB

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 08:35:39 PM »
I'm trying out @40hz's suggestion re Sage. in the discussion: Re: Suggestions for a RSS reader
I've long since given up on something that's all-in-one.

These days I use the Sage extension in Firefox as my RSS reader and save what I want to keep to my Pocket (formerly ReadItLater) account or using Scrapbook depending on what it is.
None of the above have much in the way of bells & whistles.
Which is exactly the way I like it. YMMV. ;)

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2013, 08:42:37 PM »
I'm trying out @40hz's suggestion re Sage. in the discussion: Re: Suggestions for a RSS reader
I've long since given up on something that's all-in-one.

These days I use the Sage extension in Firefox as my RSS reader and save what I want to keep to my Pocket (formerly ReadItLater) account or using Scrapbook depending on what it is.
None of the above have much in the way of bells & whistles.
Which is exactly the way I like it. YMMV. ;)

FWIW I'm still using the FF+Sage+Pocket+Scrapbook combination. And I'm still perfectly happy with it. :Thmbsup:

(And I've tried every feed reader I could lay my grubby mitts on that ran on either Windows or Nix in the meantime. Have yet to find anything I like better or which offered some feature so compelling that I absolutely had to have it. YMMV  :))


Deozaan

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 09:16:12 PM »


Lashiec

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 09:42:01 PM »
To add insult to the injury, Nick Bradbury killed FeedDemon too. Holy fuck, stop killing things I use! Gosh, what I am going to use from now on? I have to either go for a pure web service, which I'm not very keen on, or buy a smartphone :o

Also, I am the one to blame for Reader's demise. Just this morning, while taking a shower, I thought what would happen if Google killed the service. Well, there you are :(
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 10:05:07 PM by Lashiec »

J-Mac

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 10:17:44 PM »
To add insult to the injury, Nick Bradbury killed FeedDemon too.

Yeah, I just saw Nick's tweet also. Real bummer... Now I have to find a whole other way to get my news. Rats!

Jim

wraith808

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2013, 07:09:36 AM »
I read about the Google Reader shutdown on ... Google Reader. Now what do I do!?

f0dder

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2013, 07:33:02 AM »
Well, if you ain't payin', you ain't a customer.

Software as a Service - gotta love it :-*

Also, yay at Nick for simply killing FeedDemon instead of doing something crazy like, you know, perhaps open-sourcing it.
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2013, 07:46:43 AM »
Also, yay at Nick for simply killing FeedDemon instead of doing something crazy like, you know, perhaps open-sourcing it.
^ +1 from me.

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2013, 07:56:33 AM »
Is there anything wrong with using Bloglines Reader (www.bloglines.com) instead?

Quote
About Bloglines

Bloglines, a MerchantCircle company, aims to deliver the best experience for our users by creating a service where users can subcribe, create, manage and share news feeds, blogs and rich web content from across the web. Bloglines is one of the largest news and feed aggregators using RSS/Atom in the world with over 2 million users.

With Bloglines, there is no software to download and install and its completely FREE. Users are able to bring their feeds to any web enabled device whether its on a desktop or mobile phone. Your feeds can be customized and arranged in a multitude of ways to best suit your needs.

J-Mac

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2013, 07:57:05 AM »
This is the second time that Nick has "killed" FeedDemon after I paid for the latest version. If I didn't know better I'd think it was a racket.

Jim

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2013, 07:57:55 AM »
Also, yay at Nick for simply killing FeedDemon instead of doing something crazy like, you know, perhaps open-sourcing it.
^ +1 from me.

Yeah. There's that. ;)

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2013, 08:03:21 AM »
This is the second time that Nick has "killed" FeedDemon after I paid for the latest version. If I didn't know better I'd think it was a racket.

Jim

That's when I stopped using it. After that first time it was killed and then mysteriously brought back. For some reason I strongly suspected it was done more as marketing move (i.e. Don't want to support it? Fine! Try doing without it then.) on Nick's part.

And I was a paying user, so I felt a little justified in being annoyed.

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2013, 08:05:41 AM »
Well, if you ain't payin', you ain't a customer.

Software as a Service - gotta love it :-*

Also, yay at Nick for simply killing FeedDemon instead of doing something crazy like, you know, perhaps open-sourcing it.

And therein stands the house of cards that more and more of so many people's web experience now resides in. :Thmbsup:

IainB

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2013, 08:44:47 AM »
On the Official Google Blog, in the post about all the changes and/or killed services (2013-03-13) A second spring of cleaning, it says:
Quote
These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives.

In Googland, in the post [G] Powering Down Google Reader, it says:
Quote
There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.

The implications of these statements and under the current circumstances would seem to be:
  • 1. Some products were not regarded as having been entirely useful (were poorly-performing) - they did not "really help" during their product lives - so their lifespan was shortened/terminated.
  • 2. Such products were perceived to be an unprofitable real and a financial drain on resources, and turned out to be less-than-great products, so have been terminated.
  • 3. There are some arbitrary market target usage (performance) threshold criteria set for Google Reader and/or other products, and if product usage/performance falls below this performance threshold, then the relevant product will be terminated.
  • 4. Google has perceived that it has previously scattered its resources across too many poorly-performing products. and is going to focus now on putting its resources into fewer products. This situation will be arrived at by judicious pruning of poorly-performing products (so expect more product terminations).
  • 5. The Google Executive have been rethinking their marketing strategy in the light of less-than-desirable profit performance.

I have often wondered whether Google was throwing money down the drain, particularly as regards, for example, Buzz, WAVE, Google Earth and satellite imaging, Street View, and Picasa.
I had always thought Google to be "shades of CDC" in its philanthropic heyday, under its founder's rule (William Norris).

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2013, 08:48:00 AM »
Good essay by Elliot Stocks on the demise of GR and  "invisible free services" in general. Excerpt below. Read the rest here:

Quote
Beware the free, invisible service
Posted on 14 March 2013 • 3 comments

Checking Twitter over breakfast this morning, my feed was alive with furore over Google’s decision to retire Google Reader, and I’m not ashamed to say that I joined in, too. Of course, we all know that RSS isn’t particularly well-adopted outside the web / tech industry, so it’s perhaps not entirely surprising to see Google kill (what they consider to be) a niche product. What is worrying, though, is that this is yet another example of a product meeting its demise because it’s free.
.
.
.

Amen.

40hz

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2013, 09:12:33 AM »
@Iain - regarding Google

I think what Google is doing is a scaled back version of the philosophy Jack Welch pushed when he was made CEO of General Electric. Under that philosophy, GE's was to be the number one player in any business or market they were engaged in - or have a realistic opportunity to become number one - else they were going to get out of that business entirely.

It brought about a renaissance for that corporate behemoth. Focus improved, the number of business engaged in shrank, profitability soared and thousands of former customers were abandoned. And as a result, a staggering number of employees lost their jobs when GE discarded the dozens of businesses it had formerly been in.

It also saved the company, which was obviously albeit slowly crumbling under its own bulk and complexity.

It also earned Mr. Welch the title "Neutron Jack" alluding to a neutron bomb's ability to kill people without excessively damaging the property they're standing on. The saying used to be: When Jack shows up it's like a neutron bomb went off. The buildings and plant may still be there - but the people are all gone.

Since there's really no money to be made in RSS synchronization, I think Google decided to call it quits. Having pissed so much money and resource away on things like Buzz and Wave, and faced with the still uncertain future of G+ and GDocs, they're calling in their outriders and putting their focus on things that do pay  (or can be made to pay) such as Google Docs.

If there's enough public backlash, you might see some flavor of GR come back. But not as a standalone product. I could see them putting it back in as a "feature" of G+ or Google Docs in order to get more subscribers. But that's about as good as it will likely get.
 8)

IainB

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2013, 10:19:33 AM »
@40hz: Yes, that was what I was getting at by comparing Google to CDC, which had a financial implosion. Google seemed to be heading the same way, but now stands a chance of turning round, GE-style.
I don't see how one can say that GR "met its demise because it’s free". It probably died because it didn't generate sufficient indirect revenue to meet profitability targets.

phitsc

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2013, 11:17:06 AM »
Also, I am the one to blame for Reader's demise. Just this morning, while taking a shower, I thought what would happen if Google killed the service. Well, there you are :(

I suggest you never take a shower again or else they go and shut down Gmail.

rgdot

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Re: Google Reader - Mini-Review
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2013, 12:43:31 PM »
There is going to be a Gmail shut down notice

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