Tag Archives: Google Reader

From Bloglines to Google, and Back

I ditched Bloglines the other day for Google Reader. I’m not a huge fan of Bloglines’ new beta interface, most because I find it clunkier than the current interface. Sure, the current one feels a little dated, but it works. Plus, the iPhone interface is nice.

Google has a lot going for it. For one, it seems everyone who uses it raves about it. Also, the iPhone interface is integrated with all the other Google services I use, Picasa Web, Gmail, etc.

This all came about because I wanted to use a desktop RSS reader at home and sync it with my web interface for work and iPhone, but that doesn’t exist unless I use Newsgator. Bloglines and Google both appear to have a sync API, but neither Vienna nor NetNewsWire (nor any other client I could find) actually syncs back to them.

But it appears Vienna is working on one for Google’s reader, and with the Bloglines beta looming, it seemed like a good enough time to make the jump. So I did.

Google’s Reader is awfully attractive, but it’s really keyboard driven. Not only that, but there’s no way to have it mark all items as read as you click a feed. You must begin the tedious task of scrolling through every single item, or hitting “j”, “j”, “j”. And YouTube embeds don’t go away – at least in Opera 9.22 – they just wait at the top of the reading pane, obstructing text, until I click a new feed.

Did I mention that Google Reader is slow slow slow? I can click a link and watch it “Loading…” for several seconds. Opera is a second class citizen in Google-land, which is why all new Gmail features don’t work (v2, label colors, AIM) and Picasa support is flaky, but I think Reader fits in that boat too. It’s painful.

So, after 4 full days, I bailed. I’m back to Bloglines classic. I’d love to tweak the stylesheet a little, but it works and it’s so much faster. I’m pretty pleased with Bloglines, especially now that I’ve had a chance to experience something else.

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Bloglines Beta Ain’t Doin’ It For Me

Bloglines has been pushing their new beta site, beta.bloglines.com, and are already reporting many satisfied users. The new site is very attractive and much more modern looking, but do not count me among the satisfied.

The new beta, as far as I’m concerned, is just a second rate Google Reader. In fact, everything about how Bloglines works has been changed to emulate Google Reader.

Bloglines
My primary gripe is this: in the normal Bloglines, you click on a feed and the items are marked read. In the new version, you must scroll past each item and/or click on each item. If I click on a feed with one or two short items, then I click a new feed, those items are not marked “read” and stay in my lefthand sidebar. I do not care to address each item individually, which is what the new system requires.

Also, even if I do scroll over each item, more often than not, the last item is not “marked read” and remains for me to address later.

There are a host of other single key shortcuts, and I do find these useful, but make no mistake about it, these single key shortcuts are “borrowed” directly from Google Reader again.

BloglinesMost of my gripes with beta 1.0 were not addressed in today’s update. It was hard to click on a feed properly – the linked area was a bit flaky. Each element in the feed bar had a display of “block,” which I think lead the developers to think it would be easer to locate the right feed quickly with your mouse. However, the second part of my complaint was that without underlines in the feedbar on mouseover, there was no way to tell, except via the hand cursor, that you’re on the right link. The UI ought to indicate that you are on an active link via an underline. Since it does not, and still does not, you’re still floating above a huge link sea.

This is only compounded by the fact that the current version uses a simple Arial font, whereas the new uses what I suppose Bloglines thought was a more “Web 2.0” font, which I think I’m properly id’ing as Trebuchet.

BloglinesAs a result, it’s harder to figure out what means what in the feedbar. Notice that in the example, on the current site, the bolder headlines mean unread items exist. There is a clear number right beside the feed telling you how many items are pending. But in the new Bloglines beta, the bolding is much less noticeable due to the font change and the number of unread items is right justified, which means you can’t easily tell how many are pending when you have a large number of feeds with unread items.

Overall, it’s a very nice start – it’s attractive, it’s got nice drag-n-drog javascript everywhere, it loads in a decent amount of time, and the new customizeable start screen is very cool. But if this is what rolled out as final, I’d probably just move to Google Reader, which is practically the same thing anyway. This is just too much like it and pretty much ditches all the concepts that I *liked* about Bloglines that made it different.

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