Category Archives: Bloglines

Switching to Google Reader

I held out on using a RSS reader for more than two years. I had a little thingy built so Ping-O-Matic would use its own results and to store the last updated time of every blog it saw, and then I reordered my blogroll based on that. (The original version in WordPress parsed the whole changes.xml from a few times an hour. Remember when that was feasible?) Then I would go from the top of the list to the last one I remember reading, opening each in tabs, and closing as I finished. Incidentally, this kept my blogroll from withering as many do.

At some point I started begrudgingly using Bloglines in 2004, and fell in love shortly thereafter. Where I used to follow a few dozen blogs, now I could consume hundreds and its UI just made sense to me, and just got better over time. I sang its praises often in interviews, mentioning it as one of the handful of websites I used daily. Any outages or performance problems it had seemed minor to me, only reminding me of how much I appreciated the service when it was up. Bloglines search was and continues to be the cleanest in the space.

I don’t recall exactly when many of my friends started switching to Google Reader. I had tried it at its first release and was pretty unimpressed. I saw the hubabub around Gears and how Reader was the first to embrace that. I watched with envy as friends used their trends feature to see nifty data about how and when they read feeds, and use it to cull out the non-essentials, much like I used to with my blogroll.

A week ago, frustrated to no end by a bug in Bloglines telling me to reread things I already had, I decided to make the switch cold turkey. I packed my OPML file and went along to Google Reader full-time. It hasn’t been painless — the keyboard shortcuts are a little funky on dvorak — but it feels better to be on a platform that whether real or perceived feels like it has momentum. That self-fufilling X-factor in apps is one of the magic elements for me. Also as I’m adapting to the UI I feel a lot more efficient than I used to in going through things.

Finally I’ve started reducing my subscriptions, down to 346 now, and I hope to be under 200 within a month or so. I’m thinking of adopted a fixed-number, say 150, and if I want to add one I need to remove another one first so the total is always the same. (I’ve considered this for social networking sites, too.) However it’s probably focusing on the wrong metrics, unread items is more important than total feeds.

Bloglines Update

I’m a few days late on this, but I think the new Bloglines updates are really slick, they’re subtle but they really improve the usability of the product. Bloglines is my favority aggregator, online or offline, and I admire the restraint they have. It would be easy for them to add every possible feature, instead they keep things simple and, since January, fast. Simplicity is far harder than complexity. Especially in a big organization.

Bloglines DOS

Bloglines is DOSing blog providers. Every other major crawler implements some sort of per-resolved-IP throttle, why can’t Bloglines? Even if there were a way to opt-out of their hundreds of simultanous crawlers descending on your service, it seems to me the default behavior should be to not be harmful, and then work with large providers on a case-by-case basis to increase the concurrency of requests. We don’t have this problem with any other aggregator or crawler, hosted or non-hosted. Test: freedbacking