RSS: Discovering Google Reader Alternatives

RSS: Discovering Google Reader Alternatives

Photograph Credit: Google

If you are a Google Reader user, then you have seen the warnings that Google Reader is retiring on July 1, 2013. Believe me, I was not thrilled with Google’s choice to rid the reader from their services. Having used and recommended Google Reader for years, I was not looking forward to discovering Google Reader alternatives.

In all honesty, I have not found another reader like Google Reader. However, I tried these three options and give you my perspective on The Old Reader, Net Vibes, and Feedly.

Option #1: The Old Reader

From the reviews, I thought this option would be easy access and navigate. However, I logged in and could not figure out how to import the information from my Google Reader account.  After trying numerous times, I cut my losses and moved on to Net Vibes.

Option #2: Net Vibes

Logging into my Google account, I used these instructions to upload my Google Reader information. The process was easy, but I did not care for the navigation.

There was a lot of information which I could customize, but I did not care for all the bells and whistles. I was really disappointed to find no search option, and I preferred to try another option that worked on other devices beside my computer.

Discovering Google Reader Alternatives

Photograph Credit: Feedly

Option #3: Feedly

This app-based reader will work on phones, tablets, and computers. Though I do not have a smart phone or a tablet (yet), I plan to at sometime in the future.

To use this option, I had to grant them permission to view my information. This was a downside for me, but I keep limited information in that Google account which is why I used it.

In making the switch, I prefer to find one reader and stick with it. Feedly came recommended, and I found the import process extremely easy, like one-click easy.

Though there is not a search feature, I do like the save option which parallels with the star option in Google Reader. I am still learning the keystroke functions, but I am finding my way.

If you choose to use Feedly, I found these tips very helpful in coming from Google Reader. As I continue to read my favorite blog posts in Feedly, I get more familiar with it. I may even one day prefer it over Google Reader as Feedly has improved and is working on more features.

Discovering a Google Reader alternative may take some time. The goal right now is to use Google Takeout to download your information before July 1, 2013. With your information downloaded, you can try other readers to find one that works for you.

If you just are not sure about changing readers, then subscribe by e-mail to your favorite blogs. For Using Time Wisely, you will receive one e-mail each day that a post is published. All the posts from that day will appear in one e-mail. Happy discovering!

Question: How do you prefer to read your favorite blog posts? 

RSS: Feed Reader – Part 5 of 5

Photograph Credit: Wikipedia

Since I have not received any comments regarding setting up Google Reader and the subscriptions to my feed have increased, I am assuming all the instructions are accurate, and your reader is working great. If this is the case, then fantastic! I love it when directions work the first time. 🙂

If you have missed any sections to this series, these links can bring you up to speed: Part 1 – RSS explained, Part 2 – Google Reader setup, Part 3 – Adding subscriptions, and Part 4 – Customizing. Today, I hope to finish this series by answering the following 4 commonly asked questions:

1.     How do I get to the post’s web site from the reader?

A: Click on the title of the post. Each title is a link to the original post on the web site. After clicking the title, you will be directed to that post on that web site. You can then maneuver through the web site as needed.

2.     Why are some words or phrases highlighted in a different color?

A: Those words indicate an embedded link. When you click on those words, you will be directed to a post, web site, or blog related to that information.

3.     How can I change the format, so I can see the entire post on one screen without scrolling down?

A: Instead of scrolling down and then clicking NEXT ITEM to jump to the next post, you can view your posts in Reader Play.

To view posts in Reader Play:

  1. While in Google Reader, select ALL ITEMS in the left sidebar.
  2. In the menu bar on the right side, choose View settings.
  3. From the drop down menu, click the last option VIEW IN READER PLAY.
  4. The Reader Play will then open in another window or tab (depending on your browser settings).
  5. You can still use the keyboard shortcuts to STAR items for later.
  6. To close out, just close the window or the tab.

4.     How can I change the posts with excerpts to show the full post?

A: You cannot change this option. The author of that site has selected partial feed rather than full feed of his posts. If you are frustrated with this option, you are not alone. There are two blogs I read, because their content is great, but they choose partial feed over full feed. In contacting them to vent my frustration, I received a response explaining their choice. Since there are unscrupulous individuals who steal original posts and claim them as their own, some authors protect their writings by limiting the content through the RSS feeds. Though I understand their choice, the partial feeds annoy me because I have to click through to their web site to read the rest of the article. By clicking through, I am using up precious time.

If you subscribe to a web site that shows partial articles, consider commenting on a post or contacting the author to express your frustration. Sometimes the author is not aware of the setting. If they discover unhappy readers, then the author may consider changing to full feed. It never hurts to ask.

These are the questions I have either asked or answered regarding Google Reader. If you have additional questions, please leave me a comment. I will do my best to give you an answer.

In concluding this series on using an RSS feed reader, I hope you have found this information helpful, accurate, and worth your time. I value both my reader’s and my time. You have plenty to do, so keep using your time wisely! Happy organized reading!

RSS: Feed Reader – Part 4 of 5

Photograph Credit: Wikipedia

How’s your Google Reader working? Well, I hope. Making one stop at your Google Reader to read all the latest news assists you in using your time wisely. If you have missed parts to this series, you can click on these links to catch up: Part 1 – RSS explained, Part 2 – Google Reader setup, and Part 3 – Adding subscriptions.

Hopefully, you have added your favorite sites and have navigated your way between the posts. Today, I will share my 4 favorite ways to customize Google Reader to maximize my time.

1. Use expanded format. On the top right side of your Google Reader, you can choose to show the posts in an expanded or list format. To read the posts in a list format, you click on each one to open the information. In the expanded format, all the information is listed. You only need to scroll down to read each post.

2. Choose ALL ITEMS to “set as start page.” Instead of seeing the HOME page with excerpts of the posts, I choose to view ALL ITEMS when I open my Google Reader. This setting saves me from clicking on ALL ITEMS on each visit.

Here’s how to set your start page:

  • Click on ALL ITEMS.
  • Locate the VIEW SETTINGS button in the menu bar at the top of your listed posts. Click to see the drop down menu.
  • From the drop down menu, select SET AS START PAGE. Now when you open your Google Reader, you will see all the unread posts.

3. Sort posts newest to oldest. You could also choose oldest to newest or by magic. The BY MAGIC option ranks your unread posts by your interests based on your time at Google Reader. The idea is that Google Reader sorts your posts most interesting to you to least interesting to you. Since I find all the posts interesting (which is why I subscribe), I choose the newest to oldest.

If you want to read all the posts from one web site, then click on the web site’s name on the left sidebar under subscriptions, and all the posts from that site will load on the right side of your reader. (NOTE: The viewable items will be the read and unread items in the order you have chosen to sort.)

4. Star items. As I read through the posts, I star items I want to keep for later. After reading through all my posts, I can then go to the left sidebar, select STARRED ITEMS, and all the starred items will be listed. When you are done with a starred post, you can unstar it.

Star Shortcut: Hit “s” while on the post to star and/or unstar it. When starred, the gray or blue star at the top of the post (by the title) and at the bottom of the post will change to yellow. For other keyboard shortcuts, visit Google Reader’s common questions.

There you have it! These are my tips for customizing Google Reader to help me use my time wisely while staying connected to my favorite web sites. If you have other tips or tricks for using Google Reader, please share in the comments. Next week, I will conclude this series with a couple troubleshooting solutions.

RSS: Feed Reader – Part 3 of 5

Photograph Credit: Wikipedia

In Part 1 of this series, RSS was explained. Then in Part 2, detailed instructions were given to setup your own Google Reader. Here in Part 3, I will include two different ways to ADD SUBSCRIPTIONS or web sites to your Google Reader.

If you completed the steps in Part 2, then you have a Google Reader with only 3-4 introductory posts and no current subscriptions. To begin adding subscriptions, sign in to your Google Reader.

  1. In your Internet browser (Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.), type  www.google.com.
  2. At the home page, sign in with your e-mail address and password, and click SIGN IN.
  3. Your Google Reader may reappear. If it does not, then choose READER from the menu bar, i.e., mail, calendar, documents, photos, reader, etc. The menu bar is located above the words GOOGLE READER.

As you look at your Google Reader, scan the left sidebar to the bottom where SUBSCRIPTIONS is listed. At this point, this section is empty, but I will show you two ways to add subscriptions to your Reader. One is using the ADD SUBSCRIPTION button at the top of the left sidebar in your Google Reader, and the other is subscribing through the RSS feed icon on a favorite web site. Both methods work equally well, and I use both methods. If you are logged in to your Google Reader, then let’s add a subscription.

Add Subscription from Google Reader

  1. Locate and click the gray button stating ADD SUBSCRIPTION on the left sidebar of your Google Reader page.
  2. Type usingtimewisely.com in the box and click add.
  3. You have now have Using Time Wisely added to your subscriptions.

If you have other web sites where you know the URL or web site address, then you can add them here. If you are not sure of the exact web site address, then you can subscribe using the second method – through the web site.

Add Subscription from Web Site

  1. Locate your favorite web site. For this example, I will use Becentsable (a favorite site that hosts THE GROCERY GATHERING which is a list of all sales and coupon matchups organized by city and state). Since I was directed to another site when searching Becentsable.com, I found the site through the Swag Bucks search engine. (You can use Google, Yahoo, etc.) I clicked on the link and was directed to the correct web site which is Becentsable.net. (Now I can cut and paste this address into the ADD SUBSCRIPTION button in my Reader, or I can add from the site.)
  2. While on the site, I locate and click the RSS icon. On Becentsable’s site, the icon is located on the right hand side at the top of the page.
  3. I am directed to a page to choose my reader of choice. I locate and click on GOOGLE which takes me back to my reader.
  4. Back at your Google Reader page, click on SUBSCRIBE under YOU ARE NOT SUBSCRIBED YET in the center column.
  5. Once you SUBSCRIBE, then BECENTSABLE will appear below Using Time Wisely in your subscription category on your left sidebar.
  6. You can now continue to add your favorite web sites to your Google Reader. To read all the new posts, scroll down the center column.

CONGRATULATIONS! You now have subscriptions in your Google Reader. Now when you need to catch up, you can log in to your Google Reader and scroll through the posts. You are on your way to saving time and energy while staying connected. Come back next week for some customizing options to improve your reader experience.

RSS: Feed Reader – Part 2 of 5

Photograph Credit: Wikipedia

Our topic last week included defining and explaining the RSS which will be a huge timesaver for those who read multiple blogs and web sites. If you want to use your time wisely while keeping up-to-date, then let’s setup a reader to accept all the RSS from your favorite web sites.

There are a number of readers from which to choose, e.g., Yahoo, Newsgator, Bloglines, and many more. My reader of choice is Google which I have used for a few years without any problem. Since I highly recommend Google Reader, I will show you here how to setup your own account.

STEP ONE: Log in to your Google Account.

Do you have a Google account?

TO SET UP A GOOGLE ACCOUNT:

  1. In your Internet browser, type in www.google.com.
  2. On the home page, click the “SIGN IN” link in the top right corner.
  3. When directed to GOOGLE ACCOUNTS page, click on CREATE AN ACCOUNT NOW on the right side under DON’T HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT?
  4. At the CREATE AN ACCOUNT page, fill out the form, and click I ACCEPT. CREATE MY ACCOUNT.
  5. You should then see ACCOUNT CREATED. PLEASE VERIFY YOUR CURRENT EMAIL ADDRESS. You can either click to button to verify your e-mail or click on the REQUEST AN EMAIL VERIFICATION. Be sure to verify your account in one of these two ways to proceed.
  6. After you receive the EMAIL ADDRESS VERIFIED message, then double-click on CLICK HERE TO MANAGE YOUR ACCOUNT PROFILE. You will be directed to the GOOGLE ACCOUNTS page. Your login name will appear in the top right of the page. Now proceed to STEP TWO.

STEP TWO: Add your Reader.

  1. Once logged in, click on your e-mail address in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Select ACCOUNT SETTINGS from the drop down list.
  3. On the GOOGLE ACCOUNTS page, scroll down to TRY SOMETHING NEW, and click on MORE >>.
  4. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the options. Just scroll down about halfway, and locate READER under SOCIAL on the left column. Click on READER.
  5. Your GOOGLE READER will open with new 3-5 items for your review.

STEP THREE: Checking your Reader.

Now, when you close out of Google or restart your computer, here is how to navigate back to your Google Reader:

  1. In your Internet browser (Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.), type www.google.com.
  2. At the home page, sign in with your e-mail address and password, and click SIGN IN.
  3. Your Google Reader may reappear. If it does not, then choose READER from the menu bar, i.e., mail, calendar, documents, photos, reader, etc. The menu bar is located above the words GOOGLE or GMAIL.

CONGRATULATIONS! You now have a Google account with your Reader activated. I’m proud of you! You are on your way to using your time wisely while reading your favorite web sites. Though your account may be empty now, next week I’ll show you how to add your favorite web sites to your reader.