RSS reader needed to fight procrastination!
May 26, 2006 3:00 AM   Subscribe

What is the right RSS notifier for me?

I don't know a lot about RSS, but have decided to have a dabble with it in the hope that it will stop me spending unneccesary time on the internet.

My ideal reader (correct terminology?) would work like this:

Desktop-based, not browser. I add a bunch of blogs etc to it, and when someone posts a new entry it pops up a notification (like the gmail notifier) telling me, and preferably can be configured to make a sound as well. I can then double click on the notification and have it open the blog in a browser window. If I'm away from my computer for a while and miss notifications, there would be something visible alerting me to them (like gmail notifier) and I could click that and see the list of new posts.

What I do not want is a reader which displays the text of the post in an email-like view - I want to read it in context on the initial page.

I've tried using this one but it doesn't seem to work very well - it continually notifies me of posts posted ages ago that I have already seen, making it impossible to know when a new entry has been posted. Also, it doesn't seem to have the option of a sound alert.

I'm running Windows XP, and although a free program would be preferable I would be willing to pay a bit if necessary. User-friendliness is a big bonus as I don't totally understand all of the techincal speak.

Thankyou!

(And before anyone says anything, yes I have read every single ask.mefi post tagged with RSS, and none of the readers mentioned in response seem to be what I want. If you disagree however, feel free to post it here.)
posted by Lotto to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The problem is, RSS feeds do not provide in-page context, so you would have to get an RSS reader that not only gets the RSS feed, but then goes and fetches all of the page's formatting information as well as the original post. I've never heard of an RSS reader that does that. The closest you'll find to this behaviour, I think, is when it just gives you the title of the entry and you click on it to get to the original page.

Of course, I could be wrong - there could be RSS readers out there that do what you want... I stopped bothering with application-based ones as soon as I discovered Bloglines.
posted by antifuse at 3:38 AM on May 26, 2006


antifuse: I think you misunderstand me - I DO want one where I click on the title to get to the original page. I want to read the entry in firefox, at the normal url etc.
posted by Lotto at 3:50 AM on May 26, 2006


I know you specified non-browser, but using google/ig and more recently netvibes to catch up on RSS feeds reduced the amount of time I spent screwing round on the net and actually getting the information I want in less time, particularly since google added their google reader widget to IG.

Not what you asked for and you've probably already tried them but I thought it might help.
posted by chrissyboy at 4:01 AM on May 26, 2006


I don't see a reason for a desktop RSS application when you can use a browser-based one that will follow you wherever you go. I've used Google Reader but decided that, like most Google products, its user experience design was lacking and interface clunky. I also use Bloglines and I am satisfied. I probably do 75% of all my web reading on there.
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 4:14 AM on May 26, 2006


This (unfortunately not particularly easy to read or use) chart compares features of many RSS aggregators.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:16 AM on May 26, 2006


As somebody who has tried MANY different readers, I can highly recommend three different ones each for slightly different purposes.

FeedDemon - the best RSS reader IMO. Full featured, great gui and fast. The only problem is that its not free and no River of News view.

GreatNews - The best freeware RSS reader IMO. This is what I use. Almost all of the benefits of FeedDemon, plus its free and it has a River of News view.

Bloglines - I use GreatNews to sync with Bloglines so that I can always read my feeds from anywhere. Plus, it is really nice to be able to read the pages in the same window as the links open in. Instead of having to jockey between programs, you just use tabs. Its also free but not as fast as a desktop one. This seems to be the best for you IMO.

Also all three of these have a notifier. I personally think that you will be happy with any one of these but I strongly recommend Bloglines or GreatNews.

Let me know if I can be of further help.
posted by coolin86 at 7:53 AM on May 26, 2006


Here's another vote for Bloglines. Keep it in the browser so you can access your RSS feeds wherever you go. Once you go to RSS, you'll never go back. It's quite profound. Especially once you've got a few hundred feeds in your reader. You don't have time to procrastinate in the browser, you're too busy catching up with all the news piling up in your subscriptions.

You waste time differently.
posted by fcain at 8:31 AM on May 26, 2006


Perhaps this isn't in the spirit of the question, but how is having a little window popping up at random intervals telling you "new stuff to see, NEW STUFF TO SEE BEEP bop BEEP" going to help fight procrastination?

If you set up an RSS reader and turn notifications off, then you can be efficient about checking for new content on lots of websites without adding the inefficiency of constant interruptions.
posted by Good Brain at 9:55 AM on May 26, 2006


Opera

Desktop-based, not browser.

I am assuming you mean not a webbased rss aggregator.

when someone posts a new entry it pops up a notification

and preferably can be configured to make a sound as well. Nope

I can then double click on the notification and have it open the blog in a browser window.

If I'm away from my computer for a while and miss notifications, there would be something visible alerting me to them (like gmail notifier) and I could click that and see the list of new posts.

a free program

Opera is very customizable, so you should easily get it to meet your needs, except for the sound thing.


Some screenshots:

Basic Layout
Basic Layout

Alternate Layout
Alternate Layout

Popup Notification
Popup notification

These screenshots are from the lastest beta, but I use the current stable version for my browsing. Yes, I am an Opera fanboy, no I do not work for Opera.
posted by bigmusic at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2006


"it continually notifies me of posts posted ages ago that I have already seen, making it impossible to know when a new entry has been posted."

I just reread the post and thought I should add that sometimes this is not the fault of the RSS reader. Very often when a blogger fixes a typo, updates the entry, etc. the article is republished to the feed and it will sometimes show up as unread again.

But, I have never used that reader so it may be at fault as well.
posted by coolin86 at 12:32 PM on May 26, 2006


Some feedback: The reason that I want non-webbased is that I want to seriously minimise the amount of time I spend messing around on the internet, as a lot of this involves checking blogs that I read far too often to see if they have new posts. I don't want to open my browser unless I KNOW that there is something new for me to read, otherwise I can easily see myself doing the same thing with a webbased aggregator, checking it every 5 minutes to see if there's anything new.

GoodBrain: I'm not going to be subscribed to loads of content-heavy feeds. This is literally just for the dozen or so personal blogs that I read - I won't be subscribing to stuff like Metafilter, or BBC news.
posted by Lotto at 5:20 AM on May 27, 2006


Also, how do webbased notifiers work? In a sense all I'd want this idealised reader to be would be a notifier - I don't want any kind of view where I can read the posts, I just want something to pop up telling me there is a new post, I click on it and it opens firefox and that blog.
posted by Lotto at 5:23 AM on May 27, 2006


Lotto: Bloglines has exactly what you need. It's a small notifier app that lets you know when there are new items. Then you can launch your browser only if you feel like.
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 7:59 AM on May 27, 2006


Final update: I've signed up to bloglines and it seems to be working just great. Thanks particularly to DefendBrooklyn for the info about Bloglines having a notifier that works exactly how I want it to!

Bonus question: One of the blogs I read is a friends-only livejournal. How can I tell bloglines that I'm allowed to read the private entries?
posted by Lotto at 10:54 AM on May 27, 2006


Sharpreader is also does exactly what he wants(well, no sounds), but it's a standalone reader, has new item popups, and can show an item in its original context using the embedded IE browser.

I'll repeat that RSS can make procrastination worse, not better.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:21 PM on May 27, 2006


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