RIP Google Reader

Working @ Home Today is the day Google kills off my favorite product: Google Reader.

I’ve gone cold turkey for over month and still have withdrawal symptoms. My mistake probably is the continual thinking, “This would be so much easier in GReader.”

After reading a dozen articles on possible replacements and trying out them all, I was very disappointed. Even heroic new comers like Digg Reader fail to impress. I guess feedly is my replacement. Least worst is not comforting.

Before the announcement, I spent on average about 15 hours a week reading and following up on new posts. Reaching everything read felt like an accomplishment. Now, I maybe spend 5 using feedly and have spiraled out of control in the number unread content. It is time to cull my feeds because it is obvious I am not going to read RSS as much anymore.


Maybe feedly will improve into being more usable. After all, Google Reader did. I was on Bloglines. In fact, here is the post on RIP Bloglines way back in 2005.

Unfriendly Connect For Feedly

So Google announced Reader will shut down. So I migrated to Feedly. It is okay, but I will miss Reader just like I still miss Bloglines. (The current Bloglines is actually NetVibes which I hate.)

A few weeks ago, I noticed one my categories displays in the left menu there are unread posts, but the main window displays there are none. It took a week for me notice on the right side the list of feeds in the list also shows there are unread posts. Two views say there are unread but the one that shows the titles or previews of them says there is nothing. WTF?

Even stranger, the category does not appear in the Organize section, so I cannot just move the RSS feeds to another category.

Apparently Feedly users have complained for 4 years about the category. And even worse, many of the solutions appear only temporary. Whatever they change restores itself later.

Today, I put together another clue. The problem category is called “blogger-following.” Google Reader displays it as “Blogs I’m following”. Blogger actually owns/creates these in Google Reader when I subscribe to them using Friend Connect. This also adds them to the Blogger Reading List on my dashboard. Feedly picks up these subscriptions from Google Reader.

I think making changes to these in Feedly updates Google Reader. However, Blogger will change it back. I tried removing blogger-following from the feeds. However, a logout and login restored those changes. I think because Friend Connect is authoritative to Reader who is authoritative to Feedly, the fix has to be upstream of Feedly.

However, unsubscribing in Friend Connect did not really do it. (At least through a logout and login.)  When Feedly pulled the data from Reader again, the unsubscribed feed came back.

Apparently Feedly relies on Google for authentication. So, I cannot just Revoke Access for Feedly to my Google account to do #1 below now.

So there are a couple potential ways to approach fixing this.

    1. Do nothing. Google Reader dies on July 1. That should remove Reader, the man in the middle. Without Reader there, Feedly ought to no longer know about Friend Connect based feeds.
      Pro: Least amount of work. Con: Six weeks is a long time. Unknown whether that will actually work.
    2. Unsubscribe in Friend Connect. I subscribed to a blog through Blogger and confirmed new posts showed up in Reader and Feedly. I removed the subscription in Blogger by going to Settings to the right of Reading List. I clicked Settings to the right of the blog to remove. Finally, I clicked “Stop following this site.” When I refreshed Reader and Feedly, this blog disappeared. Of course, any I want to continue to read need a direct subscription in Feedly.
      Pro: Not sure. Con: I will longer publicly support friends. Very cludgy to stop following these.

 Probably wait and see.

Microsoft Failed

A good error message in my opinion provides enough information for the user or administrator to determine likely cause. It doesn’t have to be THE cause. Just something I can try changing and see if the problem disappears.

For a while now, Outlook was telling me the “Operation Failed” in a toaster pop-up. O… kay…. After some initial poking around I was able to discover the failure was because of an RSS feed. No mention of which one. The problem didn’t go away, so I decided to delete the feeds to no improvement. So I had no RSS feeds and was still getting the error about the RSS feed. So I looked in the Deleted Items to see which feeds I should add back and noticed one I didn’t deleted. So I permanently deleted all of them.

No more errors.

So the problem was: I deleted an RSS feed. Send/Receive was unable to write new results to the deleted feed, so it told “Operation Failed.”

No, Microsoft, you are the fail.

Name Collisions

Blackboard has a conference they call BbWorld. I noticed there are some odd tweets with the same #bbworld hashtag lately. These appear to be about a Blackberry conference to be held next month.

Collisions on names are common enough. For example, here are a couple names our clients use to brand their sites which other places also use.

My own project, GeorgiaVIEW is not immune. Some time ago I noticed the GeorgiaView Consortium (geological remote sensing) at the University of West Georgia.

I guess it is a good thing one Bbworld is in July and the other is in September.

For now I’ll just drop my RSS feed for the hashtag.

Week Two Almost No Twitter

Since I cut back on Twitter, my sneezypb account’s password was changed to something completely random and unknown to me. Tweetdeck was uninstalled. Most of the few on my subscription list I still need to follow now reside in my RSS reader for now.

Productive? Check.

  • We tell real stories instead of how talk about how Twitter is good/bad/indifferent.
  • I’ve posted 11 times to this blog in the last 16 days vs 22 in the 120 days before the change.
  • Work days seem significantly shorter. I only still have to transition between meetings notices, IM notifications, people dropping by my cube to understand my emails, phone calls, conversations over the cube walls, people lost in the cube farm, and YouTube watchers.
  • I’m only having to read status updates once.

Twitter was obviously way too much of a time sink.

Heather asked about my absense from Twitter. Changing the password broke from updating my Twitter status. I’d just need to give the password to keep those on Twitter in the loop. I’m starting to think I’d rather those few left on Twitter just to sign up on Facebook rather than give up on the cold turkey.

I’m such a bad friend.

Flickr Search

Flickr has millions of photos. (Maybe billions.) Many of these photos are tagged. One can look at all the photos with a tag. Every tag has a built in RSS feed. However, to view a combination of tags, one needs to search for the two tags.

Something I would like to see is an RSS feed for Flickr searches. Having to choose between duplication making see the same picture more than once or missing photos because users are… inconsistent.

This is easier than me moving some place else.

Separate Populations?

What are my neighbors doing? Curiosity about that question resulted in some conflicting data. Ordered by when I added the RSS feed for them.

  1. for “Athens GA”  – results are full of people talking about Athens, GA not in Athens, GA. Useful for people coming into town for an event.
  2. TweetLocal search for “Athens, GA” (or 30605 get same results) within 20 miles – Over the last 24 hours the RSS feed has given me 12 posts. First 5 users in search before 9pm: JeremyAce4 in Athens, GA, justdandelions in athens, ga, bozaf in Néa Smírni, Europe/Athensaaronbarton in Athens, GAelbee103 in Athens, GA (last @ 7pm). The hit on Europe/Athens is pretty disappointing.
  3. for “near:AHN within:20mi” (or 30605 or AthensGA get same results) – Over the same 24 hour period, its RSS feed has given me 53 posts. First 5 users in search before 9pm: ThePicManjulieteastonryan_lafountainRyanHaguealester (last @ 7pm)
No overlap. How is that possible when they supposedly are coming from the same population (time, space, and active)? Both services look for their data on Twitter. Both are looking at the self-identified location for Twitter users. Both have the same range. So, why do they have such different results?
Looking specifically for the Tweetlocal users in reveals them in the results. Searching on a user though doesn’t reveal the location. On the profile is the right location, so they should have been in both results.
Both fail in my opinion.

Blind Not Insane

The National Federation of the Blind is upset about a movie portraying people who are blind as behaving badly.

Pyyhkala, 36, of Boston, said he has read the book and seen parts of the film. He said his grievances stem from the film’s potential to sway public attitude about blindness. He said the movie exacerbates stereotypes and gives false information to uninformed viewers. [Link] (Since starting this post now requires a login?)

I haven’t seen the film or read the book, but the trailer for the films shows the people being put into quarrantine for a medical epidemic where people go blind. Stories generally portray people as acting incompetent and fearful when they are trapped in an unfamiliar situation. The whole point is to create an environment whereby a person, the hero or heroine, who is the bright light of reason and to whom everyone else appeals can rise to the challenge.

Blindness happens to use people who are blind, most likely because a the author was trying to be creative and use something readers would find new. Jose Saramago: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind.” [Link]

Chris Danielsen, a national federation spokesman, said while he understands that the film plays on the public’s fear of sudden blindness, the idea that loss of sight is equal to incompetence and immorality is “outrageous” and “vicious.” Everyday tasks like getting dressed and using the bathroom do not become impossible if a person loses their sight, Danielsen said.

Works of fiction do not depict reality. Otherwise… they would not be fiction. Stop giving movies more meaning than they actually have. Otherwise, you give them power they didn’t already have.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to the Golden Compass made me read the book and go see the movie (latter was awful). I wouldn’t have cared otherwise. Denouncing it made me wonder what they had to fear from something so silly as a book and movie. After seeing the trailer, I wasn’t interested in Blindness. After reading about the opposition, I am interested. I don’t have much luck with movies from books lately, so I may go book first.

Off the Twitter Timeline: Clunky WebCT

Summize provides a great way to troll for what people are saying. Beyond just searching for a term, it provides RSS feeds for terms. I follow several, such Blackboard and WebCT. The WebCT one netted me the following tweet:

annoyed with how clunky webct can be at times – it had to have been designed circa 2000 – amandakern

WebCT products, whether CE or Vista, have always been clunky. Ease of use has always been a problem with the products. Any improvements Vista made were offset by so many more tools and options to make it the net effect more clunky. I’ve seen some sales people and Dr. Cs whip through the navigation like it is easy to use Vista. Practice makes perfect. Too bad the developers can’t be perfect.

Whenever I see schools pick a product, I think the ones who have Ease of use on their list probably have been using WebCT legacy products for years as opposed to Blackboard products. They and their faculty are scarred enough they cannot afford to get it wrong on ease of use again.

RSS Is Relatively New?

The email was an innocuous “Ooh, shiney!” message. RSS feeds are now available for a status site. However, one thing concerned me….

RSS is a relatively new and easy way to distribute content and information via the Internet.

I personally have been aware of RSS since 2002. However, as I am a relatively late adopter of technology, I was not surprised to learn RSS has been around since July 1999. This technology has been available for nine years. 1999 is the same year IE5 became available. That is a few months before Windows 2000 became available. This is before the technology bust which weeded out much of the Internet craps. (Are we due for another one of those?) Next year we can celebrate the 10th anniversary of RSS. Can we really call it new when we celebrate it being around for a decade?

The point of “relatively” was to soften the word new. I was supposed to be mollified by it isn’t really new but it isn’t really old and is closer to new than old. It just sounded to me like whoever wrote it only heard about RSS within the past two years or so. So maybe the message was more “Ooh, shiney!” for them than for me.