Thursday, June 27, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin' - or Feedly?

Or...? Yep, those aren't the only choices.

There are the early adopters - those eager beavers who will stand in line all night for the newest, shiniest, piece of i-Whatever, all proud of themselves (and shocked, shocked, that the beta and first generations of iShiny generally turn out to be iBuggy).

Then there are the procrastinators, always finding just one more perfect line to add to their manuscripts as they are ready to click Send, putting a stamp on their tax return at 11:30 pm on April 15, the technophobes who are contemplating maybe getting one of those smartphone thingies. Later.

Google Reader Sinks into Oblivion on July 1

Which means, if you read blogs, and you have been using Google Reader to do so, you will need a new Reader, if you want to keep on reading blogs. Like, setting it up this weekend.

If you are a blogger, you might want to be able to recommend a blog reader to your followers, so they don't end up stranded like the steerage passengers on the deck of the Titanic.

(Yes, this painting is full of factual errors, but it's free. And it did suck being left on the ship.)
via Wikimedia Commons
The awesome Sierra Godfrey wrote an excellent piece here, summarizing the different features of:

  • Feedly
  • NetVibes
  • The Old Reader 
  • Flipboard (tablet users only)
  • Pulse
  • Newsblur
Theoretically, Google+ is supposed to be the hot new thing. In practical terms, I have yet to hear or see anyone talk about using Google+ specifically to read and follow blogs. Like FaceBook, yes, you can click on and read links to posts as they pass by in your media stream, but will you see all the blogs you are following and would like to read? Probably not.

Google Friend Connect is not Going Away... YET

For those like me who have a Blogger blog, and a fair number of followers, this was (somewhat) reassuring. However, there are always rumors Google is going to discontinue it. Besides, people who didn't have their own blogs via Blogger couldn't use Google Friend Connect anyway (which doesn't seem very friendly to me). Where's the love for all the WordPress and TypePad bloggers, plus all the wonderful, wonderful people who only read, don't blog?

I decided to go ahead and change over the box that showed my Google Friend Connect faces to the one that shows my Google+ faces, but you don't have to do that. And you can still access your blog Reading List through the big dogpile on the Blogger home page, which brings them up, most recent posts first, or choose one from the left.

Bloglovin', and the Reading is easy...

I have to admit, right away I leaned towards Bloglovin', because how can anyone not love lovin'?

Also to be honest, I signed up for Bloglovin' lo these many moons ago, but I never bothered to put a subscribe button on my page, I sorted some of the blogs I followed into nice neat categories, and I left a huge number still dogpiled together, get to those later.

Yep, I'm one of those procrastinators. *self-eye-roll*

My home screen, with the drop-down menu activated.

What I Like About Bloglovin':

  • Import of Google Reader blogs was seamless.
  • Easy and uncomplicated interface (see above).
  • You don't need to know the RSS code of a blog to add it. Just paste in the url and hit the Search icon. If you're already following that blog via Bloglovin', it'll let you know.
  • Bloglovin' generates traffic for the blog owner.
  • I can "like" a blog from the preview by clicking on their heart. You can also share to FaceBook and Twitter directly from the preview without reading the whole thing.
  • You can hide selected blog you're following from public view, so no one knows you are following both Vegetarian Daily and Meat Bingers Anonymous.
  • I really, really like their "Scroll to Top" button like on Pinterest.
  • I can mark off blogs as read (even if I haven't read them, or read them elsewhere than through Bloglovin').
  • Once you have an account, you just go to Bloglovin' and sign in - home 'puter, work 'puter, library 'puter, where ever you happen to be, you don't have to add or install anything.

Fetch Me My Blogs!

Bloglovin' offers the option of selecting no emails, or a daily email with clickable links for blog reading pleasure. Because I am lazy super-busy, I like the option of having my blog reading delivered right to my inbox, where I can scroll down and click on links. It shows Title, photo if there is one, a snippet of text, and the blog name. (That little number next to the blog name lets me add it to my Google calendar, though why I would do such a thing, I dunno.)
Of course I clicked through to read about the UK politician making alien babies.
What I Dislike About Bloglovin' (so far):
  • You can only put a blog in one group at a time. So I can't put Roni Loren, for example in the category I set for "Writer Help" and "Sexy Writers" or Fav's though she certainly belongs in all three.
  • Nor are there subgroups. You can't have "Writers I Like" and then subgroups for Romance, YA, and Sci-Fi, for example.

What if you're not "on" Bloglovin'? You should probably set up your account, check to see if your blog is listed, and "Claim" it. If you have Followers (like me) who are choosing to use Bloglovin', and there's a problem, that way the Bloglovin' techs can help you iron it out.  And for your own future reference, you just might want to know how many people are following you that way.

Feedly, You Scared Me

I'm not a techie type person. From many reports, Feedly is (currently) the bigger, better, more flexible program.

But I wanted to check it out, too, and, if possible, offer a easy-peasy Feedly subscribe button as available to my readers, too. (Which I managed, yeah, me!)

My first look at my Feedly via Chrome.

Here's a nice Feedly Tutorial from 9 Ways to Personalize Your Feedly

What I Like About Feedly:
  • Import of Google Reader blogs was seamless.
  • More users, so (theoretically, at least) more techs and troubleshooting. 
  • Easy "feedly mini" widget to add new blogs.
  • I can mark off blogs as read (even if I haven't read them, or read them elsewhere than through Feedly). 
  • I believe, though I could not confirm, that reads via feedly also count as pageviews for the blogger.
  • If you delete a blog you no longer wish to follow, it also gets deleted in the Google Reader side. 
  • If you change categories in a blog you follow, that change also gets made on the Google Reader side.
  • You can add tags in feedly, and also mark posts to read later. 
  • Lots of places to offer suggestions, wish lists, and feedback.
  • [Updated to add] You can select options to show Titles & Text only, no pictures, for those who don't like the space that showing pictures consumes.

What I Dislike about Feedly (so far):
  • Each device has to be set up independently, so if you use a desktop 'puter, a laptop, and a smartphone, that's three separate installations.
  • Just like Bloglovin, a blog can only "live" in one category at a time.
  • No home delivery (email) option.
  • Appearance felt "busier" and colder to me, despite more viewing options .
  • If, like me, you never had categories set up in Google Reader (see procrastination, above), sorting them into categories for the first time via Feedly is laborious and complicated.
  • Unreadable YELLOW font used for major links. I was able to change some of the default font link colors (though I had to KNOW and fill in the color numbers. There wasn't simply a dropdown box to choose blue, purple, etc. Who besides a techno-geek knows that they want a font to be #183c7f off the top of their head?), but I could not find where/how to change this.

I don't care how cute and daisy-fresh your site is, yellow links on a light background are always evil.

Where's My Flyswatter?

When I installed Feedly on 6-18-13, I clicked around and found these messages:

Here are a few known bugs. The iOS ones are going to take 7-10 days to fix because of the Apple approval. 
  • If you have a category which is using the “Magazine” view, it will load a black screen. Reported by Anthony Scundi. Fixed in 16.0.512
  • A couple of users have reported clicking on a category and not seeing articles displayed despite the unread count being > 0. If you have this problem, please email us using the bug report section, we are trying to understand this issue. Fixed in 16.0.512
  • Feedly integration with twitter is broken. This was due to the recent twitter API upgrade. Fixed on desktop 16.0.512 and Android 16.0.5. Still broken on iOS. Use buffer as a work around.
  • When you have more than 10 tags, the tags popup shows a scroll bar but scrolling makes the popup disappear. We are able to reproduce this problem and are working on a fix. Fixed in 16.0.513
  • Keep unread is broken on the desktop. We understand this problem. Working on a fix. Fixed in 16.0.513
  • <snip>
  • Feedly does not work on Safari 6.1 beta and Safari 7.0 beta. We are aware of this and are working on a fix. Coming soon.
There were tons more messages about bugs. While on the one hand, I was really glad they were so upfront about: "Here's the problem, here's how we fixed it," on the other hand my eyes glazed over and I kind of freaked out by how many bugs were being reported. Now, for all I know, Bloglovin' and the other feed readers have just as many bugs or more, they're just not as upfront in sharing about them.

But because it rides on each device, every time they fix some bug, means you're going to have to download & install that patch on your device. Maybe that doesn't bother you (Adobe, anyone?) because you can do it while in a meeting or in the shower, whatever, but some people loathe constant patch updating..

What I Don't Know

Lots! Primarily, how these readers work on mobile devices, because I am old school. I read blogs via a desktop PC, the way God and Mother Nature intended.

Some of these alternate feed readers listed by Sierra on her post work well with Macs; some work well with iPhones and iPads, or Androids, and some will not play with mobile devices at all. Others won't play with desktop 'puters (snobs!).

I found that I invested about twice as much time trying to learn Feedly, and came out frustrated and confused. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). I will probably be using Bloglovin' for my personal blog reading, but encourage you to use what works best for you.

If you are using something other than Google Reader now, please leave a comment.
What (hardware) device are you using, and how well is your blog reader playing with it?
What do you like, what do you hate?

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