Tag Archives: News aggregators

Google Alerts Drops RSS Delivery Option

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land points out that Google Alerts Drops RSS Delivery Option, which is pretty upsetting. The message says that “Google Reader is no longer available,” and says users need to switch to email alerts.

Screen Shot 2013 07 03 at 4 11 08 PM

Seems that Google is either just dumping RSS wholesale or that the feed engine that ran the RSS alerts was part of the Reader infrastructure. (You can still subscribe to Google News alerts by RSS, and news search terms, it seems, so I have no idea what the link is.) 

As commenters point out, this is going to break a lot more than simply Google Alerts. A lot of websites embedded feeds into their sites using Google RSS alerts:

Screen Shot 2013 07 03 at 4 08 11 PM

It’s an odd state of affairs for Google, which either didn’t anticipate the backlash or is so intent on chasing Facebook that it doesn’t care.  

Another option suggested by commenters: Talkwalker Alerts – The best free alternative to Google Alerts. It even looks like Google Alerts: 

Screen Shot 2013 07 03 at 4 10 30 PM

Haven’t tried it but seems to offer the goods. 

The Myth of Customization?

I noticed that the BBC website, one of the most trafficked news websites on the planet, is abandoning customization due to an apparent lack of interest. Instead of being able to choose between a UK version and an international version, all visitors will get the same homepage.

Steve Herrmann explains it thus:

So why bother with the change? Because the option allowing you to choose “site versions” (which relatively few of you actually chose to use) has started to lead to some potentially frustrating experiences for you, as well as some significant technical complications for us.

He says that one of the reasons for this is because of conflicting rights and legal issues to do with audio and video, which “has led to a growing number of potentially confusing results.”

But another reason is that it makes it easier to feed ads to overseas users:

The change also means that the advertising which you can see on our pages if you are outside the UK can be integrated around our pages without the need to change page formats for the UK version of the site.

Makes good economic sense. But to me the most telling thing about this is that users just weren’t using the customization enough. And not just the choosing the UK or international version, but the whole module thing that the BBC set up some time ago, allowing users to create a sort of iGoogle, or NetVibes homepage. Herrmann says that international users won’t be able to do this anymore but adds

[i]t was used by a relatively small number of you, but if you were one of them – I’m sorry, and please bear with us while we work on developing the site. We’ll be looking at how to make the site customisable in other ways as part of that work.

This is all quite revealing. I’d suggest a couple of quite possible conclusions:

  • Perhaps BBC website users don’t care so much about customization because they care more about what the BBC editors choose to be the news. In other words, part of the value in the content is the choice of that content, its placement, what is left in and taken out etc.
  • Users just don’t have time to customize stuff. My long-running point is that the scarcity in news is now attention. If you insist on users taking up some of that attention time with customization—whether or not it may save them time in the long run—it does not seem to be an investment users are willing to make. (Unless, perhaps, they pay for it?)
  • Customization is hard. It’s not easy to make it palatable and appealing to users.

BBC – The Editors: Changes to international pages

Foleo, Surface, Stumbling etc

There’s lots of news out there which I won’t bother you with because you’ll be reading it elsewhere. But here are some links in case:

  • Palm has a new mini laptop called the Foleo. I like the idea, but I fear it will go the way of the LifeDrive, which I also kinda liked.
  • Microsoft has launched a desktop (literally) device called the Surface. Which looks fun, and embraces the idea of moving beyond the keyboard not a moment too soon, but don’t expect to see it anywhere in your living room any time soon.
  • eBay buys StumbleUpon, a group bookmarking tool I’ve written a column about somewhere. I don’t use StumbleUpon that much but I love the idea of a community-powered browsing guide. Let’s hope eBay doesn’t mess it up like they seem to be doing with Skype.
  • Microsoft releases a new version of LiveWriter, their blogging tool. Scoble says Google is planning something similar. True?

Oh, and Google Reader now works offline. Here are my ten minut.es with it, and a how to guide at ten ste.ps. This is big news, because it’s the first step Google have made in making their tools available offline. I’ve found myself using their stuff more and more, so the idea of being able to use the Reader, Calendar, Docs and Gmail offline seems an exciting one. (We’re not there yet, but Google Reader is a start.)

This brings me to again plead with anyone offering an RSS feed of their stuff, to put the whole post in the feed. Offline browsing is not going to work if you can only read an extract.

Loose Bits, Nov 7 2006

  • Bleeding Edge, always worth a look, points to a new Firefox extension for saving material off the web: Zotero. It not only does a great job of storing globs of web pages or the whole thing but it has an academic bent too, allowing you to store bibiographic information too. That said, it’s not musty: It lets you assign tags to stuff you’ve saved, lets you relate one item to another, and makes exporting everything you’ve saved pretty easy too. Reminds me a little of the excellent ScrapBook, another clip-saving tool. Full, updated Loose Wire list of them here.
  • Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine pours a little cold water over Boratmania. Part of me agrees with him; I’ve only been able to take Ali G and Borat in small doses (though we do have all the DVDs.) The best bit is actually watching my wife laugh at his antics. Trust me: Cohen crosses most cultural boundaries.
  • Playing around with a newsreader called Omea, which I like. I have stuck with FeedDemon, but its lack of support for Firefox and memory appetite, has pushed me to find alternatives. What’s your favorite aggregator?

Bloglines Goes International

The folks at Bloglines, a very popular web-based RSS reader and publisher, will today launch an international version with support for six languages, which they hope “may mark a shift in the expansion of blog/RSS reach and usage, heading down the global internet service road paved by eBay and Amazon, etc.”

The new internationalized web site, due to go live later today, offers the service in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Bloglines reckons it “is the first RSS service to embrace consumers in multiple languages”. The internationalization includes the home page, navigation screens, and all the help menus and user tips.

Is Sauce Reader The One?

Further to my posting about searching for the perfect newsreader for RSS feeds, a lot of folk have pointed to the web-based Bloglines. It’s not bad, not bad at all, but I am not on a particularly reliable Internet connection so it is a tad too slow for me.

Nathan of Australian software company Synop, meanwhile, has quietly mentioned their own Sauce Reader, which I have to say on initial impressions looks like an excellent candidate. Indeed, this posting is being composed with it, so why not check it out yourself: Sauce Reader v1.6 is now available for download.

More as I get to play around with it some more, and chat to the creators.

RocketInfo, A Revamped Business Search With RSS Built In

RocketInfo has released a new version of RocketNews, its three-year old news and business information search engine. The Ottawa company also has a pretty cool RSS reader which I’ve mentioned before somewhere.

Here are some of the changes:

  • limit the scope of searches to news from today, yesterday or up to 5 days ago;
  • limit searches to sources from a specific geographic region, such as North America, Asia or Europe;
  • specify the content type of publication, such as a business, entertainment, finance, general, health science, sports or technology;
  • RSS feeds of searches for use by anyone for non-commercial or individual news tracking.

Definitely worth checking out.

Another, Fast And Light, RSS Reader

Here’s another free RSS reader.

Rocket Technologies Inc., ‘a leading international provider of current news search and content delivery solutions’ today launched its web-based Rocketinfo RSS Reader. The web-based bit means that folk on company networks who aren’t allowed to download software could use it.

Actually I’m impressed. The reader runs on most browsers and platforms and is amazingly light on its feet. And fast. You can do keyword searches and save them as RSS channels or feeds. You can easily find RSS sources or add a news source or weblog that is available in any version of RSS or Atom. An impressive array of news sources and blogs (sadly not this one) are already listed, but not yet subscribed to. And it’s free, at least for now.

The downsides: Not much configuration possible, and you can’t import OPML files (i.e. collections of your feeds). And you have to register an email address with RocketInfo first. I’m not sure whether RocketInfo is collecting information about your browsing.

More Readers Than You Can Poke A Blog At

I was looking for a new RSS Reader today — RSS is a format that allows, usually, bloggers to have their blogs fed directly to interested subscribers in a format that’s simple and accessible. Rather than visit the blog the reader just opens their email, or, more commonly, a special program called a Reader, and reads the updates from there.

Anyway, there are a lot of readers out there. A lot. Even since the last time I looked a few months back. I won’t recommend one, but you should check out FeedDemon, NewzCrawler. But there are dozens more: Abilon looks cute, as does RSSNewsTicker, which is less of a reader and more of a ticker scrolling across your screen.

The creativity in the blogging and RSS field at the moment is extraordinary. Very impressive.

Software: Another way to view those feeds

 
  For those of you getting into the excellent RSS feed concept, here’s another way to read the feeds. I haven’t tried it yet, and it carries a Beta health warning, but looks interesting.
 
FeedDemon, just into its second beta version, is written by Nick Bradbury. It runs on Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP.