Monday, December 04, 2006

Fun with Aggregators

For a long time, I used Bloglines to read blogs and news feeds, but I switched to NewsGator back in the spring. I liked the interface better - especially the fact that an article wasn't marked read as soon as I looked at the list. It was tough when I got behind on something and there were 40 or 50 articles to catch up on. I had to read them all at one sitting or risk losing them.

NewsGator never automatically marked anything read, which I liked. I would read the article and mark it manually. However, it wouldn't save articles until I got to them; it would only show the articles currently in the feed. For example, Techmeme only lists their last eight articles in their feed, but they may push out 20-30 a day. Whenever I checked that feed, it always contained 8 articles - the last eight posted. I missed untold numbers of postings. Their support team said that they were going to fix it, but nothing happened for months.

Yesterday, I switched to Google Reader. They made some improvements over the earlier version I tried a while ago, and so far I'm quite happy with it. It is the best of both worlds in that it remembers all of the articles until I get to them, plus it doesn't mark the whole list read (unless you want it to). Also, it will mark a single article as read when I click the heading to read it.

I'll see how it goes.


I forgot to mention that I had a real tough time getting the OPML file containing all of my feeds out of NewsGator. First, I had problems saving it. Then, when I tried to import into Google, I was told that there was a file error. Turns out NG had included a body tag pair in the file. I removed those and the import ran. However, for some reason it only loaded the first 45 feeds. I found that a character in the 46th feed entry had been changed to a box. Windows displays this character when the code points to an unprintable one. It could have been anything, even an ASCII 00. Anyway, I fixed it and tried again. It got farther down the list, but stopped again on another box character. I found eight more before all feeds were loaded. Google did a good job of reading the categories, so I didn't have to mark anything.

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