Wednesday, December 15, 2004

RSS Readers

I never quite understood all the hype around RSS readers, but I recently decided to check them out to see if I was missing something. I felt I had a pretty good news aggregator in Firefox. I simply have a bookmark folder containing my favorite haunts. When I want to see what's up, I right click, choose Open In Tabs and I'm done. Firefox takes care of the rest. But.. as I said.. maybe I'm missing something.

I quickly decided I wanted an RSS reader that integrated with my browser. The options for Firefox are a bit slim, but I ended up going with Sage. After you set up bookmarks for all of your feeds, Sage will run over all of them with a single click and highlight the feeds which have changed. All of the feeds are presented in a newspaper like view, with small blocks of text for each entry. Unlike other readers, Sage does not periodically poll feed sources, you must explicity tell it to refresh.

So is it any good? Yes and no. The main benefit I've found is the ability to quickly figure out which sources have new information. This allows me to sift through information much quicker than opening a massive number of browser tabs. The downside is that the presentation of the news is just plain boring. I like visual display of individual websites and letting my eyes be drawn to new stories. The digested, essentially colorless, feed display makes it harder to skim and find interesting stories. That said, I think I have found a new tool and have found myself using it regularly to quickly keep up to date.

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