Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Revisiting RSS reader choices

I’ve been using RSS Bandit as my RSS reader since February, and have been quite happy with it. However, I started getting read errors that I reported on the RSS Bandit forums, and after 6 messages back and forth, the errors remain unresolved. I’m quite a bit behind on my reading, so I like to keep a long history of RSS feeds, and unexplained interruptions are annoying. After a week of not getting resolution, I started shopping around for another Windows-based RSS reader again.

One feature that makes moving from one reader to another relatively simple is OPML. Export the list of subscriptions from one package, and import them into another. There’s a few complications that make moving from one package to another less than completely straightforward, that I’ll describe further below. Here’s a trace of my reasoning for selection, based on a process of elimination.

RSS Bandit v. GreatNews 1.0 Beta (Build 370) RSSOwl 1.2.1 Feedreader 3.05 Abilon 2.5.3 build 196p
OPML Export and import Export and import Export and import Export and import Export and import
Tolerates Blogspot Atom 0.3 errors with Microsoft tags No Yes No Yes Yes

OPML: In theory, the ability to import and export OPML means that it should be easy to move from one RSS reader to another, if something doesn’t work out. In practice, this turns out to not quite be true. I had 2 levels of folders in RSS Bandit, and trying to import that into other packages didn’t work that well. One level of folders seems to be okay, so thinking flat has merit.

Tolerates Blogspot Atom 0.3 errors with Microsoft tags: Now that Blogger does RSS 2.0, it’s a bit moot about whether an author chooses to use Microsoft Word as an editor or not, resulting in Atom 0.3 non-compliant feeds. However, this symptom speaks to a greater issue about whether a developer is responsive to practices-in-use, or prefers to stick with standards as written. In the world of browsers, web page writers are always checking that content works on IE, Firefox (and even Safari), so it’s annoying, but the alternative of telling web users what packages they should use is not very helpful. Thus, from my list, I eliminated RSS Bandit (which I actually liked a lot) and RSSOwl.

GreatNews 1.0 Beta (Build 370) Feedreader 3.05 Abilon 2.5.3 build 196p
Ongoing development and support Active Active Dead

Ongoing support and development: RSSOwl has a pretty active open source community, so it’s too bad that I eliminated it on the above grounds. RSS Bandit has had a history of active development, but the key resources seem to have been busy for quite a while, so updates have been recently been slow. Abilon was written up by PC World, and is downloadable from their site, but the original site of abilon.org is no more. The developers have moved on. If Abilon was really a killer package with features way beyond the others, then I might consider it. Abilon would do the job, but the lack of any future support worries me, so I eliminated it from the final choices. Although GreatNews and FeedReader don’t appear to have large developer communities, they are signs of continuing development..

GreatNews 1.0 Beta (Build 370) Feedreader 3.05
Notifications and alerts Refreshes can be set feed-by-feed Refreshes can be set feed-by-feed
Look-and-feel Buttons readily at hand Cleaner interface, options hidden

Notifications and alerts: It doesn’t take long to refresh even a long list of feeds, but sometimes I just don’t think about my RSS reader, so it’s good to prompt me on certain feeds that I consider more important. In RSS Bandit, it was possible to set the refresh rates at the folder level, and all of the contained feeds would inherit those periods. In both GreatNews and Feedreader, they’re set feed-by-feed, which is rather annoying, but not enough to stop me from using them.

Look-and-feel: This part is most subjective. I had gotten used to RSS Bandit’s layout flexibility — the ability to move the reading pane to the top, and button bars onto the right side. Feedreader hides most of its options behind the menus, whereas GreatNews surfaces the options, and there’s more options available. As one example, the size of the panes in Feedreader can be adjusted by dragging the borders. GreatNews has the additional feature that clicking on the centre border instantly maximizes the reading pane. GreatNews just feels like a package with an interface that a frequent user would build … not that Feedreader couldn’t get there some day.

For now, the winner … by a nose … is GreatNews. It’s possible that this could change over time, and using an OPML export and import makes moving from one to the other somewhat easier. Going through a long list and resetting refresh rates one by one is enough to deter me from making the switch back-and-forth with any frequency.

Now that I’ve used GreatNews for some time, there’s two features that I miss from RSS Bandit.

  • After reading a number of entries in RSS Bandit, I could select and then shift-select a number of headlines and simply delete them. GreatNews does allow deletion of each headline separately, but select and shift-select isn’t a key combination that seems to work. This does work in Feedreader. GreatNews has been reminding me of an option to do a cleanup — the default was initially set up to 31 days — but that’s not the way I use an RSS reader. I let things accumulate at different rates, and then would like to do mass deletions manually. I turn on and turn off certain folders of subscriptions to my local newspaper, depending on whether I’m travelling or at home (where I read the hard copy).
  • GreatNews reminds me of feeds that have not been updated for some time, and asks whether I want to retain that feed on the list or not. This choice then gets hidden, so I don’t remember which ones are active and which ones aren’t. In RSS Bandit, the logs of failed feeds was retained, so that it was easy to look to see if I should or shouldn’t be concerned.

These may or may not be features on someone else’s priority lists, but for now, I’m pretty happy.

Update on 2007/01/01: Readers will probably be interested to read an addendum on RSS Readers: both for full content and excerpts-only.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on Coevolving

    • What Systems Thinkers Can Learn From Historical Synthesis | Dr. Michael Bonner | Systems Thinking Ontario 2023-11-13
      For the November 2023 Systems Thinking Ontario session, historian and policy advisor Dr. Michael Bonner was invited for an interview by Zaid Khan.  In organizing the sessions, we’re trying to avoid the trap of systems thinking becoming a discipline, through learning with a sweeping-in process. The session opened on a map of The Sassanid Empire […]
    • The Sweep-In Process of Systems Science (Churchman)
      It the systems sciences are an open system, then learning more and more about systems of interest are foundational.  This was called a sweep-in process by C. West Churchman, in the heritage of Edgar A. Singer. Jr.  A concise definition is found in the entry on “Experimentalism” in the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics: […]
    • Explaining Systems Changes Learning | RSD12 | 2023-10-14
      For the Relating Systems and Design RSD12 symposium on October 14, 2023, members of the Explainers subgroup of the Systems Changes Learning Circle conducted an in-person workshop on “Explaining Systems Changes Learning: Metaphors and translations” at OCADU in Toronto. RSD12 included both in-person sessions and online sessions. In the planning phase for the symposium, our […]
    • Anticipatory Systems, Evolution, and Extinction Cascades | Judith Rosen | ST-ON 2023-10-16
      Judith Rosen agreed to give an online presentation for the Systems Thinking Ontario meeting in October 2023, after we converted her in-person meeting at OCADU in August into a discussion circle.  Channelling the anticipatory systems approach of her father, mathematical biologist Robert Rosen, Judith has been extended those ideas in her own continuing observation of […]
    • Appreciating systems changes via multiparadigm inquiry (SRBS)
      An article related to the ISSS plenary talk of July 2022 has now passed the peer review process, and is published in early view for Systems Research and Behavioral Science.  It should shortly be printed in the November issue of SRBS that serves as the General Systems Yearbook. Update on Nov. 22, 2023: A full-text, […]
    • Sustainable Technology and the Entropy Argument | Mohammed Badrah, Kelly Okamura, David Hawk | Systems Thinking Ontario 2023-09-11
      In a return to original Systems Thinking Ontario format, we reviewed an (old) systems thinking paper from 1998. Mohammed Badrah served as reviewer. Kelly Okamura was the discussant. The author, David Hawk, was available during the discussion period for extended knowledge. As compared to prior Systems Thinking Ontario sessions with the word “entropy” in the […]
  • RSS on Media Queue

    • 2021/06/17 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 2
      Following the first day lecture on Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1 for the Global University for Sustainability, Keekok Lee continued on a second day on some topics: * Anatomy as structure; physiology as function (and process); * Process ontology, and thing ontology; * Qi ju as qi-in-concentrating mode, and qi san as qi-in-dissipsating mode; and […]
    • 2021/06/16 Keekok Lee | Philosophy of Chinese Medicine 1
      The philosophy of science underlying Classical Chinese Medicine, in this lecture by Keekok Lee, provides insights into ways in which systems change may be approached, in a process ontology in contrast to the thing ontology underlying Western BioMedicine. Read more ›
    • 2021/02/02 To Understand This Era, You Need to Think in Systems | Zeynep Tufekci with Ezra Klein | New York Times
      In conversation, @zeynep with @ezraklein reveal authentic #SystemsThinking in (i) appreciating that “science” is constructed by human collectives, (ii) the west orients towards individual outcomes rather than population levels; and (iii) there’s an over-emphasis on problems of the moment, and…Read more ›
    • 2019/04/09 Art as a discipline of inquiry | Tim Ingold (web video)
      In the question-answer period after the lecture, #TimIngold proposes art as a discipline of inquiry, rather than ethnography. This refers to his thinking On Human Correspondence. — begin paste — [75m26s question] I am curious to know what art, or…Read more ›
    • 2019/10/16 | “Bubbles, Golden Ages, and Tech Revolutions” | Carlota Perez
      How might our society show value for the long term, over the short term? Could we think about taxation over time, asks @carlotaprzperez in an interview: 92% for 1 day; 80% within 1 month; 50%-60% tax for 1 year; zero tax for 10 years.Read more ›
    • 2020/07/13 “Making Growing Thinking” |Tim Ingold (web video)
      For the @ArchFoundation, #TimIngold distinguishes outcome-oriented making from process-oriented growing, revisiting #MartinHeidegger “Building Dwelling Thinking”. Organisms are made; artefacts grow. The distinction seems obvious, until you stop to ask what assumptions it contains, about the inside and outside of things…Read more ›
  • RSS on Ing Brief

    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2”, edited by F. E. Emery (1981)
      The selection of readings in the “Introduction” to Systems Thinking: Selected Readings, volume 2, Penguin (1981), edited by Fred E. Emery, reflects a turn from 1969 when a general systems theory was more fully entertained, towards an urgency towards changes in the world that were present in 1981. Systems thinking was again emphasized in contrast […]
    • Introduction, “Systems Thinking: Selected Readings”, edited by F. E. Emery (1969)
      In reviewing the original introduction for Systems Thinking: Selected Readings in the 1969 Penguin paperback, there’s a few threads that I only recognize, many years later. The tables of contents (disambiguating various editions) were previously listed as 1969, 1981 Emery, System Thinking: Selected Readings. — begin paste — Introduction In the selection of papers for this […]
    • Concerns with the way systems thinking is used in evaluation | Michael C. Jackson, OBE | 2023-02-27
      In a recording of the debate between Michael Quinn Patton and Michael C. Jackson on “Systems Concepts in Evaluation”, Patton referenced four concepts published in the “Principles for effective use of systems thinking in evaluation” (2018) by the Systems in Evaluation Topical Interest Group (SETIG) of the American Evaluation Society. The four concepts are: (i) […]
    • Quality Criteria for Action Research | Herr, Anderson (2015)
      How might the quality of an action research initiative be evaluated? — begin paste — We have linked our five validity criteria (outcome, process, democratic, catalytic, and dialogic) to the goals of action research. Most traditions of action research agree on the following goals: (a) the generation of new knowledge, (b) the achievement of action-oriented […]
    • Western Union and the canton of Ticino, Switzerland
      After 90 minutes on phone and online chat with WesternUnion, the existence of the canton of Ticino in Switzerland is denied, so I can’t send money from Canada. TicinoTurismo should be unhappy. The IT developers at Western Union should be dissatisfied that customer support agents aren’t sending them legitimate bug reports I initially tried the […]
    • Aesthetics | Encyclopaedia Britannica | 15 edition
      Stephen C. Pepper was a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, on the entry for Aesthetics.
  • Meta

  • Translate

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal