Tag Archives: Google Reader

Google Plus Ungood Securewise

Alternate Headline: Users unbellyfeel Google prolefeed, becomes unservice.

It is probably just me that saw the Newspeak potential in the demise of Google Plus.

That attempt at humor aside, the word has gone out from the Googleplex in Mountain View that Google Plus will be no more.  Or that the consumer version of the product will be no more following a 10 month wind down, meaning that it will be gone at some point in August of 2019.  Google says that the enterprise version of Google Plus will continue.  Color me surprised that there was such a thing or that any enterprise outside of Google actually uses it, but they say “many” do.  I guess it is likely better than whatever Microsoft is pushing lately.  It is certainly better than anything Cisco has on offer.

The reason given for the closure in the news headlines involves a security flaw that could have potentially exposed the data for over half a million accounts.  The data exposed was limited to optional items entered in your Google profile (which is semi-public to start with unless you lock it down) and Google says it has no evidence that the flaw had been exploited.  But data breaches make for more views, so you may find your local news source pitching this as a stolen data panic.

The real reason for the closure is a little less dramatic.

Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

Basically, so few people use Google Plus that it isn’t worth the effort needed to keep it secure.  They didn’t just say “low” usage but “very low” usage.  You’ll probably get no greater admission of failure than that.  If it has been popular they would have kept it open.  But now they have an excuse to shut it down.

Of course, part of me cheered at the news.  I am old, have a long memory, and have been prone at times to carry resentments long past their expiration dates, so I continue to see Google Plus as the reason that Google killed off the much loved and still missed (by me at least) Google Reader.  It has been more than five years since that happened and I am still annoyed by it and I still haven’t found a replacement that did all Google Reader did at its peak.  Some twisted logic in the back of my brain sees this as justice for the late idolized RSS reader.

But a bit of me is bemused by the change.  As it turns out, I actually check Google Plus pretty much daily.  There are a few people I follow there, including Richard Bartle, that make it worth the effort. The updates aren’t rapid, so it is something I check once or twice a day at most, but I do check it.

I also syndicate my blog feed there as well and get the occasional response, so there is life out there still.  But the activity isn’t anywhere close to what it was during the early days of the service, which in itself wasn’t that much compared to the competition, which is and always was Facebook.  Nobody is saying Google Plus influenced the last election or anything else.

So I suppose I will miss it.  And I know that it going away won’t magically bring back Google Reader, so my missing it will be genuine.  You can’t blame a company for shutting down a service that few use and which brings in no revenue.  The same goes for Google Reader as well.  And iGoogle.  And Google Insights.  And Orkut.  Man, what is it with me and dead Google products?

And so it goes.  We’ll see how it winds down between now and August.

Blaugust and Consolidating Your Blog Reading

Sure, one of the main aspects of Blaugust is getting people to start up or keep going with their blogs, writing, if not every day, at least more than usual.

Blaugust Reborn

But the reverse of that coin is reading blogs.  If we’re all busy writing more than usual we should all make some time to go read some of this extra output.

However, we as a group, and blogs in general, are a scattered bunch, with addresses all over the internet.  And, while you could easily favorite/bookmark all your regular sites in your browser, that still means you have to go and check up on each and every one regularly to see what is up.  If you check daily, then the less regular sites will start to seem a wasted effort, while if you check less frequently then those daily posting sites will be a chore to keep up with.

What you need is something you can check that will show you the new stuff.  Well, the internet has you covered, though not as well covered as it once did.  Here are some options for reading blog posts.

RSS Feed Readers

This is likely the default approach for most people, and there has traditionally been a lot of options in this area, both online and offline.  Back in the day I used to use an offline reader for both RSS and UseNet because always-on internet wasn’t a thing, and even when it was I felt the need to archive some sites.

Google Reader changed that.  It was light, readable, and had a lot of additional, useful functionality and dominated the RSS reader market for a stretch.  At one point damn near everything, from Outlook to Firefox, had RSS reader functionality, but why complete with free from Google.  Then Google killed Google Reader, hoping that we would all swap over to GooglePlus.  I’m still annoyed about that five years later.

So some of us were left looking for alternatives, none of which quite lived up to Google Reader of old.  Meanwhile, the continued growth of social media caused some of the options to, if not give up on RSS, reduce the importance of RSS compared to other areas.  NetVibes went that way as an example.  Other sites, like Digg, that would have been well positioned to pick up the slack, had long since wandered away from RSS.  Digg actually killed off their reader.  Still, there are some decent choices out there:

The Old Reader – An attempt to recreate the Google Reader experience, a light and useful online reader, and a good one at that.  It is still doesn’t have features that Google Reader had back in 2008, but it has gone in other directions to connect with social media.  A solid choice, and it is free last I checked.

Feedly – Where I ended up after Google Reader.  Solid, has a UI that works for me, and free for basic functionality.  I pay for premium which, among other things, lets me hook it up to IFTTT in order to run the blog feed in my side bar.  Still lacks features that Google Reader had in 2008 and is building out new features in directions that do not interest me personally.  Also is starting to get a bit too smart for itself.  If, for example, a site you follows changes its RSS feed URL, Feedly won’t let you just add it without jumping through some hoops.  It keeps trying to force you back to the original address.

NewBlur – Another site that benefited from the demise of Google Reader, so much so that the new traffic brought it down.  Another solid choice.  I am not in love with the UI, but I am picky about things like that.  Worth looking into.

There are others out there, but none that I have any experience with, though I would be interested to know about others.  Do you use Comma Feed, RSS Owl, or some other reader?  Consider that a Blaugust writing prompt if you want.

WordPress.com Reader

I wanted to break out the WP.com reader for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it isn’t strictly an RSS reader.  Also, I have been critical and dismissive of it over the years, but it has finally grown into usefulness.  Among its benefits:

  • Easy to follow other WP.com blogs with that follow button
  • Can still follow non-WP.com blogs
  • Can use categories and tags to find blogs

That last item is the biggest feature to my mind.  WP.com has long had a strong yet almost unknown tag and category feature.  You can, for example, create an RSS feed from a WP.com tag or category and see all the posts that use it.  For example, this one does it for the tag “eve online”:

http://en.wordpress.com/tag/eve-online/feed/

This is why I get annoyed when people are lazy about tagging, especially when they uses “wow” instead of “world of warcraft” or “eve” instead of “eve online” for their posts.  The latter choices are specific, the former generic and used for many other things.

Anyway, you can search by tag or category to find new blogs.  I have found a few new MMORPG blogs that way.  I have a regular set of tags I look at for just that sort of thing.

The downside of the reader is that the interface isn’t ideal for me as I tend to prefer a compact view with more titles on the screen, and there is no reading the whole post.  Still, if you have a blog on WP.com, you should check this out, if only to find new blogs.

Bhagpuss’ Side Bar

Once again I pitch how great the Blogger blog roll widget can be, at least if you configure it correctly. (I have seen it configured badly.)  Go look at Inventory Full and check out how it is done.

There are long dormant blogs on the Blogger platform that still send me a regular trickle of traffic because of that blog roll widget.

If you want a reader of your own it is a legit option to create a blog on Blogger and use the blogroll widget to display the latest posts.  You don’t even have to put it on the side bar.  You can configure the feed to use the main space of the layout.

Use This List

Anyway, now that you are thinking about readers you can use the list below, which features all of the participating blogs this Blaugust, as a place to start populating your reader.  If you just want the RSS feed links you can find a list over at Armagon Live.  It should be at least as up to date as my own list.

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. A Hobbits Journey
  3. Aeternus Gaming
  4. Ald Shot First
  5. Arc’s Oddities
  6. Armagon Live
  7. Ash’s Adventures
  8. Athernes Adventures
  9. Aywren Sojourner
  10. barely readable diary
  11. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  12. Bio Break
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Brain Dump
  15. Built on a Daydream
  16. Calamity Jess
  17. Can I Play Too
  18. Casual Aggro
  19. Cinemaxia
  20. Contains Moderate Peril
  21. Daily Creative Thinking
  22. Deez Wurds
  23. Diary of a Guild Leader
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Fresh Eyes in Gaming
  26. Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism
  27. Galumphing
  28. Gamer Girl Confessions
  29. Gaming Conversations
  30. GamingSF
  31. Geeky Dad Fitness
  32. Glyffe
  33. Going Commando
  34. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  35. Heattanu’s Game
  36. I’m Not Squishy
  37. Inventory Full
  38. JVT Workshop
  39. Knifesedge Blogs
  40. leaflocker
  41. Learn Japanese Online
  42. Leeterati
  43. Magen Tales
  44. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  45. Me vs. Myself and I
  46. MMO Syndicate
  47. Mmosey
  48. Moonshine Mansion
  49. Municipal City
  50. Murf Versus
  51. Nerdy Bookahs
  52. Neverwinter Thoughts
  53. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  54. Ocarina Farms
  55. Party Business
  56. Pizza Maid
  57. Plan B Better
  58. Princess in a Castle
  59. Professorbeej is Awesome
  60. Psychochild’s Blog
  61. RandomX
  62. RunningShoes.tv
  63. Ryuh Note
  64. Scarybooster
  65. Self-Distract Sequence
  66. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  67. Shards of Imagination
  68. Simply Janine
  69. Soul of the Forest
  70. Stabbed Up
  71. StarShadow
  72. Stropp’s World
  73. Symphony On A Chip
  74. Tales from the Backlog
  75. Tales of the Aggronaut
  76. TechJoy2Day
  77. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  78. The MMOist
  79. The Parent Trope
  80. The Path They Walk
  81. Thinking Play
  82. ThisThingIsNeat
  83. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  84. TroytlePower
  85. Unidentified Signal Source
  86. Welshtroll
  87. What’s Occuring
  88. Why I Game
  89. WoW Alt Addiction

 

MMO Blogesphere Feed – Version 3

This was going to be something for the top section of the month in review, but it ended up being a bit longer than I would like, so I’ll just complain about WordPress.com or something on the 30th.

So over there in the side bar on the right hand side of the blog, there is my latest attempt to create a unified feed for a small corner of the MMO blogesphere.  This is, of course, driven entirely from jealousy at the wonderful blog roll widget that people using Google’s Blogger platform have access to.  WordPress.com will never give us anything like this because, as I have been told by a designated representative of the organization, blog rolls are a thing of the past.

Such is life.

Now, there are any number of ways with a sufficient application of effort, technology, and/or money, I could enable a comparable feature on my own side bar.

Hell, I could just move to the Blogger platform.  Simple and done.  I just happen to like just about everything else about WordPress.com better than Blogger, up to and including the whole not being an insignificant part of Google and thus always in danger of being discarded for some new vision of the future or if Sergey is having a bad day.  WordPress.com and I disagree on any number of things, but being a blogging platform is their thing.  Plus my blog is too big to export at this point, so I am stuck with them unless I want to start again fresh.

Anyway, while I could throw money and ~effort~ at the problem, I am both cheap and lazy.  So I have sought out solutions that were both low effort and low cost through various iterations of the project.  The story so far…

Version 0

My original plan was just to stick the VirginWorlds feed in the side bar.  That was a fine solution back in the day.  Viva Brent!

But since about 2009 or so, when Brent wandered off with other priorities in his life, it has been less and less of an ideal.  The site is still up and running, and its accompanying feed is still in my side bar.  However, the site no longer gets updated with new blogs any more, so the feed itself tends to be dominated by Massively.  Not that I dislike Massively in general, but I want to promote my fellow bloggers and not a commercial site.  So I started looking for a way to add a new, more blogger focused feed.

Version 1

Back before the advent of Google+, Google Reader was a wonderful thing.  It was fast and simple, tied in with your Google account, and generally the standard across the board for online RSS readers.  The only reason not to use it was fear of the monster Google might become.

And among its many features was the ability to flag items from your reading list to be posted to an RSS feed.  And so I used the WordPress RSS feed widget to put that feed in my side bar, flagging new stories for inclusion every day.  This was probably a bit more “hands on” than I wanted… somewhat akin to the early days of VirginWorlds, when each link on the site represented a manual submission… but it worked.

The came Google+.

google-plus-logo-640

Google proceeded to wreck Google Reader in both form and function in a transparent effort to get people to stop using it in favor of Google+.  Amongst the feature casualties was the RSS output.  So while Google was busy kicking me off of Google+ for using a pseudonym (then quietly asking me to return) and generally annoying people by forcing integration with other services (Remember when your YouTube account HAD to be linked to Google+ for about a week? People were pissed.) they managed to alienate just enough Google Reader users to be able to claim the service was in decline and to shut it down.

Google Reader had fallen so low that when they finally turned it off, the resulting diaspora of users literally swamped all of the competing services to the point of making them unusable due to excess load.  I had to swap to Feedly at a too late date when The Old Reader staff threw their hands in the air at the onslaught and walked away. (They later returned, realizing that they could, you know, make money at this, but I had already moved to Feedly.)

Which is to say, it was still pretty damn popular.  Just not popular enough.  That was also the fate of Google+ which, when it did not eclipse Facebook (and dear Lord, Facebook only looks good when compared to Google+, which is simply awful when it comes to usability) was “De-emphasized” in favor of other initiatives.  Like finally closing down Orkut and figuring out exactly where the line is between “evil” and “not evil.”

Version 2

So, even before the end of Google Reader I was out looking for an alternative.  I tinkered with a few things, including Yahoo Pipes.  Pipes actually looked promising, but I could never get it to create output that would work correctly with the WordPress RSS widget.

Eventually I found a site called RSS Mix.

They don't really have a logo...

They don’t really have a logo…

The service was free… so it met that requirement… and was relatively low maintenance.  Basically, you gave it a list of RSS feed URLs and it would mash all those together and give you an output URL for the combined RSS feed.  And it mostly worked.

It was a bit of a pain to maintain.  Every time I wanted to update the list of blog feeds to draw from I had to submit the whole list again for a new RSS feed, which meant keeping revisions on hand locally.

It also wasn’t terribly reliable.  About half the time I would hit the blog, the feed to fail to load.  That was irksome, but when it did load it did the job.  The service just wasn’t meant to be polled every time somebody showed up at the site, and the WordPress.com widget doesn’t keep a cached version or anything.  So a lot of the time people just saw this:

FeedDown

Then a few people began to note that something about the whole thing was causing ping-backs on Blogger based blogs, including one serious “stop doing that!” complaint, at which point I pulled the widget and started looking for a new solution.

Version 3

I played around with some different options.  Mail Chimp offers a free RSS consolidation feature.  However, it appears to be completely static.  It takes the URLs you hand it, makes a feed, and then never updates it.  Not terribly useful, but it was free so what do you expect.

Feedly sent out an update about a site called Zapier.  If you were a Feedly Pro subscribe, and I am, you could take advantage of the data integration tools that Zapier offered.  This included some RSS feed tools.  I got that to work, but to have more than a couple blogs in the feed I would have to subscribe to Zapier as well, which wanted monthly fee in the subscription MMO range.  That failed the cheapskate test.

Eventually I stumbled onto a site called IFTTT, which is short for “If This Then That.”  This was mentioned at one point as a service that could access Feedly Pro features.  It could take output from Feedly and turn it into something else, I just wasn’t sure what.

I signed up for an account, which was free and thus right in my price range, and started tinkering with it.  I couldn’t get it to output directly to anything in WordPress that seemed useful, at least not for a side bar widget, but I found that,  among the things it could output to, was a site called Pinboard.

Pinboard is described as a “social bookmarking” site, akin to what Delicious was at one time.  I had never used Delicious, but reading through the descriptions at Pinboard, it could take bookmark input and would turn it into an RSS feed output.  That sounded like the ticket.  However, in order to keep spam and such down, Pinboard charges an up front, one time fee to join the service.  It is based on how many people use the service already, basically you have to pay a penny for everybody who got there ahead of you.  My total to join was $10.46, which was well within the cheapskate budget if it worked out. (I suspect that they would change that pricing policy if a lot of people started showing up.  I think a $10 barrier to entry is fine, but if it had been $35 or $50, I might have walked on by.)

Between the three services, I was able to create a rule that takes updates from my MMO Blogs category in Feedly (making me glad I set up categories when I started using the service) and posts them to my Pinboard account.

FeedlyPinboard

And it basically worked.  Items showed up in Pinboard and they were tagged correctly so I could pull them from an RSS feed associated with that tag.  All I had to do was get the data being passed to work with the WordPress RSS widget.  That turned out to be the tricky bit.  It took a bit of trial and error to see what worked and what did not, something that went a bit slowly because I had to wait until somebody posted something new before the feed would update and pass along my changes.  Ideally I wanted something similar to what the Blogger side bar widget offered, with Blog Name, Post Name, and how long ago it was published.  Eventually, paring down the data being passed to the bare minimum, I got the WordPress widget to display what I wanted.

The IFTTT Recipe

The IFTTT Recipe

And I ended up with something that is mostly what I want.

It doesn’t put a nice little icon next to each blog title, the format or title and blog name differs depending on which service is being used, and the the published time is displayed as an absolute in Pacific Time rather than a friendly “2 hours ago” sort of way.  But it mostly works and, now that the one time expense is out of the way, it is both cheap and easy to maintain.

Furthermore, it is flexible.  I can sort our who goes into the feed easily, by just moving things around in Feedly categories.  I moved some of the blogs that are in the VirginWorlds feed to a special “no feed” category, since I still have that feed in my side bar as well.  Trying to limit double exposure there, which mostly affects Syp and Tobold at this point.  I can create additional RSS feeds from my Feedly account.  I am looking into making one for EVE Online blogs for my other site and another for official game company feeds to put somewhere on the sidebar here. (There is currently an experimental version down at the very bottom of the side bar, if you scroll way down.)

So, mission accomplished!

Yeah, But Why Bother?

So all of that work… and all of those words… later, you might well ask why I deemed this important enough to pursue at all.

Yes, there was a certain amount of envy that Blogger based blogs had a feature that WordPress.com hosted bloggers lacked.  But that envy was based on the empirical observations that such a dynamic side bar widget actually attracts clicks.  Both the stats related to who sends traffic here and where people here click out to, a dynamic side bar widget attracts attention.  People will click on something that is both identified and visibly new or updated.

I can see from my own outbound traffic that almost nobody clicks on the static blogroll on a daily basis.  But with the new feed up in the side bar, I can see multiple clicks going to specific posts that have popped up and been displayed.

I did it because it is an effective way to send people to other blogs in our little community.

Google Reader is No More – Where Have You Gone?

Thank you for stopping by.

Google Reader has been discontinued. We want to thank all our loyal fans. We understand you may not agree with this decision, but we hope you’ll come to love these alternatives as much as you loved Reader.

Sincerely,

The Google Reader team

Frequently-asked questions

What will happen to my Google Reader data?

All Google Reader subscription data (eg. lists of people that you follow, items you have starred, notes you have created, etc.) will be systematically deleted from Google servers. You can download a copy of your Google Reader data via Google Takeout until 12PM PST July 15, 2013.

Will there be any way to retrieve my subscription data from Google in the future?

No — all subscription data will be permanently, and irrevocably deleted. Google will not be able to recover any Google Reader subscription data for any user after July 15, 2013.

Why was Google Reader discontinued?

Please refer to our blog post for more information.

Google Reader is now officially gone.  The above is all that is left at the URL.  No reprieve was forthcoming, though you still can download your feed list until July 15.

I swapped over to The Old Reader last week.  Among other things, it has the ability to create an RSS feed of stories I flag, which I put in the side bar here.  And you can access the service through a nice iOS reader called Feeddler.  However, with Google Reader finally gone, a lot of people are now rushing out to find an alternative, so performance is really, really slow today, when it works at all.  I am essentially feedless now.

And I am not sure they will stick around.  They are asking for funding, but then require you to join another service to donate… or you can use Bitcoin… which simply isn’t going to happen in my case.  I already have my financial information out in too many locations as it is.

But now that Google Reader is gone, I can have my final poll and ask where people ended up.  The last one showed that most people hadn’t changed over yet.  They are probably doing that today.

So what RSS reader have you moved to?

If you are still looking for an alternative there are a few articles out there comparing them.

June in Review

The Site

I was going to grouse about WordPress.com changing up the blog admin UI yet again, especially since it appeared to be change merely for the sake of change, but what is the point?  Having pretty much perfected Word in version 5.1a hasn’t stopped Microsoft from revamping its UI over and over in the intervening 20 years.

I will just illustrate what a crank I can be.

WordPressQuestion

Instead I am going to grouse about something that may actually impact the site, the demise of Google Reader.  My secret hopes for a reprieve or an integration into Google + appear to have been folly.

ReadJuly1

And when iGoogle goes away in a couple of months, Google will just be a search engine again as far as I am concerned.

Google Reader has been, for years at this point, the most common RSS reader listed in my blog stats by a wide margin.  It is simple, they have only pissed off people with UI changes on rare occasions, and most people likely to be reading blogs seriously probably already had a Google account, so there was little friction getting into it.

With its pending demise, there has been a lot of talk about what services to look into.    But only six weeks ago half of the people who responded to my poll on the topic said they were still using Google Reader.  Since then, NetVibes has started climbing in my stats, as has The Old Reader.  But Google Reader still tops the chart.

After tomorrow though, Google Reader will be no more.  And I wonder if the absence of an easy to access, basic RSS app like Google Reader will end blog reading for some portion of the community.

Expect yet another poll on the subject this week.

One Year Ago

I was asking people about voice software again.  That poll is still open.

I went on about the ridiculous nature of material tiers for MMO crafting.

My daughter finally found a game she liked on the PS3.

The first Civilization V expansion came out offering, among other things, a performance boost to those who paid.  Meanwhile, the story about the decade long game of Civ II came to light.

Everything we knew about EverQuest Next was declared obsolete.  It wasn’t all that much really.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Gates of Discord expansion was finally unlocked, but not before there was a tie vote.

Turbine announced the Riders of Rohan expansion, the first LOTRO expansion I declined to buy.  For somebody still in Moria, it seemed to offer few benefits for its increased price relative to past expansions.

In Rift I hit level 50, which is a special thing in game, and started tinkering with the then new instant adventure option.  Trion also announced the Storm Legion expansion, a sign of success for most subscription based MMOs.

In EVE Online I hit 80 million skill points and was playing Lemmings in DBRB’s fleet.

And, finally there was Electronic Arts which, as part of its ongoing mission to be seen as the most arrogant company in gaming, tried to tell people that Origin was the Nordstrom to Steam’s Target level business model, unintentionally insulting Nordstrom, which actually cares about customer service before the fact, not just after it has screwed the pooch yet again.  EA says they “get it” but I have my doubts.

Five Years Ago

The big news was Blizzard announcing Diablo III.  Of course, they didn’t announce a ship date.  Still, we were all primed for the announcement, there having been a surge in Diablo II nostalgia at the time.

The Empyrean Age was upon us in EVE Online, if you could stay logged in.  CCP went looking for a fix and found one eventually.  When I could get a break on connectivity I went out to try a factional warfare mission.  It did not go well.  After that I moved back to Amarr space again and started in on level 4 missions.  And while that was going on, the skill point meter rolled over to 20 million.

Meanwhile, around the house, Summer began and it found us playing with LEGO and Pokemons.

Norrath was calling as SOE launched their huge Living Legacy marketing campaign.  I picked up some nifty stuff in EverQuest, but never really got rolling with EverQuest II during the promotion.  Of course, not everybody was happy about the campaign.  The phrase “a slap in the face” was used by some. I never got around to a post about that involving the prodigal son (I still have the notes) though I did wonder what sparked this campaign.

And in Azeroth the instance group struggled through the Mana Tombs and started in on the Auchenai Crypts.  We were struggling, this being long before the great re-spec of 2009.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in June

For some reason my “Feedback Issue” post, which was almost unanimously shot down by comments here declaring that it is a practical impossibility to hide numbers from users so we shouldn’t ever try, was posted to Reddit.  That in turn got a lot of people to come view it, though no visitor from Reddit left a comment about it either here or back on Reddit.  Another internet mystery.

  1. The Feedback Issue – Which Weapon Should I Use?
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. PlayStation 4 Wins
  4. To War! We are Invading Fountain!
  5. What is it with Me and Storm Legion?
  6. Quote of the Day – The Strategy for the Conquest of Fountain
  7. EVE Online – The Odyssey Begins
  8. Walltreipers Alliance Defeated – Conquest of Delve Complete
  9. Meeting Up in Rift After the Big Change
  10. Thinking On Tank Crew Skills
  11. Neverwinter at First Blush
  12. Quote of the Day – It’s All About the Equity

Search Terms of the Month

humor planetside 2
[Then move away slowly, maintaining eye contact]

ccp eve online patch day humor
[A long and storied history there]

ccp bankrupt
[Still no]

mmos that have music
[Regrettably, all of them insist on it despite most coming up with forgettable pap]

team edward to norrath game
[I knew that vampire race would be an issue]

EVE Online

The war in Fountain dominates my time there.  Fleet ops are frequent enough that I can generally find one to join in on to help do my part in the war.  And even the ones you expect to be dull, like following Suas around to blow up SBUs, can turn out exciting when Retirement Club decides to send out a Munnin fleet to stop you.  Not that any fleet with Suas leading is ever dull.

How the war is going… well… that is a different tale altogether.  Both sides claim to be winning.  Neither side can actually produce irrefutable evidence that this is the case.  So it seems like the fail cascade has yet to come.

Lord of the Rings Online

Back in Middle-earth, my main character… and I am trying hard to focus on just the one character… has passed through all of the well worn content I am so familiar and comfortable with and is in that 40-50 gap before Moria.  It looks like I might get a second character into the nearly five year old expansion.  But can I get him out the other side and into Mirkwood?

Rift

Trion has gone all-in on the free to play front, making the cash shop the interface for all your currency transaction in-game.  Unlike LOTRO of EQ2, where you can avoid opening up the cash shop, in Rift any vendor transaction requires you to go into the the den of RMT.  Will this constant exposure to RMT currency goodies lead to greater success?  I suppose we shall see.  Right now we are in the happy time.  Check back in a year.

Coming Up

The war in Fountain goes on, so I suspect that will continue to dominate my time in New Eden.  Moria looms in LOTRO.  There is a possibility that the Saturday night group might all be on at the same time at some point, though given that we have only managed that feat once so far in 2013, I wouldn’t put money on that.

Summer means that there will be a Steam Summer Sale at some point.  Given that I don’t play most of the games I have on Steam as it is… will probably have no bearing when something I want but don’t need is marked down some crazy amount.  I am looking for Skyrim under $20.

A new expansion for Civilization V will be out soon.  I pre-ordered.  It will add in more features that were back Civ II, like trade routes.  I would just play Civ II for that, but I still cannot find the damn disk.  No idea where I lost it.

So What is the Verdict on Google Reader Alternatives?

Just about two months back it was announced that Google Reader was going to be shut down.

The reasons given were declining usage and the Bizarro world excuse that killing it would lead to a better user experience.

I cannot speak to the former, except to say that Google pushed a lot of people off the bus themselves when the screwed up the UI for a few weeks, but the latter still smacks of “More people using Google Plus would make the user experience there better.”

I point at the work they have done to further integrate Blogger into Google Plus as evidence of what is important to Google.

But whatever the reason, there was much talk about jumping ship before the July 1 end date and the “declining user base” ran off and pretty much swamped every comparable service.  Numbers clearly mean something different at Google.

I too began looking around.  I put together a list of possible alternatives, which I will reproduce here:

And then… I pretty much did nothing.

July was still a ways away.  There seemed no point in joining the rush.  And who knew if Google would change their mind.  Stranger things have happened.  So I decided to let things settle down a bit.

Now the dust has settled.  Or I hope it has.  We have about six weeks left in the life of Google Reader.  So I am wondering how things are going for people who have moved off of Google Reader.  For this, I will use a poll.

Feel free to embellish your choice or warn people off of bad choices in the comments.

Meanwhile, Google continues to do its best to make me not use Google products.  In addition to Google Reader, they are also shutting down iGoogle, which has been my default home page for years now.  They have been tinkering with YouTube, including making me link my YouTube account directly to Google Plus, which ended up unpublishing all of my videos for a while.  More on the “what is important to Google” evidence pile.  And they let Bob Scoble loose with Google Glass, which everybody calls Google Glasses, because that is what they are, which sent the message, at least to me, that they are perfect for crazy people.

And then there is Google Plus, the gifted child at Google, the web app on which they are devoting their focus.  How was that last update for everybody?

I swear, every time I look at Google Plus, something happens to piss me off.  They banned me for using a pseudonym, then quietly let me back a couple months later.  Then they made changes, screwed up my account, linked it to YouTube, which screwed up that account, and now they have made their bad UI even worse for the moment.

Yes, I realize that “bad” is relative.  You might like only being able to see four or fewer posts at a time, each with a big picture, the author’s avatar, an excerpt of the first paragraph, and the first few comments.

My view of Google Plus at the moment

My view of Google Plus at the moment

Me, I read a lot of things online.  If I cannot see 20 or more headlines at once, I end up doing too much scrolling.  I want a list with title, author, source, the first sentence of the post, and maybe a general topic tag.   A UI like the  one they are pushing is high on the list of reasons I do not invest much time in Facebook.  The interface does not suite my needs.

The irony here is that, if Google gave me a UI more suited to my needs… make it an option if not the default… added in RSS feed reading with the ability to share with circles and the like, and just stopped pissing me off for a little while, I would probably go use Google Plus.  There are already people there I would follow.

Ah well, the life of an outlier.

Addendum: A write up comparing the Google Reader alternatives.

Google Reader Alternatives? Again?

Wasn’t I asking for alternatives to Google Reader just over a year ago?

Well, I explored some of the alternatives at that time, but ended up just lumping it with Google’s reduced features and annoying UI “improvements,” the worst of which they did end up fixing eventually.  It looks like those that took the opportunity to jump ship then were the lucky ones.

So today Google announced that Google Reader is being “powered down” as of July 1, 2013.  To quote from the official blog:

There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

Welcome to the better user experience, which is none at all.  I suppose it is a lesson in getting what you paid for yet again.

Anyway, some of the alternatives from last year:

Netvibes

NewsBlur – Which is having service problems right now… such timing!

Bloglines

Feedly – Which seemed to be anticipating this.

The Old Reader – New! Trying to be what Google Reader once was.

Tiny Tiny RSS – New! Attempting to be light weight and portable.

Like Hack – New! Billed as a “social media” reader.

Any others to add to the list?

There are lots of stand alone readers, but I want one online so I can check feeds from a browser from where ever.

What will you be using?

And what will Google shut down next?