My Google Reader successor

:: Google, Atom, RSS

Just a brief update about what I’ve settled on as my replacement for Google Reader. I’m using Rss2Email, following the instructions in Turning Gmail into Google Reader.

I tried Feedly, NewsBlur, and Reeder. Each of them wasn’t bad, but each felt “heavy” compared to Google Reader. So W. Caleb McDaniel’s post really clicked with me.

I did end up trimming 350 feeds down to 50. What I cut:

  1. Old/dead feeds.

  2. Big name feeds.

By the latter, I mean that I don’t need feeds to help me keep up with fire hose sites like Wired, TechCrunch, and so on. I can follow them in Twitter. If I miss a specific article, no big deal. Also, I will encounter a lot of that stuff on something like Hacker News.

Instead, I’m using feeds for the “long tail” stuff: Sites that post infrequently, and/or that are are smaller. And sites where I may want to read every post (or at least glance at every one).

The experience in Gmail is pretty darn close to GReader. Same navigation keys. Can star things. Can forward in email. On the one hand, this makes me empathize with Google wanting to kill Reader. But on the other hand, it makes me feel, why didn’t they add feed reeding into Gmail? Why the desire to deprecate RSS and Atom feeds? Grumble, grumble.

So overall it’s actually quite similar. Differences in the experience?

One small nuisance is the lack of a V key to go to the original web page. I have to mouse up and click the link.

A broader difference is that, even though it’s Gmail and I’m far from running out of space, I don’t want a lot of feed stuff to accumulate there. It probably doesn’t matter, I could periodically just nuke all the mails labeled Feeds, but there’s some “psychic weight”. But as I explained, I’m being more selective in the feeds I follow.

A tip: On Mac OS X, I tried both methods of sending mail—connecting to my GMail account, or, using sendmail. The latter worked better, because the display name of the From email address is the name of the feed (it looks like Caleb’s screen shot).

For the future: I have cron running this hourly on my Mac Book. That works just fine at home. But on the road, it won’t be pushing emails to my phone if the laptop isn’t running. So I’ll probably move this to a server, such as a micro EC2 instance that I’m using for something else. The only gotchas there? Might need to send the email using Amazon SES since EC2 instances are usually blacklisted for email sending. Plus, adding or removing feeds will require ssh-ing into that server. Although not horrible, not super user friendly.

UPDATE: I ended up replacing rss2email with feeds2gmail, which is similar but has a few advantages.