Monday, October 31, 2011

Google Reader

Today Google Reader was updated with a new UI and Google+ integration. Although the reaction on Reddit seems to be quite negative, I like the new UI. One complaint people have is that there is much more whitespace and less space for content than the older version. While this is true, it doesn't bother me because of the way I use Google Reader. I focus on one feed item at a time, using a hotkey to cycle through items. Feed items usually are a short snippet of text so don't need much space anyway.

In case anyone doesn't know what RSS feeds are or what Google Reader does, I will give a short explanation here. Many websites update a .RSS file whenever they post new content. A feed reader simply listens to a set of RSS feeds and tells you when new content is posted. Instead of manually visiting a long list of your favorite websites to find content, you can find it all organized in one place with a feed reader. RSS feeds can have other uses as well: my blog posts automatically get imported into Facebook via RSS.

I get the majority of my news/entertainment through RSS feeds, so I encourage everyone to try it out. My favorite feeds come from Reddit (and various subreddits). Webcomics are perfect for RSS feeds - some of my favorites include: xkcd, The Perry Bible Fellowship, Nedroid, Hyperbole and a Half, The Oatmeal, Penny Arcade, Buttersafe, and Abstruse Goose.

Google Reader has some interesting statistics in the "Trends" view. The graph above shows the time of day that I usually read items. Since October 7, 2005 I have read a total of 102,284 items. I can also view the number of people in Google Reader subscribed to various feeds - my blog currently has 14. Here is my blog's feed.
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