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Better RSS Reader Needed

February 5, 2007

Living on the bleeding edge of technology is a pain in the ass some days. I waste a lot of time with use RSS readers heavily — they let me stay on top of things quickly, and allow me to accumulate detailed information on topics that I can drill down into when the need arises and time allows.

Unfortunately, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to just keep one of them working.

Back in the dark days, when I was living in Windows, FeedDemon was my go-to RSS reader. When I started working cross-platform, I started using Bloglines — the footprint on any given machine was minimal, my “last reads” were updated everywhere, and it worked well.

For awhile.

Eventually, Bloglines seemed to collapse under it’s own weight — feeds were not getting updated frequently (or sometimes at all), and the web interface had grown cumbersome.

Even though I originally didn’t like the way it worked, I managed to adapt my usage style to NetNewsWire. Everything updated when I wanted it updated, and it kinda sorta synced to NewsGator if I had to access my feeds on another machine.

I’m still not sure if was a change in the OS, a NetNewsWire update, or just the steady increase in rich media content in feeds that drove the nail into that coffin, but eventually NetNewsWire started consuming way, way too much RAM on my 2GB Macbook Pro.

About that time I stumbled into Google Reader; it wasn’t much to look at when it first came out, but it had grown up a bit since then and was fast, with a nice, smooth AJAX interface. As a bonus, the mobile interface worked well on my phone.

That worked great until about a week ago, when Google Reader threw a shoe; they enabled video embedding in feeds (hurray!), and at the same time (and probably not coincidentally), Firefox started locking up when trying to use Google Reader (boo!). Probably a Firefox problem and not a Google Reader problem; in fact, probably one of the niggling Flash integration issues. I horsed around with Greasemonkey trying to kill the flash embedding in it, with no luck.

This morning, Google Reader seems to be having some severe hiccups just on it’s own, which points up one of my core issues with web apps in general — I ultimately hate using web apps that aren’t on servers that I control, and can reboot or debug as needs require.

So, it’s time to shop for a new RSS reader. Can anyone recommend anything on OS X (Tiger) that runs as a universal binary, uses RAM efficiently, has a decent user interface, and (critical) can handle lots and lots of feeds? Some of them only get read once in a blue moon, but I want them there when I need them.

Alternatively, has anybody found any new and decent web-based readers? Something fast and reliable, ideally with a good mobile interface, that will (again) handle lots and lots of feeds?

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