RSS Anno 2013

Today, we powered down Google Reader. 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.
Google

It’s been six months since Google killed Reader, and a lot has changed. They killed reader, but they didn’t killed RSS. In its wake a dozen good alternatives appeared, some taking over the API, some rebuilding it from scratch with a way better engine. Weird thing, almost no publications mention this in their end of the year overviews.

This is not an overview of options, others did that way better, but an overview of what apps I use to read, curate and store articles and texts.
it’s split in three sections: collecting, reading, archiving.

Collecting

My go-to service at this moment is FeedWrangler, by David Smith. It’s a fast, stable engine with some good features. It allows for smart lists that automatically exclude certain keywords.
E.g. I follow the regional newspaper of Antwerpen, but don’t care for news outside of my town (in the regional news context, not news in general). So I excluded articles that don’t include Antwerp in their text for these feeds.
Same goes for some tech news feeds which show driver and firmware updates, I only included the models I have at the office, so I’m not overwhelmed with hundred of firmware updates on a weekly basis that don’t involve me.  And now at the end of the year I’ve got one that hides all posts involving best of, New Years promises, overview, 2013,..
And a handy one I’ve got is apps, free, promo. You probably get the idea. 

I’d kill for a remove duplicates feature that auto-hides articles that are rehashes of the same article though. Like those Apple releases X articles. Every website showing the same screenshot of the same app update. would be handy if when I read one of those, they all are marked as read. Or maybe this is living proof that I follow too much of the same kind of sites and need to curate them a bit better.

My feeds are organizes in 12 folders ranging from 0. Read&Trus,. 1. Apple, 2. Tech, 3. Developer to 10 Coffee, 11 Humor and 12 Varia. I specifically added a number in front of them so that they always are in the same order and the importand ones are on top.
Read and Trust grew out of the now dead publication and contains blogs by prominent Apple blogs hosted by one or two voices. The Grubers, Viticci’s, Dalrymples and Chambers of the world. 

Last year if you’d asked me what app I used on the Mac, iPhone or iPad my answer would be Reeder for all three. This year, I’m using Reeder 2 on the iPhone, Mr. Reader with the Reeder skin on my iPad and ReadKit on the Mac.  I’m still looking for a better Mac app, but I seldom read on the Mac, so it’s not that big of a deal.
I prefer Mr. Reader over Reeder because of its better integration with other apps thanks to its great URL-scheme support and its superior navigation.

Reading

Skimming through my feeds is something I do multiple times a day. I read the short ones, ignore most of them, and save the ones I want to read to Pocket. It’s a stable container for everything I’d like to read later that seamlessly syncs across all my devices.
I played with Safari’s Reading List but prefer a standalone App on my devices so that reading is separated from browsing. And its integration with Evernote is a make or break kinda deal for me.
Pocket really is a waiting area for everything I want to read or do next. It’s an inbox for all things I want to get to, and doesn’t only contain text or video. It also contains tutorials I want to follow. Tips and tricks, github links to code I want to try out, or things I went to checkout and maybe order online. 

Each Sunday I spend the morning clearing out the list. I read what I want to read, archive what I want to keep, and at the end of the day, I archive all that’s left In the list. If I didn’t read it during the past week, I sure as hell won’t read it the following week. Keep it up, and I’ll probably end up with a pile of unread articles that probably lost their relevancy if and when I finally do get the chance to read them all.
So every Sunday night I declare Read it Late- bankruptcy. (With the exception of Movie reviews. These only become relevant after I finally get to see the movie.)

Apparently I read the equivalent of 92 times the Great Gatsby last year, which is, surprisingly, a lot.

Archiving

Where FeedWrangler and Mail are my inboxes for words and tasks, Pocket and OmniFocus my todo-list, Evernote is my archive.
I store everything that’s worth remembering into that app. It contains my recipes, guides, terminal snippets, serials,… Basically everything that’s not a document.
So after reading an article, if it’s good I tag it and send it to a Text-notebook in Evernote. If it’s a guide I want to refer back to, it’s send to a Mac or iOS notebook. 

Evernote is one of these apps that you need to force yourself to use at first, and that only earns its credit after using it for a long while. But when you feed it enough content, it suddenly changes into something that you can’t live without.
Seriously, my Evernote contains most of my professional knowledge and loosing it would be a disaster.

In the end, most of what I’ve written down here, isn’t new. It’s not groundbreaking. But it’s a workflow that works for me.

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