The end of Bloglines

Via this post to Google Reader blog I’ve learned the Bloglines news.  The service will be closed on October 1st.

Today, let our users know that we will shut down Bloglines on October 1. Not an easy decision, especially considering our loyal and supportive (not to mention patient) user base, but, ultimately, the right one given business reasons simply too hard to ignore.

While I myself switched four years ago, I know that some people are still using the service (hi mom!).  Everyone is encouraged to migrate to some other news reader. My recommendation is, of course, Google Reader.  And the migration process should be simple and straight forward: export subscriptions as a single OPML file from Bloglines and import them into Google Reader.

While Google Reader is a superior service these days, it came later and from a bigger company than the original Bloglines.  Back, when people were just figuring out how to use RSS en masse, Bloglines offered a simple and very convenient way.  It was so simple in fact, that you didn’t need to know much about RSS at all.  It was so simple, that even my mother, who avoids web services as much as possible, was able to use and enjoy it.

And even though I haven’t used Bloglines at all in the last four years, it’s sad to see it go.  For me it was one of those milestones in the Web history.

Bad morning. Bad!

I just woke up and logged in. News time. I navigated to Bloglines, but it greeted me with “There is a problem with the database. Please try again later”. I thought – “yeah, well, that’s perfect time to read something that I’ve bookmarked a long time ago and never had a chance to come back to”. So I tried to load my Delicious bookmarks. Nope, no chance. I got only “ is down for maintenance. we’ll be back in one hour.”…

Oh, my! What’s going on? Who’s next? Slashdot? Google? I rushed to check both of them, but they seem to be OK. Good. I’ll have something to read for the next hour.

Daily bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for user tvset on 2005-11-20

Google Reader vs. Bloglines

As you might know, Google has offered a new service to the Internet community – an RSS/Atom aggregator called Google Reader. I’ve heard many people liked it. Being an active user of RSS/Atom aggregator Bloglines I thought I would check it out. There are a few things that I want that Bloglines hasn’t implemented yet, and there are a few things that could have been implemented better. So I was wondering if Google Reader had it right.

Continue reading “Google Reader vs. Bloglines”

Scary Bloglines thingy

The scariest thing just happened now with me and Bloglines. I was scrolling through my feeds, reading occasional items. And there was one feed that I wanted to unsubscribe. I never ever tested the unsubscribe from feed functionality from my phone before, so I was somewhat worried. But I click it anyway. And it says OK. And done.

I wanted to go read the rest of the items, but it looked like there were no feeds. It got me worried even more. I quickly went to my blogroll page to see if any feeds are there, but it was empty. Nothing. Not even one.

By this time I was practically freaking out. So I jumped to my computer and used the normal browser to navigate to Bloglines. I was hoping to see the plumber, but Bloglines seemed just fine.

I clicked to open my feeds and the folder was empty. I started to feel the pain of a heart attack. Decided to re-subscribe to a few feeds that I could at least remember. And, oh thanks to all the superpowers, I see this error message:

There is a problem with the database.

And before I finished writing this post all my feeds were back. And before finishing this post, I did the backup of all my public feeds into OPML file.

Bloglines feature a few updates

The other day I noticed a few updates, but not all of them. Bloglines announced all the recent changes in this news article and it turns out that I noticed only the small subset.

The biggest and most welcome change – keyboard navigation. Now, instead of scrolling feeds with a lot of items and switching between feeds while moving the mouse all over the screen, one can use keyboard shortcuts. ‘j‘ and ‘s‘ are my two favourites. By pressing ‘j‘ it is no possible to jump to the next item in the feed. No scrolling. No mouse. Simply go there. By pressing ‘s‘ it is trivial to go to the next feed with unread items. Again, no mouse involved. Just these two keyboard shortcuts speed up reading a lot. And I needed the whole two seconds to get used to them. Amazing!

Continue reading “Bloglines feature a few updates”

New Bloglines bits

I see some new Bloglines functionality that I haven’t read about in the news yet. Particularly, there are some new tabs available when adding new feeds (Click on the ‘Add’ link). There are two things that I don’t care about – ‘Astrology’ and ‘Lottery’ – and one that looks interesting – ‘Quick Pick Subscriptions’.

‘Astrology’ simply offers a number of horoscopes for any sign that you might be. ‘Lottery’ is more cryptic. I suspect that it has something to do with some lottery in USA as there is no description what so ever and the only thing you can choose is the state.

‘Quick Pick Subscriptions’ though is something that looks promising. It seems to be a variation of ‘Recommendations’. ‘Recommendations’ uses your current subscriptions to figure out what you might be interested in. While ‘Quick Pick Subscriptions’ features a categorized list of daily most popular feeds.

If you have been looking for new stuff to read – check these features out. You’ll probably fill up all your free time pretty quick.

Missing Bloglines functionality. Take two.

Last time I tried to complain about missing functionality at Bloglines I got everything wrong. I acknoledged the fact, but my ego wanted a revenge. It wanted me to find something that is really missing so that I could write a proper post on the subject. After lots of thinking and playing around with other tools, I finally found a good issue to complain about – synchronization automation.

Here is what I mean.

Continue reading “Missing Bloglines functionality. Take two.”

Missing Bloglines functionality

After some poking around I found another piece of functionality that is missing from Bloglines, but which I’d appreciate very much to have. I am talking about feed-based item sorting. Currently, there is a global setting which one could use to specify the way to order the items in the feed – new items first or old items first. But this is not enough.

As an example, consider two different feed sources – a news site and a forum. For the news site I’d like to have newest items first. This way, if I missed on the feed, I can go directly to the most current news and play a catch-up game later. With the forum, on the other hand, I would prefer to go through old messages first to understand where the discussion started and how it progressed. It has to do with continuity I guess. News from the news site are not so often connected to each other. They are separate pieces of content. Forum discussions, on the other hand, tightly link posts together and it is often difficult to understand what’s going on without reading earlier part of the thread.

As things are now, it is impossible to sort different feeds in the different way.

Update: The functionality is there. I just never saw it. Sorting can be changed by clicking on the ‘Sort Newest First’ link under the name of the feed. Thanks to Constantinos for pointing it out.

Atom 1.0 vs. RSS 2.0

I’ve praised the RSS for a long time now, but I haven’t said anything about Atom along the road. In fact, I used RSS collectively to speak about both RSS and Atom. That’s not very right and here I am, correcting myself.

I was always aware that Atom and RSS are different. I knew that both of these formats were used for feeding information off the websites, but I never took the time to learn the precise differences. When subscribing to a feed, if the choice was given, I always selected RSS over Atom. I’ve heard several times that I should do otherwise, but no suffecient argumentation was given, so I continued as is.

Finally, this post at Slashdot linked to this wiki page that clearly explain the differences and why everyone should select Atom 1.0 feeds over RSS 2.0.

If you intend to use the web for at least the next few years, then take the time and read it!