Evernote and the demise of Google Reader

Edit: I’ve now changed my blog design, and it’s now much more readable for those without RSS aggregators – yay!

I admit I was slightly devastated when I received the news that Google Reader was shutting down. I’ve always relied on RSS feed aggregators as a source of information for two reasons – they allow me to read posts without viewing 100 different websites (yes, I suspect I have subscribed to close to a 100 pages); and more importantly, it helps reduce the information overload because I can choose what I want to subscribe to, and which articles I want to read. Google Reader solved a lot of these problems, and with a few tweaks (Google Reader Readable and Reader Plus) I had a power-packed yet distraction-free reader that was just perfect for the lazy afternoon read:

Google Reader

Google Reader + Google Reader Readable + Reader Plus; however “distraction-free” hardly happens with multiple tabs open

So after being absolutely spoiled by Google Reader, I wanted to look for a replacement RSS feed reader for both my computer and my Android phone, that could meet these criteria:

  • Sync feeds with Google Reader – it’d be crazy work to visit the 100 sites and paste the links into a new reader
  • Be fairly simple to use, with intuitive keyboard shortcuts (I liked using J and K to scroll between articles in Google Reader, and with added functionality from Reader Plus to open articles in background tabs, I could operate Google Reader as a keyboard warrior true and through)
  • Load pretty smoothly
  • Cross-platform sync – need my phone to know what hasn’t been read as well, for those lonely commutes 😦
  • If possible, save those ‘starred’ articles – those are meant for posterity!
  • Remain somewhat readable
  • Be somewhat customisable design-wise – I’m pretty averse to having clutter on my reader page

So, after a bit of looking around, I identified 2-3 apps that seemed to fit most of the criteria. The first was The Old Reader, a pretty solid app that fulfilled my readability and useability criterion. I’ve also just discovered that it integrates with Pocket (formerly Read It Later), which is another app I’ve just started using. However, it took a week or so to import my feeds from Google Reader (facing a massive queue from Google Reader dropouts), and doesn’t seem to load as cleanly as Google Reader does. It also doesn’t integrate with Android, though I hope the developers will come up with something soon.

The second app which I didn’t uninstall immediately was feedly – what I love about it is its very customisable design (this is the ‘card’ view) which certainly makes it prettier than Google Reader ever was. It also surprised me by remembering all my starred items from Google Reader under a new category called “saved for later” – yep, that’s exactly what they’re for :). It’s cross-platform, fairly readable (perhaps less so than Google Reader Readable, but I am less picky in times of emergency) and seems to load pretty quickly. It doesn’t seem to have an “Open in Background Tab” keyboard shortcut, but that wasn’t an original feature of Google Reader anyway.

feedly

feedly: looking pretty dapper at the moment

I am currently using GReader for my Android phone, which has a clean interface (similar to Google Reader), imports the starred items, and syncs everything (including starred items) with Google Reader. What’s next? I may just use feedly for all my devices, since it works cross-platform (it seems like GReader may sync with feedly after Google Reader closes on July 1), or I might just chance upon another app/software that’s much better than all the options explored above. Here’s hoping the demise of Google Reader encourages these alternative RSS aggregators to up their game further!

In other news, I have been trying to organise my recipes properly. Well, they aren’t my recipes, because I claim no credit in creating them; but I get a good number of recipes online, and always find it a hassle to walk to my computer whenever I want to check some minor details in the kitchen (no, writing them down is not an option – I am lazy that way). What I needed, in short, was a recipe management system that could sync from my computer to my phone so I wouldn’t have to make those 10-second dashes-to-the-computer-while-my-garlic-is-burning-in-the-pan. Not being able to appreciate the joys of the note-taking app Evernote earlier, I decided to give it a go for recipe collection!

evernote

Um, pictures from many sources, but the extremely delightful one in the centre is taken from here

As the screenshot probably shows, it’s been very useful, for several reasons. For one, being able to tag individual recipes (the most important distinctions for me being “TRIED & TESTED” vs “UNTRIED” and the ones with regards to individual ingredients, as I try to cook based on what’s in the fridge) simplifies the organisation of the recipes, and I don’t have to worry about running out of space on a hard copy book. Also, the mouthwatering pictures inspire me to cook more, and better!

So I thought I’d just share these two completely random updates, just to document my non-holiday Easter break so far. And with Pictures to make things so much more readable (this is definitely something I was reminded of while exploring alternative RSS feed readers and Evernote!)

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