3
February
2006

Keeping up with posts

(Many thanks to everyone who submitted scarf names. The contest is now closed. I’ll go through the entries this weekend and select some winners)

I’ve been using Bloglines to keep track of blog feeds for about a year now. I had some issues with it, primarily that if a blog has a list of unread posts and you click on it, all the posts get marked read. I’ve missed stuff that way, either because it was too many to read in one sitting or because my browser crashed before I was finished. And there were the rumors of Bloglines not updating feeds on a regular basis.

So last month, after hearing about it on other blogs, I gave NewsGator a whirl.

And I’m back to Bloglines.

I liked that NewsGator leaves posts marked “unread” by default and you have to explicitly mark them “read”. But that was about the only thing I liked about it. It’s biggest crime was that it only stores a history of 15 unread posts whereas Bloglines will store 200. That’s not such an issue with a single-contributor knitting blog. I could probably go on a 2-week vacation and come back and not miss any posts. But things like Overheard in New York, Stuff on My Cat and Slog (see another side of Dan Savage) can get 15 posts in a couple of days, or even a few hours. I couldn’t find a way to tell NewsGator to save more posts for those feeds, and I was missing too much.

Watching both Bloglines and NewsGator for a week, I didn’t notice a big difference in which service updated which blogs more quickly. New posts showed in both. However, Bloglines continually refreshes itself in your browser window if you leave it open. So I would just keep it in a tab and glance at it from time to time between other tasks. NewsGator requires an explicit refresh that always felt clunky.

There’s a couple of other differences that I found.

When you’re trying to subscribe to a feed, Bloglines will give you a list of options that it knows about for a certain blog. And let you preview them. So you can see if one format will give you images or full posts. And it would take just the main URL of the blog. NewsGator wasn’t that smart. It needed the complete feed URL.

Finally, Bloglines will always display a detail page for any blog on your list, even if it doesn’t have posts. So if you wanted to go back to a blog and find a post you remembered, you could click on the Bloglines entry and click through to the main blog. With NewsGator, if there were no posts, it didn’t display anything. This might have been something you could set with preferences, but there were enough issues with NewsGator that I didn’t bother looking.

Overall, it was a good experiment. But I’m happy where I am.