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August 22, 2017

Be Fed Your Favorites

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:34 am

Do you get up every morning and go to your phone or tablet to read the latest news and information?  If so, do you have those favorite one, two or 20+ sites you visit to get the latest news?  There is an easier way to do this without visiting each site individually which you should try.  I have mentioned RSS feeds in Double Clicks once or twice before in 2013; however, things are always changing.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”  There is a site that has been around for a while and it has improved RSS feeds with age.  As a matter of fact you do not have to know much about RSS any longer to benefit from them.

Check out Feedly

That site is Feedly (feedly.com).  I have been using it for years and it is very convenient for keeping up with the news in which I am interested.  First when you visit the site you need to create a Feedly account with an email address or associate either your:  Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Evernote or an Enterprise (your company must sign up) information to login.  I have been using my Google account association for years with no adverse effects.

Once you are logged in we know you read the Daily News Record so in the, “What source do you want to follow?” box, type in, “http://dnronline.com,” then wait for a few seconds and look below where you typed.  You will see (currently) two links.  Notice under the dark titles you will see, “13 followers / 1503 articles per week.”  Since this link is more active you should probably choose that one.  I would not worry about the number of followers stated as it is not very accurate.  Once it is added to your collection you will have each article posted on the DNR site sent to your Feedly page and can read a portion of the articles there or click the link to go to the DNR site.

Sample Feedly Page

Try a large news site (http://foxnews.com or http://cnn.com) and you will see many different feeds arranged by titles/topics.  Click the “Follow” button to the right site of the ones you are interested in and read the new posts anytime you wish.

If you click on the RSS feed links on a site you will see gibberish, below.

Click to see the detail of an RSS page-unreadable to most

Once you click to read an article it will gray out that post to mark it read.  You may also click the small checkmark to the right of the article to mark it read.  The next time you load Feedly previously viewed posts will be gone to make room for all the new articles.  You can click a link to save them to read later and they will remain.

You may see a RSS link on any website and if it interests you click that link, copy the URL after it loads and add that to Feedly.  As that page updates you will get the new info.  Some people like to read Google News.  If you are one of them you can add their news posts to Feedly also.  For example, go to the news section in Google for “Technology,” scroll to the bottom of the page and click the RSS link.  Now copy that URL in your browser’s address bar and add it as a new feed to Feedly.  You will now start getting immediate updates to that news feed.

There are many other options for Feedly so test them out when you can.  None of them will permanently destroy anything so click at will without fear.

May 20, 2014

Google, What are you Telling Me?

As you regular readers know, I like Google.  Google is not perfect but they have many great apps.  In the past I have been disappointed in their corporate decisions to do away with some of their more desirable apps.  For instance iGoogle homepage, Calendar Sync and Google Reader to name a few.

I learned something else disappointing this week.

Over the past year or so I have become a fan of Google’s Chrome browser.  Before any of you run out and switch to Chrome from Firefox, (my old favorite) remember the most important thing when deciding on a browser is, "How do you like it?"  You do not have to change but you could always try various browsers from time-to-time and find out what you may like.  It is easy to change back at any time.

I use a Google tablet, the Nexus 7 2013 I also use the Chrome browser as my default browser on the Nexus.  In recent months I have purchased Google’s Chromecast which basically allows you to turn your almost Smart TV into a full fledge Smart TV for $35.  As I originally wrote this past January, it is an excellent device at an excellent price.

Basically, if you are using the Chrome browser on your computer you can play a video in your browser, or music or slideshow which you already know.  If you have a Chromecast device hooked up to your TV you can "send" that media to your TV to enjoy it on a full screen and hear it through better speakers.  This makes it a much more pleasurable experience than watching or listening on a smaller screen. 

Chromecast buttonWhen you have something playing, or getting ready to play, in your computer’s browser you click the Chromecast button and it automatically appears on your TV.  It is a very easy to use and it shows quite a good picture and sound.

So I have three Google products running, their tablet, their browser and their Chromecast.  They are all in excellent working order.  This week my wife and I missed one of our favorite TV shows, "Castle."  If you go to ABC.com you can view their shows shortly after they air on the site.  This is true for most of the networks. 

I started up my tablet, went to ABC.com, got "Castle" running and guess what?  No Chromecast button so I could not send this show to the TV.  Please note:  I could, once I hooked up my notebook computer, but that was not my intention. 

I Googled for what I was doing wrong and there was not a tremendous amount of information about it online.  So I called Google support and guess what?  Even though I am running all Google products in working order they do not yet have a way to "Cast a Tab" with an Android tablet or phone.  I asked if it was being worked on and they "thought so" but there is no expected completion date. 

What are they thinking?  But who am I?  What are your thoughts?

July 9, 2013

Google Reader is Gone… Now What?

Last week I talked about Google Reader being another fond Google memory.  If you are still interested in following your favorite RSS Feeds, what can you use to replace this great application?  If you have already substituted it with some other “feed reader” let me know what it is and how you like it.  If you have not yet replaced it…read on.

There are many other readers on the internet which have been recommended to be good replacements for Reader.  I have tried numerous quantities of them.  I will not mention those which failed my examination; however, there are several that stand out as at least “OK.”  However, so far none have been as simple and as easy to use as Google Reader.  I am still looking but here is what I have discovered thus far.

There are a couple of things my new, best reader has to have and one is a clean user interface.  I do not want something that looks like a magazine, I just want simple.  Next, it has to be easy to add new feeds to and easy to navigate from one article to the next.  Finally, and maybe most importantly, it should have a website and android presence.  That way I can read it as my morning “paper” on my phone or tablet. Later for lunch at work I can continue where I left off on my browser.

imageOne reader that gets an honorable mention from me is “Feedly” at feedly.com.  This one has been around awhile but after the news of GR dying off, they beefed up their servers to take the extra business coming from x-Google Reader-users.  Of course, this beef up was pretty much universal with all RSS Readers after Google’s announcement.  Some of the companies have done well keeping up with the new, high demand. Feedly is one that has done well with meeting all of my “needs” mentioned previously.

http://www.iphonehacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/newsblur-icon.jpgThe next one I like is, “Newsblur” (newsblur.com). It has all of the features I look for except it is a little clunky to navigate. To me it looks sloppy and disorganized, but it works very well and has apps for all the regular platforms.

imageI guess I should mention Google’s substitute, Currents…well, I did last week and nothing has changed. To quote myself, “…it is nowhere near as straightforward or easy to read and navigate as the old version.”  Personally, I have tested this one for you and I would (believe me) skip it were I you.  Did I mention that is also updates very slowly?

imageNext, “The Old Reader” has a great UI for the web but lacks versions for Android and iPhone.  There is an “unofficial” Android version of TheOldReader.com at Google Play.  It is in its infancy and is not ready for prime-time.  The web version, if that is all you need, is great and I recommend it for your browser only.  The person who designed this one said they just wanted to replace GR with a very close duplicate.  He is close but not exact.

The readers mentioned above are those I prefer at this time; however, I will keep searching for the ultimate successor to Google Reader.

Now two honorable mentions.  First is Pulse at pulse.me.  It has a very good reader for Android and the iPhone platform and a very well laid out website reader as well.  This one did not make one of my favorites since it is “very graphically” integrated which you may really appreciate.  I guess I am just boring and enjoy reading only a title and a line or two about an article when choosing if I wish to read it.  With Pulse the graphics for the feeds are the main attraction.  Another which is similar to Pulse is Flipboard at flipboard.com.  Again, I am not opposed to these types of readers.  They are just not my preference.

http://appshopper.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/pulse-icon-2.png          http://scottkleinberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/flipboard-icon.jpg

Be warned, “Users preferences and experiences may vary.”  Especially with all of the readers constantly being revised in order to keep up with users’ requests.

Let me know what you find as you continue the hunt for the best replacement.

July 2, 2013

Google Reader is Now History

Yes, just two days ago Google Reader (that well known and beloved RSS feed reader) was removed from the Google stables.  Google announced it in March of this year and I have already ranted about the unfairness of it all, the degradation, and the sadness that has overcome us all…so enough of that, let’s get over it and move on. 

Google - RIPIf you were a Google Reader user you know how simply and easily it provided you with the latest information from the websites you actually liked to read.  It was uncomplicated, easy to use and worked very well.  Since the announcement was made in March of this year you have been searching for a replacement.  And now I will tell how you should proceed.

Well, OK, not really but I do have a couple of thoughts.  First, Google basically mislead us all.   The have created a new Reader, “Google Currents,” which is very similar to the original with several exceptions, ok it really is not the same.  They call it "Awesome," "Terrific," "Exciting," etc.  I call it harder to use, more difficult to add your RSS feeds to, more modern – meaning many more graphics, and heavier on bandwidth and pretty flare. Sorry, it is nowhere near as straightforward or easy to read and navigate as the old version. 

You have to pick from Google’s list of feeds which are laid out by topic.  You can also search by author’s name, feed title, etc.  For instance, before I wrote this column I set up my own Double Clicks Currents site.  If you would like to add it to your Currents you first need to install Google Currents.  Oh, did I mention that it is only available on Android and Apple devices?  Did you notice that last sentence where I left out your PC?  Correct, you cannot read your articles on your own computer.  What is up with that?  With Google Reader you could read some on your smart phone, then on your computer hours/days/months later and go back to your smaller device to read the remainder.  Now you only have your smartphones and tablets; that seems like a big step backward to me.

Currents and Double ClicksOK, back to adding my "feed" to your device.  Once you have Currents installed look to the top and click on "Add Subscription" and scroll through the lists (Double Clicks is not there, yet but maybe it will be by the time you read this) click and add what you wish.  To add my site, click the search icon, yes the ever present magnifying glass, and search for either "Ron Doyle" or "Double Clicks."  That should lead you to one of my articles. Right now the only ones are under those search terms.  Click on one of them and choose Add Subscription.  It will then be added to your growing list of interesting reads. 

There are many other things you can do with Currents but there is not enough space to explain it to you here.  Like I said it is not easy to operate but if you search for something like, "How do I do ???? on Google Currents" you will get more help.

Stay tuned for some more suggestions next week.

February 26, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 2

Last time we discussed Portable Applications for your windows computers.

There are several great things about portable programs.  One being they are independent which means they stand alone.  For instance, when installing them you select only one folder. Once installed, you will find that program and all of its related files in that folder.  This is totally unlike windows installations of today.

Being completely self-contained enables you to move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works.  It also works absolutely the same as it did in its previous location.  Also, they give you a brilliant solution to one of life’s larger windows headaches (IMHO).  If you do not like the program, you can delete the folder and it is gone … totally.

So much for the refresher course.  Now we can get onto some of the important info I did not tell you last time.  For instance, what are some of the applications available today as portable applications or programs?  Here is a very short list.  There are many different types of games.  One of my favorites is “Atomic Tanks” and of course, “Sudoku.”  Next, how about a great portable browser-namely Firefox’s latest version.  There is a very good email program, (if you do not check your email at online sites) “Thunderbird.”  Do you need an excellent graphics program which challenges the abilities of other high priced ones?  Try, “Gimp.”  There are many types of RSS-Feed readers and music managers/players.  Have you ever used the full version of VLC for CD and/or DVD playback?  If so and you like it, get the portable version.  Several good chat/IM applications are available so look for them too.

imageThe last three (and there are many, many more) biggies that I will mention today are first, the Office replacements that many know and love, “Libre Office” and “Open Office” are both available.  The final bigwig program is “Skype.”

These programs, which I have tried, run as well as the full blown versions.  I really can’t complain.  Of course it also depends on your computer, but they are worth a try. If you want to give them a shot.

Oh, did I forget to mention that all of these applications are free, yes totally without hidden advertising (at least, that I have run into yet).

One thing before you start downloading all of these programs.  Make sure you have uninstalled the full version before you start playing with the portable version.  If not you may get the computer and yourself confused.

imageFinally, where do you find the portable applications?  Easy, go to “PortableApps.com” and click on the, “Get Apps” link at the top of the page.  There are other sites out there; however, this is one of the first and best.

When you install them where you downloaded the file will be the automatic location of the program, so choose somewhere else.  If you have a portable thumb drive plugged into your computer it will automatically choose to install the program there.  The reason is these programs were actually created to run on thumb drives for portability; hence the name.  Once installed go to the file with the word Portable” on the end of it and double click it.  This starts the application.

If you do not like the program and want to delete it, delete the folder containing the program and you are done, without reboots or any worry about it clogging up your system with useless cruft.

August 24, 2010

RSS Feeds

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:56 am

I receive many emails with questions regarding RSS feeds, so it must be time to revisit them.

RSS means (pick one) “RDF Site Summary”, “Rich Site Summary”, or more commonly “Really Simple Syndication”.  There may be others out there.  I have no idea what the problem is with picking one name for this feature.   “Really Simple Syndication” seems to be the most popular.

How would you like to get regular revisions on sites you often visit without having to go there each time you want to check for new updates or “news feeds”?  That is RSS.  You can receive the site’s latest information whether text, audio, video or just about any other form of media in RSS feeds.

There are basically two steps for using RSS.

First you need a RSS Reader which allows you to read the news feeds.  Be aware…there are millions!  Try Google’s Reader and see what you get.  If you have a BlackBerry, as I do, you can use Viigo.com.  A good basic freebie is Bloglines.  You can also use Mozilla’s Firefox or Thunderbird.  The possibilities are endless.  The last one I will mention is “FeedReader” which is an old favorite of mine.  Just pick one out, and try it. If you like it, keep using it. If not, toss it since they are all free.

FeedReader is a good choice for a new person just starting out with RSS.  This is because it has several categories where “Feeds” are already set up.  You can play with them and see how they work before adding your own.  Also FeedReader looks a lot like a regular email program so you don’t have to get used to a new GUI (Graphical Use Interface).  Again, there are a multitude of readers out there — try them and find one you like.

All readers work very similarly, some just have more “buttons and bells”.  Usually you click on the category that you want to read, say “Sports, Baseball” and a list of recent news items will be made available.  Click on the item/feed you wish to read (there will be a sentence or two describing it) and enjoy.

Next, a site must be configured for a RSS “feed”.  You don’t have anything to do with that, it is done by the web site.

clip_image002RSS feeds are usually very easy to spot.  Go to almost any news site and look for the standard RSS logo.  It is usually an orange square with rounded edges. There is a dot in the lower left corner with two arches pointing to the NE corner.  Give RSS feeds a try and you can stay up-to-date with many of your favorite sites.  I don’t use the RSS logo on my page.  It simply says, “Entries RSS“.

Click the orange link. When the page opens choose the area you like and copy the URL into your reader’s new feed area.  Experiment because you can add and delete feeds at will.

There are “feeds” for everything. Just find the orange emblem and try it.  Try one of my favorites at the Weather Channel.

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