Friday, March 13, 2009

Switching to Google Reader

I last wrote about my color-coded Google Calendar. I'm so proud of it that I'll show you a screen shot of it. Since then, I added a to-do list to each day using Remember The Milk. I had tried out RTM a year or two ago, when most of my to-do items were experiments, but like Google Calendar, it wasn't real helpful, since my life was pretty one-dimensional (lab). Now I feel like I have enough different things to do that it warrants a color-coded calendar with a to-do list.
So anyway, I also fully converted to Google Reader. I had been using it for a while as an RSS reader, but I used del.icio.us to keep track of pages or articles I liked and wanted to share. This is where it gets a little confusing. There's a big difference between something I want to bookmark for ME (like a good oatmeal cookie recipe) and things I want to share with others (like a NYT article about personal genomics). I had used del.icio.us for both, and now I'm using Google Reader for both, but maybe I'll learn to divide my bookmarks.


I liked del.icio.us because it allowed me to bookmark pages that I got to separately from my RSS feeds, whereas Google Reader requires not only that the page already be in my feed, but also that I'm reading it from inside Reader instead of in its own window. I used to use the "Next" button a lot, to load the next item from my feed in its own website, but for some reason I'm out of that habit now.

So you'll notice (top left) that my del.icio.us link box has changed to a Google Reader box, but it works the same way. My most recent interesting finds will appear here, and you can also click on "Read More" to get to a stand-alone page of everything I've shared.

Google Reader could use a little more functionality (like being able to tag pages outside of the reader), but on the whole, it's a really easy-to-use way to flip through massive amounts of information, and pick out just the things you actually care about. I also like the "Friends" function, and I automatically get feeds from some people on my Gmail contacts list. It's mostly fanboy crap, but sometimes it's worth reading. I encourage you to try it. (Google reader, not fanboy crap.)

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