Replacing Reader, Part 2: Too Much to Ask?

This is part 2 in a series of posts on my experiences in replacing Google Reader. Read the first installment here.

That first week after Google announced they were killing Reader, I read blog posts and articles galore on how much Reader’s so-called “power users” would miss it. I experimented with various replacements being mentioned as frontrunners (Feedly, Netvibes), but none of them did a good enough job at what I wanted. I was beginning to think I’d have to settle.

My needs were pretty simple:

  • I wanted something browser-based. I only have two devices, a desktop and an iPad, but I read feeds from both, and when I travel, I sometimes use my husband’s laptop or another family member’s computer to work from. I need my feeds to be synchronized across all of these devices and on whatever browser I like. An app would be nice, but not critical for my own particular needs.
  • I wanted something simple. I rarely share anything to social networks directly from other websites, so the ability to send items directly to Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc., is not a selling point for me. I am used to – and happy with – scanning text-only headlines, so a “magazine-style”, image-heavy app like Flipboard holds little appeal for me (and besides which, I think it’s only available for mobile devices).
  • I wanted something fast but efficient. I didn’t want the reader to be running in the background and making my browser sluggish as it updated.
  • I wanted to be able to have a reasonable degree of control over how my feeds are grouped and ordered.

One last key point: I was more than willing to pay for something that met my needs. Over the years I have become a lot more aware of the fact that content and service creators deserve to be paid for their products, and then there’s also the idea that “if you’re not paying, you’re the product”.  These days, it seems like free is becoming more risky and more disappointing.

I sat on the issue for a few weeks. Delaying the inevitable, I suppose.

I had heard Fever mentioned as a good replacement, but I knew you needed a server to install it on. I may be an RSS power user, but I’ll be honest, I get a little uncomfortable around words like server and c-panel. (That’s what I have smart colleagues, friends, and family members for!) So I assumed Fever was not an option for me. But then Laurel mentioned she’d installed it on the server for her own domain and invited me to test it out. Since I also own a couple domains, she thought if I liked it, we could install it on one of those servers and my problems would be solved.

So, with great expectations, I logged into Laurel’s test Fever account and started poking around. My first impression was that it was very promising, but after a few days of trying it out, I reluctantly admitted to myself I wouldn’t be happy with it.  I just didn’t like the interface. I’m a creature of habit, I guess. I started to wonder if maybe I was asking too much. Was I becoming stubborn and unwilling to adapt? I didn’t think so, but it was beginning to look that way. I decided to give myself some more time to think on it.

After abandoning my quest for a couple of weeks, I was ready to give it another go. I thought maybe I’d give The Old Reader a try. A friend of mine had mentioned that it took a week for her feeds to import… yikes… but since Google Reader would still be around for another couple of months, I had the time.

With bated breath, I signed in, using my Google account. I don’t like being made to log in that way, but I decided to get over that [they’ve since added a separate login system, anyway]. I followed the instructions to import my subscriptions and thought, okay, I’ll come back in a week. Only… all 200 had imported within about 5 minutes! Score! This was looking good…

Check back next week for the final installment in this series.

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