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Farewell Google Reader; Hello NewsBlur!

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NewsBlurAs a content addict, I’ve always sought tools that ease its consumption, from primitive ones such as PointCast, Plucker and Hands to modern-day RSS aggregators like Google Reader.

Reader’s efficient handling of feeds, flexible ordering (a must for webcomics) and read post tracking pretty much killed competition on this arena years ago. But hegemony is seldom a good thing in software, and bad calls like the stubborn push of a GMail-like UI and the abandonment symptoms (recently explained by an ex-PM) made the retirement announce my personal wake-up call to find a better solution.

After evaluating quite a few self-hosted and third-party options, I chose NewsBlur. It’s a well-crafted (mostly by a single developer), open-source and excellent service, with all the bells and whistles Reader had on its best days. It even includes social features, not unlike the ones one that Google axed in favor of paltry Google+ buttons (which are only useful if your target audience is limited to Google employees and Facebook denialists).

It also packs trainable filters to show/hide content (not my turf, but they seem good), and a nice touch for webcomics and sites with partial feeds: you can set up those to display the original content in-place. The iPad app is also neat – a way better proposition than Reader’s (yet more) anemic mobile browser interface.

Due to the massive influx of Reader refugees, it doesn’t offer free accounts right now, but you can play with a simulated account on their homepage and get a good grasp of the real thing. You have to pay for one year upfront, but it’s only $2/month – a small and more than deserved fee for such a lovely piece of work.

Unless, of course, you believe RSS is dead(*). In that case, never mind.

() hint: you shouldn’t. Its death is announced so often that it could easily get mistaken for a modern comics character.*

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