For many years I have been hooked on the technology of RSS Feeds. These are XML based feeds provided by various websites that contain their content. Programs called feed readers allow you to subscribe to these feeds and then they periodically poll those sites looking for new content.
This technology allowed me to subscribe to a wide variety of information (Tech, Finance, Friends, Travel, etc) and have it presented to me in a simple format for reading. I have used this with great success to keep up to date on these topics.
Though there were always web-based feed reader programs, I have always preferred a thick-client installed application to present me more of an MS Outlook type interface. The app that I found which was my favorite was called Sauce Reader. It was built using Delphi and had everything I could ask for in a feed reader. Unfortunately the product was de-supported (though in just searching I see the company has posted their story and the executables are still there for download).
My laptop where I was running Sauce Reader on Windows XP recently crashed. I reinstalled Ubuntu Linux and have been looking for a replacement feed reader program. Unfortunately I did not have a backup of my subscription list of feeds, so I’ve had to piece them together from memory. I decided to give the Google Reader application a try and see if the web-based readers had improved.
I must say that I am highly impressed with how the application functions. It is very easy to use and imitates a thick client application by having very nice hotkey support built-in and a great interface. It will also look at the feeds you are subscribed to and make recommendations of other feeds you might like. Since this application is web-based, I can browse my feeds from any computer and still keep track of what I still have left unread. In addition I can even pull the application up using my iPhone. Now I can truly read my feeds everywhere.
If you have tried web-based feed readers in the past and found them to be lacking, I encourage you to give the Google Reader application a try. Of course a small caveat from my paranoid self. Google knows more about you than any other company on the web, so putting your feeds in their application just gives them a little bit more of a picture of who you are. But if that does not bother you, then please try it out and see what you think.