Bloglines Review

By dabilendabilen (1261511557|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Bloglines

What Is It?

Bloglines is a RSS feed reader that has developed a reputation of convenience and ease of use. If you are new to RSS, Really Simple Syndication, then a simple definition is a technology that has the ability to aggregate multiple news/blog articles relevant to a topic or website into a single location - your RSS feed.

At this point there are more than a few major players when it comes to RSS feeds, in addition to Bloglines. Some of the most popular ones are Google Reader and Yahoo News Reader. All of these do the same basic function, but Bloglines has got some cool advantages that will be highlighted later on.

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Why Should I Use It?

Most importantly, RSS feeds are a great, easy way to make sure you are up to speed with the daily happenings of topics that are either important to you or should be important to you. Here is your chance to quickly look impressive to colleagues/bosses/celebrities or find new interests/hobbies that you can then pursue with more ambition and knowledge. Using this resource has helped me keep myself on top of topics that I otherwise would not know anything about. Being really busy is no longer an excuse with this technology.

To specifically address why to use Bloglines I will discuss what has attracted me to the site. One cool feature is simply the ease of use, there is an initial learning curve, but once you get into it there is not too much to get tripped up on. Additionally, Bloglines is one of the most well known feed readers, and there is a reason for that - it can do slightly more than most feed readers. In addition to routing all your feeds into one central location, the basic qualifier for a reader, it can also let you easily navigate to other relevant blogs of interest and point you to more relevant feeds. For me the major sell is that you can browse through the links of any article within your same browser window, and when browsing within Bloglines the toolbar on the left hand side always stays there. To make this happen just select "use same window" under "options." This just makes web browsing less of a headache, hundreds of tabs and browser windows has always annoyed me, this is your answer.

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For personal use, I have found it helpful to understand the current trends of what is going on in the solar industry. Therefore I have been able to start building research for my term project. By simply searching the solar industry, I got a few hits on different alternative energy blogs and websites that have feeds available. Simply looking over a few headlines I am able to navigate through what is useful and what is not and go from there.

One last selling point is their responsiveness to their users. Although they have had some problems with their technology in the past they warn their users and make sure to put their team to quickly react. The Bloglines Plumber always is on the job.1

How Do I Use It?

In all honesty, I was initially annoyed by the website, I did not completely understand how to work the website and found it a little hard to add feeds into my "playlist" but that was mostly a product of my stubbornness. In this day and age I have seem to become accustomed to everything being obvious to a comedic extent - what I want should be highlighted and in flashing letters.

Realistically, after a 15 second sign-up session and one email click later you are good to go. If you do have some trouble figuring out how to start RSS-ing, please watch the short video below, and all should be good in the world again.

Customization

Customization in bloglines was already touched upon when the "playlist" was mentioned, but here we will discuss really what that is and a few other features. Creating playlists can further organize your feeds so that you view all feeds relevant to groups of your personal preference. Once you have created several playlists it is very easy to navigate from one to the next, while still staying within the same browser window, no jumping around necessary.

In order to create these playlists, simply click on the "playlist" tab on the left hand menu bar and then click "add." From there you are ready to group your learning opportunities together and easily focus your learning on the topic of your liking.

Of course the main point of customization is the ability to pick only the RSS feeds that only you want, and if you are not sure exactly what feeds you want, but know what topics you would like there is an easy to use search function. Additionally you can place discriminators to further specify your feed search. On top of that, if you want to find something but are not sure what that "thing" is you can always use the recommendations that Bloglines offers. From all this you are sure to find something of interest. If not, you should look to become more interesting and expand your interests.

Pros/Cons

Pros Cons
Usability Once you got it, you got it. There are not too many curve balls to get you off track If you like super complex engines that take hours to learn, then sorry Chuck you are in need of another reader
Interface The non moving menu on the left hand is a nice feature that makes Bloglines user friendly, hence good usability As the interface is different then many typical search engines, there is some learning required when making the switch to this reader
Innovation One of the pioneers of the technology. Although I can assume there were other inventors of the idea/technology they have made a strong name for themselves Bloglines is rather a stand alone technology unlike say Yahoo Reader or Google Reader, which easily integrate with their respective product lines such as email, search, etc. Even though, bloglines can be fed into different outlets it is a fair argument to ask - why bother?

Personal Testament:

This website, in my opinion, is not the most intuitive at first. It took me a lot of clicking around the website for around 10 minutes or so before I really understood how to utilize the power of this tool. That said, once I got into it, I found it to be a great tool to focus any online learning excursion. The ability to view and click through feeds on Bloglines is really nice, instead of navigating to and from the page constantly.

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