Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Don't Think We Can Date, Though

I am in love with Google Reader. Chili can take credit for the matchmaking.

I have loved blogs since I discovered them, back when you actually had to know something about programming in order to have one. I didn't know any of that so I thought it was a pipe dream. Thankfully the appropriate enablers have come along.

I used to read about people who would spend more than an hour in the morning while getting ready for work going through their daily blog check ins. They read a hundred blogs a day! They went back frequently to check on the conversations in the comments threads. I didn't even read the comments threads. How could they read so many blogs? Since most of my blog reading happened at work I was used to have to memorize URLs and type them in every day.

As a result if you didn't have an easy to remembr URL or weren't linked to in a blog with one that was easy to remember you weren't going to get my repeat business. I have a pretty good memory but it does only go so far. For the last 5 years or so my MO has been to go through blogs alphabetically. Why? Because I would go to the URL bar, type in a and see what showed up in the drop down menu then go methodically through all my a blogs, then b, then c etc. Worked fine unless I was out of the office for more than 5 days in which case the cookies got booted from the cache and I had to rebuild the whole thing from memory.

Maybe 3 years ago I finally learned about bookmarks. I'm a slow learner and I don't like new shit, OK? It makes me nervous. So I laboriously bookmarked everyone on my home computer but had to keep up the freakshow of memory on the work computer because who wants to get hit by a bus and have their employer discover 75 blogs bookmarked in her computer?

Back when it first rolled out I read about Bloglines, which was, I guess the first RSS Feed Reader for Dummies. I tried it but I don't think they'd precisely worked out the "For Dummies" part because I couldn't really get it to work right and it made reading blogs more complicated (you've heard how I go about it, doesn't seem like it could get more complicated) so I decided that RSS Feed Readers must be like blogs used to be, only for experts who clearly knew something that I did not.

OK, for anyone who doesn't know what one is, an RSS Feed Reader is a little elf inside the internet (I'm using lay terms) who runs around the web and checks on all your favorite blogs to see if they've updated. If a blog has updated the elf runs back to your subscription page on the reader and writes you a little notice with a link so you can go read the update. Sounds cool, no? I was pissed that I wasn't an expert and couldn't rent an elf. ("Rent" is just a term, it's free to get one of these things.)

In June when I was in New England Chil told me for the second or third time about her Google Reader. All the previous times I had made soothing "Hmmm" noises and changed the subject. She has an expert living in her house so she probably got him to work out the experty parts and I couldn't ask him to do that for me. But this one time we were actually face to face so I asked to see it.

She turned into Vanna White.

All of a sudden she was wearing a slinky evening dress and her nails were long and manicured and things on the computer started lighting up as she gently pressed their corners while smiling at any stupid joke that I or Pat Sajac might have made.

And you know what? It made sense. It wasn't for experts anymore! I could do it all by myself!

So now I am in love with my Google Reader. I am a little disturbed that if there's ever a bad postal-going incident at Google my entire internet life will be wiped out. They have all my blogs memorized in their reader, they bought my blog host, they even have their fingers in the place where my pictures live. If you're a disgruntled Google employee and you're feeling a need to take action please, I beg of you, think of the innocents!

Anyway, have I said that I love the Google Reader? You should all get yourselves one so you can come back here easily every day, many times a day if I'm a good doobie and I update more than once. All you do is sign in and the elf will have left you all these little reports.

For real, though, it's super easy to add "subscriptions", it's a copy and paste dealio with the URLs and the little "Add Subscription" button they have for you. Then if you're at home, you just check in with the reader. At work, same deal. At a friend's house and can't get your laptop to recognize the damn wireless internet just get on their computer and ask the elf! Foreign country internet cafe? Your blogs are all there! Awesome, huh?

The trap here is that without all the time spent hitting bookmarks, waiting for a page to load and seeing that there's no update I have time to read more blogs so I've been adding more blogs. Lots and lots of blogs. I mean, it's not me who has to go schlepping all over the internet checking for updates so what do I care, right? Now when I don't have computer access for a couple of days and come back to over 100 updates, that's a little daunting. Totally doable, though. I didn't want to cure cancer anyway, better to spend my time reading all of the internet.

The other thing I find is that it makes me less likely to go back and check the conversations in the comments thread on a blog because those don't count as elf-worthy updates. However there seems to be some features that I'm not using. (Eek! Something new! Get it off me!) Like you can star something for follow up. I'm tentatively trying that out because I really want Rick to sell me a painting so I asked him in the comments section and I have to go back to see if he replies. Also, people are chiming in with Blogher tales and I won't always be able to get through all the blogs that are linked in one sitting so this way I star the entry that's got all the linkage and next time my elf is slacking off I've got new-to-me content to read!

I figured out this one experty sort of thing that's a work around for when you enter a URL into the Add Subscription box and it doesn't work but I am not nearly expert enough to explain it. Suffice to say it allowed me to add 3 new blogs to my reader over the past 2 days and now I will never miss a House Tour, Community Brouhaha or pizza giveaway in my neighborhood again.

I could go on and on and on (even longer than I have already which is probably plenty) about my new boyfriend, GR, but lucky for you I just got a memo from my elf so I'm out of here.


  1. Here. Here. And a big Amen.
    It posts right on my IGoogle page which I am in love with too!
    On my IGoogle page:
    I have my news, my dictionary, a quote, IMBD, Amazon, The Moon phase (Very important!), a calendar, People.com updates, Movie times, Wikipedia!!!, the weather, a few Wine Blogs, and a translator (really useful!).
    So yes, love it. Love my Google reader but not more than Bobby Flay!

  2. Did you say "boyfriend"? Details, please.