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Archive for the ‘RSS Readers’ Category

RSS: What are the Options (Part 2)

Toluu & Social Median

Here are two more RSS’esque readers for you to ponder both of which are truly web 2.0 power tools because they harness the power of the crowd. Toluu likes to learn from you while Social Median has a fresh take on how you select articles.


Toluu via kwout

Ok so I cheated a little bit, Toluu isn’t a stand alone RSS feed reader, it actually plugs into your existing feed reader and opens a host of social aspects to your reader. You essentially are sharing what you read with others and they share with you what they are reading. It is a great way to discover new articles that are filtered to be something that you are interested in and approved by people who have similar interests as you.

Toluu does require that you be able to download your OPML file (a file that has all your existing feeds in a list) from your existing feed reader and upload it to Toluu. This is not difficult and there is plenty of documentation on how to do this for almost every feed reader. A good feature if you are just starting or have already imported your feed list and just need to add another feed to both is a bookmarklet (a bookmark button that you easily drag into you easily drag onto the bookmark bar of your browser) that lets you add feeds easily to both your existing RSS reader and Toluu simultaneously.

All of this is great if you have contacts but how do you get contacts? Toluu has a great feature called “matches” that

In short Toluu’s strength lies in it’s ability to harness the power of your contacts to help you filter what you read as well as help you discover important information that you may not have found otherwise.

+ Very social, allowing filtering and discovery from your circle of contacts
+ Not really all that much to do just upload your OPML file and your already going
+ It learns as you and your contacts filter, the more activity you have the more it learns what you like and dislike
+ Doesn’t try to replace your current RSS reader, just enhance it

– You already need an RSS feed for it to work
– Not a traditional layout for RSS feeds so it takes time to get used to

For more information on Toluu check out this article.

Social Median

Unlike many RSS feeds Social Median only gives you articles from your areas of interest that other people have recommend and not from a specific website, its all filtered and voted on so you get only the best articles. Instead of having an application or a website that you go to to get your articles they are sent via email at specified times of your choosing. This makes reading articles less linear and more explorative and social. Is one better than the other? Really its apples and oranges and dependent on your preferences and if you are me you will use both styles.

Social Median really focuses on the social aspect of RSS feed reading and that is a tricky endeavor because when it is socially based it relies on the crowd to help the cream of articles rise to the top. If the crowd doesn’t exist the tool is essentially useless and fortunately there is a real good growth trend for social median.

+ Great way to discover articles outside of your regular RSS jaunts
+ RSS coming to you via your email
+ Great filtering based on what others are reading and enjoying
+ Easy way to discover new social connections based on similarities with what you look for in articles

= You will most definitely miss some good articles but also gain ones that you may never have discovered

+ Strength of filtering is based on the crowd

– Not as thorough as a regular RSS feed

Stay tuned for my finally of RSS readers where I show you how to set one up.

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  • RSS: What are the options? (Part 1)

    There are many RSS readers out there and although I gave a few options in a previous tutorial I didn’t delve very deeply into those options. So in this three part series I will delve a bit deeper into the options and how exactly to set up an RSS feed.

    Sage for Firefox: Sage is an extension for the Firefox browser that aims to make RSS feeds easy to integrate into your daily regiment at any time.

    +Integrates directly into Firefox
    +Integrates into Firefox’s bookmarking system
    +Visually customizable through Cascading Style Sheets
    +Feed Discovery
    +clean and uncluttered

    = bare bones

    -You need access to your browser to read your RSS feeds
    -You need to use Firefox to access your RSS feeds
    -Not as many social networking features

    Google Reader: As mentioned in a previous article Google reader comes with a Gmail account and all the other great Google products. It may not be the best RSS reader but it fits seamlessly into the Google suite, improves all the time and is the reader that I use the most.

    +Automatically created with your free Google account
    +Integrated into the Google suite
    +A good selection of social features
    +User interface has a great cognitive structure that “chunks” the information well
    +Always getting better
    +Drag and drop functionality and collapsable folders for a tree menu

    = All online and accessible from anywhere but must use a browser

    -Looks bland
    -Not many extra features
    -Not intuitive to set up the folders (need to click on a feed and then select feed settings)

    In the next article I will go over some very social options in RSS called Toluu and Social Median. Check for it later this week.

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  • I know everyone probably has some sort of Google account and if you don’t you have probably have heard about it. But I wanted to make sure that I wrote something about it because it is one of those fundamental online tools that you must tap into and I didn’t want to take it for granted, that and there are so many tools that people haven’t tapped into that add so much to the experience.

    Google pretty much owns my life and there is a good reason for that. It’s easy, free, integrated and unified. On top of it I can gather all the Google tools that I use onto one page, my Google Homepage . This is where I have my Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and many other tools that aren’t even Google tools like the weather, or alternative search engines.

    So how do you get a google Homepage? If you have a Gmail account then you already have access to the Google Homepage and ALL of the tools I have listed here and MORE you simply need to login with your Gmail account to access it and it is all FREE!

    Let me elaborate on some of the tools that Google offers:

    • Google Docs: Word Processing, Spreadsheet creation, online forms/surveys, presentation/slideshow creation. All of which can be fully private or fully collaborative with several people working on the same document at the same time from the same room or thousands of miles away.
    • Gmail: Email that offers over 5 GB of storage space (It’s space is ever growing as well depending how long you have had it for, I’m up to nearly 8GB), to-do lists, contact lists, Instant messaging, video chat, and many plugins that increase it’s functionality like GTD inbox, Boxbe, and Google Calendar. And because it is all integrated you send some emails right to your calendar like Entourage and Outlook.
    • Google Calendar: Create multiple calendars that you can share with family, friends collegues, co-workers or the entire world if you want. Tap into co-workers (if they are sharing) calendars to help you schedule meetings or events. Break it down into months days or hours. Reminders help you keep track of your life as well.
    • Picasa: An online photo storage site like Flickr. Easily organize, find, and share your photos. (Stay tuned for a more in depth look at Picasa and Flickr coming very soon)
    • Google Reader: A RSS feed reader that allows for sharing and works really good.
    • Blogger: A easy to use blog that integrates into all your other tools, grab photos from Picasa, documents from Docs and populate your blog so others can keep up to date with what you are doing.
    • Google Sites: A no code required web builder that utilizes drag and drop modular design. Easily have a website up and running in minutes.
    • Youtube: yup your Google account automatically gives you a youtube account.
    • Google Maps: A map of everywhere. Get directions and save them to your account so you always have them for accessibility. And check out street view which lets you go down to street level in most major cities in the world and look around as if you are in a car.
    • Google Translate: Translate from language to language. Very Handy. 43 languages supported and counting.
    • iGoogle: Your personalized Homepage of widgets/nuggets/gadgets. Can house most of the Google tools along with thousands of other tools that enhance productivity or just supply fun.
    • and many more like Finance, Scholar, Books, News etc. And they are constantly adding more.

    The best part of it all is that it all exists online (but you can have it run off your desktop too if you want) and is accessible from any computer in the world that have computer access.

    How can I use this for education?

    • Increase productivity.
    • Almost everything you do can be online and is sharable.
    • Reduce desktop clutter with fewer applications.
    • Give students a free alternative to pricey desktop applications.
    • Most of your tools can be accessible on one web page. It’s your desktop online.
    • It lives online so you have access everywhere and are not tethered to one computer.
    • Collaborate synchronously or a-synchronously online whenever or wherever with students, course co-writers, colleagues or whoever.
    • Set students up to collaborate online, this works especially good with distance courses.
    • View Microsoft Office documents without Microsoft Office.
    • and there is so much more but so little space

    So what do /would you use the Google products for?

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  • Filed under: Calendar/PIM, Collaborative, Conferencing, Editors, File Viewers, Office, RSS Readers, Search, Social Networking, Tools
  • Byline Google Reader

    I have been using the Byline Google Reader from Phantom Fish for the past six months and over the last few months I come to realize just how much I rely on this exceptional tool. Google Reader is my RSS tool of choice and I monitor a wide assortment of blogs and sites dealing with Learning, Educational Technology, Web 2.0, Social Media and much more. So my primary criteria in selecting an iPhone reader is that is must sync seamlessly with my Google Reader–and Byline does that and much more.

    Having access to my RSS feeds on my iPhone means I can use spare moments anytime and anywhere to keep up with my reading. Whether I am in a doctors or dentist office waiting room or waiting to pick up my kids from an activity I can take those spare moments and keep up to date.

    Byline Start Screen

    Byline Start Screen

    The Byline interface is elegantly simple and effective. I get a list of my RSS categories that I have created in Google Reader and a number indicating how many new entries there are.

    Byline Headlines

    Byline Headlines

    A single touch of the folder gives me a list of headlines and the site or blog title where they are from.

    Byline Content

    Byline Content

    One more touch of the headline gives me access to the full article or post. If it something that I want to refer to later I can simply click on the star at the bottom of the screen and I can check my starred items either in Byline or in Google Reader when I am back at my laptop. I used the star functionality often because I prefer to add notes or explore a topic further when I have access to my full system. As much as I like the iPhone typing on any device this small is simply not as convenient as it is on a full keyboard.

    Byline is not free but at $4.99 it can hardly be considered expensive and 5 bucks is a very small price to pay for the mobility and flexibility that this tool provides.

    Education Applications

    While I would be hard pressed to use Byline itself in the classroom or in an online course this tool and RSS readers in general are extremely valuable to instructors who are continually required to stay up to date on their area of expertise.

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  • Filed under: Research, RSS Readers, Social Networking
  • RSS in Plain English

    RSS (Real Simple Sindication) is the best way to keep up to date with websites, blogs or other sources of information. The CommonCraft video RSS in Plain English offers one of the best explanations for how RSS works and what you need to use it.

    We highly recommend using the Google Reader to manage and view your RSS feeds because it is the simplest and most effective tool that we have found to date. It is fully web based and so you can access your RSS feeds from anywhere that you have internet access and a browser. If you already have a gmail account then you have access to google reader and just need to click on Reader from the top left menu when you log into  your gmail account.

    rss-iconTo subscribe to this or any other blog all you have to do is look for and click on the RSS icon. Most sites will automatically take you to a page that will add the RSS feed to your google reader.


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  • Filed under: RSS Readers