How to Use FeedDemon

Nick Bradbury, the author of FeedDemon, writes a helpful post of How I Use FeedDemon. I find it particularly helpful to see how the creator of a particular software is taking advantage of all the features.

I have been using FeedDemon for several months now. However, only recently have I been using FeedDemon on a more exclusive basis. For several months I tried several RSS aggregators such as Sharpreader and NewsDesk. Both products work pretty well, and the price is right (free). However, because they require the Microsoft .Net Framework to run, both products can be particularly taxing on system resources.

For a while I switched back and forth between FeedDemon and Bloglines. It seems that several bloggers in the library community prefer Bloglines, so I have been giving it a try. I appreciate the fact that Bloglines is extremely portable, as you simply need a computer with a browser to access your feeds. On the other hand, FeedDemon (and other client-based aggregators) requires you to have the computer on which the client is installed to read the your feeds. Obviously, this can pose a problem if you want to read your feeds but are visiting your inlaws (and if you are like me and are sans laptop).

Bloglines is the obvious remedy to this particular problem, as it is web-based and can be accessed from anywhere. This is what I see as the main advantage to the (currently free) service. However, where Bloglines lets me down is in how configurable or customizable the service is. Bloglines does allow you to configure options such as sorting order, posting length, and how links are opened, but that is about it. In contrast, FeedDemon has multiple ways to change how you view and read your feeds.

The huge amount of customization available in FeedDemon is its primary advantage, but it can also be one of it’s biggest weaknesses. The level of customization available and all of the various menus and wizards can be a little intmidating or overwhelming. I have always been one to tinker, and FeedDemon definitely allows me to do that. Unfortunately, because there is so much to tinker with in FeedDemon, I sometimes spend more time configuring the software than reading my feeds. That is why a Nick Bradbury’s post is so useful. It sometimes helps to see how others tinker with their setup to their liking. Thanks for the tips Nick, and for a great piece of software.

On another note, it looks like Nick is getting a little closer to releasing version 1.5, as 1.5 RC2 is available to paying customers. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I am looking forward to getting under the hood and tinkering with it.

Opera Promotes Deal With .edu’s

Opera just launched a deal that will allow academic institutions a free site license for the browser. The details of the offer are available here.

The browser is being pitched as a much safer alternative to Internet Explorer. However, Opera believes there are other reasons to choose it’s browser:

“Opera is the ideal browser for the university environment,” says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. “Opera’s user-friendly features, accessibility options for the disabled, and cross-platform and customization capabilities make life easier for students to manage their various study needs. Opera is fully standards compliant and offers extensive administration possibilities for network configuration, providing flexibility to system administrators as they make Opera a part of their university network.”

This really is a great marketing plan, and is an ideal mechanism to increase market share of the browser. Some universities have recently banned the use of Internet Explorer on public computers and are pushing users to use Firefox. Part of the push for using alternative browsers has been fueled by the Department of Homeland Security’s recommendation Firefox is gaining a little on IE, and with a move like this, Opera might be close behind.

I am a big supporter of using alternative browsers to IE, and have been using Firefox for some time. Unfortunately, my web surfing with other browsers has not been without problems. Each day I come across a new database, web site, or other page that will not function properly when using Firefox. This is not Firefox’s problem, as it is a standards compliant browser. However, there continue to be tons of pages that are not written to compliance, and therefore do not work properly with anything except Internet Explorer. According to some, IE is on the way out.

We currently have Firefox as an option at my library, although it is buried several levels deep in the Start Menu. In talking with our systems department, they hesitate to add the shortcut to Firefox on the desktop. The main reason is it is not guaranteed to work with Blackboard.

On a different note, I was encouraged last week when helping a student. He had come in for some business research help, and I openened up Firefox and started searching multiple databases. I did a similar search in Business Source Premier, Business & Industry, and TableBase. After about five minutes, he asked, “This is sort of off-topic, but are you using Firefox?” I told him I was and he asked why. Once I showed him the tabbed browsing, he was sold.

The Future of The Internet

Pew Internet & American Life have released a 62-page study entitled The Future of the Internet

This lengthy report discusses the impact the internet will have on various aspects of society, as well as how it will change in the next ten years. Below are some interesting excerpts:

On Family Life

“The context for family interactions has already changed dramatically. The ease with which children and grandparents can communicate; the ability to message instantly will change the nature of our interfamily relations – and thereby change the dynamics of our personal lives.”

On Information Quality

“The dissemination of information will increasingly become the dissemination of drivel. As more and more ‘data’ is posted on the internet, there will be increasingly less ‘information’…This will affect everything from politics, to science/pseudoscience, to education. The only vestige of hope may be in the development of integrity, whether mandated by law, developed by private labels, or in the most unlikely of scenarios, the nascence of personal integrity.”

“The internet won’t change most institutions and human endeavors too much, because it’s increasingly a cesspool of spam, porn, phishing, and other distracting and annoying commodities, discouraging more intensive and productive use.”

On Privacy

Prediction: As computing devices become embedded in everything from clothes to appliances to cars to phones, these networked devices will allow greater surveillance by governments and businesses. By 2014, there will be increasing numbers of arrests based on this kind of surveillance by democratic governments as well as by authoritarian regimes.

On Entertainment

Prediction: By 2014, all media, including audio, video, print, and voice, will stream in and out of the home or office via the internet. Computers that coordinate and control video games, audio, and video will become the centerpiece of the living room and will link to networked devices around the household, replacing the television’s central place in the home.

First IM Reference Interaction

Today I had my first reference interaction using AOL IM. My library has been doing chat reference for quite some time, and we are available for about ten hours on most weekdays. Our business is good, and we are able to help quite a few students with library research. We have about twelve people who staff our chat queue. Personally, I am only on chat once or twice a day and these times are irregular. As a result, this makes it difficult for would-be chatters to contact me directly.

Last summer I created both Yahoo! IM and AIM accounts and posted them on my library contact information page. By doing this, I wanted to enable business students to be able to contact me directly. In each class I showed students my contact information, and talked about being available through IM. Day after day I would start up my IM client, only to shut it down eight hours later. It was all quiet on the chat front —–until now.

The question was fairly basic. The patron wanted to know the update frequency of the Value Line Investment Survey. I answered him, and also referred him to another similar resource. Again, pretty basic, but very effective act extending my reach and going where the users are. Will there be more? Only time will tell.

IE Not Working Right

This was an interesting exchange on the Web4LIb list.

The problem with IE:

Is there anybody experience delay at IE searching? Our library got some complains on Internet Explore delay or even hung after patron entered a wrong url. For example, user enter ccc.ddd at address line, IE would stuck at original page and doesn’t do anything. He can’t back or stop. Sometimes librarian will come to reboot the PC.

The answer:

I believe you can download a patch for this bug at
http://getfirefox.com/

🙂

Clever answer. Yes, Firefox seems to be the answer to alot of what’s wrong with the web.