How do you know your favorite blogger had posted a new article in his site? Do you keep visiting his site often only to find that you had read the last post long back? I suppose you might have had his site bookmarked in your browser. But that’s only fine if you have one or even a couple of favorite bloggers and you work from home, always using the same computer, which is very unlikely. What if you, like me, have some twenty or more heroes to keep track of? You’ll go mad simply by checking their sites for updates. There’s an elegant solution.
Allow me to introduce you to your new friend – Google Reader – www.google.com/reader
A google account is all you need to use this wonder service from Google. It is web-based and so you can access it from your home, office, mobile and from any other place you think Google is available.
If you had already logged into Gmail or Google+ or any other google service, visiting the above link would automatically take you to the Reader. Otherwise login with your google credentials.
From here on, it is pretty much nothing. When you click the big red “SUBSCRIBE” button, it will ask for the feed url. Most of the time, it is enough to give the site’s URL. Google will find the site for you and list the recent contents from the site. But sometimes Google might not be able to find the site. In that case, it would mean that the site is using some other means to do this job. Fear not. Look for the “Subscribe” or “RSS” button or link or image. My site has one such image link at the top right corner, beside the search bar. Hover over it and copy the address you see and paste it in the Google Reader’s “SUBSCRIBE” text box. This time, there’s no escaping! You can subscribe at this point. You have the option to provide your own name to the subscription. You can also categorize them.
Google Reader has been my favorite blog reader for more than 2 years now. It is consistent in its presentation. All the tasteless styles, advertisements and illegible font and color choices are stripped apart and only the data is shown to you in all its naked glory. It has the exact same interface like Gmail. You can star your favorite posts, mark them as read or unread and share them too. Navigate through items like a geek by using keyboard shortcuts (while at gmail or reader, press ? and see what happens).
All that is left to do is to establish the habit of checking your Reader regularly, treating it just like another Gmail inbox. Only in this case, it is an useful-information saturated inbox.
Blogs that I follow
Depending on my interests at the time, they vary. Few have remained as favorites for a long time though.
Under a section called “42“, I have all the blogs about life.
- TED.com – http://feeds.feedburner.com/tedtalks_video
- Seth Godin – http://feeds.feedburner.com/typepad/sethsmainblog
- Derek Sivers – http://sivers.org/en.atom
- Swaroop CH – http://www.swaroopch.com/feed/
- James Altucher – http://www.jamesaltucher.com
- Steve Pavlina – http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/feed/ and many others.
Under the “geeks” section, I have the hackers that I follow:
- Paul Graham – http://www.aaronsw.com/2002/feeds/pgessays.rss
- Zach Holman – http://feeds.feedburner.com/holman
- Patio11 – http://www.kalzumeus.com/feed/
- Ed Weissman – http://edweissman.com/rss.xml
- Tom Preston Werner – http://feeds.feedburner.com/tom-preston-werner
- Matt Might – http://matt.might.net/articles/feed.rss
- Jeff Atwood – http://feeds.feedburner.com/codinghorror
And so on. I have some more categories like, “tools“, “StackOverflow“, “design” and “friends“
Blogs that you can follow
Google about your interests. Find the top people there. They will almost always have a web presence. Follow them. For a start though, you can try for a week some of the names found in my “42” list.