If you listen to podcasts you are probably subscribed using your favourite RSS reader, I have already talked about which is the best RSS reader. Whilst this is fine it's not the best way to handle podcast RSS attachments. Things like pictures, video and sound files are not actually enclosed within the feed itself so these files need to be downloaded from the webhost's server.
The best way to manage podcasts is to use a specialist program that will manage your subscriptions and download any new podcast files. Juice Receiver does just that and is currently the best free RSS podcast reader. This is a great way to ensure that you are able to get the most from each podcast that you download via your o2 broadband connection, or similar service. It is free and there is a version for both Windows and the Apple Mac OS X.
Once installed the program sits in your toolbar and periodically checks for any new podcasts from the RSS feeds that you have subscribed to. The downloaded files are then saved onto your computer organised into named folders.
Juice Receiver is easy to use, you add new feeds, set the scheduler to check for new podcasts periodically and the let the program sit in your toolbar. You can force the program to check and download any new items if you can't wait for Juice to check. Any downloaded audio files can be played via Juice Receiver.
FeedGhost is a new Windows desktop RSS reader. It has a distinct web2.0 look and is highly customizable with lots of features not found in many web based RSS news readers. To be able to run FeedGhost you need to have Windows XP or Vista and the .NET Framework 2.0 (which is free).
As a newsreader you are able to view feeds in a Google Reader river of news style view or a more familiar outlook style if you're a Windows user. There is a synchronization feature which means you can synchronize your feeds across multiple installations of FeedGhost, for example a copy on your home computer and one at work.
You are able to tag articles to make them easier to search for or to share with others. You can also email articles directly from the reader. Another useful function is the ability to create a link blog, this is basically to allow you to share articles you find in your subscribed feeds that you have tagged with others.
There is a limited free version where you are limited to 20 feeds. The Pro version is on a subscription basis for a very reasonable 20 US dollars a year.
Win a years subscription of FeedGhost
I have 3 subscriptions to give away so I have a little contest. To win all you have to do is send an email and let me know what you would like to see covered at RSS Newsniche. Send your email to newsniche at gmail dot com.
I have often talked about different RSS news readers but there seems to be two that have consistently stood out from the crowd. Firstly there is Bloglines for which I have lamented praises and the new(er) kid on the blog Google Reader.
It's no secret that my current favourite is Bloglines. I have used this as my RSS reader of choice since day 1. The great thing about this tool is that it in free and available online. The benefits of a reader being online is that new items for your feeds appear almost instantly without having to load up yet another program on my ever struggling computer.
The other major benefits of using Bloglines (and in fact Google Reader) is that in Firefox you can set up a default reader to subscribe with.
To be honest there is not much difference in functionality between Google and Bloglines. One of the functions that can be useful is the list view option, this lists all of the items for a feed since you subscribed to it. This makes a great personal archive library of information, great for researching you next article or blog post.
In fact there is so little between them I haven't yet switched to Google, although Google does format the feed and display it in a more readable manner.
One thing I have noticed with both readers is that they do not always handles item dates very well. You may find that you are presented with new items when you have already read them. To be fair this is mostly due to the RSS feed itself but it would be could to have a setting to ignore updated feed items.
RSS Voyage is an RSS readers built using Flash and designed to give a 3D effect when reading RSS feeds.
Feeds are displayed on the screen with a title and a source. The newer items are displayed in the foreground in focus whilst older items disappear off into the distance hence the 3D effect.
Whilst this is nicely done and the creator Andy Biggs is very talented I do not think it is a very practical reader when compared to the likes of Google Reader or Bloglines. However as Andy states himself it is an experiment.
I am sure there are many applications the 3D engine could be used for but not text based reading, especially on a black background. Go take a look and let me know what you think, you really have to see it to appreciate it.
Whilst gingerly checking my Feedburner feeds stats for Newsniche I noticed a new feed reader. Whilst this in itself is not that shocking, what is surprising is that there are nearly as many RSS subscribers using Blogbridge as there are using Bloglines.
Multi platform and free
Like any good blogger I decided to take a look at Blogbridge to see what all the fuss is about. On the site it is described as an open source blog and feed aggregator. This is the first major plus being that it is free to use and can be downloaded from the site.
The second plus is that it is cross platform, there is a version for windows, Mac OSX and Linux. For those who are looking for a desktop based feed aggregator then this looks like a slick well designed offering.
I installed the Windows version to see what all the fuss is about. I must admit the install was very professional looking and fast. On first starting the reader you are given the option of signing up for an account. This gives you the ability to synchronise your feeds so you could see the same thing at work and at home and know which posts you have read.
There is an in house feed library you can also use to subscribe to new feeds, I noticed Newsniche was not listed there, surely just a minor oversight Pito.
The display is quite well organised displaying guides, feeds and articles in a hierarchical manner. One of the main bugbears of desktop RSS readers is the speed of updating feeds, I am glad to say when I imported my OPML list the feeds were fetched pretty swiftly.
In all I have to say this is probably the best desktop RSS reader I have come across. The team at Blogbridge have certainly spend time and effort getting it right and also making it look good. If I wasn't so attached to Bloglines (habit I suppose) I would certainly be using Blogbridge.
Over at CNET there is a review comparing some of the major RSS readers on the market. There are literally hundreds of RSS readers available on the internet but I have never come across any that are in the same league as the big boys.
Before I settled with Bloglines as my RSS reader after testing dozens of other readers that I found to be either flaky, too hard to use or poorly implemented.
The CNET review ranks FeedDemon as the best only just beating Bloglines although the former is pay for software. The Google Reader is also listed but not rated, being new this could be one for the future.
An online RSS news reader. You sign up and get a subdomain where you can view the feeds you have subscribed to.
FireANT is the first software application that comes complete RSS subscription, Video Search, built-in BitTorrent, and the ability to sync media onto the iPod and Sony PSP. Looks good, I like the built in BitTorrent client.
A web based RSS reader that also allows you to tag and group feeds.
Newsgator offers both a desktop and a web based RSS reader.
An RSS newsreader for Outlook. Itis free for personal use.
Pluck is available as a web version or a plug-in for Internet Explorer (Windows).
You Subscribe RSS is a feed reader for Windows. It allows you to read news feeds from within Outlook.
Bloglines is the most comprehensive, integrated service for searching, subscribing, publishing and sharing news feeds, blogs, and rich Web content.
SharpReader is an RSS/Atom Aggregator for Windows, you will need to install the .NET Framework, version 1.1 for this to work.
RssReader collect news in the background at user configurable intervals and warn with a little popup in the system tray that there is a new message arrived.
FeedDemon enables you to quickly read and gather information from hundreds of web sites - without having to visit them. Don't waste any more time checking your favorite web sites for updates. Instead, use FeedDemon and make them come to you.
AmphetaDesk is a free, cross platform, open-sourced, syndicated news aggregator - it obediently sits on your desktop, downloads the latest news that interests you, and displays them in a quick and easy to use (and customizable!) webpage.
Straw is a desktop news aggregator for the GNOME environment. Its aim is to be a faster, easier and more accessible way to read news and weblogs than the traditional web browser.
Feedreader is a lightweight open-source aggregator that supports RSS and ATOM formats. It works under Windows 95 and later versions.
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