At the beginning of 2013 I decided to start a series of ‘annual reports’ where I listed the people and resources discovered during the previous year worth adding to my reading list. I also took the chance to talk about how my ever-flowing RSS feeds’ organisation was going. I believe it’s important to do this, to share these findings, because there are a lot of interesting and writers and websites out there deserving of a wider audience.
Last year I wrote:
With regard to reading — both online and offline — I feel my 2013 has been a denser, richer year than 2012. I know for sure I’ve read more books in 2013 than the year before, and as for reading stuff online I’m left with the impression that I’ve found more quality writing overall. Maybe I’m just getting better at instinctively avoiding the bad writing and at filtering out the noise while tuning to the signal.
Well, I have to say that 2014 hasn’t felt as rich. (To me, obviously.) Many times I stumbled on insightful posts and contributions, but didn’t add those authors to my feeds mainly because of the intermittent quality of their production, or because I wasn’t interested in the main topics they usually talk about in their websites and blogs.
Anyway, here are the ‘new entries’ in my RSS feeds, in truly no particular order:
- getwired.com by Wes Miller. — I love Wes’s style. He’s another tech-oriented author who writes only when he really has something to say, and when he does, he writes thoughtful long-form contributions.
- Avery Pennarun, discovered thanks to John Gruber when he linked this post by Pennarun on Daring Fireball. Apenwarr, his blog, is updated infrequently, but when he updates, it’s really worth your time. His most recent articles on Wi-Fi technology are rather technical but extremely informative if you want to have a deeper understanding of it.
- Brent Simmons’ Inessential — I follow Brent since I first discovered NetNewsWire years ago. I decided to add his site to my feeds when he started updating it more frequently.
- Michael Tsai is the developer of SpamSieve, among other things, and SpamSieve is the best email spam filter application for the Mac. Like with Brent Simmons, I have been reading Michael for a long time (since I discovered the About This Particular Macintosh e-zine back then) and I used to visit his blog on a fairly regular basis, then last year, after considerably pruning my feeds, and seeing that he too, like Simmons, had started updating more frequently, I decided it was time to finally add his blog to my feeds.
- Le Journal du Lapin by Pierre Dandumont (in French, for the most part; he sometimes publishes articles in English). — Pierre is another vintage Mac enthusiast and updates his blog frequently. He always finds something interesting to talk about or link to. I was looking for someone who wanted to attempt a project I thought about carrying out — putting a higher-resolution display in my clamshell iBook — and Pierre has done that and thoroughly documented it, too!
- The Pickle Theory (née The Typist) by Shibel Mansour — Shibel is a great guy and I always enjoy his insightful posts. He’s one of those you wish they updated their blog more often.
- Aral Balkan and Ind.ie — Aral was a great 2014 find for me: he’s intelligent, articulate, and passionate about what he does and what he wants to build with the Ind.ie project. And we share the same views about privacy, surveillance, and what he calls Spyware 2.0.
- The Robservatory by Rob Griffiths, and Kirkville by Kirk McElhearn. — I’ve been reading Rob and Kirk for a long time, and even translated some of their Macworld articles into Italian back when I was a collaborator of Macworld Italia Magazine. Like with other old-timers in the Mac community mentioned above, I’ve been checking their websites often over the years, and finally decided to use my RSS reader to consistently keep track of what they write.
- Alex Roddie — Alex is a writer and a vintage Mac enthusiast like me. If you want to know more about where he comes from and what he writes, here’s a link to his main website. But, he also writes an excellent blog at the website where he offers his professional editing and proofreading services — Pinnacle Editorial. The Pinnacle blog is a great resource, with articles written by Alex himself and by guest authors, featuring contributions on writing, reviews, and commentary related to the book publishing world. Then he also maintains a great blog on vintage Macs called Macintosh HD; he writes less frequently there, but the blog really deserves to be in your bookmarks if you, too, are a vintage Mac enthusiast.
- Big Mess o’ Wires by Steve Chamberlin. — Steve is one of the good tinkerers. He’s the maker of the Macintosh Floppy Emu (From the Floppy Emu page: “[It’s] a prototype floppy and hard disk drive emulator for vintage Macs. It uses an SD memory card and custom hardware to mimic a 400K, 800K, or 1.4MB floppy disk and drive, or an HD20 hard drive. It plugs into the Mac’s external or internal floppy port, and behaves exactly like a real disk drive, requiring no special software on the Mac”), and it’s a really ingenious device. I discovered Steve exactly by following a link to his emulator, but as you’ll see, his website is full of interesting projects and technical investigations.
Of course, I’m still reading and following the people I discovered in 2012 and 2013 (see links to my old articles at the beginning).
Briefly, on podcasts
I rarely have time to listen to podcasts on a regular basis. There are only three exceptions. The first two are podcasts I subscribed to a long time ago, so I managed to always find the time and the attention for them; the third is the 2014 new entry:
- John Gruber’s The Talk Show because, well, John Gruber. Episodes are long and the conversations rambling, but always in an interesting, unpredictable way. That’s what makes me return for the next episode.
- The RetroMacCast with James and John, obviously dedicated to the world of vintage Macs. James and John are great guys, long-time Mac fans who know their stuff.
- Release Notes, with Joe Cieplinski and Charles Perry. Episodes are generally short compared to many other tech podcasts, about half an hour each, and that’s good. The two hosts have a great pace, and a to-the-point, no-nonsense approach which is quite enjoyable. Well worth my time (and yours).
RSS management and reading software
Considering the subject, I think it’s relevant to mention how my RSS management has changed, and which applications I’m using now to read my RSS feeds.
On the Mac
On my main MacBook Pro, I use Reeder 2, connected to my Feedly account. There I keep basically all the feeds I follow on a daily basis. In the period before Reeder 2 was released, I used ReadKit and has been quite a decent alternative. I still use it every now and then because I love how it manages my Pinboard bookmarks and displays them as feeds.
On my most-used PowerPC Macs — the Power Mac G4 Cube, and the 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4 — I use NetNewsWire (the older version 3.x, of course), and I keep only a subset of feeds, usually those that are considered ‘slow feeds,’ i.e. sources updating less frequently.
Both on the iPhone and the iPad I now use Unread, which for me is the best RSS reader, period. If you still use an older device — like the original iPad, stuck at iOS 5.1.1, or the iPhone 3GS on iOS 6.1.6 — I strongly recommend Byline by Phantom Fish. It’s a solid RSS reader which provides a great integration with iOS 5 and 6’s UI.
What I use to ‘read later’
For the most part, I still don’t read later, and I’m still applying more or less the same techniques described in the afore-linked article. In Safari, though, I started doing things a bit differently in 2014. Instead of keeping a lot (and I mean a lot) of tabs open on articles and stuff I want to read/act upon within the day or the day after at the latest, now there are three layers of bookmarking:
- Open browser tabs, only for articles I want to read straight away once I finished whatever ‘foreground task’ is getting my attention, and articles I want to write about on my blog.
- Safari’s Reading List, for articles I want to go back to as soon as I can, but that lack the priority of those articles and sources I keep in open tabs. The Reading List feature is also useful because it’s a synchronised bucket — I can save there something I notice while using my iPhone or iPad and then read it later on the Mac’s big screen at my desk.
- Pinboard, for long-term storage of resources I want to keep for future reference.
That’s all. In the next days I may update this article if I realise I made grave errors of omission.