There could be a ton of reasons why you want to keep up with the news. In any case, lets say you’ve been trying for a long time, and it simply hasn’t worked. Perhaps you don’t like newspapers and you don’t have cable television, or you don’t like going through 500 different industry websites to stay on top of developments. Let’s use the power of RSS feeds and software available for Windows to make keeping up with news easier. Let’s bring the news to you.
Mobile devices like the iPad brought with them the beautiful, unique grid layout for displaying reading content (like Flipboard). I really love the different-sized grids with brief summaries of articles and background images. If you’re looking to build a habit of reading the news, a great user interface can certainly make the task seem more enticing. Unfortunately, not all of us are in the financial position to invest in an iPad or a tablet right now. If you’re running a Windows 7 PC, I’ve got the perfect solution for you. (In case you’re on a Mac, NetNewsWire is a great piece of software that aggregates RSS feeds.)
Readefine Desktop is an Adobe AIR app that emulates the grid layout of mobile apps. It resembles a newspaper, and has columns and serif fonts. Its strengths lie in its ability to sync with Google Reader although, unlike NetNewsWire, it doesn’t download Google Reader articles for offline accessibility.
You can also choose to import an RSS feed directly into Readefine. Fortunately, I’ve had more luck with reading these directly imported articles offline.
I prefer reading an article on Readefine than on a blog because Readefine’s interface is much cleaner. At the same time, Readefine also allows you to Share your article of choice, through Instapaper or Twitter or email links and the like.
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly customizable. For example, I’d much prefer to be reading my articles in sans serif, but Readefine doesn’t allow me to change font types. (Perhaps in the next iteration?)
If you’re looking for an RSS reader that can grab all your Google Reader feeds and connect to some offline too, give Readefine a try.
Snackr is something a widget that displays articles in a stock ticker format. It’s also an Adobe AIR application.
Here’s a closer look of what each tile on Snackr displays:
You can choose to place Snackr on the top, bottom, left, or right side of your desktop. I’d definitely suggest anything but the top, as Snackr makes it difficult to close/maximize/minimize your windows.
Snackr also syncs with Google Reader, which is a very convenient feature. I love it.
Viewing a post on Snackr is very simple. Click the tile of the post you want to read, and then click View Post.
If you’re looking for an application that goes through a bunch of feeds quickly and displays information in the background, Snackr is a good way to go.
FeedSquares (UPDATE: This tool is not available anymore) is a Google Chrome Extension that allows you to access all your Google Reader feeds from right within Chrome. It displays all your feeds in a colorful arrangement of squares. The beauty of this is how your Google Account information is already in Chrome, which means FeedSquares can pull that up immediately. You can access FeedSquares right from the Google Chrome navigation bar.
Here’s how the home screen of FeedSquares looks:
Clicking a particular feed will open this navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. This bar displays posts in reverse-chronological order.
Clicking one of those posts will bring up the full post in the FeedSquares screen.
FeedSquares is a very convenient way to stay on top of your feeds, because it’s so accessible via Google Chrome. If Chrome is your weapon of choice, this makes FeedSquares much more visible, which means the chances of you forgetting to read the news will be slimmer. However, if you’re not a Chrome user, you likely won’t switch just because of this extension, which makes it less effective.
Staying up with news is essential in many industries and niches. If you want to get ahead in yours, this could be one of the steps that separates you from the rest of the pack. Read well!