Tag Archives: nogoogle

InoReader – A Google Reader Replacement

inoreader

After trying out Netvibes, Feedly, Digg Reader, The Old Reader, self hosted TT-RSS and a couple of other services I already forgot, I finally settled on InoReader as my Google Reader replacement of choice for the foreseeable future.

So why InoReader – first and foremost, because it fulfills all my requirements:

  • Single Stream of News
  • Runs in browser on the desktop
  • GReader shortcuts (j,k,Home)
  • Dedicated Android App (or at least a good mobile page)
  • Hosted (synced across locations / devices)
  • Registration possible without Google / Facebook / Twitter / … account
  • Considerably fast (or at least faster than tt-rss or The Old Reader)
  • Sharing option to a public RSS feed (to put into my pump.io account via brdcst.it)

InoReader does all that out of the box, the only thing which has to be configured manually is sharing “Favorites” (starred articles) in a public RSS feed (Preferences / Folders).

Another configuration option I’d recommend, is setting the “Disable all social features” check box on your profile, if you don’t use the integrated FB / Twitter / … integration this makes the web UI look a lot cleaner.

InoReader also provides an Android app, which is very clean and to the point, you can read your RSS and star articles, which is all I really need (of course it works offline, too, once the articles are downloaded). Here’s a screenshot:

Conclusion: InoReader is fast, realiable and configurable, it has everything an RSS reader needs. If you’re still looking for a Google Reader replacement, look no further.

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Pump.io / Identi.ca: The next federated social network

The year is 2013 AD and all social networking is occupied by Facebook and Google. Only one small village of indomitable Gauls holds out against the invaders, still fighting to create an open, federated social network.

After Diaspora degenerated into a strange mix of Pinterest and Powerpoint (before being abandoned by its creators for the infamous Makr.io), there is a now a new attempt by Canadian developer Evan Prodromou, who also created Identi.ca and Status.net.

pumpio

On July 10 Identi.ca finally migrated from Status.net to the new Pump.io software. Unlike its predecessor, Pump.io is not just a Twitter clone but a full fledged federated social network. Right now the feature set is pretty basic, there is support for formatted text notes and photo uploading, a games API (demonstrated by Open Farm Game) and an authorization system similar to the one Plus stole from Diaspora (with “lists” instead of circles, this time).

Tags and groups are still missing, same as web image or video embedding. But more important than features, Pump.io has a users. Three days after the Identi.ca conversion Pumplive shows over 28000 users on 52 different instances. That doesn’t sound much compared to compared to 800 million Facebook users, but it’s enough for a lively conversation.

To encourage federation, Identi.ca does not accept new registrations, but you can join the fun on a number of other public instances available under the pump.io try it link (there’s a number of instances, so if you don’t like the URL just “try it” again).  Without groups and tags you need to follow people to get posts – good starting points for finding people are Evan’s follower list or Jpope’s directory of users know to his own Pump instance.

Old status.net clients like Mustard are not working anymore, but a number of clients is already in development, including Like / Hate “buttons” for the web and two pretty good Android apps called Puma and Impeller.

While not yet a replacement for Facebook or even Tumblr, Pump.io is definitely one of the more promising approaches to open and federated social networking. Check it out and follow me on https://fmrl.me/axel (https://identi.ca/axel668 is now inactive).

Google Reader replacement: The Old Reader + gReader

Update3: I have moved on to InoReader (blog post here)

Update2: T.O.R. is staying public after all and migrating to new high performance hosting in the US

Update: T.O.R. team is giving up and making the site private … for me that’s back to Netvibes, even if they don’t have an Android App 😦

With Google Reader being discontinued on July 1st, I took another chance to look at Google Reader alternatives for the web / desktop and Android. On the desktop I was already using Netvibes for a while, but I was always annoyed at the lack of an Android app or at least a decent mobile web page.

Finally, I settled on a combination of The Old Reader for web, and gReader on Android (which supports The Old Reader as backend).

The Old Reader has a simple, neat UI which reminds a lot of the “old” Google reader before the Plus- style remake in 2011.

gReader is a very popular Android app originating from the days before Google’s own reader app was published. It has offline support and a million options for customizing, although I’m getting on quite well with the standard setup (except for switching to the “dark” theme).

gReader also supports Feedly, and in my opinion is much more convenient than Feedly’s own app. There is a paid “pro” version, too, but until now I am not missing anything in the free version and ads are limited to the detail view of an article, so for me right now it’s not worth the $3.99 for an upgrade.

Unlike other alternatives (Feedly, Digg Reader) The Old Reader doesn’t require a Google or Twitter logon to work, but you can simply register by email, which was important for me.

If you are looking for more Google alternatives, take a look at this older post, which is constantly updated to reflect new developments.

Opera 15 “Next”

Opera 15 Next, by clubic.com

Two months after moving their mobile platform to the Chromium Webkit / V8 engine, Opera has now released a first Blink / V8 – based preview of Opera Desktop for Windows and Mac. Based on the current Chrome beta codeline (28.x) Opera already offers a very smooth browsing experience. Speeddial has been extended to support easy generation of folders (just drag a speeddial icon on another one to group them), and instead of Bookmarks there’s Stash, which lets you like pages (i.e. add them to a thumbnailed, searchable list)and the Opera Discover news aggregator is also integrated.

The addons page already contains copies of some of the more important Chrome extensions (Adblock, WOT, LastPassword, …). Unfortunately you cannot install from the Chrome Web Store directly, but it is possible to drag .crx files to the opera://extensions page (check StackOverflow on how download the .crx files). With this little hack I was able to install Outlook Notifier, Tumblr and Delicious Tools extensions, so chances are pretty good it will work for your favorite Chrome extensions, too.

The integrated email client is continued as a separate application, but honestly, who still uses an email client these days ? Neither Chrome nor Opera themes are currently supported, but you can choose between a handful of different speeddial wallpapers.

As a quick test with the Peacekeeper benchmark shows, the performance is (almost) up to Chrome level (O15 is still filed as Chrome, but a closer look at the user agent string shows it’s really Opera):

peacekeeperOpera15

Instead of Bookmarks, Opera introduced the “Stash”, where you can store pages you like in a single folder, searchable list. While this is probably not the worst approach on bookmarking, one thing definitely missing is Opera Link synchronization. LastPass takes care of the passwords but for bookmarks you currently have to rely on the Opera Link Web UI or another web based bookmark service like Delicious.

Search engine configuration is still missing, too, you can neither change the default search engine nor assign keyords, which is pretty annoying if you are used to that from other browsers.

So what’s my first impression ?

For an early development snapshot, Opera 15 Next shows a lot of promise – thanks to Google’s Blink engine the web site compatibility is better than in 12.15 stable, and the refined Speed Dial and Stash are interesting innovations.

Opera still has a log way to go until this is ready to replace Chrome or Firefox as my default browser but still, Opera Next is the most interesting entry on the browser market for a long time, and I’ll definitely keep watching it.

Update: Alternatives for Google Services

No matter if you think Google really IS evil after all, or just want to know your options, here’s a list with alternatives to Google applications and services.

UPDATE – Current state of Google alternatives as of 2013-08 … removed MS alternatives because regarding privacy MS seems to be even worse than Google

There are some services and products I could not fully replace, yet, because there are no alternatives, or the available alternatives have some serious shortcomings

  • Android – iOS is even worse and Firefox OS still has a long way to go
  • Picasa Desktop – there are similar tools for Linux (Shotwell, F-Spot or Digikam) but most don’t run on Windows and none has all relevant Picasa features
  • Youtube is the standard for video hosting all over the web, so at least read access is inevitable … for posting your own vids or watching copyrighted stuff blocked by GEMA, local services like myvideo.de can be an option (they also have a good collection of free legal movies and TV shows in German language)
  • Google Hangouts: The only replacement is Skype (MS), which is possibly even worse (although WebRTC might be an option for the future)

This is just my personal selection, if you know other Google alternatives, feel free to add a comment.

Outlook.com – A Gmail Alternative

Update: With MS proactively giving US authorities access to encrypted data, I have to revoke my recommendation for Outlook.com – for details see here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

 

Of all the email services I tried in the last few years, finally there seems to be one possible Gmail alternative – Microsoft’s Outlook.com.

Outlook.com (by s3.alt1040.com)

So what does Outlook.com have to offer ?

First and foremost there’s a slick and elegant web UI, which makes even Gmail look dated in comparison. More important, unlike the ribbon mess MS produced in Windows8 and MSOffice / Outlook on the desktop, Outlook.com is actually fun to use, it’s easy, intuitive and fast.

Considering the product is less than a year old, it has a quite impressive feature set:

  • Free of charge / ad- free Web UI
  • No ads or forced headers / footers in emails
  • SSL support, unlimited SMTP / POP / Active Sync access
  • Conversation grouping
  • Folders and Tags (“Categories”)
  • SPAM filter (although not quite up to Google standards, yet)
  • 7GB of storage, 300MB attachment size
  • Collecting POP email from other accounts
  • Automatic forwarding of all or part of your emails
  • Filter rules, ‘out of office’ auto replies

The only feature which is really missing is IMAP support, but for me that’s not an issue  because I don’t use any client software on the desktop, and there’s a pretty decent Android app for mobile use:

Outlook.com Android App (by uebergizmo.com)

Since the April update, the Outlook.com Android app has a nice, clean UI and supports conversation grouping, push email and calendar synchronization for the new Outlook.com calendar are supported, too.

Browser Addons / Notifiers are available for both, Firefox and Chrome.

Of course you can argue if switching from Google to Microsoft really makes anything better, but in my opinion spreading your data over different providers is already a privacy improvement in itself. Besides it can never hurt to know an alternative, as Google has been known to shut down their free services almost as quickly as they open new ones.

So, while I certainly would prefer to use something similar made by the Mozilla foundation, it’s refreshing to have a viable alternative to Gmail at all and with today’s email forwarding and collecting features, changing your Email address really is not a big thing anymore … looks like I’ll continue with Outlook.com for a while 🙂

Alternatives for Reader and other Google services

No matter if you think Google really IS evil after all, or just want to know your options, here’s a list with alternatives to Google applications and services.

There are also some services I could not fully replace, yet, because there are no alternatives, or the available alternatives have some serious shortcomings

  • Gmail – other webmail services lack features (IMAP !) and seamless Android integration (besides you need the Google account for Android anyway)
    Update: currently testing Outlook.com
  • Google CalendarZoho comes close, but has problems synchronizing with other calendar services Update: currently testing the new calendar.live.com
  • Android – iOS is even worse and Firefox OS still has a long way to go
  • Picasa Desktop – there are similar tools for Linux (Shotwell, F-Spot or Digikam) but most don’t run on Windows and none has all relevant Picasa features
  • Youtube is the standard for video hosting all over the web, so at least read access is inevitable … for posting your own vids or watching copyrighted stuff blocked by GEMA, local services like myvideo.de can be an option (they also have a good collection of free legal movies and TV shows in German language)

This is just my personal selection, if you know other Google alternatives, feel free to add a comment.