Hey, Where’s the Replacements?

A couple months ago Google announced that, in order to focus on useless social network wannabes (Seriously, Google, you know how absurd commercials for Bing are? That’s how Google Plus ads look.) they were ditching their venerable Google Reader site, which let you follow blogs and things via the magic of RSS syndication. Google Reader was the way that I read the web; a webcomic without an RSS feed was a webcomic I wasn’t reading. Losing Reader was going to be pretty frustrating.

Almost immediately others who relied on the site were panicking, trying to figure out what to do. The weirdest thing about the crisis was the amount of stuff I read saying that RSS itself was a thing of the past, now that Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr were around. I had no idea what to make of that. Were people really using those things instead of RSS? How? Why? That would be like, instead of having your mail delivered, calling up some place every morning to see if you HAD mail, finding out who had sent it, and then contacting those people directly to find out what they wanted. Still, Reader wasn’t going away until July, so my strategy was that I’d let other people do the legwork and then, come June, see what had shaken out as the best replacement for Reader.

Yesterday, though, Reader started acting weird and unusable, so the apocalypse came a little sooner. I did the checking and found out that apparently creating an RSS feed reader requires three unicorns and a magic lamp because nobody else had really sussed it out yet. There was still no consensus on what to move to, so I tried a couple of things that were suggested.

Feedly was right out because it’s a browser extension. I use Chrome only because it’s the browser I hate the least, and if something better comes along, I will jump, so I didn’t want to be tied to this particular program. The Old Reader (named because it simulates Google Reader before Google tried screwing around with it a few years ago) and Bloglines were top contenders, so I tried them as well. Neither of them is that great. The Old Reader seems very much like something written for a few people that is now struggling with a massive influx of users. It doesn’t get all the items it should, and some feeds, such as MetaFilter’s, it doesn’t appear to see at all. Bloglines has a problem with the Flickr feeds I use to look at stuff for Lego Diem. Neither of them are aware that Dinosaur Comics has updated twice in the past two days. So neither one of these is looking like a reliable substitute. I have a couple more to try, but these are the top options.

In the same way, my Twitter app of choice, Echofon, has also been abandoned. Its developer dropped the desktop versions in favor of mobile products, and the desktop version was starting to have issues, so again, I was looking for a replacement. Nothing I tried (Tweetdeck, Janetter, couple of other things) worked as well as Echofon did — even with its known issues — so for now I’m just using the Twitter page, which is pretty suboptimal but still my best replacement, given what I want a Twitter client to do.

I know that part of this is an aversion to change, that I want the transition to be as seamless as possible, and that no one app will be all things to all people. Maybe I’m being way too picky. In time I imagine I’ll be forced to choose a replacement and just roll with it, ignoring its “faults” until I don’t even notice them anymore. In the meantime, I do not need to have to deal with two of these issues at once, people! This is not fair!

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