Today I want to share a blogging tip with you. Most of you will probably use some kind of RSS Feed Reader to keep up with all the blogs you follow. Recently I found out some really cool and handy new features in Google Reader that I want to share with you.
For the few of you who do not know what a Feed Reader is:
RSS feed is what they call your blog post as it travels the internets.
When you subscribe to a blog using this RSS button you need a feed reader to read the blog (and if you want to subscribe to my blog just click that button and make my day ).
Google Reader is by far the most popular feed reader. It makes following and catching up with blogs so much easier than bookmarking them. You can see in the Reader whether a blog has a new post and you can read the posts in the Reader too. It is basically the same as reading you bloglist in your Blogger dashboard but a lot more convenient (if that is how you have been following blogs, you can import them into Google Reader with a click).
I have an ever growing list of blogs I follow, it goes up and down (mostly up) and currently I am at nearly 250 blogs. That’s a lot of reading people. And I can fall behind really quickly. When I basically unplugged myself for a few weeks during my summer holiday I came back to a Reader that said 1000+ unread posts.
That could mean I had 1001 unread posts or 100.000.001, I think that last number was more accurate. I must admit that I marked the majority of those posts as READ with one big swoop (you can mark anything older than two weeks as read), but that still left me with a lot of posts to catch up on. On a hunt to find the most effective way to use my Google Reader I discovered some interesting new uses and lots of cool new stuff.
You can read blogs in a whole new way now. Did you hear about VIEW?
If you paste view behind a blog address (only works on Blogger blogs though) like so: www.songbirdblog.com/View. You are taken into a new page where you have several options on how to read that blog. You can choose magazine style, a stack of pictures or a quick overview. Let me show you.
This first one is called sidebar. You see the first post up front and the next posts handy organized in a sidebar. If you want to read through the last posts on a blog fast, this is very handy.
The second way is Flipcard (you can choose the viewing option with that aqua button on the top right). This is my favorite view if I know someone wrote an awesome post that I want to find quickly. Flipcard shows a picture of each post and you click that picture and are taken to that post immediately. Very good for our project/picture rich blogs.
The third one is called Mosaic. Pretty self explanatory. It makes a mosaic of the latest post and presents them in a magazine like lay-out.
Snapshot is also very nice. It also shows you a picture of the post and shows you how many pictures there are in the post. Again you can navigate to the different posts by clicking on the pictures.
The last one is timeslide. It shows you snippets of recent posts so you can check them out and see if you want to continue reading further.
Pretty awesome way to read and view a blog isn’t it. I frequently use the VIEW mode when I find a new blog and quickly want to find out if the blog in general might be of interest to me. I go to Flipcard and check out the pictures to see if there are a lot of projects that I might like, and then I read little bits of posts in timeslide to see if I like the writing. Very easy way to quickly asses if it really is a good idea to add this blog as number 251 in my reader…..
Ok then, but now that I have all of these blogs in my Reader what can I do with them, except read them there!
Share posts on Twitter, Facebook etc directly within Google Reader
Well if I really like a post I can send a tweet out on Twitter to let my followers there know about this great gem of a post I found. Or maybe share it on my Facebook page. In the past I would have to go to the actual post, copy the permalink than open FB or Twitter and paste it in a message. Well guys nowadays I can do all of that right into my Reader itself. Want to know how?
You click on that small print on the bottom left corner “Manage subscription” and go to the tab Send To
Now I have a little extra button on the bottom of each post in my reader. And when I choose to do so I can quickly post a link to the original post with a comment of mine, on one or more of my chosen options. I can even post to my Facebook Page here, which is great because the “like” option always gets linked to my personal wall and in general I want to share these posts on my Facebook Page.
See I don’t even have to leave my Reader and I can still spread the love around.
But wait there is more……
Did you know lot’s of browsers have special plugins too? And do you realize Windows Explorer has the rep of being one of the worst browsers around. In Europe Windows is not allowed to sell Explorer as a package deal anymore and now that people have choices, the free Firefox browser is the most used browser over here. I am a faithful fan of Firefox. I also love Google’s own browser Chrome, because it is really fast. And the other day I found some Chrome extensions/ plugins that have won me over completely.
Read full feeds and leave comments in Google Reader using Chrome
I have found a few Add-ons, or extensions or plug-ins. whatever they are called, that have made my blog reading life so much better.
I can recommand downloading:
It is a handy thingamajig that makes Reader just that extra bit better. It does so many neat things that I haven’t even all tried out. Here is the description of the creator’s:
In the past I have unsubscribed from every blog that only had partial feeds. I really did, no matter how much I loved that blog. I just absolutely detest partial feeds. When I came back from holiday I was so disappointed to see that some other fav bloggers of mine had turned to partial feed. I guess it has something to do with page views, forcing your readers to visit your site. Well that never worked on me, I just never clicked over if I couldn’t read the full post. So I went in search of a solution and found this Chrome extension.
When you add it in Chrome it gives you an extra set op options on how to read that feed. You can read it like you always did (the Feed) option, read it in a better version with the full feed (readable) or and here comes the kicker, read it within Google Reader but on the original site. With one very fast click, the post/blog opens itself in your reader and you can leave a comment just like that!
And if you click that little arrow on the left, the navigation sidebar disappears and you have a full screen of the blog. A true timesaver I tell you.
And no this is not cheating, this is not hurting anybody’s page views count. In fact it is better because if I visit the original blog in my Google reader it is counted as a page view (I checked) and I can see all the ads from blog sponsors etc. It is just so much faster then opening up blogs manually and I don’t have to open a lot of tabs at once, which really slows my browser down.
Now that I can read full feeds of all blogs, even the ones that send out a partial feed, I have resubscribed to some longtime no-see favorites.
Google Reader keyboard shortcuts
The best and fastest way to use Google Reader is by using keyboard shortcuts. There are tons of them. It is so much better than using the mouse all the time. I could give you a list of all the shortcuts. But it is so much easier to just hit ? while in Reader and you get them all.
Try it, just hit the ? key and you’ll see this list of shortcuts open up.
The ones I use most are J/K to move the next item that will then open. When I am in list mode I use N/P for the next or previous entry that will open when I hit enter and close when I hit enter again. The spacebar to scroll down the window, and S to star the post so I can go back to it later.
Translating blogs in Google Reader
You did now there is a world of blogs out there that aren’t written in English? You do know that for example the Scandinavians have an awesome thing going when it comes to decorating with white, vintage stuff? You do realize that you might be missing some wonderful treasures if you limit yourself to the English language blogging world? So to encourage you to venture into unknown worlds I want to direct your attention to this neat little trick.
I follow quite a few French and Scandinavian blogs. I always hesitated to follow more foreign blogs because of the language. No more. Did you know you can have Google Reader translate the blog (badly granted), and Reader will even remember that you want that blog translated so he does it every time you visit that blog in your Reader.
Granted it isn’t the best translation in the world. But it is always good enough to understand the story behind the post and usually it is even good enough to follow along with tutorials and recipes. Really try it, you’ll find that there is so much more than English on the web.
And this concludes todays post about my new skills with Google Reader. I hope you learned something. It isn’t really a DIY Blog Design post but it falls on the category of blogging tips and tutorials I like to give now and then.
On a completely different note, did you notice I have a new button that you can use if you want to link to my blog.
Pretty, isn’t it. You can click copy and paste the code that is below it in the sidebar and paste it in your gadgets box in your blog, and I will love you for it.