Saturday, December 02, 2006

Blog, you bloggers, I'm ready for you!

The world is divided into those who like their home pages to be densely populated, and those who like them clean and simple. One of the reasons for Google's success as a search engine was its clean, simple interface - especially true in the dialup days and slow download of graphics. Google has been my home page for as long as I can remember. So why have I let other stuff creep on?

I have moved to a personalised home page, and for two reasons - Google Calendar and Google Reader.

Keeping up with blogs is fun, but what was the best way of doing it? I tried Konfabulator before Yahoo acquired it. It wasn't happy on my computer, and I had to go to my desktop to look at the widgets. I am never on the desktop, I am always in my browser or email. Then I tried Thunderbird and that was fantastic, but it cluttered up my mailbox (I'm not good at deleting) and I eventually abandoned Thunderbird because it didn't have an integrated calendar. When I went back to Outlook I installed RSSPopper, but it would occasionally crash Outlook. Adding links from my own blog was OK, but I would have to visit each site to see whether anything had been added. Bloglines is OK but again, you have to think to go there.

Google Reader is like Bloglines, but you can also add it as a portlet to your personalised home page. Every time you go to your Google search, it searches all the sites you want to keep up with and allows you to read them, go to the original site, and so forth. Very neat and effective. Every time I fire up my home page, I immediately see the updates.

Google Calendar is another portlet you can add to your home page. We are beginning to use it as a shared calendar at work, and it might just prove good enough for me to be able to abandon Outlook and go back to Thunderbird again, which would mean I could just use Thunderbird to add the blog feeds. Ummm, wasn't that where I started?

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