GreatNews Helps See Light Before Info Tunnel End

As I grow older I find myself slowing down. And can no longer pull even one all-nighter. All I can stretch myself to run is about 18-20 hours and then I literally pass out in front of whatever electronic gadget I’m using. Less often the computer. More often the TV. And that’s just on weekends. Week days I’m so numbed from the daily office routine and the commutes to and from work that I tend to eat dinner and crawl off to bed. Although very occasionally I do slump in front of my PC and catch up with events around the world.

This catching up doesn’t mean visiting multiple news sites. It’s usually restricted to firing up by RSS feed reader and reading older stories. If I’m feeling perkier than usual then I’ll let me feed channels update in the background while I check my mail. And after using at least 10 different RSS Reader application in the past year. Including Firefox plug-ins I’ve settled on Curio Studio’s GreatNews.

This has nearly everything I need. And can support an almost limit less channel set. Frankly I’ve haven’t stress-tested the application to see what is the maximum catalog size. Considering my advanced state of natural decrepitude I’m scared I’ll choke from information overload. More probably though from the effort involved of locating and adding all those channels!

GreatNews sure lives up to its name. Although I must warn readers that the news channels you add and then review are only as great as your selection. But then to each their own. There’s much I like about this neat free software. For starters you don’t need another tool (like Firefox) to activate it. It’s a complete stand alone application. That doesn’t need the .NET framework as my previous favorite SharpReader did. It uses scarce Windows resources very wisely. Peaking at 45-50 MB while updating channels, 7-9 MB when focused. And just 700 kB when minimized!

There’s a built-in browser that supports tabbed browsing. The default seems to be IE. But its also possible to custom configure the Mozilla ActiveX control. To open items (when connected to the Net) in a new tab, use the middle-click mouse function (activated by clicking the wheel on so-enabled pointing devices). You can also open a new blank tab using Ctrl+T (v1.1.349 onwards) Firefox-style. Or double-click the tab bar.

Also included are a variety of viewing styles. And even though the default view (style) is pretty cool. My personal favorite Newspaper with bold blue headlines, black text on a white background and no images makes it easier to absorb information. There’s also a Firefox Sage style that I find visually pleasing but not structured for speed reading. You can also ‘roll your own’ style using CSS formatting.

GreatNews RSS Reader - Items grouped by LabelGreatNews displays a re-sizable channel bar listing all subscribed channels. Usually grouped together either the way you set them. Or based on the original OPML import file format. My copy follows FeedDemon from which I’d (originally) imported by subscribed channels. There’s also a News List of items stored in a feed, organized by sortable columns for label, title, date, author and feed channel. The last column is redundant if you view by channel and is meant if you use a combined (non-grouped by channel) view. Below the news list is the Channel Browser.

A key feature that ensured GreatNews retains my Numero Uno RSS reader spot is Labels. You can tag then group any number of news items and even channels into a custom collection. To view these bookmarks you don’t need to access the feed directly. I use Labels to tag articles of interest for later referral. If you are looking for items matching keywords appearing in subscribed channels, use News Watch.

GreatNews can also directly add specific items to your Del.ico.us or Furl accounts. As well as a number of blogging tools; a feature I have still to explore. If you love statistics you can view the top 10 channels accessed, the least visited, and the most or least active channels over a 60-day period.

GreatNews RSS Reader - Channel cleanupTo help manage information overload. And delete outdated information, there’s a Cleanup feature. This can be set to remove feed items that cross a user-specified threshold (7,14,30,90, 120 days). But don’t worry about accidentally deleting Labeled items as you can choose to exclude them from the clean-up process. You can also choose to retain a specified number of new items per feed if you don’t to use a time-bound trigger. The Cleanup feature can also delete temporary files and compress your channel database.

GreatNews can import (and export to) channels from an OPML or XML file including those generated by Bloglines. You can even create a custom RSS 2.0 feed of items grouped by Label. A feature I use a lot to transfer interesting content between work and home.

GreatNews (800 kB) is standards compliant. And supports major feed formats like RSS 0.9x, 1.0), 2.0, Atom 0.30 and 1.0. It supports full text search with highlighting. And is fully Unicode compliant and displays international languages. Interestingly it also support HTTP Conditional GETs and gzip/deflate encoding.

If you managed to find the Raptor: Call of The Shadows torrent, downloaded the file and have become somewhat addicted to the game, here’s a cheat. To suddenly become rich, launch a new Mission as anything but a Rookie. Then in Bravo Sector, Wave 1, every time you terminate an enemy ship, press the Backspace key. Never mind if your score goes to Zero. Keep at shooting down then Backspacing at least 6-8 times. Then abort the Mission and return to the Hangar. Now return to the store to load up. But first sell the extra Death Ray’s you have suddenly accumulated. This cheat doesn’t seem to work in the demo version.

And finally there’s a cool Firefox extension for readers who open multiple Firefox Windows. You can now tag each with a mnemonic title so you can find it in the toolbar clutter. FireTitle comes out of Google’s recently-concluded Summer of Code 2005 imitative. However, the current version doesn’t save these titles when a Firefox window is closed.

That’s it for this week. Stay Safe!

4 Comments

muffin says:

Hey! Don’t work so hard. We’d like to see these snippets coming in!

muffin says:

Hey! Don’t work so hard. We’d like to see these snippets coming in!

Jack Pan says:

Thanks for the nice review. I’m glad you like GreatNews! -Jack

Jack Pan says:

Thanks for the nice review. I’m glad you like GreatNews! -Jack

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