Archive for the ‘Google Reader’ Category


December 29, 2009


Most of the time Google Reader does a good job of parsing stories and presenting them. But some of the time it includes a load of nonsense in the story from the links and other stuff on the original page. The page is probably missing a closing tag of some sort so Reader just went on copying the text mindlessly.

I expect it is an error in the way the page was written but it is still annoying. Maybe it is good though – it reminds me that my Google Reader “experience” is generated by a machine.

Experiences With Google Reader

November 15, 2009

Google ReaderI have been using Google Reader for a couple of weeks now. It has become quite addictive and very time-consuming.

I started to use it as a way to keep track of my Flickr friends’ photos and the few blogs and news sites that I read regularly. But now my list has grown to over 50 feeds excluding my Flickr friends.

One reason is that Google Reader is very good at suggesting new feeds based upon the ones you already subscribe to. I guess it isn’t brain surgery but it does have an uncanny knack of finding interesting blogs for me to peruse.

Along with its suggestions Google Reader also presents “popular” posts from a wide variety of sources – apparently unrelated to the interests that it has observed in my subscriptions. That’s clever as it helps me widen my interests. If I mark a post it shows me as “like” then it claims it will show me more like it. Interesting it does not allow me to mark something as “don’t like”.

It has not shown me anything objectionable but a lot of the popular stuff is boring to me and many posts seem to be repeated. Maybe that’s how many bloggers get traffic: they copy appealing posts from others.

The design has some downsides. I have been following the official Adobe Lightroom Forums. The discussions there are threads of questions and answers. Google Reader does not (cannot?) maintain that threaded context so I see many answers but it is hard to go back to the original question. Google Reader is much better suited to regular blogs and news sites than the threaded format.

While Google Reader has saved me time looking through many different sites it is also a bit of a time sink. With my slow internet connection from Thailand it is often slow to load new content and the more sources I add the slower it gets. I need to prune out the sites that I am not very interested in and get back a core set that I truly want to know about.

Despite its evident polish Google reader isn’t immune to displaying confusing error messages such as


Google Reader Unexpected Condition

Google Reader Unexpected Condition


“Sorry, an unexpected condition has occurred which has prevented Google Reader from fulfilling the request.”

What’s that meant to mean? What can I do about it?

I think it was merely a communication error or timeout but the message didn’t help at all.

Some Flickr Photos Unavailable to Google Reader

November 1, 2009

One problem with using Google Reader to view photos that my contacts have added to their Flickr Photostreams is that Google Reader does not send Flickr my credentials.

This means it only finds Public photos – not photos restricted to Friends and / or Family.

Also Flickr users can hide their photos from external searches using the Privacy tab on their “Account” page.

This is sensible but it means I can easily miss good photos that my Flickr friends wanted me to see if I only use Google Reader to check their Photostreams. I bet not everybody realises this.

I expect the same applies to other services like Picasa Web and Ipernity.

Sometimes when Flickr “has the hiccups” you get a “Photo Unavailable” instead of the photo.

Google Reader Flickr Photo Unavailable-200

Google Reader Flickr Photo Unavailable

That’s understandable too. I think Flickr stops servicing external API requests when it is heavily loaded in order to better serve its members who are using its web site.

I don’t think Google Reader can track comments on Flickr photos. That would be useful.

Google Reader

October 26, 2009

I’ve been trying Google Reader to keep the web sites that I like to visit often into one interface. It’s a bit like email. Most sites have a RSS feed. Flickr maintains them for users, groups and so on.

Google Reader

Google Reader

It’s a bit fiddly posting long URLs of feeds into the “Add a subscription” box but you get used to it.

One thing I noted is that if people read my blog through Reader the hits do not show up in the site statistics maintained by WordPress. Google Reader must get in by a side entrance. It certainly reformats the content for presentation in its window.

I looked at the Google Reader recommended bundle of sites to add when you set it up. I wasn’t interested in any of them. It was a generic mix of harmless US-centric pop culture sites.

Google’s missing an opportunity here. They know so much about my browsing history and anything else they can glean. They could make a bundle of sites that they think might interest me. They’re good at things like that.