The Google Giveth
Make Your Own Cloud
Although I'm not quite ready to abandon Gmail and host my own e-mail again, I have to admit I've been researching my options ever since the announcement of Google Reader's demise. For my RSS needs, however, I've decided to host my own Web-based RSS reader. Google Reader going away really disrupts my lifestyle, and I want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for failure by choosing another third-party service.
My first attempt at replacing Google Reader was to install my own copy of NewsBlur. It's a little more glitzy than I like, but it's open source. I fired up my Web-hosting service and created a new site for hosting NewsBlur—and then spent hours beating my head against the wall.
Don't get me wrong, NewsBlur is indeed open source. The code is freely available from Github. There are installation instructions, but it's still fairly difficult to install. I understand developers not devoting a ton of time holding people's virtual hands for an end result that would cut directly into their bottom line (NewsBlur is a commercial service after all). Still, if you're thinking you just need a simple LAMP stack, you'll be very surprised.
NewsBlur depends on Django, Celery, RabbitMQ, MongoDB, Pymongo, Fabric, jQuery, PostgreSQL or MySQL, and tons of configuration to get it running. I'm not saying the program is poorly designed. I'm saying that I'm lazy, and installations like WordPress have spoiled me. If you're adventurous enough, installing your own instance of NewsBlur may be very rewarding. I prefer something simpler if I need to maintain it, however. Enter: Tiny Tiny RSS.
Tiny Tiny RSS:
Like the name implies, Tiny Tiny RSS is small. It's a PHP application that requires a back-end MySQL database and nothing else. It literally took less than five minutes for me to install and configure Tiny Tiny RSS on my Web server (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Tiny Tiny RSS is tiny, and it interfaces with plugins and clients alike.
Tiny Tiny RSS reminds me more of a standalone RSS reader like Liferea than a Web-based program, but when you start exploring its plugins and addons, you might wonder why you've been using Google Reader all this time! If you recall at the beginning of this article, I mentioned that Liferea would sync with Tiny Tiny RSS. When you add the fact that it can act as a back end to standalone clients, the availability of an Android application and the countless plugins available, it's easy to fall in love with Tiny Tiny RSS. Even if you end up going with a more glitzy alternative, you owe it to yourself to give Tiny Tiny RSS a try.
Sadly, Nobody Surfs Like Me
I'm doing my best to focus on the positive side effects of Google's decision to close down Google Reader. It's forced me (and many others) to take a serious look at where I'm putting my data, plus it's forced me to think outside my little box. In all my research, however, I still haven't found a way to replicate the obscure Google Reader feature that has been my sole way to browse the Internet for a half decade—the "next unread" bookmarklet. I demonstrated the feature in a Linux Journal Tech Tip years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLGqEsVDPrQ.
Maybe someone will create a Tiny Tiny RSS plugin that does this for me. Maybe it will be the reason I finally learn to program on my own. Nevertheless, this seemingly simple feature is one I can't find anywhere else. If anyone has recommendations on how to replicate that feature, or if there are any Tiny Tiny RSS programmers out there looking for a weekend project, I'd love to hear about it!
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