Cloud // Software as a Service
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11/2/2011
10:08 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now

Google stirred the ire of Google Reader users with its latest redesign, which ditches some of the RSS service's best features. Google must fix some missteps.

Aside from Google's Gmail service, the one Google product I rely on the most is Google Reader. It is an absolutely essential tool that I use every single day to stay abreast of all the information I need to effectively report on the mobile telecommunications industry. Reader has been unchanged by Google for so long that I've fine-tuned how and when I use the service to an art form. I've long considered myself a master of Google Reader's inner workings.

Now, I am a newb all over again, and I am ticked off about it. I'm not the only one complaining, either.

First, Google gave Reader's general appearance a make-over. It now falls in-line with some of Google's other services that have seen make-overs of late, such as Gmail, Docs, and Calendar. They all match the general look of Google's Google+ social network, with a black bar running across the top, larger buttons, and more white space. I can get over these aesthetic changes. I don't necessarily like them, but I can deal.

Second, Google nixed one of Reader's neat features--the ability to subscribe to the feeds of other individuals and share posts back and forth. This social-networking-style feature was a critical reason I use Reader, and now it is gone.

Instead, Google wants everyone to share posts to Google+. While I totally get the thinking behind a move like this--if it can't increase Google+'s usership organically, why not force people to use it?--sacking the way it worked entirely is just not cool.

So, with these and other tweaks made by Google in mind, here are three critical things that Google need to fix right away.

1. Speed It Up

I don't know what the hell happened, but the new Google Reader is slower than a turtle stuck in a puddle of industrial-strength epoxy. Everything about it is slow. Feeds are slow to refresh, new items are slow to open, and pretty much every time I press a button I have to wait five to 30 seconds for something to happen.

Not cool, Google. You used to be all about speed, so where did this glacial-like performance come from?

2. Make It Actually Work As It Is Supposed To

I subscribe to about 115 different feeds in Reader. I generally plow through several thousand headlines per day. When I mark items as read, I need them to stay marked as read. When I star an item, I need it to remain starred. When I hit the refresh button, I actually expect Reader to refresh.

With the new Reader, all these actions are inconsistent. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. At one point yesterday, I read through about 75 items before lunch. I read them one at a time, marking each "read" as I went. After lunch, I returned to Reader to see I had about 150 unread stories. I started digging in, only to find that half of them I'd already read before lunch and were suddenly marked unread again.

Not cool, Google. I don't have time like that to waste during the day. Make it work right.

3. Bring Back Shared Feeds

This is essential. There were several feeds that I subscribed to from individuals that were an absolutely vital part of my informational flow. Now, I no longer have access to those feeds. Instead, Google hopes that I'll watch those same people in Google+ to see what they share publicly. Only these were private feeds meant pretty much only for me. In the 36 hours or so that I've been using the new Reader, I've been unable to access these feeds or find alternatives that are as easy to use.

Not cool, Google. You've killed how I collect information from critical sources. Bring this feature back, immediately.

The bottom line here is that Google has messed up the performance and behavior of a business tool I use day in and day out to get my job done. The changes have had a drastic effect on my productivity.

That's just not acceptable.

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@Collegesportsbz
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@Collegesportsbz,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/5/2011 | 12:44:30 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
I couldn't agree more. The new Google Reader sucks. It takes me twice as long to get through my feeds. I hope they iron it out soon because this is a drag.
DONOVAN BURBA
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DONOVAN BURBA,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2011 | 6:06:49 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
Hello, Eric!

You may be interested in http://www.ridllr.com/ as a temporary replacement for the old shared items, or this Greasemonkey script: userscripts.org/scripts/show/1...
nferree900
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nferree900,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2011 | 5:52:16 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
The thing I like about the new UI is the use of white space but yeah, the speed is a lot slower than before which is a PITA since I use PostRank to score and drill down on the content that scores a 5.4+ so as to not waste time on the content if lesser quality. That's assuming of course, the PR score is tidy and accurate.
Designer_Rants
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Designer_Rants,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2011 | 2:19:32 AM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
G+ and Reader do not perform essentially the same function whatsoever. Reader had a "Note In Reader" bookmark button that would allow you to highlight some or all text/images/even video on a web page and share it in your "Shared Items" page, which could also be subscribed to (or feed-burned) via RSS. Now it's JUST A FEED READER.

Since they did all this JUST to cynically grab new G+ users, it's the last straw for a now "Ex" Google Fanboy. All that's left for me is Adsense and Analytics, services I "need" to use, not services I thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to using (also: SketchUp, before I started using professional-standard Solid Modeling 3D CAD programs). Google has been making the most gawdawful decisions for over a year now. I'm as done as I can be with this "Do no evil" company's evil doing.
Matt Cassem
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Matt Cassem,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/3/2011 | 1:46:54 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
You're right. Google is supposed to be a world-class IT company. Watching their performance with product roll outs over the past year or more, I would say they certainly have some work to do when it comes to thoroughly testing and rolling out products that are solid from the start.

I love ya, Google. You just need to stop taking the Microsoft approach to putting out software and products. :)
Matt Cassem
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Matt Cassem,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/3/2011 | 1:44:08 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
I can understand how those problems are annoying and frustrating for a program/tool you've used for awhile and become comfortable with to suddenly stop working as it used to. I certainly don't discount Mr. Zeman's frustration. I don't know how wide-spread the problems are; personally, I haven't experienced any of those issues, and I'm a hardcore user of Reader.

The only thing I would point out is, it isn't so much that Google wants to "force" users to use G+ (though there may be some of that), I really think it's a matter of two tools performing essentially the same function. The social aspects (which I rarely used in the "old" version of Reader) are exactly what G+ is designed for today with more control on the part of the person sharing as to who sees it. Reader didn't have this functionality. The control was on the part of the person subscribing: they saw everything you shared.

I do get that some people liked the way the social aspect of the old reader was set up, but for that, they can do what I did as one option: create a circle for those people that were previously connected on Reader (if they're there; most are).

I do hope that those issues Mr. Zeman described are resolved for him, though!
MastaBaba
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MastaBaba,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/3/2011 | 9:17:48 AM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
I'm having pretty much the same issue with the disappearance of shared feeds. I had set up multiple shared feeds on several topics, using the shared feeds piped into a few websites. Now, this is broken.
Any suggestions on how to fix this or workable alternatives?

The feeds still appear to exist, but are no longer open. Attaching login info to the feeds doesn't appear to work.

I think I just found a solution: You can (still?) create feed bundles using Google Reader. The RSS feed associated with these bundles appears to be public.
pomahony2
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pomahony2,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/3/2011 | 9:10:50 AM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
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Dear Mr. Zeman

Your recent article "3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now " about Google Reader, truly expresses my frustration and some of my anger with Google.

Google destroyed a product/application (Reader) that I have depended upon daily, to do my work.

Google appears to be getting "too big for its' britches". One person describes Google as the next Microsoft!

I have started looking around for alternatives to Google, before it is too late.

Some of the same type of Google problems can also be seen at the Google FeedBurner (email) application/service. I can not sign into it, to review my subscriptions.

I also found Google's "Tone Of Voice" (TOV) to be very insulting. It just has the sound of arrogance, lack of humility and total hubris.

http://googlereader.blogspot.c...

So starting today we'll be turning off...

We hope you'll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do,
but we understand that some of you may not.-á

If you decide to stay, then please do...

If, however, you decide that the product is no longer for you, then please do...

If, however, you decide that the product is no longer for you,
then please do take advantage of Reader's-ásubscription export feature.
Regardless where you go, we want to make sure you can take your data with you.

Mr. Zeman, please keep up the good work and wonderful writing.

Pat OMahony pomahony2@gmail.com
(but looking for some other mail service, and reader service and FeedBurner service.)
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Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/2/2011 | 10:23:56 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
It seems like the "but you don't pay for it" piece is becoming more and more of a double-edged sword.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
T24333
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T24333,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/2/2011 | 7:17:30 PM
re: 3 Google Reader Changes Need Repair Now
Google is acting more like Microsoft.
I sure wish Google would make gmail sortable, but they tell me what I need and they aren't going to allow sorting.
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