NewsReader blues

September 8, 2004

A few weeks ago, I gushed about a new feed aggregator called SauceReader. Don’t get me wrong; there is a lot of great things about SauceReader. Unfortunately, there are a few critical problems.

First problem – it is slow. Really slow. I trimmed my feeds down to a paltry 100 feeds from the 200 or so that I had before. Still slow. Slow starting up, even.

Second problem – I’ve got 512 Megs RAM on a Pentium IV running at 1.7 gHz and it sometimes takes up to 100 Megs of resources. Not even Outlook hogs up that much!

Third problem – It locks up. Mind you, it is occasional, but really frustrating. I try to read a specific message and everytime it locks up tighter than Superman trying to make a diamond by clenching a lump of coal with his buttocks. I can understand that the program can’t handle something but it should handle it gracefully, not lock up and consume even more resources.

Fourth problem – Okay, this may seem like a nit-picking point, but it is important, possibly the biggest issue for regular use. Since I have a few feeds I can end up with 1500-1600 items to review if I don’t read for a few days. As such, I read fast, moving from item to item and only lingering on something of interest. When I was using SharpReader, the space bar moved to the next new item. I could click on the master node, sort by date and then read through them in 45 minutes or so. SauceReader requires a CONTROL-J to read the next item so I either have to use two hands or stretch one, causing cramps after a few minutes. I use the keyboard; if I have to fall back to using the mouse it takes a lot longer and breaks up the routine. The keyboard is ALWAYS the fastest method for navigation and data entry but if an application isn’t keyboard friendly then it can be a real productivity killer.

Fifth problem – it won’t export feeds that don’t have any items in them. This is a real headache as I’m trying out SauceReader and I had added several feeds to SauceReader and deleted a bunch of obsolete feeds. Now, I’m having to go to the properties for each feed and copy the URL then paste it into another reader since that feed only gets updated every couple of weeks doesn’t currently have any items. However, this is only frustrating if you want to leave SauceReader; it imported my SharpReader subscription OPML just fine.

Anyway, SauceReader has a lot of good things going for it – integrated utility for submitting to a weblog, automatic discovery of RSS feeds from a web page in the internal browser (but it won’t recognize a RSS feed URL? What’s up with that?). Maybe when they get some of the kinks out I’ll try it again. For now, though, I think I’ll switch back to SharpReader until I find my ultimate tool.

UPDATE: After a bit of discussion with Nathan, I’m still using SauceReader. I still want to be able to use the spacebar (or another easy to reach SINGLE button) but I’m able to make it work for the most part.

[Now listening to Don Henry, ‘Beautiful Fool’, from ‘Wild in the Backyard’]


4 Responses to “NewsReader blues”

  1. Nathan said

    Thanks for the great, clear feedback Chris. Information like this really helps us to improve the product and focus our efforts.

    1 and 2. We’re continuing to work on these issues. Generally, we’ve got better with each release…

    3. Was this when selecting the last item in some feeds? There is a problem with the windows control library we use that can cause this behaviour in some circumstances. More information on this problem would be very helpful.

    4. You can completely customise all keyboard shortcuts in Sauce Reader (including space bar). Check the Sauce Reader help for more details on how.

    5. I can’t reproduce this one. I delete almost every post, and yet all my empty feeds exported fine. If you please email me your data set we’ll investigate further.

    Thanks, Nathan

  2. With regard to item #3, yes, it was the last item in the feed.

    With regard to item #4, I’ll check again. I looked in the application and the online documentation and didn’t find anything to customize that functionality. Also, from a useability standpoint it should ship with the single key next new item mapping, not a dual key, especially not one that requires two hands.

    On item #5, let me review the OPML more closely. Perhaps it is the other application that isn’t reading it correctly; I’ll review the actual exported data and report back.

    I’ve emailed the data directory to you – hope it helps!

    Customer service is definitely a plus though with Synop! I hope I can work through some of these items because the product is really a next generation above most of the others I’ve tried out – and I’ve tried most of them.


  3. Nathan said

    The help topic is Application -> Keyboard shortcuts -> Customising keyboard shortcuts. The item you want to change is called “Next Unread Item” from the “View” menu.

  4. The problem is that you can’t select the spacebar from the list of available keys or key combinations. I’m stuck with using the function keys which still require a stretch.

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