NetNewsWire and me

September 6, 2009 / Or is it NetNewsWire and I? Riveting story, either way.

The things we nerds do for the sake of our nerdom. I know you want to hear all the details, so don’t try to deny it. Here goes… NewsGator, makers of my favourite feed reader NetNewsWire, is transitioning all of its non-enterprise products to Google Reader synchronisation services and closing their own synching service. So far it’s been a schemozzle for yours truly.

I care about this because after e-mail clients ( and Thunderbird), text editors (TextWrangler and Coda) and browsers (Safari, Firefox, etc.) my next most heavily used application is NetNewsWire. I like this product and I want to stick with it. It’s bloody excellent. I use it on two computers (home and work) and on an iPod touch—so the synchronisation feature is fundamental.

It was on Brent Simmons weblog that I first heard that a new version was in the works. Not long after, I received a rather pumped up message from NewsGator saying that exciting changes are coming ra ra ra and oh, by the way, synching is changing:

  • NetNewsWire for Mac – you may continue to use your current version (synchronization won’t be supported after August 31, 2009). However, we recommend that you download the latest version of NetNewsWire and sign-up for a Google Reader account for synchronization. Please refer to our transition instructions for assistance.
  • NetNewsWire for iPhone Customers – a mobile RSS Reader requires synchronization and a new version of NetNewsWire for iPhone that supports synchronization with Google Reader will be available soon. We will notify you when it is available so that you can download the latest version of NetNewsWire and sign-up for a Google Reader account prior to August 31, 2009.

I don’t want to use Google Reader for synchronisation, but that’s another story. Let’s just say that I like this software enough that I’ll go with it for now. I’m tuned in and following along at home. The transition instructions told me to download the new version of NetNewsWire for my Mac:

Download the latest version of NetNewsWire.

That link takes you to a beta version. Okay, so it’s not ready yet but they want us to move everything over to Google Reader really soon so they can shut off synching. The iPhone version is not available yet either. Here’s the part where I digress and tell you that I’m a weird nerd who still uses Mac OS X 10.4 even though at that time all the cool kids were starting to count the sleeps until 10.6 was released.

This is relevant because I decided to follow NewsGator’s instructions anyway and installed the latest version of NetNewsWire. It doesn’t work on 10.4. Fortunately, when I downgraded again to my previous version (which I’m still using) all my data was there so I didn’t have to resort to restoring from backups or anything.

So now I’m thinking, hmmm—I will have to finally upgrade to 10.5. No big deal, I guess. I’ve been using it on my work machine and I love it. Then I had a brainwave and decided to check the prices of replacement hard drives for my Mac. [ed.—Excursus #2, for those who are counting.] These things are cheap as chips! You can jam a 300GB drive in there! (I have an 80GB drive currently.) Next, I ask my friends whether upgrading is something that anyone can do with sheer hutzpah alone, or whether you really need to be a technician. @berkleebassist was quick to tell me that the answer lies somewhere in between:

@adriancooke 36 screws to remove the top case. Takes me about 2 hours to do, & I’m a certified mac tech. Get a manual, & be careful!

Ahh… yeah. Well, maybe that’s not really me. I would freak out too much if I killed my computer. I did check out the procedure on iFixit and there was a reader comment in there somewhere about little hooks that you can’t even see in the high res photos and you can break things if you’re not careful and I was all not tonight Josephine after that.

Anyway, back to NetNewsWire… I eventually ordered a copy of Leopard, carefully installed it last night (i.e. using the John Gruber’s Murphy’s Law approach) and now I’m sitting down to figure out how many days I have left until my synching is switched off. So far I have seven related tabs open to try to get this straight:

  1. The e-mail: “Action Required – NewsGator Consumer RSS Reader Product Changes”
  2. NewsGator Product Transition Instructions
  3. NewsGator FAQs
  5. Google Reader’s signed out page [ack!—sorry, hairball]
  6. NewsGator Exporting Clipped and Tagged Articles
  7. NewsGator Online (where I’m logged in, but clueless)

Of all of these number four is the most helpful:

Note: This is still a beta — it’s unfinished, and it has bugs and incomplete features. If you haven’t started using a beta yet, you don’t need to: you can wait until it’s finished. […]

(Note: we won’t turn off NewsGator syncing until NetNewsWire 3.2 and NetNewsWire 2.0 for iPhone are finished.)

Oh, and in the midst of all of this I got another message from NewsGator saying, “chill, the dates have been pushed back because we’re not quite ready just yet.” I don’t know what to do next, so I thought I’d tell the Internet. All of this for a feed reader! And people are saying that RSS is dead. Pish!

† Does anyone else think that NewsGator should have a small “g” just like Photoshop has a small “s”? Wow,you all do? Would you look at that.

6 responses

  1. Lydia

    Whoa. That is a lot of words dedicated to something I spend very little time thinking about. My iGoogle page is my homepage, and I have a Google Reader widget there, and that’s it. Instant synchronization, I can star and share, and no updating ever.

    September 6th, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

  2. Adrian Cooke

    What’s your point, Walter?

    September 6th, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

  3. Dan Todd

    Please explain your position on Google Reader and contrast it to NNW?

    I don’t mean to be rude, Lydia, and I mean this with all due respect, but its not like have a lot of words dedicated to something I have never thought about is new thing on ZTOE…

    September 6th, 2009 at 6:17 pm #

  4. Brian Christiansen

    I, for one, am a long-time NNW user who was lobbying for Google reader integration. I didn’t like how slow NewsGator was to fetch new items from feeds. I mean several of my feeds, even very popular ones like Daring Fireball, were a day late. That’s not acceptable for someone who sees the world through RSS. I wanted it to sync with Google Reader because I preferred their mobile implementation over the NNW mobile app. Plus, many of my friends use GR as their reader, and there are a number of useful social features I’d lime to see come to NNW. I didn’t have a problem using their beta, I’ve always used their betas, but I did have a very bad sync at first. But I had backups, as forewarned, and recovered quickly. And of course, having 10.5 was not an issues for me :-)

    September 6th, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

  5. Lydia

    My point is that you seem to be very agitated by a process – getting and reading your RSS feeds – that Google Reader makes very easy and painless for me, with no updating or wrangling. Then again, for all I know this may be akin to suggesting that people stop eating Vegemite; just because I don’t see the reasoning in submitting oneself to yeast extract for breakfast doesn’t mean it’s not a valid choice. (Mental note: Yikes. From now on only comment on civilian posts.)

    September 7th, 2009 at 9:02 am #

  6. Adrian Cooke

    My point is that you seem to be very agitated by a process – getting and reading your RSS feeds – that Google Reader makes very easy and painless for me, with no updating or wrangling.

    Lyds, it’s specifically NewsGator’s forced choice of conversion to Google Reader for synching that is giving me the shits—it’s both clunky and forcing me to send Google more user data if I want to keep using my favourite reader. Two issues, but I was focussing on the first one. You’re totally right that Goog’s reader is easy to use. I already use NetNewsWire so that’s less relevant for me. Their synching service, on the other hand, is far superior to NewsGator’s (as Brian pointed out, and you implied because Reader is so usable). The rest, as you say, is all about the Vegemite ;-)

    September 7th, 2009 at 10:21 am #

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