A few weeks ago Google stunned many people by announcing that they would be shutting down Google Reader on July 1st, 2013. For those of us who’s information diet lives and breathes by RSS, this is a big deal. The entire Internet (or at least the RSS reading portion) scrambled for a few days to figure out what alternatives there where and where to go. Now that the initial panic has subsided, its a good time to talk about the alternatives.
Finding good alternatives was more difficult than you’d think. The free service of Google Reader quickly dominated the landscape when it was introduced in 2005. This had the side effect of killing much of the RSS development over the next few years.
I should probably admit at this point that I’m probably one of the reasons that Google killed off Reader. Much of the speculation around Readers death comes down to the fact that Google couldn’t monetize the service. I never really used the official Google Reader web UI, instead I used Google Reader as cloud storage of my feeds and article read status but used native clients such as NewsRack for my Mac and Feeddler RSS Reader Pro on my iOS devices for actual reading/interacting. There was no easy/good way for Google to toss ads in my face.
The good news it there are were some alternatives out there waiting for their moment in the sun. During my research, just a handful seemed to rise to the top as the ones with the most potential: Tiny Tiny RSS, Feedly, and NewsBlur.
tl;dr version: I ended up on NewsBlur. In the rest of the article I’ll talk about why I ended up there.
One of the great challenges when talking with people about their on-line habits is explaining the web browser and talking about which ones people are using and why. Jason Toff at Google ran into this problem when talking to his mom and put together a little video to explain what the browser is. What struck me most about his blog post, though, was the (admittedly by him) very non-scientific graph he included:
It’d be interesting to see a good scientific study aimed down this. I don’t disagree with the unscientific numbers though.
What sorts of things last 7 years?
- time spent in tibet
- bad luck as associated with breaking mirrors
- Guy Richie and Madonna’s marriage (now ending in divorce)
- my marriage (not ending in divorce, still on going, so this doesn’t count, I guess)
- my time as part of the Center for REALTOR® Technology (one week longer than the last thing mentioned)
If my records are correct CRT was created on the week of August 13, 2001. I’ve always been proud to say I’ve been part of CRT since day 3. Only Mark Lesswing was there on day 1, but I got there when I could. Mark launched CRT with the NAR member focused three part program of Advocacy, Education, and Implementation, but we needed to create the specific of what that program was.
For the first 5 years of my time at CRT I held the title of Strategic Architect. My daily duties included coding, some system administration, some education/presentations, and some writing. One duty I took on that you won’t see in a position description was to help explore and define exactly what CRT was.
During that time, CRT grew to 6 people and a handful of consultants who came and went. I’ve very proud of the work we did at that time and the impact we started to have on our members, NAR, and the industry as a whole. From our papers, to being a knowledge base for leadership, to open source software projects like JAMM and ezRETS, to hardware projects like our lockbox prototype, to giving presentations/education sessions at national, state, and local meetings.
Two years ago, Mark was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of NAR. CRT became one of the three departments that reported to the CTO, along with InfoCentral and Information Technology Services (ITS.) While Mark was still associated with CRT, his view become bigger and someone needed to deal with CRT’s day-to-day. At that time, I became the Managing Director of CRT. During those two years I kept the torch burning on the original concept and tried to build some new concepts and tasks for the CRT. Some of these things you’ve seen, some will be announced soon. All this time I’ve continued to be proud of CRT, its staff, and our service to NAR’s members.
Yesterday, my association with CRT ended with the naming of CRT’s new Managing Director (more on this in a second.) Don’t worry, I’m still at NAR continuing to service its members, but in a new role. Just over three weeks ago, I became the Vice President of ITS. It’s a new challenge for me, and a good step forward in my career. I plan on bringing the energy and creativity that serviced me well at CRT and focus it on NAR’s internal computing needs.
There are many things I’ll miss from CRT. The biggest adjustment will be not being as connected to NAR’s members was once was by having the conversations when CRT traveled to speak. Luckily there’s still blogs, twitter, and instant messaging out there to help me stay up to date.
However, there is one thing I’ll keep doing. As I’ve said before, “I cannot not code.” So I’ll be staying on as the main coder on ezRETS for the time being. Besides, no one else needs learn the horror that is ODBC internals! I like to keep my hands dirty, so that’s a good project to do it on.
As a quick aside: Its funny, but I feel like I’m getting a preview of something 14 years in my future personal life: letting one of my children go. I’ve always felt to be, at the very least, a co-parent to CRT. Its actually been a bit harder than I would have thought.
The big announcement
As I mentioned above, CRT’s new Managing Director was named and its a name known to anyone who already knows CRT. I’m very pleased to announce that Chris McKeever has agreed to take the reigns.
I first met Chris when he was the lone IT guy for a large brokerage in Chicago. I had seen his e-mail to a local Linux Users’ Group mailing list looking for a php developer. Based on the job description and the industry he was in, I contacted him to speak at one of CRT’s sessions at NAR’s Annual convention in 2004. We kept in touch, and when he was looking for a new challenge and CRT was looking for an employee, it worked out really well.
Chris’s biggest contribution to CRT has been his tireless championing of the needs of the Broker and Agent. From his participation in RESO, to his speaking engagements, to his writings, Chris has a true desire to make the industry better for our members. He will be a great leader for CRT and those it serves. I look forward to the great things that he’ll do with CRT.
This ended up being a lot longer of a post than I thought it would, and much more of a history lesson. However, 7 years is also a good time look backwards and reflect. In many ways I’m MORE of the person I was when I started out at NAR, and in some ways I’m a very different person. Guess that’s called “growing up” despite my resistance to that every step of the way.
And as cheesy as it is to quote song lyrics at a time like this, Green Day keeps playing over and over in my head that I think applies to me as much as it does to Chris:
Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test
and don’t ask why.
It’s not a question
but a lesson learned in time.
It’s something unpredictable
but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
Luckily, Grammar Girl comes to the rescue here. Today’s podcast entry from Grammar Girl covers this very topic. I should also point out that this top was adapted from her print book, which I’ve been thinking about picking up.
From what I’ve remembered what I’ve done I seem to follow must of the suggested stuff without thinking about it, but its good to have another source to point to (or doublecheck with) when writing.
Greetings from REBarCamp 2008, the first of hopefully many such meetings of open collaboration. CRT is one of the sponsors and glad to be here. If you’re not familiar with a BarCamp, this wikipedia entry will probably help there.
Matt Lavallee from MLSPIN and I will host a small talk on “RESO, RETS, & Syndication and stuff.” We figure it’s a meaningful piece of content we can bring that few others in the room can provide. Many of the events of the day seem to around social media information. (Personally, I’d like to talk more tech, but we all know my geek preferences.) There are many other planned talks through out the day, and I’ve included some photos of the “topics board.”
As I type this, I’m in a session where Ben Martin is sharing the results of the CREST survey. When the full survey is published, we’ll cover it in a later blog post. More later… (And I’ll fix the orientation on the photos later. Bandwidth is terrible here, painful to post…)
We’ll have to wait and see….
Today I wanted to go get an iPhone 3G and do a first day impression report if the speed was the upgrade and being shackled to AT&T for another 2 years. Sadly, that won’t be happening today due to long lines and activation problems.
I personally underestimated the demand and I didn’t think the line would be all that big. I made my way over to the store at about 9:40 this morning and the line was a block and a half long. A friend of mine that works on the other side of Chicago’s Loop reported that the AT&T store on Monroe had a similar line. To give you an idea of the length of the line, I’ve drawn on a Google map. One difference in reality from that map is that people weren’t standing in the cross street, but you know…
However, I do have some good things to say about the new iPhone OS that also was unleashed today. If you’re not in a 3G covered area, this is the big news.
The upgrade process I did last night went smoothly and downloading and installing apps from the iTunes story did as well. I haven’t had a chance to play with many of the apps yet, but I’m really excited by mobile NetNewsWire and Twitterific. I love both of the desktop versions of those apps and I am very happy to have pocket versions. The AIM client is nice to have as well, but I’ve read reports that its buggy. I haven’t used it enough yet to run into that.
I won’t list all the new features as there are many web sites that cover that, but there are some really nice changes that affect my daily life. The calendar is now multi-calender aware, which was something that was killing me on the old OS. Mail has bulk move and bulk delete now, which will save me a bunch of time. You can BCC mail now as well, which is useful in business contexts.
As I do more, I’ll do another post. So, with only a few minutes really into it, and not waiting in the long line, the OS upgrade is worth it. Not sure about the hardware. Luckily, everyone gets the OS upgrade even if they don’t buy a new phone.
Despite having a name very similar to CRT’s, the Center for Real Estate and Social Technologies (CREST) aims to be “the definitive research and education resource for social technologies in the real estate business, conducting surveys and other projects to generate benchmarks and best practices that REALTORS® can employ to improve their social networking, blogging, and social media marketing efforts.” To attain that goal, CREST announced themselves and launched their first survey over on VARbuzz yesterday.
If you’re a REALTOR® who write and maintains your own blog, the first survey is aimed at you. Why don’t you toss them some answers?
In my reading this morning, Chicagoist had a post which alerted me to Wordle. We’ve been using word clouds in some of the flyers we’ve been making lately. (And by we, I mean Ana and her excellent work.) Wordle is a quick and effortless way to make clouds that you are then free to do anything you like with.
For some geeky fun, I took the C++ source code (and header file) to librets::RetsSession from the libRETS source code, and generated a could. Who woulda that that in C/C++ return was the most recurring word? Okay, yeah, EVERYBODY. Click on the image for a larger view.