Tame the Web Universe with FeedDemon 4

It's a Really Big Web Universe

I evaluate a lot of Windows productivity tools, both as part of my company activities, as well as for everyday computing needs.  I really enjoy seeing what people are up to, and especially finding a unique piece of software that meets a need nearly perfectly.

I also like to keep up with what is going on in the world.  So recently I found myself on a mission to solve this problem: I found no single website that would provide me with access to the news and ideas I'm interested in, in a flexible and attractive format.

For some time, I had been using Google News for this purpose, but it's quite limited, and it's bare-bones interface was starting to bore me.

Nick to the Rescue

Then it dawned on me, that there was a class of software loosely named "news readers" or "news aggregators" that might be worth another look.

After digging around a bit more, I recalled Nick Bradbury, of TopStyle fame.  Let's put it this way: When Nick sets out to create software, he gets it right.

I remembered that Nick had created a "news aggregator" Windows client.  Without delay, I went straight to the download page for Nick's latest creation: FeedDemon.  Within a few minutes I had downloaded the latest version 4.0.0.22, and setup a few test feeds.

Getting to Know FeedDemon

FeedDemon is the sort of software that may not necessarily "wow" you right away, until you start digging in and realizing the power that lies beneath its pretty interface.

FeedDemon has a pretty interface
that's just about perfect.
The power is this: It brings a tiny subset of the Web Universe of information to my desktop, on my terms.  I choose the topics I'm interested in (by setting up a subscription for each), set the update frequency (mine is 5 minutes), and FeedDemon does the rest.

Behind the scenes, using the power of RSS, it collects the requested articles and information from all over the web and presents them to me in a sane and orderly format.  I then simply read the articles I'm interested in -- right in FeedDemon's built-in browser.  Or, send it to my "Read it Later" account (FeedDemon connects directly to the service) to read when I have a bit more time.  There are also, as you might expect, many "sharing" options connected to social media services.

Looking for some great RSS feeds?  Reuters has quite a comprehensive set on their website.

Delightfully Taming the Beast

FeedDemon is a delight to use and offers many customization options -- you can tweak the interface pretty much to your liking.  FeedDemon also synchronizes feeds with Google Reader, so it's absolutely painless to keep your favorite feeds synchronized across computers or devices.  You can even setup FeedDemon to return the results of Google Searches.

Because the web is so vast, it's easy to drown in its seemingly endless nature, aimlessly bouncing from site to site, and wasting a lot of time in the process.  FeedDemon has brought back a remarkable sense of order -- and focus -- to my web activities, allowing me to regain control of my web surfing activities.

FeedDemon Ratings

Pros
  • Delightful interface
  • Easy setup
  • Reliable
  • Integration with Google Reader
Cons
  • Online help and tech support are rather limited
  • Internal Browser is relatively slow to load pages
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Essential Desktop Tool: Stickies for Windows

Zhorn Software released Stickies 7.1b on  October 9th.

Stickies are sticky notes for your computer that you can pop up and use anytime!  
This amazing little program is one of those true gems that costs nothing to download and use -- and yet is priceless in its utility.  Sure, there are a lot of sticky note programs out there, but for Windows, well, it just doesn't get better than this. 
 
Think for a minute of all those little (and not so little) bits of information you encounter during the day working on your computer.  Now think of a way to capture all of them -- effortlessly.

That's Stickies!

Reasons to love Stickies: 
  1. Virtually bug-free.
  2. Countless uses.
  3. Capture both text and images.
  4. Sits in the system tray ready for you to use. 
  5. Set alarms.
  6. Attach to programs (very cool).
  7. Search all your stickies.
  8. Send stickies to your friend's desktop (also very cool).
  9. Way better the others.  Trust me on this. 
My favorite feature?  "New sticky from clipboard".

Download it, try it.  You'll love it.