I have switched from SharpReader to Bloglines to read my RSS feeds. I liked SharpReader. The interface was very familiar to me and it provided a simple way to lazily browse through my RSS subscriptions. I could lay back in my chair and page through everything by resting a finger over the space bar. When I was ready to move forward, a simple flick of the finger took me to the next page. It was a lot easier than reading the newspaper.
However, there were two things about SharpReader that had always bothered me.
I have always wanted to be able to read my RSS feeds at work and at home. I could do that by installing SharpReader at home and at work. But the two installations weren’t aware of what had been read by the other. I would have to manually wade through stuff. I would have preferred a solution that could keep track through the web of what has been read.
My second concern was how SharpReader affected my computer’s performance. With 256 MB of RAM, using SharpReader in conjunction with my development tools was quite a strain on the system. This is a solveable problem by upgrading my hardware, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has been a frustration to this point.
Bloglines solves both of these problems. Bloglines has been around for a while. Because it is web based, It has always solved the issue of coordinating between reading at home and reading at work (or while on vacation). I checked out Bloglines when it first started out, but I didn’t switch then because it didn’t really solve my performance problem. It did reduce the strain on my computer, but its performance over the web was too slow for me.
I was recently reminded of the service, and I checked it out again. After seven days of using both, I have decided that the performance of Bloglines is very good. Not only does it reduce the amount of RAM being used on my system, it’s data retrieval spped was frequently better than SharpReader.
One of the problems with hosting a blog is that your bandwidth usage increases dramatically if your weblog becomes popular. That’s not been a problem for me, so far. 🙂 Using traditional tools, every one of your subscribers polls your site directly. SharpReader was slow to retrieve some of the feeds I am subscribed to because the provider’s bandwidth was somehwat overwhelmed.
Using a retail analogy, this would be like having one Ford store for the entire world. If you want to buy a Ford, you have to go to the store. Ford would be overwhelmed if they had to deal with every customer individually, That’s why we have dealerships.
Bloglines is like a Ford dealership. If 100 people read a feed through Bloglines, that saves bandwidth for the feed provider, since they deal with one request instead of 100 requests. If blogs continue to proliferate, I could envision a day when feed providers only provide feeds to a limited number of blog aggregrators like Bloglines.