Workflow Changes

Workflow Changes

I finally decided to make some changes around here. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while but the momentum of familiarity far outpaced my will to change. (That’s a fancy way of saying I’m lazy.) Maybe it’s because Spring is in the air, or maybe it’s because I just had a birthday, or maybe it’s because none of these things, but I finally decided to make a two basic, yet fundamental, changes.

RSS

I’ve been using Fever as my RSS aggregator off and on since August 2009. I’d switch back and forth between it and Google, and of course when Google dumped Reader, I was landlocked with Fever. For the most part, Fever is a good product. It’s been updated many times, and I honestly believe Shaun Inman cares about it. But I’ve yet to find a good iOS client that (1) doesn’t take forever to sync and (2) doesn’t suck. Reeder (v1) was good, but the sync was still a problem. And navigation within a web browser needs some rethinking. It got to the point where it felt like I spent more time navigating than actually reading. Overall, while it wasn’t a negative thing, it wasn’t an inspiring experience.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I jumped over to Macdrifter. I knew Gabe had reviewed several services and his reviews always strike me as things of integrity. I might not always agree with his conclusion, but I believe he’s honest and fair. Gabe favored Feedbin, so I set up a free-for-14-days account. I exported my feeds from Fever, imported them to Feedbin, and I was done. This could not have taken me more than 5-7 minutes, tops.

I reinstalled Reeder (v1) to my iPhone, pointed it my Feedbin account, and the sync was damned near instantaneous. I’d removed Reeder because syncing from Fever was taking 10-15 minutes. Not to be unfair, I’ve yet to find any iOS client that takes less than 10 minutes to sync from Fever. I haven’t bought Feeder v2 yet because Feeder v1 is working so well for me. I’m sure I’ll upgrade in the near future.

Feedbin’s web interface, as far as web interfaces go, is pretty good. I use it more than Reeder.

After 8 days of using Feedbin, I paid up. It was obvious to me that it was my new RSS aggregator. I’m paid up for the next year, after which I may shop around and see what else is out there. But for the foreseeable future, Feedbin is my new home for news.

Email, Commonly Known As Gmail

Like any proud, card carrying paranoid, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with how much Google knows about me. 1 I have a Google+ thing, but I never use it. I keep a few unimportant documents on Drive. I use Google Calendar for non-work, non-personal stuff. And Google is still my search engine of choice. I’ve tried and tried to love Duck Duck Go, but no matter what I do, they’re never current on my site updates. I know (or think) Duck Duck Go relies on Bing, but that doesn’t matter when people can’t find what they’re looking for. So I still use Google for search, both day-to-day and from this site. Gabe’s solution is best, and if I can ever find the cash to pay someone to code the front end, that’s what I’ll probably end up doing. 2

Wow, way to go off topic. I know.

Anyway, email. Lavabit folded. Silent Circle gave up the ghost. And Dark Mail is a future thing that may or may not happen. I figure at this point the NSA has breeched, copied, and re-encoded it all. And while I prefer privacy, I figure if you’re using the Internet, you’ve already agreed to a certain amount of erosion. What I don’t want is my email provider mining all my email in order to server me more relevant advertising. I don’t want to be the product. I want to be the customer. And once again, Gabe has led the way.

On a side note, Fastmail is the second (that I know of) Australian-based service provider I’ve thrown in with. The first was Remember The Milk, which I started using in December 2009 and continued using until I switched to OmniFocus last year. So, yay Australians, I guess. (If I ever find myself fortunate enough to require less complicated to-do and project tracking, I will immediately return to Remember The Milk. It’s an awesome service.)

The switch to FastMail was about as painless as it could be, although it did require some forethought. I logged into Hover and changed the NS record to point to FastMail.

Hover - Changing Nameservers

Then I logged into FastMail, and added the virtual domain. This was as simple as navigating to Advanced -> Virtual Domains and entering spiritofnine.com. Once that was done, I only need to enter an A record pointing to my website and a TXT record that ADN requires. Boom. Done.

It took a day or so for DNS to fully replicate. Once that was done, I configured Gmail to forward everything to my new account.

I ran into one complication importing all my email from Gmail. Gmail’s labels are interpreted as folders. If you have an email with two labels, say Bills and Orders, that email will appear twice after the import into FastMail. I solved this by logging into Gmail, going to Settings->Labels, and deleting all my labels. After that, the import was flawless. (Actually, since I use MailSteward, this import wasn’t necessary, but I like to have access to everything when I need it.)

So far, so good. It’s surprisingly a relief to not be tied to Google quite so heavily. I installed GPGTools tonight and everything is working like a hose. My only complaint is what I currently perceive as less-than-useful keyboard shortcuts, but I’m hoping either the shortcuts or my perception will improve over time.

  1. It’s funny. People who complain about Apple’s walled garden and non-openness are always so willing to surrender all privacy to Google. I don’t get it and the few friends who’ve done it can’t explain it. “It’s not Apple” seems to be the foundational reason. It’s stupefying. I’m Apple’s customer. They’re Google’s product. Boggles all around.

  2. Call me.