When it comes to keeping track of what’s going on in the world, I happen to be notoriously uninterested. I particularly remember one rather embarrassing moment when I was at school when I came into the classroom and someone asked me “So what’s your view on the war?” I bashfully replied, “We’re at war? Who with?” Since that moment I’ve realised that I do need to make an effort to stay up to date with what’s going on, and anything that makes that experience easier and more interesting has got to be a good thing.
For some time now I have been searching for just the right RSS reader for me, and there have been several contenders. When I first got my Mac I discovered Shrook, which was free and easy to use. However, I soon grew tired of its rather basic interface and uninspiring user experience, and started searching for something better. I ended up with Vienna 2.1, which was ever so slightly better looking, and was actually much nicer to use. There were several other options, including NewsFire, NetNewsWire, and most good web browsers also support RSS now. The trouble with those was that most of the good RSS readers weren’t free, and the browsers were more geared up to browsing web pages rather than managing RSS feeds and as such weren’t quite up to the same standard.
Just recently I was pleased to find that Vienna had released a new version, and having been using this for a few days I am happy to report that it’s a fantastic improvement. Gone is the brushed aluminium effect on the header and window borders, which is a hangover from previous versions of Mac OS X that haven’t been totally eradicated just yet. Instead we have the more modern-looking clean metallic look that Apple has been introducing, and which will be everywhere in the upcoming Mac OS X Leopard. There are visual improvements all over the place, including the little circle that appears on the menu icon to show how many unread articles there are. Controls for adding and managing your RSS feeds have been moved from the bottom of the window to the top, in keeping with the general direction of most other applications, which effectively makes it easier to use. In fact, it looks and feels almost like a cross between iTunes, Safari, and the old Vienna.
So there you go, a recommendation for a free RSS reader with all the bells and whistles I need, and with a beautiful interface too. Oh and in case you’re interested, here are some of the feeds I’m signed up to at the moment: