Monday, May 09, 2005

RSS Feed Frustrations

I'm struggling to find the best solution for reading and keeping track of student blog posts. What are other teachers using? Are they using an RSS reader? Which one?

I wrote earlier about my research and test runs of different RSS readers for Mac OS 10.3. I had settled on Ensemble, but then it quit working, always crashing as it would load the feeds. I did all sorts of make fixes, such as dumping preferences, repairing permissions, validating the feeds, deleting and reinstalling the program. Nothing fixed it.

Next I tried RSS Owl. I was very impressed with it. I liked its built in browser that let me see the actual post with its colorful template and comments link. The former lets me see how students are using color, better communicating their message to me. The later would make it easier for me to keep track of comments the students received. Unfortunately, when I updated to 10.3.9 it quit working. There is no mention at the Sourceforge website of other people having this problem, so maybe it is just my computer. I contacted the help forum and kind techies replied, but I am not adept enough at using the terminal to understand the suggestions they gave.

With the owl's demise, I imported all the feeds into my NetNewsWire Lite. It is handling them just fine, but doesn't let me see if anyone has commented, unless I double click and actually open the blog in my web browser.

I have just installed RSS Menu. It is a little RSS reader that sits up in the menu bar. One nifty feature is that if I hover over a particular post tile, a small window, similar to balloon help, pops up to show me the text of the actual post.

I'll play around with both and see which ends up being the most useful for tracking student blogs and comments.