As our tablets, smartphones and notebooks become more compact, better designed and more powerful, we are increasingly exposed to a deluge of information and news. That’s why it’s become more important than ever to have the right tools to sort, process, and filter the large volumes of news and information that that we face today.
But even as the volume of information increases, the sophistication of news-reading applications has increased as well. Still, it’s not always easy to select the right news-reading applications for your computer. Here are two applications that should make following the news of the day on your notebook computer easier and more pleasant.
One of the most effective tools for news reading ironically isn’t a newsreader at all. An app called Instapaper makes reading any sort of text content a cinch by stripping away all of the layout elements, graphics and advertising that often get in the way of reading a good article.
Instapaper is a free Web app. You simply install a bookmarklet in your notebook’s Web browser of choice. A bookmarklet is a browser bookmark that sort of works like an application. Save the Instapaper bookmarklet in an easy-to-access place, like your browser’s bookmarks bar. This way, you’ll be able to click it anytime you come across an article worth reading.
What happens when you click the Instapaper bookmarklet?
It saves the URL to your Instapaper.com account, where you’ll be able to read it in a stripped-down, pure text format. Instapaper was originally conceived as a tool to make the process of reading longform text content on the Web easier — but following the news this way on your notebook also makes plenty of sense.
You can even download it for your Android Device from Play Store.
For people who really need to stay on top of the news-cycle, there isn’t a better way than by subscribing to RSS feeds from essential news sources. An RSS feed — RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication — is a stream of information published by a website. It is updated in real-time and can be adapted and presented in various ways. You could subscribe to the BBC’s RSS feed for breaking news, for example, and you
would instantly be updated on your notebook with the latest news items published by the BBC in that category of news.
The problem with RSS feeds, quite often, is that you can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information they deliver to you, which is ironic, since they were created to help people filter out information that isn’t useful. This is why it’s important to have a robust and well designed RSS reader. One of the best RSS readers is Reeder for Mac OS X systems. The app costs US$4.99 for OS X and iPad.
Reeder is a client for Google Reader, which is Google’s free RSS reading service. This means that it displays the information from your Google Reader account in a more useful way, and adds several other features besides. Reeder’s focus is on readability and simplicity. Everything from font kerning to background colour has been optimised so that you can keep up with your RSS feeds on your laptop in the least stressful way possible.
Reeder also allows you to share articles easily on social networks like Facebook or Twitter from within the app. The latest version of Reeder, released in June 2012, also integrates with an Instapaper-like service called Readability, which allows you to save an article to read later from within the application. Various features allow you organise your feeds and articles to suit your reading style. This is especially useful if you’re on the go and using Reeder on your Apple notebook.
These two apps — Instapaper and Reeder — Should enhance your news reading experience and boost your productivity, even if you’re constantly mobile and reading on your notebook.