How I use akregator
A while ago, I posted a review of akregator. That was about one week after I had started experimenting with it. By now, I have been using it steadily for a while, so I thought it might be useful for me to describe how I use it.
Feeds that I follow
I am primarily using akregator to follow blog posts. I follow a few non-blog sites, such as distrowatch and the opensuse security announcements. I do not follow normal news sites, as I prefer to listen to news reports on the radio (mostly NPR), and to browse a few online news site and pick out reports of particular interest.
Before I started with akregator, I had bookmarked blogs of interest in my browser. It takes time to visit the blogs, often to find that there isn’t a new post there. I ended up visiting a few blogs frequently, and visiting others only once a week or so. I also tried subscribing to a few blogs, but being told via email is a tad annoying. Following blogs with wordpress is better, as I could turn off the email notifications, but still see new posts at the wordpress reader page.
Now, using akregator, following blogs is easier and takes less time. New posts automatically show up in akregator (assuming that the applet is running). I don’t have to go out and check, as akregator does that for me. As a result, I now follow more blogs than before, but spend less time following them.
Of course, I do not fully read every new post at every followed blog. I scan through what akregator presents to me, and then go to the full blog page only if the post is of sufficient interest.
Starting and stopping akregator
I have adopted the practice of stopping akregator each evening, before I go to bed, and then restarting it in the morning. This presumably reduces needless network traffic (checking for updates when I am not there to read them). But that is not my main reason for stopping and starting. My experience is that akregator crashes from time to time. And when it crashes, it can lose data. After a crash, on the next start akregator asks if I want to resume. And if I resume, it usually preserves data. But sometime it still fails to preserve data. It can be annoying if, after reviewing 100 new blog post, akregator crashes and then forgets that I have already read those posts.
My solution to the crash problem is to periodically close akregator (right click on the tray icon, and select “quit”). That way, if data is ever lost, I will at most lose data since the last restart. I have had almost no crashes, and no lost data at all, since I started the practice of stopping at night and restarting in the morning.
I also stop and restart akregator when it seems to have lost count. What occasionally happens is that it will say that there are 3 unread posts, but the display area actually shows 4 unread posts. Stopping and restarting allows it to correct that miscount. This counting error happens perhaps two or three times per week.
Akregator allows me to organize feeds into folders. I am currently doing this by blog type. So I have a “blogspot” folder, a “patheos” folder, etc. I suppose it would be better to organize in terms of the general topic, except that blog posts are often all over the field of possible topics.
When organizing into folders, I try to keep each folder small enough so that the totality of feeds can fit on one screen. Since I am following quite a few “wordpress” blogs, I have subdivided my “wordpress” folder into “WP1”, “WP2” and “WP3” sub-folders.
If there are many unread posts (such as after being away from the computer for a while), then I can select a folder to look only at the posts from feeds in that folder. That makes it easier to review which posts I have not yet read. I occasionally find it useful to open the folder and select a particular feed in that folder, so that I can the display of new posts from that feed.
Use with a browser
I am currently using konqueror with akregator, though I use firefox for most of my browsing. I have set konqueror to be my default KDE browser, but I start firefox separately (actually, from the command line) for my main browsing. That works pretty well, because of the integration between konqueror and akregator.
To add a feed, these days I usually load the main blog page (or other page) in konquerer, then click on the “add feed” icon near the bottom right of the konqueror screen. That adds the feed to the “Imported feeds” folder, and from there I can drag it do a different folder with the mouse. Occasionally, this method wants to subscribe to too much content, so in that case I go the method of adding feeds that I described in my earlier review.
I am not completely settled on using konqueror with akregator. It can be frustrating. It crashes too often. And I miss the built-in firefox spell checker and the ability to do a quick search of the current page by entering “/string” into firefox.
Marking threads as important
Akregator allows me to mark some threads as important, and it displays important threads with a colored exclamation mark. If I see a thread that looks interesting, but don’t currently have time to spend reading it, I will mark that thread as important. And if I post a comment to a thread, I also mark that as important to remind me that I should periodically reread the thread to look for replies.
There’s an option to display only important threads. I select this once or twice a day, to see which threads I need to review. And, of course, I can unmark the important flag on a thread if I no longer want to be reminded to revisit that thread.
If you think I have missed some important tricks, feel free to add your own suggestions in a comment.