Outlook 2007, the RSS Reader

I finally sat down to load up all my RSS feeds from Google Desktop to Outlook 2007.  Um, oops.

My RSS needs are simple:

– I want to group feeds and aggregate their results

– I want multiple groups of these aggregated results so I don’t lose infrequently posted sources

Group 1: I download my daily ‘newspaper’ by aggregating cnn, slashdot, abcnews, engadget, the register, wired, etc.  I consider this for the most part disposable knowledge: if I miss a post or a day’s worth of posts, so what.  I want to read my news as an aggregated list: newest first, combine all the feeds together.

Group 2: I have my list of code blogs: local .net user group members, 4guysfromrolla, codeproject, ScottGu, etc.  With few exceptions, I want to consume all this knowledge.  I don’t want to miss any.  Some of these feeds are posted frequently, some not so much.  I want to view two separate lists in this category: The frequently posted stuff (mostly Code Project), and the not-so-frequently posted stuff.  I don’t want to lose a ScottGu post because 8000 of my closest friends posted commentary on code project articles.  I want to see all new stuff in all feeds, sorted by newest first, but I also want to be able to aggregate only the infrequent lists separately.

So, now that we’ve got my needs arranged, let’s discuss Google Desktop and Outlook.

Google Desktop has served me well.  I use Google Desktop’s standard RSS reader to plug all my news feeds into.  It aggregates by date/time, old stuff falls off the bottom, I like.  Sadly, I can’t have 2 of this gadget, and can’t find the source to change the GUID so I could plug in two.  Bummer.  Well, along came gdRss.  It’s a second RSS reader plugin for Google Desktop.  Great: I plug all my code feeds into here, and I’m good.  As long as I cap the frequent feeds to 10 each, I probably won’t lose the infrequent ones … hopefully.  Really, I’d like 3, but so far, only 2.

Well, all is good, except gdRss frequently crashes Google Desktop.  Um, that’s very not good.  It seems to choke trying to parse a feed if it doesn’t end in something simple.  For example www.example.com/blog gives it fits.  As does www.example.com/blog.rss?p=1&c=2&such  Apparently “.rss?p=1…” isn’t a valid extension?  Um, anoying, but ok.  The registration process is equally annoying.  It brings up this very beautiful activation screen (much prettier than the app itself, by the way) that requires I activate my purchase within 5 or 8 uses or something insanely short.  The theory goes that there’s a “free” version capped to 3 feeds.  Yeah, like that’d help at all.

gdRss must be abandon-ware.  I haven’t seen an update in more than a year.  Meanwhile, Google Desktop 5 brought about a black theme and all-but did away with non-JavaScript plugins.  (This was probably so Google Desktop didn’t crash with those C++ errors when some hack such as myself tried to cast null into a char* then increment it.)  So, here I am with a single white plugin tied to a machine that’s dying.  And I can’t get no lovin’ here.  Emails to the author get a quick auto-responder that I’ll get a response in 1 business day.  A week later, nothing.  Posts on gdRss’s Google Desktop forum are all about mortgage deals and fake watches.  And my normal post also goes unanswered.  Um, bad news.

Ok, the move to Outlook.  Outlook 2007 sports feed reading – part of the unified messaging concept.  Yeah, I know, get my voice mail as a sound file attachment to a message in my email inbox pushed to my PDA.  Yeah, cool, not what I’m after here.  I get my list of feeds (copy/paste from gdrss – oops, forgot the export function there), and copy/paste them nicely into Outlook.  I even arrange my folders nicely so they’ll aggregate nicely into the groups I’m looking for.  All is well … until.

I click on a folder.  It’s got mounds of content from each feed.  I’m just swimming in goodness.  And what does it show me?  Nada.  Apparently in Outlook, they “preserved the email feel” by not aggregating the results up through the RSS feeds folders.  A quick search for Outlook 2007 RSS turns up a lot of info on “aggregate” and “Office 2007”.  Apparently their definition of aggregate is I get to see multiple posts in the feed, like multiple emails in a folder. 

Um, Microsoft, did you miss the memo?  “The aggregator provides a consolidated view of the content … “  ( source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggregator )  Aggregate means combine.  Show me the combined, aggregated list of all my feeds in this folder.  Show me a “please click on a feed” link.  Show me a “you can combine these feeds by changing this preference setting” message.  Nope, the only folder that’s different is the one tied to Microsoft’s help site.  (And wonder if they’re using the hits on that page to track Outlook usage, by the way.)  Splunking through the preferences for the folder gives me options for archiving feeds – nice, perhaps, but not the goal at hand.  Nothing about changing what displays here.  Apparently Outlook doesn’t combine feeds together.  Oops.

So, the tally:

– gdRss: abandonware.  Wish I hadn’t bought it.

– Outlook 2007 RSS reader.  I guess what can I expect for a v. 1 product?

Anyone know a good RSS reader that will allow for many groups of combined results from diverse sets of feeds?