Instapaper vs. ReadItLater

While searching for ways to get blogs on an eReader, I found two services, Instapaper and ReadItLater, which do pretty much the same: Offering a way to temporarily save links to websites/articles/blog posts/you name it that you would like to read, but don’t have the time for when you find them. This reading list can be accessed online from multiple devices and suitable content can be shown in a reading-friendly text/article view. I have used them to separate the sorting of my RSS feeds in google reader and choosing the interesting pieces from the actual reading. Not seeing the number of unread items, most of which I’d only skim over anyway, makes the reading much more relaxed and enjoyable. However, I have switched between Instapaper and ReadItLater back and forth and can’t make up my mind which one I prefer.

I like the ReadItLater add-on for Firefox. It is so convenient to add the open site via a little button in the address bar and mark it as read in the same way. And with another button you can either open your reading list in a little pop-up or go directly to the next unread item, depending on which setting you prefer. Furthermore, ReadItLater allows you to download all the content of your reading list onto your computer, so that you can still read when offline.

Instapaper offers a bookmarklet to add the current site to the reading list, but to read or mark a site as read you have to visit the instapaper website and find that site in the list first. I do have hope that there soon will be a full Instapaper add-on for Firefox, though, as a full API has just been released.

I am also not quite sure which reading view I prefer. ReadItLater has more options to change the layout. But it strips out all pictures and delivers pure text. I like having the pictures belonging to the main text in there as well, though. In some cases, bits of the text were even missing in the ReadItLater reading view, in other cases, Instapaper would not be able to produce the reading view at all, whereas ReadItLater was perfectly fine.

Finally, Instapaper has native support for eReader formats such as epub and the one for the kindle, whereas you need separate applications to transfer ReadItLater content. This might eventually be a deciding feature, but without an eReader, I cannot try this out yet. So I will continue switching and trying for a while, and hoping that the two people behind Instapaper and ReadItLater get together and merge their services soon.

Moleskine/Notebook Hacks

I do not have a Moleskine notebook. Mine is wire bound and so far I’ve always been happy with that. However, I stumbled upon a collection of Moleskine hacks, such as how to make your Moleskine into a Getting Things Done organizer. I prefer having my to do lists on my computer, to be able to easily shuffle tasks around, add, delete and change them. If I have a paper to do list, I end up spending more time rewriting the list again and again than actually working through the tasks. (My to do list manager of choice is todoist, since I can easily break up tasks into a hierarchy of subtasks.)

So my paper notebook won’t become an organizer. It was originally meant as a diary. Later I started using it to prepare texts, such as emails, for my touch typing practice. Now, I do the same with some of my blog posts, when I’m not near a computer. Typing the stuff afterwards already acts as a first or second editing step.

And for this purpose, I picked up one of the tricks from the first link, PigPogPDA, from the list mentioned above: Using Post-It tags to mark the current “collection point”, that is the page where I want to continue writing, and the “processing point”, meaning everything before this has been processed, i.e. typed, already.

Here is my interpretation:

My Notebook Hack

My Notebook Hack

I think, I want a Kindle

Amazon Kindle

from Wikipedia

Since I’ve seen a Kindle in real life, I have pretty much made up my mind, that I want an eReader at some point. Not quite yet, but when I graduate, get a real job and will have to commute everyday, then I want one. I haven’t decided yet which one I’ll get. So far it looks as if the Kindle is superior to the competition, especially given the price range I’d consider. However that might all change in a few months. And I will need to properly evaluate, which features I want and which costs might be associated with that.

My main reading these days consists of various blogs rather than books. From what I’ve read, the official way to get blogs onto the Kindle is rather expensive, given a monthly fee of 1-2 dollars per blog, and currently 59 feed subscriptions in my Google Reader. There are some free or at least cheaper ways to do that. The most naïve one is using the built-in experimental web browser to visit the blogs, read posts in Google Reader as described here or here, or use one of the special online RSS readers for eReaders, such as G:RSS-Web or on the kindleuserforum. But the internet connection is supposedly rather slow, so I’m not sure whether this is feasible. The other options are services that automatically make the content eReader friendly for you to download or email. Examples are kindlefeeder and instapaper together with instascriber.

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Apple Green

Apple Green

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burgundy Red

Burgundy Red

If I do get a Kindle in the end, at least I already know which cover I want. Only have to decide on the colour.

Twitter, here I come!

After all, I got sufficiently curious about Twitter. So I will try it out. I have signed up and will post small things such as links to pictures and videos on Twitter instead of this blog. That way, I’ll also be forced to produce proper blog posts, with text and all. And thanks to this lovely twitter widget on the right you’ll see all my recent posts on twitter as well. 🙂

Update 2011-05-12: The twitter widget has moved to the left and might move again with another change of theme. In either case, you can find my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/almutei.

“Write about something you’ve never told” … Seriously?

As support for the Post A Day/Week challenges that I’m participating in, The Daily Post offers topics everyday for bloggers to write about. Since I’m not planning to post daily and hence haven’t run out of topics yet, I usually ignore them. However, the one on 11 January did catch my attention:
Write about one thing you’ve never told anyone and explain why.

Are you serious? Wouldn’t that be stupid? Just maybe?

First of all, I can’t even think of anything that I have never told anyone before. Not out of the top of my head, at least. But even if I could come up with something, there would likely be a reason for not having done so. Such as: It’s a random detail of my life, so boring that even I forgot it already. Or: It’s private.

And then I’m supposed to post that out into the world for everyone to see? Especially after I recently stumbled upon this advice on Wisdom from Mom Bloggers:

Be aware that anyone and everyone can read your words. The last person you would ever want reading your website will eventually find and read your website. Write knowing this beforehand.

So, nope. Sorry, there won’t be any juicy secrets appearing here.