Snackr – a new way to read RSS feeds

I read about Snackr while browsing through Download Squad  via my Google Reader. If you read a lot of blogs you’ll know that you have to have a means of managing the plethora of information you want (need!) to consume. My reader is invaluable – I subscribe to sites by pasting the url into the add subscription box within the reader and any new feeds from the blogs I subscribe to come to me directly. I don’t have to open a new tab and open the site each time I want to see what people in my educational network are writing about.

What I’ve found recently is a lack of time to get to all the reading done. Now that I’m active on Twitter coupled with the demands of my job (not to mention my family obligations!) I’m finding I’m time poor in relation to my reader. Although I’m finding the connections I’m making via Twitter incredibly valuable, I’m lamenting the fact that I’m missing some of the deeper thinking that is evident when you read what people are posting in their blogs.  

Snackr is going to help me manage my reading. Download Squad have explained it really well so I’ll block quote from them rather than try to paraphrase their thinking!

Snackr is an Adobe AIR-based RSS ticker that pulls random headlines from your RSS feeds and scrolls them along the bottom or the side of your screen, letting you click through to read anything that looks interesting. It’s not a replacement for your regular RSS reader, but it makes a great supplement. Snackr’s well worth checking out if you’re an information addict who has to have the fire hydrant open at all times.

  I suppose I am turning into an information addict. I downloaded Snackr (you have to make sure you have downloaded Adobe AIR first – easy to do) and now it’s running along the base of my screen. I’ve added feeds to the basic set that came when I downloaded the application. You can easily add or delete feeds. The scrolling was moving too quickly for me so I slowed it down – less likely to have an epileptic seizure now! Already I can see the benefits. I’m not finding the scrolling too obtrusive and I can easily click on an item that might be of interest. When I do up pops a box with part of the post visible. A quick read indicates whether or not I want to view the post in its entirity. Again, easy to do. Just click ‘view post’ and you’re redirected to the source.  If it becomes obstrusive you can collapse the ticker (I think that’s what it’s called!) so that you can concentrate on a task at hand.

I’m liking it so far! Thanks Jay Hathaway from Download Squad for giving me the heads up.

Blogging serious for your health – join Twittercise!

I’ve been talking a lot recently about trying to get balance in my life – kinda feel like things are a bit out of control and I need to work smarter not harder (favourite saying of my husband!!) This is looming larger as I face the prospect of the start of term two tomorrow and all that that will bring with it. We have our Project Global Cooling concert on Saturday the 19th of April and this is going to mean full on commitment for the next two weeks along with parent teacher nights and the expectations of my job. To top it all off I read Will Richardson’s latest post that referred to a New York Times article (In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop) about bloggers who have suffered heart attacks and died recently. It seems that the pressure of posting regularly and pipping other bloggers at the post may have contributed to the deaths of two prominent bloggers in the technology arena. These are bloggers who get paid per post. I don’t get a cent yet feel some of that pressure. I have to admit this is self inflicted as I set myself the onerous task of trying to write a post a day this year- sometimes I do think I am my own worst enemy.

I’m about to set myself another onerous target and announce it publicly here. All this blogging has led to a sedentary state of affairs and all that comes with it. I used to be an avid exerciser (are you getting any clues about me yet- my obsessive compulsive addiction to things- I’m learning things about myself as I write!!) I used to be proud of my biceps and triceps but no more. Something needs to be done. I have an impressive set of weights in my back room but haven’t been near them in months. Time for change. Tomorrow sees a new lifestyle that marries with my networked life. I’m introducing Twittercise and encourage you to join me, particularly if you live in Australia or have a complimentary time zone. I’m going to tweet on Twitter when I’m starting my Twittercise session and hope it may prompt some of you to get out of your seats and do a bit of good old fashioned exercise. It may be walking the dog, doing sit ups, or pumping weights. Whatever works for you. We have to recognise that the sedentary online lifestyle is doing our health no good. Balance is very important and a healthy body and lifestyle contribute to this (as well as the regular blog post!). Hope to see some of you readers joining me. I’m jennyluca on Twitter – look for the tweets – probably around 7.00 – 7.30 Melbourne time all going well. Our new approach to our networked life starts tomorrow!! 

Twitter made simple (or is it?)

This is all over the Web at the moment and plenty of people in the blogging world were heads up to it four days ago when Lee Lefever posted it on his Common Craft site and YouTube. One of the ways they found about it was from the topic of the video; twitter. Twitter is a means of social networking. You answer the question, ‘What are you doing?’, in 140 characters or less including spaces. You follow people in your network and are privy to both the mundane and useful answers to that question. I’m following people in the edublogging/education world and look at twitter throughout the day to see if there’s anything happening that I should make myself aware of.

I have to admit to having a few problems with Twitter. (I know – plenty of you out there are devotees and love it). Most of these relate to the need to achieve the right balance in our lives. I get worried about the addictive nature of feeling like you need to know everything instantaneously. I keep reading Will Richardson and his love of Twitter is obvious – he uses it as the supreme networking tool and it obviously has its advantages for someone whose working life is this Web 2.0 world. I’m a wife, mother of two relatively young children, hold down a full-time job managing a library as well as teaching English, try to keep a house in order and maintain connections with my extended family and friends. To top it off now I’m writing this blog in my spare time! Just discovering Twitter has further complicated the work/life balance I was already struggling to navigate. I know – I can already hear you out there saying, ‘No-one is twisting your arm to do this. If you don’t want to, just don’t look at it.’ And if you’re saying this you’re absolutely right. It’s up to me to find the balance I need to be comfortable doing what I’m doing without letting anything (or more importantly, anyone) drop off my radar. I almost feel like it’s the wrong time for me to be immersing myself in this world- eight years down the track and my kids would be pretty much self-sufficient (maybe!).  Can’t really do much about this now – I feel like I’m in deep and actually am loving learning again. I don’t feel stale when it comes to my working life and am excited about what education can (will?) look like in the future.

Wow. That was a fairly indulgent piece of self analysis. I don’t blame you if you switched off halfway through, but if you didn’t, thanks for listening. Needed to get that one off my chest.