Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pictures from a Kub Kar Rally

If you are American, this might look like a Pinewood Derby to you.  If you are not a Scouting Family, then Kub Kars (and Pinewood Derby cars) are little wooden cars Scouts design and  build and race. In Canada, Beaver Scouts (the youngest members of Scouting) build and race Beaver Buggies while Cub Scouts build Kub Kars and the oldest Scouts build semi trucks.  I was amazed at the creativity shown in the designs of the cars.  Our boys didn't win any races, but Emmett took his losses with much more grace than Matthew did.  Charlotte came to the races in her Brownie uniform since we had a Guiding Spring Tea to attend right afterward.  It was a Scouting kind of weekend!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Oh Goody. Another Heavy Snowfall Warning.

“It can't beat us!" Pa said.
"Can't it, Pa?" Laura asked stupidly.
"No," said Pa. "It's got to quit sometime and we don't. It can't lick us. We won't give up."
Then Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

At this time last year Charlotte tried to go to a winter camp but it was so warm there was no snow and the girls could play in shirt sleeves.  This year the snow is still hip-deep in my front yard and there is more coming.

Winter will end eventually, won't it????

Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader

If you are reading this on a feed reader you are probably aware that in the near future Google Reader will be shutting down.  If you don't use a feed reader you have probably heard one or more of your friends whining about this online.

I was one of the many Google Reader users who ranted on Facebook over the the past few days and, through friends, tried to figure out which of the other feed readers online I should switch to.  So far I have looked into FIVE readers.  The following is a synopsis of my experience with four of them.  If you could care less about feed readers, maybe check back another day.  There is a Cub Car rally tomorrow so rest assured there will be cute pictures of my boys appearing with their handmade race cars soon.

If you are trying to figure out how you are going to read your blogs after this summer, read on.  Maybe I can help.

My first step in choosing a new feed reader was trying to figure out what I needed beyond "But I want Google Reader to stay!!!  I don't want to learn new things!!!  I want everything online to stay the same always!!!!  Wahhhhhhhhh!!!!"  Here is what I came up with:
  • It had to be easy to figure out
  • The new reader had to be visually appealing and give me pictures with my preview
  • It had to be easy to add and delete blogs
  • It had to be easy to import my feeds
I checked out the following readers:
Brief add-on for Firefox
The Old Reader

Newsblur I eliminated from the running immediately when I read that you only get 64 sites with 10 stories at a time with their free service. That simply won't work for me when I know there are a plethora of free sites to choose from.

I started by exporting my Google Reader Subscriptions and saving them to my computer.

Next, I gave NetVibes a try. I found it very easy to import my subscriptions.  I liked the tabbed browsing option that gave me the option of adding my Twitter, Facebook and email feeds to the browser.  The preview page is customizable with several options, including one that looks very similar to my beloved Google Reader.  The "widget" option is cool if you don't need pictures as you can sort your feeds into a columns if you so desire. It is very easy to add and subtract feeds.

Brief is a Firefox app that is very simple in appearance.  I did not find the controls as intuitive as the start page insists they are and I haven't figured out if there is a way to sort your feeds  or not.( I had to figure out Live Bookmarks via a Yahoo message board to learn how to add feeds, for example)  If you don't follow many feeds and like something you can quickly scroll through (and you are a Firefox user) This might be the feed reader for you.

I really wanted to like Feedly.  It is the prettiest feed reader out of the bunch I tried.  The magazine-style layout is really neat at first, but then I realized there was something sinister going on.  I felt like it was choosing what to put on the front page based on the popularity of the blog so bigger blogs were being featured while those of my friends were being shunted down to the bottom of the list.  I kept having the nagging feeling that I was missing stuff when I visited the site.  I guess I like that list on my sidebar to go along with the preview page. Also, since you sign in to Feedly with your Google account I wonder what will happen to my subscriptions when Reader goes away, as I didn't import my .xml file to them--they just grabbed it from Google.

I signed up to try out The Old Reader based on good reviews from my friends, but I fear it is a victim of it's own new found popularity right now.  I am currently 19659 on their list to import my subscription file.  I wonder how long the growing pains will last with them.  They have a cute mom-and-pop feel, but dude, I want a new reader NOW!

At the moment I am liking Brief and Netvibes the most, but I think Netvibes will probably win my ultimate feed-reading affections, especially since Netvibes was very easy to access from my tablet as well as my desktop. None of these readers are Windows phone compatible so I use Feed Reader Free on my phone.

Do you use a feed reader?  Which one?