Posts Tagged ‘google reader’


Managing Subscription Content [How To]

Wow – once again, it’s been longer between posts than I had ever planned.  Everytime I feel like I’m about to turn the corner something else comes up and turns life back into a ridiculous time-crunch.  Anyways…

I consider myself an early adopter.  I’m currently using Google Chrome (the newest web browser), I’ve been using web-based email for years (I own Outlook and it’s not even setup), I blog, I have a Twitter account, I’ve had Facebook since it was first launched at my school and I read almost all my news online (I’m a fan of Google Reader).  Those are the best examples I could come up with…it’s been a long week.  Bare with me.  But sometimes, it’s nice to have a copy in hand and get your eyes off the computer screen.  With my travel schedule (around 120-140 segments a year) sometimes it just isn’t efficient to turn on the PC and use Google Reader offline with Gears.

The biggest problem I have with my magazine subscriptions is managing the content for reference later.  One of the best features (in my humble opinion) of Google Reader is the ability to tag and ‘Star’ posts.  I currently have 222 starred posts organized under 252 tags…I read a lot.  But, I can’t really do that with an article in a magazine can I?!?  It would be a little inefficient to award an article a gold star (think back to elementary school people) but have to look through each page to find it.

Here are a couple things I do to keep this information at my fingertips:

Summary Emails 

I send summary emails to myself for each issue if there is something worth remembering.  For example, I just finished reading the October issue of Money.  I sent myself an email with the subject “Money Magazine – October 2008″ and included key words such as “retirement locations”, “Roth Advantages”, “Social Security Taxation Formula”, etc.

I have a general tag (SUBSCRIPTIONS) that I apply to each of these emails for easy location later and if an issue is particularly heavy on something I may assign it additional tags.  For example, Money tends to have issues packed with retirement information.  So, at times, I label a whole issue with the ‘RETIREMENT’ tag.

The tags are great but it’s inefficient to create a tag for every possible key word.  By entering meaningful words in the body of the email I can search for them later with GMails built in search functionality and figure out which issue(s) I need to pull for additional information.

Scanned Articles

Sometimes an article just jumps out at me as amazing or there’s just one article from an issue that I’m interested in saving for later.  In this case I’ll scan the article and send it to myself as an image.  Nothing too fancy here folks, my $150 All-in-One handles the workload nicely.  Attach the image, label it ‘subscriptions’, add some key words and an appropriate subject and I’m sure to find it later.  For articles that fall into this category, I often star the conversation as well just to make it that much easier to find.

This allows me to trash the issue (there’s only so much space for storing subscriptions these days) but retain the information.  I don’t even know how many times I’ve pulled up previously read articles for quotes or references. 

The only real downside I’m facing right now is that I have to search twice.  With as much as I read, I can’t always remember where exactly I read something…I have to search.  In order to get the proper results I have to search Google Reader/sort through tags and search GMail.

It’s cumbersome at times, but I’ve found it to be a great way to manage print information so that it’s easy to find when you need it.  Hope this helps!


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Needed Gmail Enhancements

As I’ve stated several times, I love the various Google products and use several of them on a daily basis. My Gmail is open almost all day long, I use Google Reader to sort, manage and read my news, I share photos and documents with Picasa and Google Docs and I communicate with people all over the world (literally) with Google Talk. When I start my own business I’ll probably use Google Apps to keep costs low and because it allows me the ability to use the Gmail web interface and it’s easy to install. Simply put, they have created an amazing suite of free services but as my usage grows, so does the need for a few enhancements to make things even better.

Since Gmail released the IMAP feature a few months ago I’ve been a pretty happy camper. While I’m pretty happy, there is always room for improvement. I think Gmail recognizes that since they’re continually releasing new features! Keep it up guys.

  • Tagging: The ability to label emails with several tags is great but having to select them from a drop down list is inefficient. It would be great if there was a type-ahead feature that auto-completed tags as I began typing them. It would also be great if you could apply multiple tags to filters.
  • Filtering: Gmail has a great filter set-up but there is one thing I’d like to see added. The ability to apply multiple tags to filtered messages. Some people may not use tags to quite the same extent I do but I like to keep an organized mailbox. With my travels for work I also like to make sure I keep as many records as possible and there are some emails that I get on a regular basis that I like filtered into two buckets. Hotel receipts are the main culprit (expense reporting can be such a pain). Currently, I just have to filter it with one tag and add the second manually. Not a huge deal, but it would definitely be a time saver.
  • Shortcut Keys: For those of us that use Outlook all day for corporate email, shortcut keys are where it’s at. I can successfully navigate almost all of Outlook (that I use at least) without touching the mouse. Google has done a pretty good job building out the shortcut keys but some of them are counter-intuitive. Maybe the problem is they just aren’t intuitive based on the Windows habits that we have all picked up. I’d like to see the ability to customize your shortcut keys or at least add a few more like ‘ALT+s’ to quickly send an email from compose mode.

If I new anything about writing GreaseMonkey scripts or had a couple hours of extra time I would consider writing a couple of these enhancements myself. But…since I don’t and I have no extra time I’m hoping the various Google teams go ahead and step-up.

These are obviously just my opinions but I think they’re enhancements that would benefit the masses.

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