The New Google Reader – After a Week

Screenshot Google Reader 11/3/11

I have been using Google Reader since I discovered Blogging over four years ago and really loved how it worked and the ease with which I could have what people write or news come to me.  That way I could read the articles, blogs and other things when I wanted to, instead of having to go here and there to find lots of bookmarks.

This ability to have things come to me via their RSS feeds changed how I used the Internet and simplified my life a great deal and saved me a great deal of wasted time and effort.

So I was not looking forward to the changes that Google had planned for Reader, from the rumors that I was hearing on the Internet. I didn’t use the social share functions of gReader at all or other more advanced functions – I just used it as a RSS Feed Reader. If I wanted to share something, I would go to the site, copy the URL and share it on Twitter – cumbersome but it worked for me.

I have been using the new gReader for about a week now and it has met all of my personal needs.  No I am still not too crazy about the grayness that is now Google’s new visual brand, but I am reluctantly getting used to it-I guess. I would like a little more control of the themes or color combos of Reader, but that is a minor point. However, you can find the controls more easily to get to your preferences and the other menus, which are all in the same areas, so the consistency across Google will make things easier to find.

No all of my Feeds work the same as they did in the old reader.  One issue I have is that I shrink the size of my browser and Reader does not have gMail’s Dynamic Density and doesn’t adapt to any size window and you have pull over on my Mac.

Some problems

However, the biggest thing that I am having a problem with is:

When I pull the screen over so I can see the article the screen splits and scrolls up or down on a portion of the screen.  Also, there is no way to hide or shrink the left hand toolbar, yes there is I found it finally – go into options wheel –>Reader Settings and uncheck “Always start with the navigation pane visible”. Not as easy as grabbing the edge and sliding it left or right or hitting the little button, but it works to give me a full screen to read.

Then you can change your navigation from the Navigation drop-down menu above your feeds.

While these are relatively minor problems, they still make my user experience with their “new” Google Reader, less than it was with the “old” Reader, which just worked.

Otherwise I haven’t seen that many big a differences in how Google Reader works, except sharing to my Google+ account is easier and I didn’t use the old sharing groups ability anyway.  But for many people that was a big deal when Google took away that feature and are forcing them to use their Google+ Circles for sharing.  Which in the long run might make more sense, but forcing the issue this soon without any change-over time has met with some resistance.

The reality is that

from my perspective as an end user, the changes seem to be more cosmetic to meet Google’s new brand look.  Maybe I am wrong and I have missed a bunch of important new functions that gReader has, but I don’t think so.  So unless I am way off base and once Google get the bugs worked out and people get used to using Google+ to share their gReader discoveries – I think it will go back to be that old reliable gReader that I go to 3-4 times a day to see what is going on in the rest of the world or at least the blogosphere.

I am still going to use the new Google Reader as my primary reader, for the most part it works for me and I have a feeling it will only get better.

A Simple Idea Fixed a Long Time Problem

Sometimes it is the simple or little things that tend to annoy us the most and the best way to fix it are even simpler. Once you recognize what needs to be done.

Our house is pretty small and in order to have the freezer inside the house instead of out in the garage, a few years back, we bought a stackable washer/dryer set.  We also have a shelving unit that we use as a ready pantry that goes between the two in that small space.

Part of problem is that the washer/dryer stack moves a little during the spin cycles and the unit eventually ends up blocking the door, so that you have to keep pushing it back.  Even then we only had about 1/4 inch gap to open the door.  When I am in my best Harold the Destroyer mode, it means that I open the door and either wack the dryer or the washing machine door – luckily I haven’t broken anything – YET.

Having to keep pushing the washer/dryer back, also causes a problem with the dryer vent hose, which has to be sort of crushed in order for us to be able to open/close the exit door.  Which means the venting isn’t as good as it should be and it could be a fire hazard if we didn’t keep cleaned out regularly.

This problem has been here for at least 5-6 years and one of those ongoing things that you don’t really think about it and just do what you need to do every time it moves and blocks the door.

Simple Solution

Well today, I had a brain cramp – why not switch the shelving unit and the stackable washer/dryer unit around?  We talked it over and both of us decided it was a good idea. I am sure that this would be a fairly obvious solution to many of you there, but we were too close to the problem to think of that before now.

Here is the end result.

Gitr done

In TheWife’s usual style as soon as lunch was over, she got up and started moving things off the shelving unit. When I remarked that “I guess we are doing it now”, she smiled and said “No time like the present.” It really didn’t take all that long, and we would have been done sooner, but I nicked two of my fingers on something and I was bleeding all over the place.

TheWife says whenever I do something around the house that I have to give blood – it seems to be true and sometimes I wonder if I am just clumsy or are there other forces that want to be appeased…Naw I am just Harold the Destroyer and giving blood is part of doing battle in and around the house.

There still isn’t a lot of room, but now the washer/dryer is out of the way and the door goes by the shelving unit without any problems. That problem is solved, now to find out how the freezer and washer/dryer get along side-by-side. 🙂

It was actually a very simple solution to a problem that had bugged us for way too many years.

I wonder do you have anything around your house that you keep fixing or moving, because you have always done it that way, but never get around a permanent solution or fix, simply because you haven’t stopped and looked at what you are doing from a different perspective?

Try it maybe there is a way to do it so you don’t have to keep moving or fixing whatever it is.

Yes we also had some supervision while we were putting things back and then Joey decided that an old Sam Adams box was more appropriate for him to lie in than for us to throw out back.

The reality is that

in the big picture having to move the washer/dryer stack every couple of days or so, was not a big deal, but me not having to worry about being Harold the Destroyer by accident. Then having to spend a lot of money to get something fixed, just because I was being me and opened a door, could be very important.  Especially if TheWife is unhappy because I broke something yet again.

Sometimes it is the simple things, that make your life just a little bit easier or less stressful.

Keep it real, keep it simple, but remember to always keep it really simple whenever you can.

Lessons Learned from the October Blizzard

Over the past few days it has been a little bit crazy around heah, but things are getting back to normal again – whatever normal is.

Recovering from the October 2011 Blizzard was actually a lot easier than we thought it would be, especially since the temperatures got into the high 40s and low 50’s. However, we did learn a few things that we either need to fix, replace or simply keep an eye on as a result of the blizzard.

Trees

One of our old dead white birches laid across the power line cutting off the electricity during the high winds on Sunday afternoon and was the reason we didn’t have power the second time. The power company chunked it and left laying there. So we went out and cut, split and left it to dry (some was pretty rotten though).

Also we removed a few limbs that were laying down too much in the driveway.  There are a few trees in the yard where the power line comes up that next spring when we have the tree company come that I want to get rid of. They are not problems now, but in 5-10 years they could be as they grow larger.

Snow Removal

I was glad that I cleaned the roofs off with the roof rake, because they are all clear now and surprisingly my shoulder managed to stay relatively pain free – just a little RICE treatment. All the exercising I have been doing over the past few months is paying off, last year clearing that much snow off the roofs, would have just about killed me.

Keeping your roof cleaned off is one of those things I have learned over the course of living a few too many years in snow country, to reduce the load on it as much as possible. I have seen too many flattened garages and a few homes that didn’t heed that rule. Could I have gone without cleaning the roofs – yep, but it is nice to have a dry run, to check all the things you need to do during the winter to see what works and what you need to fix or replace. Including how your body reacts to the increased workload. Tired but fine.

The roof rake is looking battered (lots of white lines on the plastic), so I might need a new one before the winter is over or more likely I will adapt the aluminum one that was given me to the handle of the other one – a good project to get done on rainy/snowy days over the next month or so. Better to have it ready and not need it, than need it and not be ready.

The snowblower worked like a champ, but like me, it is starting to get a little long in the tooth and battered looking, so we need to keep an eye on it.

Need to have

We did learn that we need to have more water on hand, for when the power goes out and that has been taken care of (we filled a lot of gallon jugs) and for longer term power outages we have the hand pump setup. The other thing we would like (not a need) is one more electric lantern. The single one was nice, but another one would be nicer 🙂

Septic

Also we have to replace the septic system pump, which means $$$. We limped along with it being on an extension cord for most of the summer (it trips the new GFI outlet every time you plug it in-so something is wrong internally). With winter coming having an extension cord running to the pump is not a great idea and I hate the idea of replacing the pump in December/January when it is colder than a witches’ tit (been there done that) and the repairman doesn’t like it either. So the storm was a good reminder to get this done. They are coming Friday to replace it.

Dirt

Yesterday were very lucky to have three dump trucks of high quality loam delivered to the house. However this also means a lot of wheelbarrow and shovel time to get it where we need it for landscaping and filling in the lawn depressions that have formed over the years. Especially, those places beside the driveway that have become ditches. The ditch beside the last utility pole seems to be getting deeper and if we slide into it during a storm with one of vehicles, we will have a hard time getting out of, without a tow truck and might also damage the utility pole. So we will fill in those areas to make them less of a vehicle trap or small ponds when it rains.

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Vehicle trap beside driveway
No I am not complaining a bit about getting the loam and the work that it will mean, but at the same time I am not really looking forward to this addition to my daily exercise program. However, if I only do an hour or two a day instead of trying to do it all at once (getting smarter in my old age), maybe I can get those six-pack abs – shoveling dirt is a great all-body workout – go out and try it, the next day you will know that you did something. I know that I feel having to move one of the piles back about 10 feet from where it got dumped yesterday.
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Loam

The reality is that

we got power back pretty quickly, unlike many other people that were hit with the blizzard, which was a good thing for us.  It also provided an opportunity to check out our winter storm readiness and figure out what stuff we needed to work on, while the weather is not quite so miserable as it will be later.

That was a very good thing.

Living the simple life in the country does not mean there is nothing to do :-).