Keeping Up To Date

In this information heavy age there is an art to staying up to date with all the latest relevant information and a crash course to be done in the tools used to organise this information.

Years ago I discovered Google Reader, before I was meticulous with my bookmark organisation, but swapping between PC/Laptops meant occasionally losing that info. (The days before Chrome and cloud syncing.) Google Reader became my default tab each time I booted my browser for not only work related news and info but for following some of my favourite webcomics and bloggers as well.

Feedly Promo Image

When the news came that Google Reader was closing down I had already been using Feedly for some time thanks to a post by Geek in Heels. The announcement came and Feedly said they were migrating existing users across and I think I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t really notice the transition from syncing with Google Reader to working independently of it. I have been using is ever since on Chrome and on Android and for the most part have enjoyed it’s features. The most useful of which was putting oldest unread articles first to keep up with webcomics and being able to change the background colour to make it easier to read, it’s also got an easy to use add/remove/reorganise organising page.

Yet recently I have been having issues, it’s had some updates and now has a paid version that will let you add things like Evernote and Pocket to it. The main issue is constantly getting unread articles appear from over 100+ days ago or never marking anything as read. I checked on their own forums and reinstalled it on all my devices, even cut down on some feeds too, but it was still doing it.

Pocket Product Line Up

I have also started using Pocket a lot more recently as my 2+ hours of commuting a day has little to no signal so I have been saving more and more articles relevant for work in Pocket to read on the go. I have found this wonderfully seamless and really useful and have managed to catch up on things a lot better this way.

Evernote Example

I also use Evernote a lot, it was the key app I used to organise all my dissertation research last year, and recently thanks to o2 I now have a premium version. However I have not been saving articles to it to read offline as much as Pocket has been simpler, plus I can then keep work stuff to Pocket and non-work stuff to Evernote. (I like to be organised and love tools and apps that let me do this more efficiently.)

Anyway I recently decided to have a poke around the other Readers out there, after the dust has settled from Google’s departure and more companies are ensuring that they have an asynchronous multi-screen experiences between web and mobile I thought it was time to have a shop around.

Pulse Banner

First up Pulse, I had given this a go in the past, mainly on my tablet, it was sleek and responsive, but not the most user friendly. It went under some heavy redesigns and after not using it for a while I found myself a little lost when coming back to it. I never really found it as customisable as I would like and at the time Feedly was my primary Reader, so Pulse got used for extra stuff that I would keep track of but never really keep up with. I have given it another go recently and discovered it’s now part of the LinkedIn family of apps, and it’s just as user hostile as before when it comes to simple things like organising your feeds and folders. I see what they are doing with LinkedIn and it sort of makes sense, news articles generated by your professional network on the site, but for me it’s just too much swish and not enough substance right now.

Digg Reader Gif

Next is the Digg Reader, now I was vaguely aware of Digg, a site that allowed upvote and downvote of content by users that showed the popular articles from across the web. Like Reddit it was something that I never really gotten on with, too much text on screen making it not the most readable of sites. I was vaguely aware that Digg had a Reader for web and iOS as well, but without an Android app I never really looked into it much. I have just learned that there is now an Android app so now I am giving it a go. That and it has Pocket integration, so when I save something in Digg it will get added to Pocket, a very handy feature.

The first impression is that is is functional, clean and similar to Feedly in a lot of good ways. However there are far too many clicks to remove a feed from the collection. The drag and drop of folder and feeds down the side to reorganise them is great and something I think Feedly lacks. I have then spent the evening migrating feeds over manually, I could have exported and imported the OPML data but I decided to have a bit of a spring clean while I was at it.

This also ended up in me realising that there was a lot that I still liked about Feedly, and that despite the syncing niggles recently I wasn’t that keen to abandon it completely. So after adding all my ‘work’ feeds (gaming related news, discussion, websites, blogs) I decided that I will try dual running Feedly and Digg for a while. Feedly is now home to blogs and webcomics, things to check when I have time, Digg is now home to articles and news updates to help with my job/course.

Digg Android Screenshot

So far so good and the mobile app has synced with the web version and it is smooth and responsive, and is nice to use. So I’m going to stick with this set up for a bit and see how it goes. It might be a little overkill to use two feed readers like this, but it already feels more organised for me. I know that when I want to read a comic or catch up with a blog I boot up Feedly, then when I need to work then I need to be on Digg.

I did also look at FlipBoard briefly, and although it has a nice feel when using it on a touch screen, especially the way the pages ‘flip’ over. But I didn’t explore it too much as it wasn’t immediately evident as to how you would add custom feeds to it. But it’s still on my phone at the moment as I notice people in my Facebook feed are using it so I’m going to give it a go just in case.

In conclusion I think Feedly is just a little easier to use when managing feeds and has a few more customisation options. But Digg Reader is just as good for the most part and has free integration to services like Pocket. So I don’t think I could pick just the one right now, I would have to use Digg more and see if Feedly manages to calm down now that I don’t have as many feeds in it.

GameCity7 – A Week of Passion (Part 1)

It has now been a week since I came back from GameCity7 in Nottingham, the week has flown by as I have had University work, the flu and a cat that decided that a surprise vet visit was needed. Me and the cat are feeling a little better now though. 🙂

The week of GameCity however went by even quicker and it feels like a dream already, it is a wonderful festival of games in all their forms that is organised by a group of very hard working and dedicated individuals. It is attended by some of the warmest and amazing people, and the speakers are always interesting and engaging. Above all though one thing stands out and that is how passionate everyone is about games, be that video, board, ARG etc. It what ever form play is central to our lives whether we realise it or not and once in a while it’s good to celebrate the makers, players and enthusiasts surrounding this very large and varied industry.

So I have written up all that I can remember here and provided links out to places, people and games when and where needed just in case you (the reader) don’t know of/or would like to know more. I apologise in advance for the length of this post, I have never been very good and staying concise. 🙂 But this is also for my benefit so I have everything in (nearly) one place to refer to later, as the one thing I learned from last year, it is almost impossible to try and remember everything otherwise. (Also I kinda hope this provides those that didn’t go, or couldn’t go a taster of what it’s like to take part in this fantastic event.)

Anyway here is my overview of GameCity 7! (Part 1 – otherwise it is a very long post!)

Continue reading

Organisation

It is now two weeks into term, and I have been fairly busy, what with the awesome Women in Games Jobs Conference last week and catching up with my old friend Angie it almost feels as if there has been no time for University. Yet me and my project partner Niomi have been working every spare moment on our final major project, and I have been having many meetings about my Dissertation with various tutors at Uni, as well as trying to get the large amount of writing I have done for it into some semblance of order!

All this of course has involved a lot of organising obviously, and its my favourite part of the year, it’s where I get to plan ahead and think about all the things that need to be done and sort out the most efficient and fun way of doing them. 🙂  This has its advantages and disadvantages of course as there is always a point where you need to stop organising and start doing, and it is a trap that I have fallen into in the past, but not this time as there has been a lot of doing!

This is mainly evidenced by the work that me and Niomi have done on our final major project at the moment, codenamed “Telling the Tales of Old” we have already sorted out the main chunk of our game idea, half a of the vast chunk of the necessary research has been done and we have set up the required blog and site to record all our hard work. We may have bitten off more than we can chew with this one, but we are enjoying the challenge. At the moment we are keeping everything under wraps until the Design Documentation has been handed in and we are working on the main prototype.

Due to all the coming and going and long hours working today has been a day off and I have been playing NiGHTS on the Playstation (not something I ever thought I would type!) and generally chilling out. But the organisation bug is a hard one to shake, so now I find myself at a late hour writing up blog posts and trying to sort out my business cards for GameCity 7 on Moo.com.

It seems that even on a dedicated to a day off I can’t help but work a little…a good thing and a bad thing I suppose, but at the start of the year and a project like the one I’m working on it is nice to have that flexibility right now. It’s like looking at a mountain in the distance…it all seems fairly easy to get there at this stage, but soon I will be at the foot of it wondering how to get up the steep hill, then there will the part were I am on the steep hill and will not be able to stop and start as I feel and just have to work hard and carry on. 🙂 (I may also have been listening to Austin Wintory’s Journey soundtrack a bit too much while writing!)

Anyway for now back to the finishing touches of my business card and then onto writing up my trip to London.