One of the big struggles I have with applications I use is portability. And, by that, I mean a lot of different things.
I use several different computers. At bare minimum, I have my dual G5 at home, and my work laptop. Sometimes I am using somebody else’s computer and still want access to my applications/data/whatever.
Most of my “state” is stored on a linux box in my condo. Whether I’m using my desktop or at work, I’m connected to said linux box. At a very basic level, this box is a file server.
But, from it I also access my instant messages. My email. IRC. Newsgroups. My notes. It always has a compiler ready to go to test out some code, and it’s fast to do so, since it’s a shell environment that works.
Everything is persistent, works while disconnected, and is easily portable. There’s PuTTY for Windows, OS X ships a workable terminal program (though I prefer iTerm for speed and better ANSI support), and any sort of linux box has rxvt. I don’t need to visit some website, install any fancy software, or what not. All I need is a thumb drive, a client, and my private key, and I’m pretty portable and relatively secure from the most basic attacks.
It’s far from perfect, but it works for now.
Where I’m going with this is that I like applications that are portable and persistent. I would probably use fancier graphical programs for instant messaging, say, but then I have to start and stop the things all the time.
There’s some temptation to move the location of these sorts of things to, say, a Helio device of some sort. But my portable presence is not yet mobile. I’m behind the times, I guess.
Where I’m going with this is that I’ve been a heavy user of Bloglines for years now. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the power, speed, and flexibility of solutions that aren’t web-based. It’s just that I can’t stand to deal with no sense of state between environments, and I don’t feel like installing software everywhere I go. It’s the same reason I like del.icio.us for bookmarks, even over any sort of bookmark synchronization tools. Yeah, Safari 3’s RSS browsing works well. It’s fast. It’s really nice for query-based RSS browsing. But it’s not persistent, sorry. Not interested.
Google Reader is just like Bloglines, right? Persistent, web-based, and … slow.
So, I’ve been playing with the new Bloglines beta. It adds a lot of the ajaxy Google Reader features, but remains fast. I don’t like that I set view preferences only at a folder level, and can’t seem to do so at a global level. But, overall, I’m pleased with it. It still remains fast, and provides more efficient ways of browsing folders with several hundred articles (as opposed to “load them all and destroy the browser”).