Cheap And Easy NNW Syncing

December 12th, 2006

I really love NetNewsWire – it fits the bill for (almost) all of my aggregation needs. It even has a rather sophisticated syncing mechanism, which got even more advanced after the the product was purchased by NewsGator.

But syncing isn’t really for me. Don’t get me wrong, I want to read news from more than one machine – just very irregularly. And sometimes suddenly. I don’t want the overhead of syncing all the time just so my subscriptions will be available when I happen to pop out of town for a few days.

The fact is, 95% of my news reading happens on my main development machine, and maybe 5% happens on my laptop. So my special low-tech version of “syncing” involves two simple steps:

  1. Make sure my laptop has the same subscriptions as my desktop.
  2. Make sure the “unread articles” on either machine match my last reading.

I found myself doing some pretty crazy things, like simultaneously “catching up” on one machine and then “marking all as read” on the other. Finally, I realized I didn’t need to be so particular about things. I could do just fine if I knocked out “almost all” of the posts I had already read on the other machine. How to do this? Pretty simple. Just mark everything as read, and then mark everything after a certain date as unread.

I decided to take that certain date from a cue article. That is, an article I’ve selected in NetNewsWire. By running Mark Unread Since Date while I’m looking at any article in NetNewsWire, I instruct the program to mark as unread every article released at that time or later. So I can browse through some recently read feed, select an article, and “go back in time” to the unread articles from that era and later. By identifying a particular post as “something I read,” I’m guaranteed that nothing I haven’t read will be omitted (assuming I finished “catching up” on the other machine).

This really works for me. I’m careful to pick articles from a time that is “roughly a few minutes before I stopped reading on the other machine,” and have the easiest time of staying “in sync” between the machines.

5 Responses to “Cheap And Easy NNW Syncing”

  1. Zachery Bir Says:

    So long as the cue article hasn’t been updated in the meanwhile. Then you might miss some articles in the time between.

  2. Jan Says:

    I use the wild-west approach of simply copying over ~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire before (~5%, too) I take my PowerBook out.

  3. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Zachery: Yeah, I usually look at an article and the time it was last updated, and think “yeah, I was on my other computer at that time.”

    Jan: That’s probably a better solution, but it requires such sophistication :) Copying things back and forth?! I’ll always forget !

  4. Arden Says:

    You’d think NNW would have an option to query NewsGator as to which entries you’ve read already, since you can set as much on Newsgator.com anyway. Maybe in the next version.

  5. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Arden: it certainly does have a feature to sync with NewsGator, but my point was that all the syncing functionality turns out to be overkill for me.

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