Tool: RSS Reader

I wanted to tell you about a tool I use every day, an RSS Reader. My reader of choice is According to Newsblur I’m subscribed to 114 RSS feeds.


“RSS uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video. An RSS document (called “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author’s name.” via Wikipedia

Some people think of an RSS Reader as an inbox, and they see 100 unread stories, and feel overwhelmed, don’t do that. RSS is about scanning, not reading. If there is a feed you don’t care about what happened the last week, mark it all as read and go on. You can also skim through the titles and only read the ones that are interesting.


One of the things I love about Newsblur is that I can train it to show me only the authors or topics I’m interested in for each particular site. There are some sites that have hundreds of stories each week, but I only care about 1 author that writes a weekly on a particular topic. I can train Newsblur to only show me that topic from my favorite author.


The last thing I love, and it might be counter intuitive, is that I pay Newsblur $24USD each year. I love the value that I get from Newsblur that I don’t want them to go away. I think that $24 is a good value proposition and hope to see them succeed.

Other Screen Shots

*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Manu Schwendener

Home PC – Why?

This year I’m building my PC for our house, it is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years. I kept meaning to do it, then I read this post on Coding Horror, and the desire to take this on came back. I want to address on this post why I’m doing this.


  1. Our current home pc is a laptop I purchased for my MBA 5 years ago. It is a good machine, Intel Core 2 Duo Chip, 6GB RAM, 512 GB HHD. It has served us well, as I mentioned on my Dropbox post this machine contains an offline copy of everything that is stored in my Dropbox account. It also syncs any pictures we take on our camera, and connects to a backup Drive. This machine is beginning to slow down, the HHD is starting to show wear.
  2. I have moved many of our assets away from a PC, I still want a central hub. If the internet went dark, I can be assured that all my photos, all my files, all records are there, close to me.
  3. All other devices still can’t do everything a PC can. I’m amazed how easy it is to create a movie on iMovie on my phone. I can edit a photo to my heart’s content on any devise, but try to format a document with text, images, and column that is more than 1,000 words. Printing is still hard (margins, gutter, flow) on mobile devices. You need a PC to properly format, print, and basically have an always on, copper cable, connection to the internet.
  4. I want to build the machine, I really want to tackle this project.

What will be the end result?

So far these are the specs for the PC:

Looking for a system configuration like this one is well over $1,500 I’m hoping to build it for less than $500. I will start buying the parts next month and should start building and testing in 6 weeks. I will update you on the progress!

Dropbox Family Plan

I’ve been a loyal Dropbox user since 2010 and have now incorporated it into our family’s workflow. I started using the free version mainly for myself, over the past years I upgraded to the Pro version and added my account to all devices in the family. Here is an overview of the workflow.

Dropbox Diagram

As you can see most of the devices are connected to 1 dropbox account, right now the Pro price is $9.99 USD per 1TB per month. Our family is using about 24% of the capacity, and we are only adding about 60GB per year.

The way we have set it up is mainly for images, this way either one of us can take a picture and it’s uploaded to Dropbox. I can use images from either phone to add to the blog or share in social media.

Notice that I also do a backup of the whole system to a local hard drive, just in case.

I am sure there are other ways to do this, but I am happy with our current set up. Except for the following and maybe they are deal breakers for you:

  1. You have to trust your family members, they will have the power to delete files, you can undo anything within 30 days, but still you have to trust them.
  2. To share in social media a picture my wife took on her phone, I have to download the image to my phone before I can use it. Dropbox is smart not to upload it again, but if you are trying to get a lot of images, it takes time. A video, a lot more.
  3. When I hit the 1TB mark the next level up is $15 / month with unlimited data.
  4. I don’t consider Dropbox a backup solution, mainly because it mirrors deletes. Right now I have a local backup, but there is room for improvement.

I have in the back of my mind some possible upgrades to this workflow:

  1. I know I need an offsite backup solution, I really like Amazon’s Glacier service and at some point I want to embrace it.
  2. Phones are essential part of our digital life, I do have the phone backed up to Apple’s servers every night, but I might have to give in and add iCloud Photo to have a second line of defense to my images and to easily navigate past images.
  3. I have to upgrade my home computer, the drive is only 500GB and I want that machine to have at least everything on Dropbox. Hopefully this year I will build an HTPC.

As always, let me know your thoughts, I especially want to know your family workflow.