replacing those Google toolsPosted: June 26, 2013
I wrote a while back about how I was quite annoyed that Google was discontinuing two tools I’ve used regularly, Google Reader for news feeds and Postini for spam filtering.
The iPad/iPhone app I’d been using for my news feeds relied on Google Reader, as did most. I was not confident in the creator’s ability to come up with something new before the end of Reader on 1 July (though he seems to be making progress), so I looked around for alternatives. I landed on Newsblur, which is pretty nice. It doesn’t play nicely with Internet Explorer 10, but it works fine with Firefox. Besides, my primary devices for this function are my iPhone and iPad, and the iOS app is really nice. I actually like it better than my old one. I do have a couple of quibbles. I never got an answer to my support question about IE10, but it’s a small, one-person show, as many of these things are. And when I try to add a feed from the iPad app, it doesn’t show all the folders, so depending on the folder to which I want to add the new feed, I may have to add it from my PC. But those are small things. At $24 a year for the Premium version I’m quite happy with what I’m getting.
My email and Web hosting company had been using Positni for spam filtering for a number of years, since well before it was bought by Google. For the most part it worked very well, and I had been quite satisfied with it. With Postini going away, they switched to a service from McAfee. At first I really felt that it was a step backwards. There is less user control than with Postini, and it captured a lot of stuff that was not spam. For example, any email with “unsubscribe” in it is spam. (Are you kidding me?) And I could find no way to modify or remove rules. So I just had to keep adding companies and organizations to my allowed list. In addition, the first few days it let through a lot of stuff that was spam.
For my Yahoo! groups, it captured half or more of the postings as spam. Adding the group email address (GroupName@yahoogroups.com) to the allowed list doesn’t help. I guess it’s looking at the actual poster’s email. Postini had a separate place to enter email groups you belonged to. So, I turned off email and now visit my Yahoo! groups on the Web. Which is annoying because I like the “push” functionality of getting individual emails.
Still, after using the McAfee tool for a few weeks, it’s learned most of the senders whose emails I want to get, and the amount of spam that slips through is smaller than at first, so I guess there was some fine tuning going on in the background. Most of that is caught by Outlook and Norton Anti-Spam in any case. I also have noticed that with McAfee a lot of stuff that is clearly, blatantly spam never shows up at all, and with Postini I had to wade through it all. And I have to admit that Postini did catch things that were not spam and did let some spam through. No system is going to be perfect.
Ultimately, I think both replacements are improvements. Besides, as some of my Facebook friends have been known to say, I totally get that these are first world problems.
So onward to matters of more pressing importance.