Mighty mighty newsreaders – Snarfer

Sorry for the lack of activity last few days. This is performance review season at work and that leaves me slightly…distracted.

aaanyway….on to snarfer. I’ve been using Mozilla Thunderbird for reading my gmail and the 30+ blogs and news feeds that I subscribe to. I also use bloglines from work since I can’t install Thunderbird there.  This weekend Thunderbird decided to update itself, and promptly break. (It turned to be an issue with my zone alarm firewall no longer recognizing it).

So i got bugged and decided to track down and start using a genuine dedicated newsreader instead of a mail application which also happens to be able to subscribe to RSS feeds.

I found quite a few. From Google Reader (web-based, which I did not want), to Awasu (free version limited to 100 channels to Pluck (firefox add-on, not interested in that) to the apparently popular Feeddemon (Not free, so not interested) before managing to track down this little app called Snarfer.

I immediately liked 1 fact about this app. The install file is an incredibly small 395 KB. yes, kilobytes. Not megabytes. The installation too was quick. Nothing unusual in a positive or negative sense.

Before I loaded the OPML I pulled off of bloglines, I added a few (just a few) from the built-in listr of popular feeds. The selection was good, the process was simple too. Just check those ya want and they automatically:


Even loading my own blogroll from an OPML was a synch. This was something I’d had trouble with Thunderbird back in the day and was a bit nervous. No issues however. Only gripe, if you can call it that is I couldn’t distribute my blogs through the folders at import itself and had to move them afterward. I don’t think that’s even a fair thing to ask of any reader so I won’t crib.

Once I’d persuaded ZoneAlarm that this wasn’t a berzerk piece of malware and it was really really ok for it access the internet, I felt even happier. Snarfer does a clever thing, it doesn’t load either a bland text of the post, nor the entire website like T’bird, but something in between. It loads all the text first, then loads all the pictures and seems to skip the rest. For mortals with poor internet, this is great since I can start reading pretty much immediately instead of waiting for the entire damn page to load, and if it is worth it, pictures and links are loaded by the time I care. Here’s a screenshot of text loaded and an image just starting to load on a Techcrunch post:


However, what really caught me eye and made this app a keeper are the plugins. There’s a plugin to post to twitter. There’s a plugin to synch with bloglines (YAY!!!). There’s a plugin to give notifications from the system tray (Did I mention that it minimizes to system tray? Yeah, it does that) and quite a few more. You can also email a post directly from within Snarfer. I installed twitter, bloglines and notification plugins. A couple more that might interest a lot of people are the post to del.icio.us plugin and a plugin that allows you to add static web pages to the feed folder tree.

It has other features like a plugin to search craigslist and another to search ebay, but they didnt interest too much.

On the whole, a good app to have if you want a focussed desktop based newsreader with little to no memory usage (process is 4 mb in system tray and about 15 mb maximized, about as much a web browser tab).

Another screenshot, showing the notification page and the final setup on my laptop. I removed the feeds to news sites like BBC since they give you a 1-liner, and prefer to casually browse those instead of a feed.



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