Obsessive reader of everything.
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Google Reader announced its shutdown exactly a year ago

32 Comments and 59 Shares

In this industry, you gotta be tough.

I’m just kidding. We’re a bunch of literates who enjoy reading so much that we built our own news readers. But when a behemoth like Google makes a call that places you at the business end of 100,000 frantic power users, reminding yourself how tough you are is one way of dealing with the madness.

Google announced Reader’s sunset at 4pm on March 13th, 2013. At that point I had spent three and a half years building my vision of a better news reader. I clearly wasn’t doing it for the money, since my paltry salary didn’t even cover my market rate rent in San Francisco. RSS was a decidedly stupid technology to piggyback off of to try and cover that financial disconnect.

Take a look at this graph. It shows NewsBlur’s income versus its expenses for the past 16 months. Just look at those few months before the Google Reader shutdown announcement in March 2013.

It was never hard to justify to others why I worked on a news reader for three-some years, partially because I’d been justifying it to myself for so long. I had the delusion that it would all work itself out in the end, so long as I kept pushing my hardest and shipping features users wanted. And, at the time, with 1,000 paying subscribers, it certainly felt like I was getting somewhere.

If you’re curious about why expenses are so high, think about what it takes to run a modern and popular news reader. This graph breaks down expenses for an average month from the past year.

Why spend all that money on subcontractors and new tools? Because I’m investing in building an even better news reader.

Fast forward a year and let hindsight tell you what’s what. I was irrational to think that I could make it on my own in a decaying market, what with all the air sucked out by Google. But that three year hallucination kept me persevering to build a better product, which positioned NewsBlur well as a strong candidate for a Reader replacement. When the sunset announcement dropped, it didn’t take long to fortify the servers and handle all the traffic. NewsBlur permanently ballooned up to 20X the number of paid users. People flocked to NewsBlur because it was among the furthest along in creating real competition. As we say on NewsBlur, the people have spoken.

The post-Google Reader landscape

I run a very opinionated news reader. If you think somewhat like I do, you couldn’t be more pleased with the direction NewsBlur goes. But this is still a power tool, and in a world of casual readers who don’t care where their news is coming from so long as it’s in their interests and matches their biases, NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress. Most people want drip coffee and they don’t bother wasting mental energy on caring about the difference in taste or quality. It’s a binary to them: coffee or no coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, they just choose to focus on other things more important to them than the sourcing or control they have of their coffee.

Many competing news readers are visual and offer a similar experience. When you want to give up control in exchange for the digested output of sophisticated and heartless algorithms, they’re your best bet. When you want to exert control and know what you want and from which sources, NewsBlur is the only option. No other reader gives you training, statistics, and sharing in one multi-platform app. Nobody else cares so much about RSS as to work on a news reader when it was still a financial inevitability of failure.

Future work on NewsBlur

If the past is any indication, NewsBlur is going to continue to see many more improvements. This graph of contributions from the past 365 days shows my level of unwavering dedication.

One way people speak is by committing code to NewsBlur’s GitHub repo. Try developing your own pet feature. I’ll even do some of the hard work for you, so long as you give it a good try and submit a pull request.

Meanwhile, I’m using the windfall to develop a secret project that will complement NewsBlur in a way that hasn’t been tried before with any reader. And if that fails, I’ll find an even better way to make my users happy with their purchase. If you thought I was relentless before March 13th, 2013, just wait until you see what I’m capable of with the finances to build all the big ticket features I’ve been imagining for years.

And while you’re here, do me a favor and tweet about NewsBlur. Tell your followers, who are probably looking for a better way to read news, about how much you rely on NewsBlur. Reading positive tweets about NewsBlur every morning (and afternoon and evening and before bed) make this the best job I’ve ever had.

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3032 days ago
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30 public comments
nb_test
3015 days ago
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Good story
windexx
3019 days ago
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Great newsreader. I haven't even touched all the features yet much less incorporate them into daily use. But it's nice to know they are there.
Bedford, Virginia
jantdm
3027 days ago
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Go NewsBlur!
Munich, Germany
rosskarchner
3031 days ago
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I'm glad to see that Newsblur seems to be on a sustainable path. Go, Samuel!

(I'm also testing out using iffft .com to turn my newsblur shares into blog posts)
DC-ish
kerray
3032 days ago
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This is how you do it :)
Brno, CZ
kyounger
3032 days ago
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Love this product.
tomm74
3032 days ago
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Newsblur is something worth paying for - I'm very much in the camp of "if you're not paying for it, you're the product" - and I for one prefer to pay for my services directly, rather than by having my data sold.

I like NB so much, I've been developing my own Windows 8 Metro UI for it!
Cardiff
romkyns
3032 days ago
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Well, it looks like renewals are about to start rolling in, right? So you're fine? I hope you are :)
redheadedfemme
3033 days ago
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I love NewsBlur. I'm happy to be a paying customer. It's a worthy replacement for Google Reader.
amaiman
3034 days ago
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Have been using @NewsBlur ever since and haven't looked back.
New Jersey
p4ul
3035 days ago
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Keep up the awesome work!
Wellington, New Zealand
zelig2
3035 days ago
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I was oblivious of other readers when I used Google but I'm honestly glad they shut down their service as I really enjoy NewsBlur.
BiG_E_DuB
3035 days ago
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Great post
Charlotte, NC, USA
boltonm
3035 days ago
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Very happy to have paid for the last year of Newsblur - Google Reader first replaced and since superseded. iOS app continues to improve. Looking forward to more great value in the coming year.
London, UK
alliepape
3035 days ago
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I came to NewsBlur for odd reasons, but I now use it every day and it makes my life actively better. It also allows me to share the writing that's important to me. Thanks, Sam.
San Francisco, CA
Eldaria
3035 days ago
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I switched to Newsblur from Google, and I'm certainly renewing my subscription. I will also head over to twitter and tell about you.
kimmo
3035 days ago
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I’m going to renew my subscription to NewsBlur in 11 days.
Espoo, Finland
acdha
3035 days ago
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I hope that there will be a corresponding spike as people renew those annual memberships which are all about to expire
Washington, DC
koffie
3035 days ago
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Gladly pay for this great RSS reader! Only hope it's healthy financially speaking, the graph does cause some concern...
Belgium
Brstrk
3035 days ago
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With the google reader apocalypse, I was infuriated, because most solutions, both online and offline, always lacked the general usability I needed, especially when it comes to having many feeds. Them Reddit suggested some replacement alternatives. Newsblur was among them. I'm glad I paid attention back them.
chriskayto
3035 days ago
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Just tweeted my support of NewsBlur! Thanks for creating such a great product.
Toronto
leilers
3036 days ago
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Very happy with my decision to move to NewsBlur, even though it was forced upon me by Google pulling Reader. Definitely worth the investment. #newsblur
Northern Virginia
jcherfas
3036 days ago
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I STILL like Newsblur. And I don't even use it on iOS.
tante
3036 days ago
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"NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress"
Berlin/Germany
stsquad
3036 days ago
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happy to pay for this service.
Cambridge, UK
chrisrosa
3036 days ago
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For RSS "@NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress." Great quote. Even better product.
San Francisco, CA
musictubes
3036 days ago
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Gotta say, Newsblur is my most used app on my iPad and iPhone. Happy to pay for it:)
Falls Church, Virginia
taglia
3036 days ago
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Since I found NewsBlur I have never once looked for another newsreader. Can't say this for many other services!

Also, I am kind of in awe when I see what a single person can do!
Singapore
lasombra
3036 days ago
Same here. There's no other newsreader that satisfy my needs so neatly.
leiter420
3036 days ago
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I love this news reader. It's so much better than Google Reader ever was, and that's saying something.
jimwise
3036 days ago
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Neat. There's this great rss reader called... Ok, you're using it.

Reverse Identity Theft

35 Comments and 52 Shares
I asked a few friends whether they'd had this happen, then looked up the popularity of their initials/names over time.  Based on those numbers, it looks like there must be at least 750,000 people in the US alone who think 'Sure, that's probably my email address' on a regular basis.
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popular
3179 days ago
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opheliasdaisies
3176 days ago
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Happens all the time. It's interesting what you can piece together of peoples' lives from mistaken emails.
NYC
Skotte
3179 days ago
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My email address has "Cheeze" with a Z instead of an S. I imagine the owner of the "Cheese" address gets a lot of my mail fFrom fFamily who don't notice the Z.
Rochester, Earth
therealedwin
3179 days ago
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This happens to me all the time with my gmail.
Seattle, Washington
cbenard
3179 days ago
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Happens all the damn time to me.
Plano, Texas
ksteimle
3179 days ago
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Looking at you, Ken and Katie...
Atlanta
MEVincent
3179 days ago
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I've even got a number in mine and have still collected a guy in FL and a guy outside London.
Manassas, Virginia
hansolosays
3179 days ago
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I got an excellent pancake recipe this way...
Norfolk, Virginia
jeffjacobs
3179 days ago
Apparently someone who doesn't know their email address is getting their house remodeled. Lots of appointments for new bath fixtures and curtains
sleepwalker
3161 days ago
I received mystery college acceptance letters. Eventually Samuel caught on and sent me a message himself asking about it. Also. er,would you be willing to share the recipe?
hansolosays
3160 days ago
here ya go.... Okay, Chuck. Here it is. Prepare to become a legend. The trick is to blend the dry ingredients thoroughly and beat the wet ingrediients together separately.. Then CARESS the wet ingredients into the dry. Don't overmix them because it will make them tough. Preheat griddle to 375. Mix together. 2 Cups Flour 1 tsp soda 1 tsp salt 4 Tbsp sugar In another bowl beat together 2 cups Buttermilk 2 Tbsp oil 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla Gently mix wet and dry ingredients together. Grease griddle -- Make smaller pancakes 1\4 to 1/2 cup batter. Turn when bubbles pop and do not close. (Hint: You may want to slightly increase the amount of sugar and vanilla according to your taste.) Once you master this recipe, people will beg you to make your pancakes at family get togethers. It really spoils them. Thanks again for a great time. It was so good to see you again.
zippy72
3180 days ago
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My namesake is the British ambassador to Iraq. If this happens, it could be interesting...
FourSquare, qv
pberry
3181 days ago
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This is my inbox.
Chico, CA
ravenel
3182 days ago
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Oh my God yes.
ÜT: 40.673477,-73.975108
ktgeek
3182 days ago
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I have this happen constantly. Makes me sad that I got in on gmail so damn early. Just means a lot of "spam" gets bit bucketed.
Bartlett, IL
librarinerd
3182 days ago
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I actually keep a file with all the people whose e-mail I get and their actual e-mails. I know which e-mails to forward to Pennsylvania and which to Texas...
Nilbog
wmorrell
3182 days ago
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ALL. THE. TIME. There are at least four distinct individuals who at one point or another believed they owned my email address.
tedder
3182 days ago
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this is why I have my own domain name. Never happens.
Uranus
WebWrangler
3182 days ago
Yep. Had my own domain for 14 years now. Never happens to me either
vincemulhollon
3182 days ago
Yeah, whatever, said John Smith. For me not so much of a problem.
superiphi
3179 days ago
you are never safe! I have iphi.ne/com/org -get tons of emails meant for Lphi.
jakesutton
3182 days ago
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My problem is younger people with my name.
United States
wyeager
3182 days ago
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My favorite are the photos of bass that some guy caught and tried to send to his brother. I may not have any brothers but I do know a nice looking bass when I see one.
Blur Area
zwol
3182 days ago
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This T-shirt will only get more common as time goes on.
Pittsburgh, PA
jonathanpeterson
3182 days ago
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firstname.lastname here. That limits how much I get. The good news is that the Wharton School is convinced that I'm an MBA alumni. I'm sorely tempted to order a "replacement" MBA diploma.
rjstegbauer
3182 days ago
I can still get first.last@anywhere.com for probably forever. I have an uncommon lastname and now uncommon first name.
toxotes
3182 days ago
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Somebody with my last name and a *different* first initial signed up for phone service with my email address last week.
dianaschnuth
3182 days ago
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Or if your email is [last name] + @gmail.com...
Toledo OH
schnuth
3182 days ago
Kia still sends me emails for Uncle Charles. Ugh,
leilers
3182 days ago
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This happens to me All. The. Time. So far I've collected a professor in Arkansas and someone who works at the CDC in Atlanta and a Tea Partier. It's BIZARRE.
Northern Virginia
sleepwalker
3161 days ago
Your inbox sounds like a very strange place. Not sure I'd want to visit, much less live there.
NielsRak
3182 days ago
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Don't know what you're talking about... :)
oliverzip
3183 days ago
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The worst being this who sign up to xbox live and can use unvalidated email addresses and then are reduced to begging you to have their account back.
Sydney, Balmain, Hornsby.
jrdn
3183 days ago
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I have actually gotten job offers (plural), presumably intended for whatever evil doppelganger of mine doesn't know his email address.
nderksen
3182 days ago
Same here. I politely emailed them back advising them to phone the candidate instead. Also had an issue with someone setting their alternate email for their Yahoo account to mine, then they guy kept on emailing support asking why they weren't getting a response. Tried to get Yahoo support to understand but because I didn't have the responses to their security questions they ignored me. So annoying.
jtgrimes
3183 days ago
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Alt text: I asked a few friends whether they'd had this happen, then looked up the popularity of their initials/names over time. Based on those numbers, it looks like there must be at least 750,000 people in the US alone who think "Sure, that's probably my email address" on a regular basis.
Oakland, CA
jscartergilson
3183 days ago
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Seem familiar?
MaryEllenCG
3182 days ago
GAH. YES. And mine's not even (first initial)(last name).
rascalking
3183 days ago
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THIS. ALL THE TIME THIS.
Wakefield, MA
Lythimus
3183 days ago
I still can't believe it's good that I was too young and stupid to get my name for a gmail address when it was in invitation-only mode.
ScottInPDX
3183 days ago
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Or just the last name. I get tons of mail not for me.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
kipthegreat
3182 days ago
or [firstname].[lastname]. i have a very uncommon first name (Kip) but i get mail for a mormon firefighter in california and a boy scout leader in arkansas and a heating&air guy in arizona. but surprisingly i've never gotten mail intended for my dad, who has the same name as me
lrwrp
3183 days ago
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Experience dis all the time.
??, NC

Birds and Dinosaurs

17 Comments and 40 Shares
Sure, T. rex is closer in height to Stegosaurus than a sparrow. But that doesn't tell you much; 'Dinosaur Comics' author Ryan North is closer in height to certain dinosaurs than to the average human.
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3341 days ago
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marcrichter
3337 days ago
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This is a good world. Indeed. :)
tbd
pdp68
3340 days ago
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Who needs Jurassic Park?
Belgium
sheppy
3340 days ago
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Birds: killer dinosaurs roaming the earth to this very day!
Maryville, Tennessee, USA
Brstrk
3340 days ago
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Awesome, but I still like my dinosaurs scary, huge and non-feathery. Brontossaurus: I want to believe.
regang
3340 days ago
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shared
mrobold
3340 days ago
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I really like eating fried dinosaur.
Orange County, California
bodly
3340 days ago
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I need to go clean the dinosaur poop off my car.
Austin, TX
leilers
3340 days ago
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Oh XKCD, I love you.
Northern Virginia
joeythesaint
3340 days ago
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I wish I could keep all the dinosaurs off my lawn while the seed germinates.
Ottawa, Ontario
satadru
3340 days ago
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Whatever Randall. It'll be a good world when I have my own pygmy elephant friends...
New York, NY
Michdevilish
3340 days ago
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There's nothing quite like the cheery chirping of the dinosaurs early in the morning...
Canada
Brentwahn
3341 days ago
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I <3 science.
Sydney, Australia
itsmoirob
3341 days ago
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Just an awesome thought. I like tiny ideas like this
Robin Hood shire.
stavrosg
3341 days ago
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Yep.
Rodos, Greece