Google Reader For LiveJournal Users

There’s a new version out: click here!

My previous post reminded me that I’d never gotten around to writing something I’d promised a few of you already: that is, a guide to using Google Reader and LiveJournal together effectively (Google Reader doesn’t support digest authentication, which means that it’s not possible to use Google Reader to pick up, for example, “friends only” posts, so I’ve written a bit of software that bridges the gap).

I’ve used a number of bits of newsreading software over the years before realising that what I really needed was a web-based reader that I could use from “wherever.” I implemented my own, Dog, which worked adequately, but Google Reader has since matured into a wonderful program, and it seemed a waste not to use it.

In case there’s anybody else out there in Abnibland who wants to be able to use Google Reader to centralise all their blog reading into one place and who has LiveJournal friends who make “friends only” posts (it’s nice to have all the comics I read, all the news I’m interested in, and all of the blogs I follow – including those on LiveJournal – integrated into one place with reminders when new stuff appears, searching, etc.), here’s my guide:

Google Reader For LiveJournal Users

  1. You’ll need a Google Reader account – if you’ve got some other kind of Google account (e.g. GMail), just log in, otherwise, sign up for one.
  2. You’ll also need one or more LiveJournal accounts through which you can read the “friends only” posts you’re interested in. Another advantage of this system is that if you have multiple LiveJournal identities you can read the blogs of the friends of both in one place. If you don’t have a LiveJournal account, why are you bothering with this guide? Just go use Google Reader itself like a normal person.
  3. Log in to LiveJournal Feed Fetcher using your LiveJournal username and password. Then, just click on each of the “Add To Google” buttons in turn for each of the friends whose blogs you’d like to syndicate.
  4. Remember to add other people’s (non LiveJournal) blogs to your Google Reader account, too!

Now, whenever you log in to Google Reader, you’ll be presented with the latest blog entries from all of the blogs you read, including “friends only” posts, if available, from your LiveJournal buddies.

Advanced Tips

  • Install the Google Reader Notifier plugin (mirror) for Firefox. This sits in the bottom-right corner of your browser window and lets you know how many new posts you’ve got to read, and provides a convenient shortcut to your Google Reader account.
  • In Google Reader, click Settings, then Goodies. Under “Put Reader in a bookmark” you’ll find a bookmarklet that you can drag to your Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar (or a similar place on the user interface). This will appear by default as a “Next” link that you can click to immediately go to the web page of the next item in your reading list.

I hope this short guide will reduce the demand for further maintenance of abnib help people to get a handle on Google Reader and on reading syndicated LiveJournal blogs. The LiveJournal Feed Fetcher can very be easily extended to cope with similar systems (DeadJournal, etc.), so just let me know if there’s anything it’s “missing.”

Google Reader Trends

In true Google "we can’t think of a use for it either, but isn’t it a cool toy" style, Google Reader now has a new feature – Trends – which tells you, for example, at what times of the day you read particular blogs and other useless stuff like that (Did you know that I do the vast majority of my newsreading right before lunch, right after dinner, and at about midnight? How about that I’m more likely to read something than save it for later or delete it if I first see it on a Monday or Wednesday than any other day of the week?).

Something I did find interesting, though, was my subscription trends, and in particular, the most- and least-frequently updated blogs,  comics, news aggregators, and community sites that I read. Starting at the bottom:

Dan's "Bottom 10" Subscription Trends

Turns out there are people who very rarely if ever update their blogs: with only one exception (masked), everybody on this list is a personal (rather than a professional) blogger. I suppose that’s probably to be expected. If you’re on this list, I’m not hearing enough from you.

At the other end of the scale, on the Top 10, there’s only one "personal" blog – that of my friend Faye. She actually manages to beat several of the (daily) webcomics, and even a couple of the (several times a day) communities I read in terms of update frequency. Now that’s scary.