A recent correspondence with Kate MacKenzie ended up in a challenge.
Our email thread hit the topic of “old habits die hard.” She challenged me to “think different” about RSS.
I said, “What do you mean? I’m a great supporter of RSS. Everone at Mac360 uses RSS.”
Kate said, “True, but are you using the best RSS newsreader, or just using what you started with?”
I replied (knowing I was about to get into trouble), “What do you mean? You don’t think I can think different?”
You can tell exactly where this is going, right? Nowhere. I’m not going to win because I can’t spin (fast enough).
Our email discussion had to do with dispersing old habits, and adopting newer, more efficient tools and methods and processes.
As email threads go, this one was like a forum post and had gone on for days already—before Kate’s challenge.
Kate’s point wasn’t really arguable. Change is painful. Most of us won’t change from a good Mac tool to a better Mac tool unless prodded to do so.
Or, unless the pain of using the old tool was too much to stand.
Nobody presses points like that too much. The challenge was simple.
Kate: “What’s your RSS newsreader? Safari or something else? I said, “Safari and NewsFire. It’s the perfect combination.”
Kate wrote, “If it’s such a great solution then why do you use two tools for one purpose?” Oh, my.
I could see the bullet heading my way and I couldn’t move a muscle. “I’ve tested the two for a couple of years. They’re great together.”
“Why?” she shot back. I was done for. “OK, what are you suggesting?”
Kate’s suggestion was part of an age old argument about habits and pain and unwillingness to try something new.
The challenge was to discard the user of Safari’s RSS reader and NewsFire and use NetNewsWire instead, if only for the fact that NetNewsWire has an integrated browser.
Well, that’s like Safari, too, but Safari’s RSS preferences are rather thin, hence the long time love afair with NewsFire.
For one week I didn’t use Safari’s RSS, and I didn’t use NewsFire. I used NetNewsWire instead. The first two or three days were painful.
First, I had to set up my RSS “bookmarks” in NetNewsWire just the way I like them. I did come to like the extra preferences, though.
Second, I had to learn to actually manage my incoming RSS feeds instead of just relying on Safari to stack them. Getting comfortable with that took a few days, too.
By Monday I was making progress. My bookmarked RSS feeds were back to normal, I’d adjusted the colors of headlines and text to fit my tastes, I’d organized the feeds to fit my habits (don’t even try that in Safari—that’s why I used NewsFire).
By Tuesday’s review of all my RSS sites, something important happened.
For all the simplicity of Safari’s RSS handling, and all the scrumptious features in NewsFire, one single thing popped out as better. Much better.
It’s that integrated browser. Right inside NetNewsWire is Safari’s browser, well, it’s the browser engine, so I was never more than a click from viewing a web page, and never more than a click from my precious RSS bookmarks.
My combo use of Safari for quick checking of RSS feeds, and NewsFire for all the organizational touches I liked, was defeated by a single utility that was remarkably more efficient than the two tools I’d been so comfortably using.
The real problem was the first four days or so of “pain” to make the change. Looking back, I’m glad Kate goaded me into it. I learned something.
Don’t misunderstand what happened. Safari’s fine for RSS. NewsFire is one of the best. Both are recommended tools from the whole Mac360 staff.
But Kate knew something about my work habits and needs and the solution I’d developed. She matched that with a better solution for me, but I was unwilling to try it out.
The challenge she issued was appropriate, particularly for someone who’s prided himself as a “think different” kind of guy.
There was no real pain in using Safari and NewsFire so why worry about making a switch to something else?
I’d tried out a few other readers, but never more than an hour or two. Is that enough time to make a determination?
That natural resistance tells me that sometimes we don’t truly “think different” because some of what we have is already so good, why try?
Is NetNewsWire the best RSS newsreader out there? It depends on your needs, but you’ll never know unless sufficient time is devoted to determine the exact needs and available solutions.
Will I go back to Safari and NewsFire? No. I love the NetNewsWire environment after only a week of use. Wait. Let me improve that thought.
If Safari or NewsFire or whatever else comes along has a different and perhaps better solution, I’ll make a special effort to devote more effort to see if that works for me.
What about you? Do you have a “comfort zone” with some Mac utilities that won’t let you spend enough time trying out what could be a better solution?