I have to confess something: I don’t surf the internet anymore. I haven’t for a long time now. Honestly, there is so much information and good stuff as well as so many worthless and evil things, where would I start? How would I surf nowadays? Would I just limit myself to a few sites? Should I just stick to Twitter? It’s overwhelming. The number of good blogs is overwhelming. The amount of news and quickness of it today is mind numbing. So how do I deal with it? Well, the nice thing is that there are also a number of tools and applications today to help with this! Google Reader, ReadItLater, Readability, and Last Pass are 4 of my favorites.
Google Reader (RSS)
If you do not know what RSS is, then let me explain. RSS is basically a way of viewing a site as a listing of articles. Most sites these days will feed out their information in this format from news sites to blogs to anything. An excellent primer on RSS is here. If a site has an RSS feed, then the next thing you need is an RSS feed reader. There are numerous ones out there like Good Noows or Sage for Firefox but my current favorite is Google Reader. Google Reader is a very customizable RSS reader and you can access it from anywhere, any browser. You can set categories (tags) and then drop the links of the sites you want to track into those categories. You can turn off or delete feeds you’re no longer interested in and it will keep track of what you’ve clicked/read.
Once you sift through what you actually want to read, you likely can’t read through everything you want to read at that moment, can you? Should you simply bookmark them all to read later? Is there an easier way to do this? Yes. ReadItLater is a very flexible, fantastic tool to save good reads for later when you have more time or even just to save good stuff that you read without building up an insane library of bookmarks on your own machine. There are multiple apps for ReadItLater making it easy to save links within any browser (or smartphone) with one click of a button.
Adding additional power (for a $5 one time cost) is ReadItLater’s Digest. Digest allows you to build a custom categorizing tool to make it even easier to prioritize reading. I use ReadItLater in combination with the Send to Kindle Chrome app to then send saved articles to my Kindle.
ReadItLater Digest also is a great place to read articles because it will filter out advertisements and sidebar distractions and images but Readability is the king at doing this. Readability will transform a 5 page article into a streamlined single page read weeding out the advertisements and sidebars but retaining the main article images and tables. If you’re reading articles on the fly, this is the tool to use. See before and after below.
The final tool I especially wanted to mention is LastPass. How many passwords do you think you have saved in your browser cookies? Do you just use the same old password for every site you register for? This is very dangerous. Ever have your email hacked? You’ve surely seen this happen to multiple friends. Last Pass is a way to securely store and access your passwords online utilizing one main access code. You can then use LastPass to generate random 8-12-16 digit passwords for any website (highly recommended for your email accounts)! You can also categorize your saved username/passwords and alter and update them with ease with any of their browser tools.
I hope these tools are helpful to you! In terms of browsers, it simply has to be Chrome. For Twitter, it’s all about TweetDeck for Chrome. What tools do you use? How do you sift through the data deluge of the internet? Do you just bypass it by avoiding it? That’s not exactly the worse solution!
This is a cross-post from my own personal blog that was edited and updated.