How do you keep yourself updated with news especially when so many things are floating around? The simple answer to this question would be to get yourself acquainted with RSS (Really Simple Syndication). RSS basically transforms the way you approach news. Instead of you going in search of news, news will come to you and from the sources that you want. For a introduction to RSS please see this post.
OmeaPro can scan hundreds of blogs and news items every day. It has most of the features that you would look for in a RSS reader. Two things I would want it to have
- Synchronization capabilities
- Relationship among news items.
OmeaPro has many other features in addition to feed reading capabilities. It can help you manage bookmarks, Usenet, manage to-do lists etc. But, in this post I will only talk about the RSS reader.
OmeaPro became Free from December 4th 2006. You need to get a key from the website which is pretty simple thing to do.
Once you install OmeaPro and launch it, you will see a tab on top which says
These are all the things that you can manage with OmeaPro. I use it to manage my feeds, but if you are interested then it can even manage your mails from Outlook. From now on, I will refer only to the Feeds section.
The Feeds section has 4 areas which are very helpful. These areas are “Views and Categories“, “Feeds“, “Post information” and “Detailed post“. It also offers you the choice to have preview pane on the right or at the bottom or view the feeds in the newspaper mode. The picture below shows the exact location of each and every section. I prefer having the Preview pane at the bottom of the screen.
The “Views and Categories” section is one of the most useful and powerful sections in Omea. By default, Omea classifies feeds according to Date and groups them as “Today”, “Yesterday” etc. This is a really useful feature to have in case you are starting your feedreader after a week or so. Most of the feedreaders require you to construct Smartfeeds to get this done. This section also has headings like “Flagged“, “Annotated“, “Clippings“ and “Categories“. Basically, a post can be tagged, annotated, clipped or categorized and once you have done that you can go here and retrieve them.
I find flagging and categories more important than the other two features. Categorization allows me to quickly filter through articles and also refer to similar articles on the same kind of topics. Reading the feeds becomes faster when you use categories to find what you want. Likewise, I use flagging the articles to show their importance or if action has to be taken based on them. Categories is similar to tags but you cannot use the tags specified in the post for finding similar feeds.
To get started with feed reading, you need to have some feeds. The file format which feedreaders use for these feeds is OPML and if you have an OPML file, then you can just Import your feeds. (File->Import Feed subscriptions). Once you have done that, you are all set to start unleashing the power of the Omea Feedreader. If you don’t have an OPML file, then you can use the Subscribe to Feed option to start Feedreading. (Tools->Subscribe to Feed). Once the successful import of your feeds is completed, you will see the “Feeds” section to contain the feeds. Omea will retain the directory structure in which the feeds were stored.
Omea lets you have granular control over the feeds. You can specify the interval of feed updation, feed expiration rules and also properties like “Marking the feed read” when you move to the next feed or folder.
In case, the feed requires “Authorization” then you can specify the login and password under the Settings section of Properties. Some of the other features are:
- Show the total unread feed count
- Pause feed updation
- Directly open the feed home page
- Update a single feed alone
- Notify if messages arrive in a feed
There are lot more features that are available and can be explored.
If you are someone who is happy with just basic Feedreading, then no configuration will be required. But, if you want to customize some of the features, then go to Tools-> Options.
Some of the important configurations that have to be done are:
- When to Mark items Read
- Search results display
- Whether Omea should minimize to the system tray (I prefer a normal close and open)
- Whether Omea should open web pages in the default browser or inside the application (I prefer the default browser. I would like the option of don’t switch to the browser once the page is opened. But, it is not available.)
In case, you are behind a Proxy server, then specify the Proxy Server address and authentication, if required under the Proxy Configuration tab.
Once you are done with the General Configuration, you can slightly customize the way you read Feeds.
Some of the important configurations that can be done are:
- Set the feed update interval
- Feed update timeout (Change this to 120 if you are using a dialup connection)
- Feed expiration rules
- Desktop alerts
If you have come this far and followed the configuration, Congratulations you are all set to read feeds using Omea.
The best keyboard shortcut that I have found in Omea is the usage of “Spacebar” for moving to the next new feed. And it is pretty smart in the way it does that. A lot of feedreaders use the Spacebar to move to the next unread feed, but the difference from Omea is that in Omea when you press spacebar, it will move to the next feed only if the current post can be displayed within a single page. If the current post cannot be displayed within a single page, then it first goes to the second page in the current page and so on and only after it has gone to the end of the post, it moves to the next feed. So, you don’t require to use the Arrow keys to move down in a post. Most of the normal keyboard shortcuts work with Omea. ‘F5′ is for refresh, ‘F11′ is for full screen view etc.
The Search facility offered by Omea is also pretty advanced. You can specify conditions and exceptions to every search which can get you pretty accurate results. You can also use the search bar provided at the top of the screen for quick searches.
You can also set Expiration rules for feeds, which will lead to scheduled cleanups. This will be useful, if you have a lot of feeds and the database has become so large that Omea becomes slightly slower. This rule setting is also powerful as you can specify conditions under which expiration should be run.
Some other things are:
- Toolbar for Firefox/IE for faster subscriptions to feeds.
- Forward a Post using the default mail client
- Blog This option (Configuration of a blog client is required)
- Organize feeds into folders (the normal view )
- Import subscription from Bloglines
There are many more things that you can try with OmeaPro and it will take a few hours to go through all the features. But, if you are comfortable using the features listed above, then you will find using Omea a breeze.
So, what to look for in a RSS reader apart from what is mentioned above? It should offer you Mobility, synchronization, maybe it should be cross-platform like RSS Owl etc. There are some readers out there which do that, but I have found OmeaPro to be the best among the free readers. I never really used Feeddemon or Newzcrawler for a long time to talk about it comprehensively and anyway they are paid software. Earlier I was using Newzie, but I moved to Omea again as Newzie started becoming really slow when the number of feeds increased.
I don’t know if OmeaPro is being actively developed now as I don’t see any activity for the last 6 months. Anyway, what is existing itself is pretty powerful to handle my requirements for quite sometime.
Download OmeaPro 2.2 (Size: 6.8MB)
Alternatively, you can also download OmeaReader. (Size: 5MB)