A Feeding Frenzy

Today started out to be a very good day, then I woke up. From the point that my eyes focused for the first time today, until well after 9pm, everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong.

The “client” that I have lined up was supposed to send me something via FedEx today. It was supposed to arrive before noon. Or so I thought. It turns out, the package was sent via regular mail and will be here… well, when it gets here I suppose. I don’t know about you, but when you tell someone you need something by a certain date, doesn’t that mean you need it by a certain date? It’s all good though. It’s going to be a good gig, and the client is easy to work with, so even if it takes four days for their stuff to get here, it’s still a win. It’s just a delayed win.

I had several errands to run when that package arrived and since it didn’t arrive, I had to put off all my errands until tomorrow (if the package arrives), so that screwed up my whole schedule for today. Instead I made phone calls, started working on a new ad for the business, and spent time cleaning up my work environment. I downloaded the iPhone 3.0 SDK, just in case I ever feel inspired to change the world with a 99 cent application. You never know what’s around that next corner, right?

As crazy as things were all morning, the biggest shock today ended coming in the form of an email. It seems NewsGator is discontinuing their online RSS service…

As part of this transition, NewsGator Online users will need to migrate to Google Reader by August 31, 2009. In addition, NewsGator will no longer support the free versions of NewsGator Inbox, NewsGator Go!, and NewsGator’s RSS features (Shared Clipping Feed, Blogroll, Ratings, Headlines, Browser Toolbar, and Desktop Notifier). NewsGator will also continue to support FeedDemon (for Windows) and NetNewsWire (for Mac and iPhone) for all customers – free or paid.

As many of my longtime readers know, I am a huge fan of FeedDemon. Since I started using the MacBook, I have also been comfortable using NetNewsWire too. It’s been nice, syncing my feeds with NewsGator and using both applications. Whether I am sitting at the desk on the PC or on the couch with the MacBook, my feeds have been synchronized. According to their email, that didn’t have to change either. All I had to do was use my Google Reader account to synchronize the feeds instead. No problem right?

I downloaded the new beta version of NetNewsWire and installed it. It added all my feeds to Google Reader, and it was ready to roll. But I wasn’t. Right there on my screen was an application that was now missing about 20% of the bottom of the sidebar where the feed list usually sits. In that place was a giant ad. Wow. I never expected Adware from NewsGator. Not for a minute.

I closed NetNewsWire. Since the Google Reader interface for the iPhone is pretty snappy, I figured I will just use Google Reader on the MacBook as well as the iPhone. Then I turned to the PC. Since FeedDemon would synch with Google Reader, I could still use it when I was sitting at the desk.

I have been using Nick Bradbury’s software for years now. Nick is an excellent programmer, and it was his work with a few applications way back in the day that inspired me to pursue some of the projects I have worked on. I downloaded the new beta of FeedDemon and installed it on the PC. Things didn’t look too different from the last time I opened it, but right there in the lower left corner, exactly like NetNewsWire, was that Adware box.

(sigh)

I just don’t know what to say. Sure, according to their website, I will soon have the option to pay for a copy that doesn’t contain the affiliate ad section. The truth is, however, that I shouldn’t have to wait.

It is also worth noting that users who want to pay for a copy of NetNewsWire that contains no affiliate ad section can look for such an option soon.

The ad section was not there before, in either application, and according to their email, they encouraged me to download the new versions as soon as possible, so I did. Had I known that they both contained the ad boxes, I would have waited or just passed on the upgrades. Now I have Adware. Sure, I could roll back to the previous version, but why? Neither of the previous versions supported synching with Google Reader and they are discontinuing their NewsGator Online service at the end of August. I would have to change the way I read feeds before that deadline either way, so why wait?

In conjunction with this announcement, NewsGator is making changes to several of its consumer RSS Readers. NewsGator will continue to support all its individual end-user applications for enterprise customers. However, NewsGator will continue to develop and support only a sub-set of these applications for free consumer use. FeedDemon and NetNewsWire have new versions for consumers that we encourage you to download as soon as possible.

Would it have been too difficult for them to send a notice out to people beforehand, or make it clear in today’s email, that the new applications were going to be using 20% of the subscription list window to run ads which in turn will support the free software? They should have warned their long-term customers, especially those of us who willingly paid for the software before it was made free in January of 2008. As one of those customers, I am deeply offended by the Adware box.

I guess the problem I have with this whole ‘Adware’ thing, is they (NewsGator) made such a huge deal in January of 2008, about FeedDemon and NetNewsWire becoming free, without Adware.

That’s right, FeedDemon is now free. As in, you don’t have to pay for it anymore. Just download it and use it free of charge.

And we’re also making NetNewsWire, NewsGator Inbox and NewsGator Go free. In other words, all of NewsGator’s consumer RSS readers are free.

If you don’t care about the details, you can stop reading now and simply download the new FeedDemon 2.6 (for free, of course). If you’re using a previous version of FeedDemon, you should install v2.6 directly on top of it.

Before the free version (2.6) I had paid to use FeedDemon. Back then, I would willingly have paid double to use it. When they made it free, without ads, I thought it was too good to be true. I guess, in the long run, it was. They were slick applications that allowed me to read my feeds the way I wanted to, without a giant ad window distracting me while I did so. I did wonder from time to time how NewsGator was making money with all the free software and service. If they were good with it, I was good with it. I guess they changed their minds.

And now I’m changing mine. Since I am using Google Reader anyway, I might as well stick with it. It’s fast, it’s free, it loads on any machine or device I am using, and I don’t have an ad taking up 20% of the real estate in the subscription list.

I know NewsGator, as a business, has to make money, but Adware? Are you kidding me?