Shrook is now free and coComment has promise

Shrook is my OS X newsreader of choice. It’s never been a very popular choice, at least compared to NetNewswire, probably because it isn’t free. Well that’s just changed because Shrook is now freeware and I recommend you give it a whirl (it’s even got a NetNewsWire import function to make things easy).

When I registered Shrook back in 2004 I did so mostly because of two important factors:

  1. Firstly is the synchronisation of feeds and item status between machines and the web-based reader on
  2. Secondly, and most crucial for me, was the interface – Shrook’s column view just seemed to work best.
Shrook's 4-column interface

I didn’t get along with the Mail-shaped interfaces of NetNewsWire or PulpFiction. Their short and wide post panes seemed to make reading the posts awkward compared to the tall and narrow panes in Shrook. This seems to have been recognised by Ranchero as NetNewsWire now sports a widescreen columnar view.

Shrook also has quite a few other features, the most unique of which is its distributed checking which keeps a central record of updated feeds, as opposed to individual users polling feeds themselves. Other features include a scrapbook (like an on-the-go news item playlist), groups, smart groups and Bayesian learning groups and a Webkit-based browser (but I prefer to view pages in my proper browser).

track your comments with coComment

On the subject of blogs, I have integrated coComment into my comment form. coComment is a long-overdue web service which helps track your comments across disparate blogs. You can access an aggregation of your comments via RSS, or track individual comment threads as RSS too. coComment works with some blogging engines straight out of the box (including Flickr), it needs ‘turning on’ in others (check yours) and hand-built systems like mine need a further helping hand.

The process of add your blog comments to coComment is simple, but not foolproof. Assuming you’ve already registered by coComment, you fill out the blog’s comment form in the usual way and then click a bookmarklet instead of the submit button. For Firefox users, there is an extension to automate this. The rest of us need to get into the habit of clicking the bookmarklet.

I’ve been wanting a way of tracking my external comments for ages and coComment seems to do a good job of it. The straight forward RSS feed means I can get my data out easily, and store it locally without too much problem, so if the blog I commented on, or coComment itself goes by the wayside then I’ll still have a copy of my thoughts.