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Tuesday
Sep302003

Palm OS RSS News Readers

Hand/RSSOne of the cool things to have come out of the blogging phenomenon, or at least to have emerged about the same time are RSS feeds. They're often indicated by orange XML buttons, links or other badges. RSS is an acronym for either Really Simple Syndication or, well, I dunno actually. I just call it RSS because I have no clue. If you're curious about the battles over RSS formatting and versions, read Mark Pilgrim's What is RSS article.

Anyway, RSS is a way to provide a simple "push" news feed of headlines and anything between excerpts and full posts from a blogger (like me) or a news organization, like Wired News. It can be a great way to see a bunch of news or blog posts at one time (aggregated), without needing to hit all of those sources' websites. Generally an RSS entry will however send you to that particular post on the source website if you click it.

While there are several RSS news "aggregators" out there for Mac, Windows and Linux platforms, Palm users had been waiting for one -- until last week. Stand Alone software has just released Hand/RSS, a $15 shareware RSS news reader/aggregator for Palm OS. I grabbed a demo copy and had a look at the software on the Tungsten C and it works quite nicely. Hand/RSS comes with a collection of RSS feeds already setup, though you can add your own feeds as well.

What I like most is, you can sync Hand/RSS via net connection (if you have a Tungsten C or Palm connected to a mobile phone via IR or Bluetooth) or you can sync to your desktop via the included conduit. Very nice indeed. When you click on an item in Hand/RSS it can be set to launch that link in a web browser (if you have one) to read the full post.

Also, via the announcement on Palm Infocenter, I scanned the comments and found reference to something called Jpluck2, an open source Java-based tool that can parse ands then build Plucker-formatted files from RSS feeds. Plucker being open source too, makes this probably the cheapest way to go.

The comments also mentioned Newsmob, which can convert RSS feeds into simple web pages for handheld devices than can then be used with AvantGo, iSilo or Plucker. Pretty slick!

So, if you're an RSS news junkie, hopefully Hand/RS, Jpluck2 or Newsmob will solve your need for feeds. I suspect now that Hand/RSS has been released, it's only a matter of time until competitors arise to challenge the app, some of which are pretty likely to be open source/freeware.

UPDATE 2005-03-30 Chuck Horner sent along a note that JPluck is no longer being developed, however he sends along a link for Sunrise, currently a freeware app in development. From the sound of things at the Sunrise weblog, this app may bcome shareware soon, though it does seem quite well made.

Reader Comments (3)

Your test appears to have succeeded. Congratulations!
September 30, 2003 | Unregistered CommenterCraig
Yeah -- having troubles with MT tonight. Turns out it must be checking URLs within posts and if they are dead, it won't post. I tried to include the old Plucker address (www.plkr.org) which seemed to choke it. I updated the URL to one at Sourceforge and bingo, it worked. Ugh.
September 30, 2003 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Beat me to the punch on this one buddy. Nice review!
October 2, 2003 | Unregistered Commentermashby

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