Mark Norman Francis

Internet Boffin

Cleaning up after Byline

Published on August 30, 2009.

I use Google Reader as my feed aggregator. Most of the time I don’t read feeds sat at my computer, but rather on my iPhone using Byline.

As for the principles of Inbox Zero, I abhor dealing with feed items multiple times. But over the past couple of months I had noticed in myself a bad habit of marking items as unread after reading them because I wanted to deal with them in some other way. Of course, I never did get around to doing so because the items were not differentiated in any way from the rest of the unread, new items.

Once I noticed this behaviour, I started making a mental note whenever I marked something as unread again. It turns out, this happens for one of only a few reasons:

Now, Byline does include the star, share and note features of Google Reader which I could use. Except that I wanted to have five different actions, not just three.

Thing is, three buttons does not mean that there are three states available to me, it means there are seven (eight if you count nothing) when you combine the buttons in various ways.

So what I did was mentally assign a greater meaning to each of the three states, rather than an action. By combining those, I achieved my required actions without needing to make myself a manual of which combination achieved what.

So by combining these meanings, I get:

Taking that logic, I then wrote a perl script (that I call sweep, as it cleans up after me) to carry out those actions for me on any newly marked items.

Now I sort through my new feed items much more quickly and now regularly achieve Feed Zero.