Software of the Year

For anyone suffering from data overload.

There’s that old saw which has it that two workers turn up at your house to build a new wooden staircase. One is from the old world, makes a big pitch about how he only uses hand tools and the crafts he learned from his grandfather and probably has a missing digit to prove it. The other asks where he can plug in his saw bench. Which do you hire?

The investment world’s version of this tale is the old line manager who consults the paper copy of the Wall Street Journal, gets the Financial Times delivered for world news and reminds you that’s how they used to do it on Wall Street when he was learning the trade from his dad. The new kid refuses to meet with you, stating his time is too precious, and sets up a videoconference instead, during which he constantly consults one of a half dozen monitors to see how things are going in the markets.

Well, the answer is the same in both cases. The old guy loses the job. Time is money and he will end up costing you too much of both. And the young guy’s work will not only be faster and much more accurate, he can correct three mistakes while the old boy is still sharpening his hand tools.

This preamble is perfectly in context of this year’s Software of the Year award which is for NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire

No matter what your interest, NetNewsWire will leverage your time just as effectively as the electric saw leverages the carpenter’s.

A case in point is the increasing frequency with which camera and lens software is updated by manufacturers. New features are added and existing problems fixed. If you have NetNewsWire tuned in to any of the many web sites addressing these things, using an RSS feed you can be assured of not missing these important updates. For example, Panasonic and Canon – whose products I use – have released several camera and lens software updates this year alone. I may not need them all but it’s nice to know they are installed if I do. On a related topic, keen photographers read many web sites and can avoid wasting time checking for new articles through the simple process of using NetNewsWire and a site’s RSS feed. If the site lacks an RSS feed, why bother with it? Clearly, the author cares little whether you read it or not as he cannot be bothered to draw your attention to new content.

This year NetNewsWIre started using Google Reader as its feed engine and has, as a result, become much more reliable. In particular its syncing of feeds between multiple devices is greatly improved. Thus, when I read an article on, say, my netbook, I am assured that its ‘read’ status is updated on my desktop and iPhone. That’s worth a lot to me.

After a while you quickly filter your feeds, separating gold from dross. And if, like me, you manage money for a living, you are in seventh heaven, because that’s a business where dross is dominant.

NetNewsWire is a free download and is this photographer’s Software of the Year. It only runs on Macs but there are doubtless like products for users of other operating systems. Whether you are a photographer or a data fiend who values his time, this application deserves to be on your computer(s).

Once you have loaded NetNewsWire on your Mac, just click the RSS logo in the toolbar of your browser and the feed will be automatically added.

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