April 16, 2007 |
When I was taking Peepel for a drive, CEO Stephen Kelly was kind enough to give me an invite to the private beta of Particls (called Touchstone) at the time, an application that was promising to revolutionize the way you read news feeds. I'll be honest; I was a bit skeptical. I've downloaded and subsequently removed more apps in the past year than my hard drive likes to think about. I've been using Particls now for a little over a week, and I'm hooked. I'm not sure how I'd get through my day without it.
As a writer, especially a professional blogger, I blog on several different topics besides Web 2.0. Staying on top of my RSS feed is crucial, but it gets painful after a while slogging through over 300 feeds to find the newsworthy items. Enter Particls, which not only searches my existing feeds (simply output an OPML file from your chosen reader and import to Particls), but can also crawl the web for me, searching for news on keywords I tell it to find.
Particls is a little Big-Brother-like, since I know it's watching my every move. However, it's watching to see what articles I'm reading and which ones I'm skipping over, learning a little bit more about my preferences and acting accordingly, almost like voice recognition software learns your pronunciations. Best of all, it's customizable, depending how involved you want to be with your information feeds. Right now, I just fired it up, and it just hit me with a few pop-ups for articles I may have missed. I also have my ticker running along the top, scanning headlines even as I write this article. You can also custom-set your level of interruption for each item; for example, I have Pebbles and Pop-Ups set to only send me items Particls deems "Very Important" while I have most of my feed items running in the Ticker so I can scan them as I'm working. Clicking on the article headlines in the feeds gives you a small excerpt from the article, and allows you to delete the article from your view, save the article for later reference (leaving a little box on your desktop), go right to the article, or send it to sites like Digg, Reddit, or Del.icio.us right from Particls.
Particls currently supports RSS and Atom, and at some point in the future, hopes to add an adapter for general web sites, a la Dapper. (I have to admit that a Dapper/Paricls Mash-up would be like HEAVEN for me!) It also uses a lot of system RAM, so if you are memory-challenged like I am at the moment, you may have to choose between applications to keep it running (I have this problem with 70- and 80-tab Firefox windows that also eat memory like potato chips). And it currently doesn't have a Mac version, although another dedicated user has it up and running on a Mac using Parallels. Aside from those two small grousings, I'm in love. And I'm going to miss it dearly when I switch over to Mac later this year.
UPDATE: Interested in trying Particls out? Profy has an invitation for you so send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will invite you to test Particls right away.