From The UberReview: Netvibes is About to Get a Whole Lot Bigger [Google Reader Alternatives]

Google’s big announcement that Reader’s days are numbered prompted a mass exodus from the Internet’s most popular RSS reader. People scrambled to back up their precious subscription lists and jumped ship to one or another of a handful of Google Reader alternatives. Sadly, the vast majority of alternatives failed to cope with the strain – thus far Netvibes has barely skipped a beat.

I have used a bunch of different readers in the past, but around a year ago I got onto Netvibes and was rather impressed. While its widget view is a bit of a miss if you have a large number of feeds, the reader view is pure hit. It is basically a cleaner version of Google’s Reader, with a few key differences.

What I Love About Netvibes

  • Sorting subscriptions is nice and easy thanks to the drag and drop subscription list on the the left of the screen. Widgets are drag and drop as well.
  • A decent amount of content fits on the page
  • It is easy to switch between preview and list viewing modes
  • In spite of the strain of the Google Reader exodus, it is really fast.
  • Facebook signup (in spite of the privacy risk that it entails).

What I Hate About Netvibes

  • There is no mass-editing option, which makes it hard to manage a large number of feeds.
  • The dashboard system is way more convoluted than it needs to be.
  • Unsubscribing is a chore.


When I made the jump to Netvibes, I did so primarily because of its speed. I have used a few different news readers over the years and was interested to try The Old Reader and Newsblur, but both sites were really suffering due to the influx of traffic. At the time of writing, Newsblur is running at a snail’s pace and has suspended free account sign up and The Old Reader has taken over three hours to upload my feeds. Netvibes had my feeds loaded in mere seconds – in fact, I was able to do it twice in a matter of minutes. After messing up the first time, by inadvertently created a huge number of duplicated subscriptions, I deleted my account and started again. In contrast, taking into account the 8,500+ users in the line ahead of me to import their feeds, it will probably take me a week to get the same job done at The Old Reader. Infrastructure is hugely important.

Miscellaneous Clunkiness

While I love almost everything about Netvibes, there are a couple of sticking points that are a persistent reminder of the smoothly running ship that Google has scuttled. The lack of a mass edit feature means that it is nigh on impossible to make significant changes to a subscription list from the program. There don’t seem to be any workarounds for that either. You can import feed lists but you cannot kill off the list that is already there – which rules out modifying the list offline. The only practical method that I found was to create a whole new account – hardly an ideal situation, but better than manually deleting feed after feed. This brings me to the second issue that I have with Netvibes, unsubscribing is too complicated.


In spite of its foibles, Netvibes sits atop a pretty good pile. There is a lot to like about it, and as for the stuff that we don’t like – as more people start to jump on board, those things will probably start to change.

Score: Five out of five

from The UberReview

From Geeks are Sexy Technology News: eBay: Google advertising largely a waste of money

Research by eBay suggests paying to advertise on Google only works in limited circumstances and even then the effect isn’t massive. It also suggests that for established brands at least, slashing the ad spend causes little damage.

The company intentionally suspended its advertising for a trial period, save for in several regions used as a control. It then asked three in-house economists to analyze the results.

They found that ditching paid ads for brand names (either simply “eBay” or combinations such as “ebay shoes”) made no significant difference whatsoever. It believes that’s because in almost every situation somebody searching for those terms simply found a link to the relevant eBay page through Google’s “natural” (non-paid) search results, as indicated in the graph above.

It also noted that numerous other brand owners were paying to be atop the sponsored search results list, even though they were also number one in the main search results, effectively wasting their case.

Turning to non-branded keywords, eBay found that although removing the advertising may have dropped the number of visitors, it had only a “statistically insignificant effect” on sales. That’s because eBay has a customer base where the most frequent buyers make up “most” of the sales. Those customers who are attracted by advertising for non-branded keywords are much more likely to buy only one or two items a year.

Overall, eBay found the only real difference paid advertising on Google makes is attracting first time visitors or persuading infrequent users to check out the site, for example when there’s a special deal on. In other words, eBay believes Google advertising only really works as an informative rather than persuasive tool.

Clearly the results won’t hold true for all companies: the limitations eBay points to are mainly relevant to those with well-established brands with an existing core customer base. Still, this is a significant group: eBay cites a report showing that the 10 highest spending companies alone pay a combined $2.36 billion.

Google responded by noting its own research shows a clear link between ads and increased visits to a website, though didn’t specifically address the issue of whether these visits boost business. It did note that results vary widely and highlighted the way its ad services make it much easier for companies to experiment with different tactics than they can with more traditional advertising media.

eBay hasn’t yet announced what, if any, changes it will make to its Google advertising in the long run as a result of the study.

from Geeks are Sexy Technology News

From Ars Technica: Court: Hijacking ex-employee’s LinkedIn account violates PA law

Last year we covered the case of Linda Eagle, whose former employer, Edcomm, kept control of her LinkedIn account after firing her. In his October ruling, Judge Ronald Buckwalter of the District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania rejected the theory that taking control of a former employee’s LinkedIn account violated the anti-hacking provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. But in a Tuesday ruling, Judge Ronald Buckwalter found that seizing an employee’s LinkedIn account can constitute unauthorized use of the employee’s name and likeness under Pennsylvania law.

Edcomm’s takeover of Eagle’s LinkedIn account was an awkward affair. Eagle had shared her password with another Edcomm employee so that the employee could help her manage it. When she was terminated, the other employee was instructed to change the password, freezing her out of the account. Edcomm then replaced the name, picture, and most of the information in her account with information about Eagle’s replacement as Edcomm’s CEO.

But the account still had the URL “,” and it was still linked to about 4000 of Eagle’s professional contacts. Eagle, a recognized figure in her field, charged that Edcomm was effectively using her name to drum up business without her consent. Someone who Googled Eagle’s name hoping to do business with her would be likely to find himself on the LinkedIn page of Eagle’s successor at Edcomm.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

from Ars Technica