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Oct 3
Bloglines Audio Player: A Missed Boat
Bloglines has recently introduced a bunch of changes to the service. Up until now, I've used Bloglines but rather grudgingly because it just didn't seem to be up to industrial use. It's behaving pretty good these days, though, and while a lot of that has to do with infrastructure upgrades some of it also has to do with new features.

Along with good ideas like introducing some AJAX feed refresh and employing Skweezer to deliver mobile content, there are some bad ideas like an embedded Flash audio player.

The player shows up when a feed has an audio enclosure in it. At first glance, it seems like a great idea to allow readers to just click a button and listen to a podcast right in the reader just like any other webpage. Upon practical use, however, I have to wonder if Bloglines did any usability testing before slapping the player in.

One of the fundamental operating prerequisites of a Flash player is that the player is actually on the page. Once a reader/listener leaves the page, the Flash player disappears into a puff of smoke like the rest of the page.

The job of an aggregator is to facilitate the rapid reading of many blogs or sites. Having to stop dead to listen to a podcast is contrary to the whole idea behind aggregators. What the heck am I supposed to do while my aggregator is down because I'm listening to this 20 minute podcast?

I guess I could fire up another Bloglines instance, but then I'll miss out of the rest of the articles in the feed I'm reading as Bloglines marks all articles as read as soon a I click on the heading (and that's one of the reasons why Bloglines needs a little work to become a truly industrial aggregator).

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