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PulpFiction Gets an 8/10 at Ars

Ars Technica 8/10Hey, it's no longer "my" software, but I still had quite a hand in shaping the application, and so I'm proud of the "VIII" that PulpFiction got in the Ars review.

Of course, no review would be complete if there weren't some weird issues, like this:

I found no way to group my feeds into folders, and that was slightly frustrating. While in Feeds View I selected File -> New Folder and that just created a folder named "New Folder" in the Folders view of the drawer. However, PulpFiction does support smart folders with all the basic options, albeit unspectacularly.


I see that he means he wanted to group the feeds in PulpFiction, not the articles themselves (or their labels, etc.). I've written about this before, and the schism if you want to call it that exists in how things are sorted - if PulpFiction takes the "email" approach to RSS, then the "stuff" in which you are interested are the articles, not the feeds. Crossing over to email, it'd be like grouping your email by the account from which they came, not the content, the author, etc. This works (kinda) with three email accounts, but 150 or so? Nah. Grouping, viewing, sorting, and handling at a more functional level - the article level - is where it's at. It may take a little time to adjust, but I've personally found - as have many PulpFiction customers - that they have a lot more control when they adapt just a little to the finer-grained approach to handling their news.

One pet peeve of mine about PulpFiction is there is no obvious button for "Mark All Items as Read." After much searching, I did find the option in two places. If you hold down the option key, the "Mark Unread" button in the toolbar changes to either "Mark All Unread" (if all items in that feed are already read), or "Mark All Read" if some items are still unread at the time. The second place is the Action menu at the bottom of the Feeds drawer, which has a "Mark all Articles as Read" option as well. So, this is available, but somewhat inconvenient for the casual user. As PulpFiction caters primarily to the email-centric user, this option isn't something they would need as much.

The contextual menu contains a "Mark -> Read" item as well.

Personally, the e-mail paradigm for news isn't a good fit.

Sentences like this, in a review, are pretty crappy. If the person wanted to say "Personally, I've never found the e-mail paradigm to work for news," then they should have said that. As such, "Personally" seems out of place, and the person passes a judgment as anything but a personal matter and more as a matter of fact. I may be a bit of a grammar nazi here, but when I've reviewed products, I've taken a lot of care in expressing my opinions very clearly as my opinions, because clearly "the e-mail paradigm for news is not a good fit" for many people. Just not the author.

The author goes on to explain why the e-mail paradigm doesn't work for him:

Damming that river at your inbox creates an enormous reservoir of information you have to address. Even just a few newsfeeds will accumulate a lot of information over a weekend.

Clearly, he's not a man who likes filters that move articles around (or smart folders that accomplish a similar thing). Because, unlike email, PulpFiction's filters can do a pretty darn good job of leaving only the things that "should" be addressed (i.e. the most interesting items) in the inbox, and filtering the others away for later reading.

Despite its flaws, PulpFiction is a great newsreader.

Funny where this comes from - out of nowhere. The largest percentage of the review is bad, full of pet peeves and personal opinion on how news "should be handled," and then BAM! "PulpFiction is great" and "8/10." Hey, I'll take it, but it would have been nice to get a bit more justification for the 8/10 than "it is attractive."

But hey, I don't care too much because, at this point, I'm just a happy, content user of the app with my name in the About box. 🙂

Update: Don Yacktman is, of course, not just a happy end user, and Don's thoughts are here.

4 Responses to "PulpFiction Gets an 8/10 at Ars"

  1. I'm mighty happy with the app too. Thanks for reviewing the review.

    I'm extra happy with the new company's customer service as well. My iBook crashed and when I restarted, the pulpfiction database was corrupted. I sent off the error message as asked, but didn't expect any reply.

    Instead, I just found an old export of my subscriptions, and dealt with having lost 50 for being stupid and not having one more up to date.

    But then I got an e-mail from them offering assistance, and even suggesting I send the corrupt file and they'd take a crack at repairs.

    So I sent it, and within a couple hours, got back a new OPML export of my subscriptions so everything is back!

    Too cool.

  2. I felt he gave PulpFiction a pretty poor review too - along with my RSS reader NewsMac Pro. The tone is just unnecessarily negative throughout. The little 'oh but it's actually quite good' phrases feel like they've been dropped in as an afterthought to try and add some balance to the reivews. The other reviews seem to be much more neutral, or gushing in praise. It's clear the guy has a very specific way of doing things and anything that falls outside that way is bad or weird, which is what you might expect to see in a VersionTracker comment but not on Ars.

  3. Yeah, I got the feeling the guy had just skimmed the other app's websites so he could write a gushing review of NetNewsWire. It would have made a lot more sense if the format of the article acknowledged NNW's dominant position (eg "Should I keep using NNW, or something else?"). Otherwise it's just a bit pointless.

  4. PulpFiction and attention management

    PulpFiction was awarded an 8 out of 10 rating by Ars Technica. Here's what I think, Don and Erik*. As much as I agree with you both on the "I need to manage my news articles" vs. "I need to manage my feeds" point, I think it would help enourmously if y...


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