(See? I promised my next post wouldn't be about gigs.)
I realized a few months ago that, unlike pretty much everyone else I know, I don't regularly use an RSS reader. Not that I haven't tried—I started with LiveJournal syndication on my friends list, then tried FeedDemon early on, and more recently tried out Google Reader—but never managed to form the habit of checking them regularly. Both of them are fine apps; the problem was with me. Every time I sat down and saw that I had a gazillion unread items in my hundreds of feeds, I didn't know where to start. Eventually I just gave up trying to keep up.
Around the same time I came to this realization, Adobe AIR 1.0 was publicly released. AIR lets you turn web apps (built in HTML or Flash/Flex) into cross-platform desktop apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux; it gives you APIs for doing OS-level stuff like filesystem access, local database access, window management, etc. I wanted to try to write an AIR app just for fun, and it occurred to me that I might be able to make something that would solve my RSS problem.
The result is Snackr, a ticker-like widget that lives on the bottom (or side) of your screen and scrolls random items from your RSS feeds. (It's called "Snackr" because it lets you nibble on your feeds. Guffaw.) Here's what it looks like (in this picture, it's docked along the bottom of the screen):
It runs on Windows and Mac OS X; if you install it from the Snackr homepage, it will automatically install the AIR runtime for you as well. It also runs on Linux if you install the Linux AIR alpha from Adobe Labs.
I'm actually finding Snackr really useful—it helps me keep up with blogs I want to keep up with, and also gives me a great smattering of items from sources I wouldn't normally read regularly. If you try it out, let me know if you like it.