Recently Feedly, which I have used ever since Google Reader shut down, began injecting ads, and a lot of them. This is fair enough -- they've never charged me -- but their fees to remove ads are somewhat extreme ($5/month) for the use I make of them. I only read 12 feeds. So I began looking for an alternate solution.

I trialed most of the self-hosting Android apps. These apps download your feeds to an Android phone and you can read them at your leisure. I liked Aggregator the best, and by far. It loads fast, it could handle feed demon feeds, and it checks effectively. (On some apps, updates were delayed by as much as an hour.) So I read feeds on Aggregator, and I had a parallel system on the PC using CommaFeed, and was reasonably satisfied.

Over time, the fact that my PC feed solution didn't sync with the Android solution bothered me more and more. Sometimes I want to read on the PC and not the phone. When that happens, I have the feeds on both, but reading on one doesn't remove the read articles on the other. This is OK if I read all the way through and get up to date, in which case I can just mark everything as read on the other. But often I don't have time to fully catch up until later. So if I've read a bit on the phone, either I finish on the phone even if a PC is available, or I see articles on the PC that I've already seen on the phone.

The obvious solution is to host my own feeds. There are lots of free solutions (including CommaFeed) for doing this, but typically they require installation on a web server, with PHP and a specific database program like MySQL. My web host has PHP but typically a different database program, and I've never used PHP. So these solutions seemed like too much work and I considered going back to Feedly.

But yesterday I discovered Sismics Reader. Sismics uses a Windows, Linux or Mac program to hosts your feeds on an always-on PC. I prefer Windows, and run the Windows program on a PC that does other monitoring tasks, and hence is always on. This program checks the feeds and downloads new items, and works as a server for both a website and an Android app. It is easy to set up and configure. It imported my feeds (which I'd exported from Feedly, then imported and cleaned up in CommaFeed, then exported again.)

The app installs easily. If your router supports UPnP, it just works. Of course, my router doesn't have UPnP enabled (yours probably shouldn't either!) so I had to open a port for port forwarding. This works so that a request coming in to your router on, say, port 4001 will be directed to the PC hosting Sismics, and that PC sends the request to Sismics. Port Forwarding required reading a bit in the manual for my specific router but it is such a common thing to do that every router makes it pretty easy. Several points: (1) The PC that hosts the app needs to be on; otherwise your feeds can't refresh; (2) You need to assign a static IP, like, to that PC, so that incoming requests on the correct port can be directed to that PC via port forwarding; (3) You need your home's IP address, which you can get from a search engine by entering "my ip address"; (4) if your IP address is, say, you reach the program by entering and that can be bookmarked; (5) I've had the same IP address for over five years, but my internet service provider could change it tomorrow. If they do, I would have to change the URL to reach the program. There are services like that will do this automatically for you for free; you can get a URL like from no-ip and that automatically goes to your router (6) You need the same information, plus the username and password you created, for either the web use or the android app. (7) I keep Aggregator around so that if Sismics fails -- because my home PC went down, or my IP address changed -- I can still reach my RSS feeds through it. A great thing about Aggregator is that it uses no resources unless you start it up and sync it.

Both the web app and the Android app are clean and easy to use. Very nice!

Posted Jan 20, 2018.