Q&A: Google Reader and the "What I am reading" widget

imageThere are a number of us that want to share with others the posts we read,   what we find amazing or just funny but with no way of doing it.

I have found while trawling through the "sphere" that Google Reader is to be both the easiest and safest with easy usability and functionality.  If you don’t have an account with Google it is easy to register, set up and get going.

Once you have registered/logged in you can start adding the links to the blogs you want to keep track of via the "Add subscription" button on the left.

Adding blogs to your Reader 

A feed link for a blog is normally the standard address such as https://sanityfound.wordpress.com which you can copy from the blogs address bar or if you are energetic, type in.  Some sites however require you to add the word feed to the end of the address, like this:

https://sanityfound.wordpress.com/feed

If you want to keep track of comments on the blogs you read, for instance if you are involved in a thread etc, then "/comments/feed" is added at the end of the blog address.  This will then look like:

https://sanityfound.wordpress.com/comments/feed

Once all the website addresses that you want to keep track of have been added they will appear in the lower left panel of the page.  Sit back, read and enjoy as all the blogs are updated with new posts and comments saving you the hassle of going from one blog to the next. 

Sharing and starring blog posts you really enjoyed

Once you start reading the blogs that you subscribe to you will notice at the bottom of each post is a line that looks like the one at the bottom of this post:

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Starring posts

When you star items they will be copied to the starred items section in the top left panel making it easier to keep track of posts you want to come back to or keep.  This is the function that I normally use for my salads, all posts that I feel are fruity get starred and then I return there at the end of the week and review, unstar the items added, etc.

Sharing

When you click the share "button" it will become highlighted and add the post to your public page from which others can see.  You can keep track of all your shared items on the top left panel entitled "Your Stuff".

If you want to add a note then click on "Share with Note" and a little box will open up in which you can type your thoughts, etc.  Please remember though that these notes are public so don’t write anything you wouldn’t want anyone else to see!

Adding a "What I am reading" widget to your WordPress Blog

Once you have started sharing posts that you enjoyed/read you can either share the link with your friends, people in your address book or via a sidebar widget on your blog.

To get the link to this shared page click on "Your Stuff" and then "Shared Items".  At the top of the page you will then see the "Choose a style" section under which lies the link to your public shared items page.  Right click on that link and select copy.

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Once you have copied the link return to your WordPress Blog dashboard and click on "Design" on the top panel. Once the Design section opens up, click on "Widgets" and you will then see all the available widgets that you can add to your blog.  You can add Calendars, Recent Posts, Stats, etc.

Click on the "RSS" button that you can see on the left hand side of the page.  Once clicked it will move towards the right hand side, this is where all the widgets that are active on your blog show.  Once the RSS appears on the right hand side click on it and a down panel will open up.

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Once the down panel has opened up right click in the "Enter the RSS feed URL here" text area and paste the link that you copied from Google Reader Shared Items.  Type in what you would like this widget to be called on your blog, i.e. "What I am Reading", choose how many items you would like to be displayed and select the other choices that you would prefer.

Once all information has been entered and you are satisfied click "Change" on the lower left corner and then "Save Changes".

All done and dusted, go have a peak at your blog and see what you think. 

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If at any time you want to change the name of your widget you can return to this section, click on the panel and change it.  If you use more than one widget you can click and drag the widget up or down to place it where you want it to be.

Questions, thoughts or want to know how to do something else? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

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2 thoughts on “Q&A: Google Reader and the "What I am reading" widget

  1. I’ve tried that comment dealy and can’t get it to work on my big computer so I’ll try it on the laptop. My big one is on it’s last legs so a lot of things don’t work right on it. The way I’ve found it is the only new things that show up on google reader are new posts. So I’ll give that a try.

    What I wrote I wanted to have a “what I’m reading” widget, I meant the “books” I’m reading. I found a bunch of them but they don’t seem to go in the widgets. I copy and paste them, it says it’s there and when I got back to my blog, it’s not there.

  2. I have a couple of problems.

    First, I don’t have an Add subscription link in Google Reader. I have My subscriptions which looks like it ought lead somewhere useful but apparently doesn’t. This isn’t browser-specific as this is the consistent behavior whether I am using IE, Opera or Safari. What might I be doing wrong?

    Second, I naively configured myself to use Opera’s feed feature a few months ago, which I have subsequently decided is not very good. Despite extensive poking, and some real, repeated attempts to disassociate the action of clicking on the RSS feed icon from a site with adding the feed to my Opera service (I want to use Google Reader instead) I still come up with the same result. Is a secret decoder ring required here, or am I stuck with the Opera feed reader when I am using the Opera browser?

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