Tag Archives: news

How to change the default RSS feed reader on your Mac

This is one of those ‘in case you’re Googling for it’ posts.

On the Mac, it’s pretty easy to change the default browser, the default email program, and the app that gets fired up when you double-click on a particular file type in the Finder.

But when you’re in Safari and you click on a link to an RSS Feed, what happens then?

In my case, it starts up ‘Reeder’; a fine app, but not one I currently use, having switched to News Explorer a few years back. At some point in the past, I must have registered Reeder as my default news feed app, though I can’t remember whether the app did it directly; or whether I used the facilities in earlier versions of MacOS or a third-party app to make the association.

So how could I tell Safari (and the Mac more generally) that I now wanted RSS and Atom feeds to be handled by a different app? It’s not exposed in the settings of Safari, and not available in System Preferences.

Well, there used to be a utility called RCDefaultApp, and if you search for solutions to this problem, you’ll find many references to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in recent MacOS versions due to changes in the support for Objective-C — the language in which it was written.

All of which is background information to the fact that Gregorio Litenstein has created a handy new Preference pane that allows you to change these mappings. It’s written in the Swift language, and so is called SwiftDefaultApps.

If you have Homebrew installed, you can get it easily with

brew install --cask swiftdefaultappsprefpane

Otherwise, you can install it following instructions on the site.

It then appears at the bottom of System Preferences, and in my case:

  • I went into the Internet tab and changed the RSS setting to point to NewsExplorer, and then
  • I went into the URI Schemes tab, added an entry for ‘feed’, and set that to point to NewsExplorer.

Sure enough, when I now click on an RSS link, Safari asks if I want to open it in News Explorer, and all is well!

(Note that this is a system-wide setting, but other browsers may not use it; Firefox has its own way of setting up such apps, for example.)

Anyway, if you’re trying this, you probably want an RSS link to test it on, and you’ll find that there’s a convenient one at the top right of this page… 🙂

The Opposite of a Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24 Feb 2021

The Global Online-Traders’ and Community-Hosters’ Association

CAMBRIDGE, UK — Today sees the launch of a new industry body for major technology companies in the online-shopping, social-networking and other related fields. The Global Online-Traders’ and Community-Hosters’ Association (GOTCHA) exists to protect the value of news stories about its members, and ensure fair compensation of those whose activities actually generate the news.

“This is a problem which dates back to the dawn of the industrial revolution”, said William Boot, the organisation’s chairman and CEO. “Newspapers and other media have always been fascinated by the activities of large companies and the personalities who lead them. It is fair to say, in fact, that a significant proportion of their revenues are derived from such stories, and today you can barely open a newspaper or visit a news website without reading about the wealth of an Amazon chairman, the activities of a Facebook CEO, or the supposed iniquities of a Google algorithm.”

Boot, a low-paid former journalist himself, says that he gradually became persuaded of the lack of fairness in the current system and determined to do something about it by joining the other side and forming a campaigning organisation on behalf of those who actually feature in the news.

“Nobody is saying that articles shouldn’t be written about these organisations and entrepreneurs”, he explained. “However, we are clearly living in an unbalanced world when media organisations can make significant amounts of money simply by writing a few words about those who do the hard productive work. These technologists give up years of their life creating services that provide value, products that enrich people’s lives, and platforms that dramatically reduce the friction of global trading. It seems only fair that, when an article is written about a major technology corporation or one of its officers or investors, some portion of the revenue derived from that story should go to the company or individual concerned, since, without their success, there would be no story to write. GOTCHA will be campaigning tirelessly on behalf of its members and will be facilitating the resulting payments made by the traditional media outlets.”

GOTCHA, though founded in Cambridge, England, has yet to announce the final location of its headquarters, though the association has made it clear it won’t be based in Australia.

Tell It Like It Is

Joy Rosen comments on the new NPR Code of Ethics and Practices. Extract:

In my view the most important changes are these passages:

In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.

and….

At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly.

With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of “he said, she said” journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being “fair to the truth,” which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.

Proulx, Plutonium and a sense of Proportion

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie version of Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, where Kevin Spacey’s character, Quoyle, is being taught how to be a journalist by Billy, an experienced old hack on the local paper. They are sitting in a car on the Newfoundland coast.

    Billy: Now, have a look. What do you see? Tell me the headline.

    Quoyle: Horizon Fills with Dark Clouds?

    Billy: IMMINENT STORM THREATENS VILLAGE!

    Quoyle: But what if no storm comes?

    Billy: VILLAGE SPARED FROM DEADLY STORM.

I keep wondering whether this is an appropriate analogy for the reporting of the events in Fukushima. As far as we can tell on the best information available, this is not going to be anything like another Chernobyl, but even Chernobyl needs to be kept in proportion.

The worst disaster in the entire nuclear industry resulted in 56 direct deaths; a number comparable to a bad bus crash on a motorway. More serious, of course, were the after-effects of the radiation, and estimates of the effect vary widely, but the most-quoted figure suggests that around 4000 cancer victims can trace their illness back to Chernobyl. This is, of course, a disaster on a major scale, but it is also very close to the number of people who die in coal mines in China each year. The official government statistic in 2004 – a bad year – was 6,027.

I fear that whatever happens in Japan, the impact on the world nuclear industry will be huge, and we will not be seeing many articles contemplating the likely fate of coal miners in the vicinity of a tsunami. Or of what it might mean to oil rigs – we already know what can happen to them even without the help of a massive earthquake.

There’s a simple reason for this not being the line taken by the media: such articles are much less exciting than the headline-grabbing alternatives. I think it was Cory Doctorow who said, “You must never forget the fundamental business model of most newspapers: to deliver large numbers of readers to advertisers”.

We do not know what will happen in Japan – it may prove be a major disaster, or it may – rather literally – just blow over. But if it’s the latter, don’t worry – I bet we’ll still see some good headlines along the lines of Billy’s for quite a while afterwards.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser