Because I don't do social media.

There is a better way to read RSS

Introducing Focusd - A Calm RSS Reader

For over a year I've been reading articles from RSS feeds only once a day, and now I'm making it possible and easy for anyone to do that as well.

Go ahead and experience a calmer way of reading what's new using News, calm. Email me after signup and I'll give you the first 3 months free (usually $0.99 / month).

Now that my promo is done, here's the story that got me to it:

About a year ago I wanted my reading to be more focused and calmer, with less feeds, and thought about just receiving a daily list of links to the new articles, which would provide me a good way of knowing upfront how many new things would there be (vs opening up a regular reader app and be flooded with information, and every time I'd open it again, new things added to the list).

I like embracing constraints, so I thought an email would be interesting.

The fact that list would be immutable and that I could just delete the email after reading would also give me a nice feeling of being "done" with that. I wouldn't have to think about it until the next morning.

Another benefit was that I could get native ad and track blocking with the browser that is harder to get with readers. Additionally, every time I can prevent installing an app, I will!

So for about a year I've had a simple email automation using Zapier's RSS, Digest and Email apps. It worked out pretty well, but wasn't particularly easy to help others get something similar setup, and Zapier's more focused on professional use.

Unless you read from RSS feeds professionally, you'd probably also find it hard to justify the $20 / month for it (if you have other stuff going on and already have a paying account, though, I'm happy to help you go through that setup process — and note a Free account could work, if you subscribe to feeds with not a lot of activity).

After a while I missed an alternative for Pocket (on the theme of deleting apps and subscriptions, I tried to just live without it for a while) and built an automation from a Webhook to the same Digest to replace it. Worked perfectly.

Because of that, Focusd has an API, a Zapier integration, and a browser bookmark button/link to help you with a similar setup.

Finally, this was all a good excuse for me to do something with Ruby on Rails and some more recent DevOps tools (Terraform, for example), which I hadn't worked with in a few years and had been wanting to, to get a feel of their current state. It was pretty interesting and I really enjoyed it!

Note from November 2019: I've since moved from RoR to Next.js and TypeScript. I'm just a lot more familiar with it.

Note from April 2020: Focusd has been renamed to News, calm. Check the announcement here.

So please try it out, and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Thank you for your attention. I really appreciate it.