A little variety with my morning coffee

John Gushue
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Sometimes I like to have my morning coffee in the late afternoon, with a bracing cup of tea. Sometimes, morning coffee happens at night, with a cold beer, or just before bedtime, with a bit of warm milk.

And, quite often, morning coffee comes alongside a nice cup of, yes, coffee, just after I’ve woken up.

One thing. By “morning coffee” I actually mean “Morning Coffee,” with capital letters, which is an online tool that makes it possible (or at least much easier) for me to keep up with the myriad subjects and sites I like to follow.

If you’re like me, you’re curious about things, so much so that you always want to know more, and know the latest about the subjects that command your attention and enthusiasm. For you, it could be the news, it could be the football scores from across the pond, it could be the lives and loves of supermodels. No one is going to judge. After all, it’s your niche of the digital universe.

The problem is that it is incredibly easy to become overwhelmed by what’s out there, let alone what you’d like to set aside and read one day.

Once upon a time, I used bookmarks to keep track of my online reading and reference. I took pride in the neatly organized folders and subfolders I created, and in the alphabetically organized lists of links I would store inside.

It all worked great … until I forgot about what was inside which folder, and the bookmarking system I had crafted became so complex that I couldn’t remember what ought to go where. Eventually, I clicked on to the insight that I needed a folder of links I liked to read regularly.

Better method

However, that eventually fell by the wayside; while I liked to look at some things every day (Doonesbury, the New York Times), there were a great many things I wanted to check  only occasionally.

A few months back, I wrote about how I make the best possible use of the toolbar stretching along my browser for the sites I need daily.

Morning Coffee is the tool I use to fill in the gaps, and help me with sites that don’t necessarily need daily attention. As I write this, it’s Tuesday, and my selection for each Tuesday includes a blogger I find funny, a magazine site, a Tumblr feed that brings the funny, and a bunch of other things.

On Saturdays, I get a different mix — but that takes into account that I usually have a few more spare minutes to browse while I lean across my breakfast bowl. If I pick up a new interest (architectural photography, paper-based animation) or revive an old one (Tudor history, Roger Ebert’s blog), I can pick through them at my leisure.

In other words, for each day of the week, I can get a mix of preselected sites that I’m sure I would forget about otherwise.

Morning Coffee is a plug-in for Firefox, which is the browser I most often use. You can also get it, apparently, for Chrome, although I haven’t tried it out on that platform.

It’s a simple install (just Google “Morning Coffee plug-in”) and then you’ll see a little icon of a coffee cup next to your address bar. Like the site you’re reading? Click to the right of the cup, and add the link to your queue — and specify which days of the week you’d like to see it. Yes, you can have something show up every day … or every weekday, or every weekend, or any combination you like.

To access your list, just click the coffee cup, and tabs will open for all the things on that day’s menu. It takes me a couple of minutes to scan what’s streamed forth; usually, I know within a moment whether I want to close the tab or keep reading, either now or later in the day.

By the way, I still do bookmark things — almost always, though, it’s a specific article on something peculiar or arcane and to which I’m doubtful a Google search would take me again. Thanks to Morning Coffee, I can better manage my media diet, all within a few sips of java or the beverage of my choice.

John Gushue is an online editor with CBC News

in St. John’s. On the Twitter: @johngushue.

Organizations: New York Times, Google

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