Blogosphere

ti
tim
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Sat Sep 01, 2007 12:48 pm Post

Hi All,

I'm thinking of starting a Blog. This is hardly revolutionary. I figure I may be the only
person in this forum who doesn't have one yet. I've done a little exploring, and
there is certainly a wide range of blog services out there. Frankly, I've found it hard to
tell the difference between them.

I'd really appreciate advice on which service to choose. Which do you use? And why?

Which do you not recommend? And why?

Is it preferable to write directly into the blog, or are there useful posting apps out there
(I've heard people refer to Journaler here as well as other apps) that make things
easier or more pleasant?

Any and all help will be appreciated.

Blogless in the cyberverse,

Tim
In theory, there's no difference
between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.

Yogi Berra

PJ
PJS
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Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:00 pm Post

You might want to reconsider, just for image sake. Bloglessness may soon be the ultimate cool. (In fact, maybe it already is. I'll be the last to know.) But if you're determined, here's what I found.

I tried a couple of commercial servers -- building my own site from scratch, et al -- and a couple of the better-known blog sites. What I came down to is WordPress. <http://wordpress.com/signup/>

If you want a complex gee-whiz site with bells and whistles, you're probably going to be happier if you take the time to build it yourself. Which can be rewarding or frustrating. Or both. For sure it's time-consuming.

But if what you want is a place to ruminate or rant with minimum technical hassle, WordPress.com is free and pretty straightforward. Sign up, pick a design, write a post, and be online in ten minutes. Really. As with most blog places, you choose from among a variety of basic designs, most of which can be customized to a considerable degree. A good way to start, I think.

For posting, it seems half the software out there these days offers to handle it. What I use is Ecto <http://infinite-sushi.com/software/ecto/>. It's small and cheap and easy. Like WordPress, it's a good way to get started.

There's no good reason not to write directly into the blog, of course. But if you're using links and references, etc., you'll probably find it simpler to assemble the post separately, then upload.

[NOTE] There is also (related but different) WordPress.org, which provides the software for mounting a blog on third-party servers.

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Siren
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Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:36 pm Post

tim wrote:I'd really appreciate advice on which service to choose. Which do you use? And why?

Which do you not recommend? And why?


We've just set up a sort-of-blog (actually a book review site for my bookworm family). When I say "just set up", I really mean "are in the process of setting up" because there are a lot of kinks still to be ironed out.

1) I am using iWeb, from iLife '06. No mean feat, because I'm on a G3 iBook so it can't be installed in the usual way; I had to install it on another machine then zip it across. All's well that ends well, so far so good etc. Very easy to use software, with some atttractive templates. Great features - you can add a blog or podcast with no trouble at all.

2) I've been toying with getting .Mac, even before the web site idea, so I signed up for the free trial. Great interaction with iWeb - just publish to .Mac, and bingo! Spotlight searching, RSS feed - everything is there at the touch of a button. Three cheers!

3) Then I thought "Hang on -- while I'm spending money like water, why don't I buy a domain name?". First choice of domain name turns out to be available, in both .com and .co.uk versions - so once again, sigh of relief, and roll out the appropriate clichés.

4) I set up the domain name to map to my .Mac site. No problems. Home page loads brilliantly. Big grin on face. Entire site appears under the same top-level domain name, which looks a little bit odd, but, hey! That's a small price to pay.

5) But now comes the problem. I have included Amazon links in the bloggy bit of the site, where book reviews are each posted as a separate entry. (I don't particularly want the Amazon link, but it seemed only fair to include it if I am pinching their images to show book covers.) Clicking on the Amazon links opens the correct pages - but the address bar in the browser doesn't change, and iWeb doesn't let me specify that the links are to open in a new window (which would break out of the domain frame). At least, I don't think it lets me. There are no controls for it anywhere that I can find, anyway.

6) Since I am including Amazon links, I thought I might as well register for their Associates programme, on the off-chance that somebody might actually buy a book via one of my links. Besides, one of the link formats launches in a new window, which might solve the Amazon-looking-as-though-it-belongs-to-me problem. Sign-up goes OK.

7) Trying to upload the correct Associate-tagged Amazon links proves to be a headache. iWeb doesn't let me paste in the required HTML (or, indeed, any HTML). Grrr.

8 ) A bit of googling later, freeware iWebMore is busily doing some post-processing to paste in the required HTML (you have to run it after each update, and sync to iDisk, which is fine if your updates are infrequent, but my children are sending me book reviews several times a day, and all that syncing gets a bit wearing). Three cheers for iWebMore!

9) But it turns out that the format of link I want doesn't have an option to open a new window, so the browser continues to show my home page as the page address, and it still looks as though all of Amazon is part of my little site :-( And I can't actually get the links/graphics in the discreetly uncommercial format that I want :-(

So my sort-of-blog saga continues, as I haven't found the solution yet. Yes, I know all this would be solved if I upgraded to iLife '08, which I'm told supports domain names and lets you add HTML via web widgets - but I'm using a G3 machine, and am assured that the new iWeb won't run on it, even if I bypass the installer. I don't particularly want to upgrade my machine at the moment, and I am getting quite bolshy about feeling cornered into doing so. (Now I know how those die-hard OS9 people felt when I was a newbie switcher five years ago!).

If you do have iLife '08 and .Mac, I suspect that might be a good solution. But I'm no expert, having just entered the blogosphere this week.

ke
kened
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Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:19 pm Post

i use wordpress - and it's true you can be up and running in a matter of minutes - or perhaps an hour or two. wordpress provides a very easy learning curve, and you can get as complex as you want to, there are millions of refinements - add-ons - widgets - plugins - themes, and a very supportive user community. but beware ... it's time-consuming and addictive. i think it's important to concentrate on content rather than slickness - there really are far too many blogs out there full of posts about blogging.

the temptation to tinker endlessly can get compulsive.

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ptram
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Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:34 pm Post

I like RapidWeaver. Very easy to use, supports feeds and comments.

http://www.realmacsoftware.com

Be warned that the current version is rather buggy, but they are working to fix the bugs. I'm using it to maintain my web sites, and it works well.

Paolo

ti
tim
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:48 am Post

Thanks for the recommendations.

Does anyone have a preferred blog posting app. Perhaps more to the point, why would
one use a blog posting app at all?

Tim
In theory, there's no difference
between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.


Yogi Berra

dr
druid
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:55 am Post

I use Blogger. It's free, and you write the entries in a browser. I recommend Camino, because it permits regular text entry but you may also tweak the HTML code, if necessary. Placement of pictures is a bit awkward until you get used to it. Posting is one-click, and you get 1024 mb of storage space, all free.

Why maintain a blog? For a writer, it's a cheap way to advertise one's work.

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Typo
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:51 am Post

tim wrote:Does anyone have a preferred blog posting app. Perhaps more to the point, why would
one use a blog posting app at all?


I've recently switched to Sandvox, which is primarily a web application with a truckload of nice templates, but offers basic blog functionality as well - enough for me, not enough for others, I guess.

It's easy and quick to publish text or photos in a blog environment, and it's user friendly, because a visitor of the page can see right away if there's an update. I consider my blog the first address of my homepage - here you can read my random thoughts or hard news, and from here you get linked to the actual changes on my homepage.

ke
kened
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:52 am Post

that's a bloody good question. I think for freelance journos like myself, it can be a good way to keep your writing skills honed, it can also provide a kind of test lab for writing ideas.

but it can also be a time consuming diversion and my earlier warnings about being distracted with refinements of look and styling still stand. having your own website is a bit like having a train set - you're forever tempted to change little details. the great thing about blogger and wordpress are that they allow you to get up and running with very little expertise, it's later when you want to individualise your site that the distractions from simply writing come along.

the free options of blogger and wordpress are probably a good place to start.[/i]

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antony
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:25 am Post

I can't answer *why* you'd use a blog posting app, but then I only make about one post a week. Lots of people who post many items swear by them, though.

MarsEdit is one I always see recommended for OSX.
Antony Johnston
antonyjohnston.com

iM
iME
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:12 pm Post

I use Sandvox (http://www.karelia.com) for my website on which I also have a blog. But then I’m only writing a post every fortnight or so. Downloaded Sandvox, played around with it for a couple of hours and had my complete Website set up in one afternoon. So, definitely worth a try.

You might also take a look at Journler (http://journler.com/) which lets you write and upload the things you’d like to post from within your Journal. As long as you use it for personal purpose only it’s free. And beside the blog-function it’s a slick app for jotting down notes … before filing them in Scrivener javascript:emoticon(':wink:')

Michael

http://www.michaelengler.com

Kh
Khadrelt
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:33 pm Post

tim wrote:I figure I may be the only person in this forum who doesn't have one yet.


I don't! :D
And that, my Liege, is how we know the earth to be banana-shaped.

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xiamenese
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Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:28 pm Post

Khadrelt wrote:
tim wrote:I figure I may be the only person in this forum who doesn't have one yet.


I don't! :D


Nor do I, though many of my students ask if I have ... I simply don't feel my random daily thoughts are things I should inflict on an unsuspecting world. If I did have something published that I wanted people to get to know about I might try it. But I've never kept a diary for more than 2 days, and I suspect it would be the same with a blog.

On the other hand I have downloaded some blogging software, and Journler is the one that attracted me most.

:D

St
Studio717
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Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:23 am Post

I don't have one, either. I think about starting one, but can't think why I'd want one.

fl
flow
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Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:11 am Post

I recommend WordPress, although I haven't tried any of the other blogging systems out there.

I have read that it's a good idea to blog from your own domain name, even if your blog is only hobby stuff and you're not planning on using it to make money. For one, a blogging service could go down or out of business (unlikely, perhaps, but possible), and getting your readers to a new site is easier if you've always had your own domain name. If you are planning to put ads and whatnot on your site, having your own domain is even more important.

You can get a domain cheap (under $10) and point it to a blogging service if you like. That way you don't have to pay for hosting, but you keep a certain amount of portability and room for expansion.

I tried Ecto, didn't like it. I recommend MarsEdit and Flock has some really good blogging tools as well. Yes it's a browser. And more.