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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
I use Sandvox (karelia.com) for my website on which I also have a blog. But then Iâ€™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.
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.
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.
Early in this thread, I suggested WordPress and Ecto. Subsequent posts brought up topics I hadn’t considered, or hadn’t considered carefully enough. So:
I still recommend WordPress if what you want is a place to rant and rave and ruminate in public. (Verify first that such activity is legal in your locale.) That tens of millions of other people also do it does not invalidate the enterprise, but it does minimize your chances of being noticed.
If you want more than that – a commercial or institutional or professional site – you’re probably better off setting up your own site. For that, I’d choose Sandvox. If nothing else, you have to love their logo.
I had suggested Ecto. Then, after Michael’s post, I re-checked Journler. Strange. I had been using it (gulp) simply as a journal. Turns out the damn thing also does a fine job of posting to WordPress. Although Journler is free (donation-ware, actually), I feel obligated now to send the man more money. Ecto still works okay, but I don’t seem to need it any more.
Which brings to mind…
This is probably off-topic, and may already have been addressed in the forum, but I’ll ask anyway.
Can we draw a line somewhere between one do-everything app and a hundred do-only-one-thing apps? Or put another way, are we better off with a lot of highly-specific tools, or with a few multi-purpose ones?
The answer to this, or the approach to an answer, will probably vary considerably according to the platform you’re using, with MS in one direction and Mac in the other.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you deal with a bicycle repair by the side of the road, a compact multitool will work just fine. If you’re replacing major components in the comfort of your garage, you’ll probably be happier with single-purpose tools.
Just as a skilled mechanic tends to accumulate many single-purpose tools over the years, I find myself using more different pieces of software. I think that’s partly because I’m less patient with the limitations of multipurpose tools. (The expression, “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind.) But the single purpose tools have also become more capable (Scrivener being a prime example), and sharing among tools has become less painful. That, and as a recent Mac switcher I had to rethink all of my software choices anyway.
On one hand, the Windows platform has many more choices in any given category. Yet it doesn’t seem to have as much truly excellent software as the Mac platform does. (At least not at prices that individuals can afford.) I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because there’s so much competition (and MSFT casts a much longer shadow) it’s hard for small developers to get critical mass? Maybe the platform itself gets in the way? Sharing among Windows applications seems to be much more difficult, too, which could be because of both MSFT’s love for proprietary interfaces and also the huge mishmash of legacy code floating around.
Anyway, I find that my leading writer-oriented tools–Scrivener, DevonThink, and Tinderbox–serve distinctly different functions in my workflow. While the feature lists suggest a great deal of overlap, in practice I use them in different ways for different purposes.