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I suppose this makes me an idiot, but I had never really thought that there would be the wide variety of software out there to make blogging easier and more blogger friendly that there actually is. Having started to look around, there’s a real pile of useful stuff that I’d never even conceived of.

Yusuf, who I now regularly bombard with links, has sagely pointed out that there is so much more I could do better in my blogging methodology, as a way of producing more coherent and legible posts. Such concern for you, dear reader, for you.

It just always seemed to me, as if the most logical thing in the world, to blog by writing things up in MS Word, spellcheck there, and copy and paste that into whatever blogging platform was fashionable. Adding links is a pain in this process, adding pictures will make you prefer visiting the dentist and anything more fancy will qualify you as an MCSE. Formatting anything to look half decent regularly took more time then I’d spent writing. And even then I’d usually be dissatisfied with the result.

Me wearing blinkers.In a sense my ignorance has been akin to wearing blinkers, I’ve never really bothered to look at what’s going on around me in the parallel lives of other bloggers. This was largely because it never appeared necessary. While my current tool chain was long winded, it worked because my obsession is with crafting words rather then putting together a blog post is the more complete sense.

I’d never even heard of Technorati, Del.icio.us, Bloglines, Feedburner or even WordPress.com until approximately two weeks ago. I mean I only made the switch from Xanga to Blogger because I had gotten a Gmail account and they had done some vigorous cross promotion of Blogger as a Google owned property. That and Xanga did a considerable amount of evil.

Motivated by Yusuf’s advice, and having found it endorsed by the reliable people at Scribez, I’ve switched to Windows Live Writer, a tool designed to integrate with your blog but to function on the desktop to give you greater convenience. Now while loath to say that Microsoft have done a good job at anything, given my simple needs and desire for quick writing as opposed to connected blog chains it’s a brilliant bit of software. At it’s exceptional give away price, full integration with WordPress.com and the sheer variety of options, all well presented combine to earn it considerable credit. The people who wrote this bit of software should be proud.

It does have one minor fault that I already find slightly irritating, it has no support for ‘justify’ in its paragraph alignment options, not that I can really grumble since WordPress doesn’t either and I’m already used to making this change manually. I also understand that it’s bad form to be using the “p align” tag, and I should be attempting to edit the CSS style sheet, but to do that on WordPress.com you have to shell out an extra $15 USD, which I’m not inclined to part with. Easier to make the one change I actually care about in an improper manner.

However, I still can’t figure out how to enable a Trackback URL using WordPress.com, so that it’ll include it by default. Mind you, I didn’t know what a trackback was until this weekend. The documentation says that if you just append “/trackback/” to whatever fixed URL is generated for each post this will create a trackback to the parent post. According to Problogger I’ve got it set up correctly to both send and receive them, so anyone with more technical knowledge who’s able to point out what I’m doing wrong, I’ll be much obliged. In practice this really means Dom or Yusuf, but other itinerant technical geniuses should not feel put off.

Hopefully I’ll be taking advantage of all this interactivity to make slightly more entertaining posts, requiring less concentrated reading on your part and allowing you sometimes to follow the pictures to reach an understanding.

And I totally don’t understand information entropy

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One Comment

  1. It seems you are way ahead of me as far as blogging goes. I usually just type directly into the textboxes in Xanga or Blogger, and use whatever formatting functions they care to provide. Since Firefox 2.0 already has spellchecking built-in, I don’t even need Xanga’s spell-checking function. In short, blogging for me is mostly plain text with a few links and formatting tags thrown in. I’m not too concerned with the extra bells and whistles at my disposal.

    As for information entropy, I’ll gladly explain it to you after I learn about it this semester.


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