Tag Archives: blogging

Giving the WordPress iPad App Another Spin

As I noted earlier, the increasing frequency of Parallels/Windows crashes and the utter lack of any decent Mac blogging apps have led me back to the native WordPress blog editor. With a few good plugins, I think the web-based desktop editor may work.

That leaves mobile. Historically, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by the mobile WordPress app. But like the web-based editor, it has been steadily improving.

The lack of plugins, especially Post Snippets, is a drag. Adding links has gotten easier, but it’s never going to be really easy on a tablet.

Images are still hard.

20120419-005034.jpg

I like the preview feature, particularly since you never know what a mobile blog post is going to look like.

All in all, it’s good enough. And that’s good enough for me.

MacJournal as a Blogging App: So Much Potential, So Much Frustration

macjI continue to keep Parallels and a Windows 7 installation on my iMac, solely so I can use Live Writer. Lately, however, I’ve experienced a lot of unexpected Windows restarts and other (Windows-related) crashes. This adversely affects my joy and greatly increases my interest in finding a decent Mac blogging app, so I can uninstall Parallels and rid myself of the last remnant of Windows.

So I was immediately interested when I came across MacJournal today.

It’s not specifically a blogging app, but it has blogging features that are noted in the write-up and in the user manual. It is clearly a powerful app, that does a lot of things very well. It has good ratings, and seems to be beloved by many as a journaling tool.  But as a blogging app, it has issues.  Some of them are serious.

Need an example? How about the fact that this is the fourth time I’ve written this blog post- the first three tries via MacJournal were lost to a spinning beach ball of lockups. This one is being written in good ol’ Live Writer.  I wish I was raving about the many good features MacJournal has to offer.  Instead, I am  ranting about the lost potential.  And the fact that I can’t yet rid my iMac of Windows.

Let’s take a look at the very good and the very bad.

The good:

1. It is designed to interface well with a self-hosted WordPress installation. Setting up the blog connection is as easy as adding the URL, name and password for your blog.

2. It’s easy to add links, though the app needs to paste any URLs on the clipboard into the URL box. A small thing, yes, but a real time saver.

3. It is generally easy to add and manipulate photos and videos. There needs to be an easy way to resize a photo to a specific width, etc.

4. Categories and tags are supported.

5. I think it would be easy to create time saving templates.  When it comes to adding content and media, the app is very powerful.

Adding photos is as easy as a drag and drop, or you can browse through the included media browser to find media on your Mac.

Adding YouTube videos is even easier.   Paste the iframe code into your post, and MacJournal does the rest. This is very handy.

You can also record audio and video entries right from the app.

You can quickly import audio and video files from your Mac.

The bad:

notresp

This happens a lot. It’s a deal stopper for me.  The problems seem to arise mostly when I try to publish a media-rich blog post. Problems also arise when I try to open an existing unpublished entry to edit it.

loading

Forever loading. Loading. Forever.

I was never able to successfully publish a media rich blog post via MacJournal.  My initial test post, containing just a photo and a YouTube video published quickly and easily, and looked great.  I could even edit it and republish it.  After that, when I tried to do a full post, with a photo, a YouTube video, several links and a short voice recording, nothing.  Just this.

nopublish

There are some quirks in the editing window (the cursor jumps to the top when you try to resize an image below the fold; I don’t see an easy way to make links open in a new tab or window, etc.), but those are minor annoyances that don’t outweigh the app’s obvious potential. That is, if you could actually post to your blog.

Granted, I am focusing on one aspect of what is, essentially, a journaling app.  But that is the one feature I want, and the only reason I would pay $30 (wow) for the app.

The local journaling features may work fine, but as a blogging app, MacJournal is frustrating, to say the least, and possibly broken (if these issues I am experiencing are widespread; I hope they are not).  The lockups and inability to open an existing entry are huge problems. The worst part is that MacJournal clearly has a ton of potential.  But for now its greatest potential is to frustrate those looking for a native Mac app to replace Live Writer.

Hopefully someone will create a decent Mac blogging app at some point.  I need to get Windows off of my iMac.  Soon.

Life in the Fast Lane: Adios Load Hogs

Now that I’m all into minimalism and whatnot, I decided to clean out my study.

Chill

And my blog.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the load-time for Newsome.Org.  The culprits change from time to time.  One of them was Wibya, which I dumped several weeks ago.  Another was Lijit, the blog search application I have used for years.  I like the way it shows you what people are searching for, and where- geographically- they came from.  But if the page never finishes loading, no one can search it.

So today I gave Lijit the boot.  In favor of a good old Google site search.  Sure, some of the tracking data is gone, but the script loads quickly.  And results are shown right on the page, as opposed to a separate window.  It seems fast, and bare.  I dig that.

Facebook seems to drag a little too.  I haven’t dumped the “Like” button yet, but it is on my watch list.  My new mantra: be fast or be gone.

I’ve used the Yahoo Media Player for years and years.  I hope it doesn’t die with the rest of Yahoo.  Fast and lean replacement suggestions are appreciated.

And then there’s Disqus.  It seems to drag a little sometimes.  My love of its features and my dread at the prospect of replacing it without losing thousands of comments lead me to hang on, for now.

I want things fast and simple.  There are very few features worth the wait of a slow-loading page.

Oh, and I got a new backpack to tote my gear around.  It’s much better than the old diaper bag backpack I was using.  And now that I’m using a MacBook Air, there’s no poop of any kind in it.

Stm

Fast.  And lean.  That’s the ticket.

MacAge: Filling the Live Writer Void

I’m almost a week into my all-in Apple era. So far, it’s mostly wonderful. The iLife apps are far better than anything available for Windows- iPhoto alone makes the switch worth it.  Adobe let me switch my Photoshop license to Mac (though they stubbornly insisted on snail mailing me the discs, even though I’ve downloaded my last several Photoshop versions).  The machine is elegant, and my study is much more relaxing without the big, loud HP computer, dual monitors and all the associated hardware.  I understand what people mean when they say that Macs “just work.”

The keyboard is taking some getting used to, after decades of Microsoft ergonomic keyboard use.  The typos are legion, but I’m getting there. I think.

On the other hand, I really love the magic trackpad. I am surprised at how easily I have abandoned my much-beloved Trackball Explorer. Those things are hard to find, and now I have a couple to sell.  Stay tuned as I try to turn all my Windows gear into a family iMac.  Need a scanner, or some new 27″ Dell monitors?  Drop me a line.

Tbe
Thanks for the memories!

But, boy, do I miss Live Writer. I am mostly OK with the WordPress embedded editor, but I miss the added features and resulting speed of a dedicated blogging app.

So, I’m test-driving some of the scant Mac options. This post is being written in Mars Edit. I can make it work, but it’s a harder than via Live Writer. Maybe it will have the iMovie effect- you know, where something looks really messed up at first, until you suddenly realize how awesome it is. I hope so.

I’ll have more later on my transition, including my dumping of Windows Home Server, largely because of Microsoft’s dumping of Drive Extender, for a Time Capsule. For now, I’m going to see if I can get Mars Edit to connect with my blog so I can post this.

Blogsy Breakfast

Since the day I got my iPad, I have been frustrated by how hard it is to write and publish a blog with it. The WordPress app is an exercise in frustration. Recently I have read a number of positive articles about Blogsy. So I’m giving it a try.

Initial impressions are very positive. Clearly it handles photos and videos well, accessing them via your Flickr, Picasa or YouTube accounts.

The holy grail of mobile blogging applications will always be adding links. Blogsy has a promising approach:

Select the text you want to use for your link on the ‘Rich Side’
Open the browser and find the site/image you wish to link to
Place your finger on the ‘Blogsy Link Button’ (the button to the left of the address bar)
Drag it to the text you selected.

Links will always be a challenge on a handheld, but Blogsy makes it about as easy as possible. Assuming this post shows up the way I intend it to, Blogsy will definitely become my mobile blogging tool of choice.

Blog from Your Browser with ScribeFire

In my stop and start journey towards cross-platform utopia, I am experimenting with ScribeFire, a Firefox, Chrome and Safari add-on that promises to let you blog away from the comfort of your web browser.

I like the layout.  I can’t get the image upload or Live Preview functions to work (one down; the image upload seems to work).  This may be a firewall problem.  It doesn’t have the best feature about my beloved Live Writer: the ability to paste an image directly into a blog post and have that image uploaded when you publish (that feature alone saves me scads of time when I use Live Writer).

It does allow you to insert images from Flickr, but I don’t see a way to log into your account.  When I searched under my name, it found three photos.  One of an anole (that’s a “n”).  I’d prefer a way to pick and choose from my photos.


What an anole

I like the idea, but I think the firewall and the photo thing are going to be may be the deal-stoppers for me.  If I could get Live Preview to work, and figure out some better way to access photos, we might have a contender.

How to Create a Life Stream Page on Your Blog, With Posterous

We’re really rocking the blog development lately.  Yesterday, I showed you how to point a domain to one of your blog categories.

Today, we’re going to create a life stream page, on your blog, using Posterous.

You can use the life stream page we’re about to create for just about anything.  You could send all of your life stream content there, autopost it to Twitter, Facebook, etc. and end up with a great, chronological and searchable archive of all of your content.  I have Twitter already integrated into Newsome.Org, via the widget in the right hand column, so I’m going to do something a little different.

I want to create a page where I can automatically upload and share impromptu iPhone photos, and maybe some other tidbits from time to time.  Notwithstanding the limited chops of the iPhone camera, I find a lot of iPhone photos really compelling, partially because of those limitations.  Plus I almost always have my iPhone with me.

image

But, as part of my ongoing content consolidation and simplification project, I want my iPhone photo stream to be available here, as a Page.

Let’s get started.

Get a a Posterous Page

If you don’t already have a Posterous page, go sign up.  Learn how to use it- it’s about as easy as it could possibly be.  Theme your Posterous page to have the same look and feel as your blog.  You’ll probably have to start with a canned theme and then customize it to your liking.

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Make a Content Plan

Next, decide how you’re going to use your life stream page.  Posterous makes it really easy to autopost content to the social networks and other sites.  With a little work you can make Posterous your content hub and control panel.

Get Any Ancillary Apps You’ll Need

As noted, I want to use my page primarily as a place to upload and share impromptu iPhone photos.  A great way to do this is via the iPhone app PicPosterous (iTunes link).  It will make sharing iPhone photos via Posterous easy and almost completely automated.

I’m not crazy about the way it forces you do use albums, but it works OK.  I do like the fact that photos from each album are posted together.  I’ll just do an album for each day.  That seems burdensome, but it’s not really.  You’d need to name the photo anyway, and this means you only have to name the first one (e.g., 02/28/10) you post each day.  Any others can be sent directly to that album.

Embed into a Blog Page with an iFrame

Now to embed the Posterous page you have crated into your blog via an iFrame.

In WordPress

I use WordPress.  Here’s how you do it with my theme.  The process may differ slightly from theme to theme, but the basic concepts should be the same.

Create a new Page, and name it.  I called mine iStream.

If you have columns on your main blog pages, you’ll probably need to use a full width template for this page.  Many WordPress themes have this option for Pages.  If yours doesn’t, you’ll have to create a Page template.  Or change themes.

Add the iFrame code.  Here’s mine:

image

In Blogger

If you use Blogger, simply create a new Page, via Posting>Edit Pages>New Page, and include the iFrame code.  Be sure to select the Edit HTML tab first.

I don’t know that many, if any, Blogger templates have full width templates available for Pages.  If not, the resulting life stream Page may require horizontal scrolling, which is not good.  If I find (or someone provides in a comment) a solution for this, I’ll add it here.

The best bet if you really want a life stream page in Blogger might be to select a wide, one or two column template.

Add the New Page to Your Page Navigation

Once I created my new Page, I added it under the Media tab at the top of the Newsome.Org blog pages.

That’s all there is to it.  Looks great.  Easy to use.  Consolidated.

I like it.

Brother, Can You Spare a Word?

I’m working hard so you don’t have to.  If you like what I’m doing here at Newsome.Org, please spread the word via Retweets and links.