Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category

Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: Part 1 – The Test

August 23, 2007

I have recently gotten into blogging and in the process, wanted to determine which blog engine I felt was best. So I created a working blog in the following engines:

  • Google Blogger: AlongthePathto20.blogspot.com
  • Google Blogger, redirected to my domain: BlueDei.Blogspot.com redirected to blog.bluedei.com (either of these addresses go to the same place, my google blog)
  • WordPress.com (hosted on WordPress): AllThingsWeb20.wordpress.com
  • WordPress.org (installed on my subdomain): clear.bluedei.com
  • WordPress.com (used to test backing up a blog, this is the vanilla wordpress.com blog with just an import of my posts from my Google blog, AlongthePathto20): clearbluedei.wordpress.com
  • Vox blog: smmellott.vox.com
  • LiveJournal blog: smmellott.livejournal.com
  • TypePad and MovableType: didn’t create because they charge for them and I would have made a “free trial” blog but it wanted me to select a plan and put in my charge card info and I gather the free trial meant I could cancel it for free. So of course, I didn’t do anything with either of these.

You can go take a look at each of these to see how they look.

I have been actively customizing, testing and using the Google blogger blog: Alongthepathto20 and the WordPress.com blog: allthingsweb20 and the wordpress.org blog: clear.bluedei.com.

These 3 were my primary test cases and I have been copying any post I write to each of them. I have also been trying out their different features and seeing what they can and can’t do. So they are all highly customized.

The others I created for testing some particular feature (like redirecting a google blog to a domain name or testing the import feature of wordpress.com) or for trying some of the other, less popular blogs just to compare and see if they had something worth looking at. The vox and livejournal blogs I did very little customizing to. I mostly just set a template and posted a post and poked around.

I did not test ExpressionEngine, (someone commented they use this but I didn’t look at it, might be a Content Management System) TextPattern,(actually Content Management System) Joomla, (also Content Management System) Windows Live Spaces, or B2Evolution. Nor did I test Drupal, which is considerably more than a blog and worth a whole evaluation of its own (with the other similar tools, like Joomla) Those are actually Content Management Systems so are outside the scope of this test.

So now you have what I used for my testing. Go look at each of these to get a feel for what each is basically like. And stay tuned for “Google Blogger vs. WordPress, Blog Wars: Part 2 – The Results”

~Susan Mellott

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Web 2.0 – Odiogo on WordPress (self-hosted)

August 13, 2007

Late last week, I had found out about Odiogo which changes your blog text to speech (see my post on 8/11/2007) and had tried adding it to my blogs. At the time, I had a Google Blogger blog and a WordPress blog hosted on WordPress.com.

It worked just fine adding it to my Google Blogger blog, but it turns out there is no way to add it to a WordPress.com hosted blog. This was a big black mark against WordPress.com blogs in my opinion.

Since then, we have set up our own domain and I created a subdomain of my own (clear.bluedei.com) and set up my own WordPress blog on there and supposedly, it was possible to use Odiogo on a self-hosted WordPress blog so I created my feed and submitted my request to Odiogo and waited impatiently for my confirmation email to arrive from them.

It came this afternoon, so I then tried setting up Odiogo on my new blog. It was amazingly easy! I just downloaded the plugin from the link in the confirmation email, ftp’ed it to my wp-content/plugins subdirectory on my subdomain and set it up on my blog. Now I have an odiogo feed button on my sidebar so people can subscribe to my audio feed and each time I create a post, the odiogo ‘listen now’ button is automatically added to my post.

Here are the actual instructions that were very clear and easy to follow.

1. Download the plugin

2. Upload directory odiogo_listen_button to your /wp-content/plugins/ directory via FTP

3. Login to your WordPress admin account and activate the Odiogo Listen Button plugin through the Plugins menu

4. Click Menu Options > Odiogo Listen Button

5. Enter your Odiogo Feed ID and click Save
Your Odiogo Feed ID is xxxxx.

6. Click menu Presentation > Widgets (or Sidebar Widgets depending on your WP version)

7. Drag and drop Odiogo Subscribe Button from Available Widgets to Sidebar

8. Click Save Changes

Here is a link to the Odiogo FAQ page. I noticed that people have been trying to find out why their feeds were being cut off before they were done. You can find the answer on this FAQ page by looking under “How do I activate RSS full text option on…” and they have one for Typepad, WordPress and Blogger.

It is really a neat and useful tool and I’m very glad I can add it to my new blog.

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – Convert your post texts to speech with Odiogo!

August 11, 2007

I was looking at a Blog called Just Giblets and I noticed a widget at the top of each of their posts that said “listen now”. So I clicked on it and it read the entire post by converting the text to speech! I tried other posts and it did the same for every post. And as I was going down their posts, I found one called “Do you notice anything different?” that explained more about Odiogo.

So I went to the Odiogo website and started looking at how I could add it my own posts. As it turned out, I ran into yet another limitation of WordPress (hosted on wordpress.com). It does not allow you to use this feature since it restricts some of the things Odiogo needs to use.

So I re-signed up with Odiogo for my Google Blogger blog instead. After I got the confirmation email (it takes about a day), I followed the instructions, which required me to do nothing more than click a couple of links and buttons and voila! Each of my blogger posts had a “listen now” button. I didn’t even have to add it to each post, it is automatically added for me. On the some the earliest posts, when you click the listen now button, it says “Sorry, this article is not available yet.”, but most all of them are available now. Here is how it looked when I clicked on the listen now button. It is in the process of reading the post.
odiogo posts

As you can see, there are other formats you can also listen and download the post as. Odiogo also creates an audio feed stream that you can access from the blog using this button:

odigo feed

This takes you to this page where you can sign up for the audio feed of the posts using various feed readers, or can just listen to them from the page.

We are in the process of converting over to our own hosted site and I will transfer my WordPress blog there, which should allow me to add this to that blog (although not as easily as you can add it to a Blogger blog).

They also market it as a way to create podcasts easily by just writing your text and then converting it to audio. That is interesting but I’m not sure how much easier it is than just reading and recording it and that way you also have a human voice rather than a digital voice. But I didn’t really look into that much from their site and I’m sure they have a lot of other good uses for it. You can go here to learn more about their mainstream media, or here to learn more about adding it to blogs.

It is free to add to your blog and for some people, may generate revenue. I’m not sure what they are referring to by “ad income”, I have not really noticed any ads except for saying it is from odiogo. But in any case, it is free. This is what the site says “Not only is Odiogo free, it may be able to generate advertising revenues. Once your listenership reaches a significant level, you may qualify for a share of ad income! More technical details about the solution can be found here and in our FAQ. So what are you waiting for? Give your blog voice, and legs, now! “

I have friends and family with low vision and this seems like a wonderful addition to a blog to make it more accessible. And I believe that this is something that needs to be considered as Web 2.0 apps are being developed. Part of the concept of Web 2.0 is inclusiveness and being accessible and this shows how easily you can enhance your blogs to make them easier to access for everyone.

I hope this sparks your interest and helps people think about creating and looking for Web 2.0 applications that help make it accessible by everyone.

~Susan Mellott

Celebrity 2.0 – Wil Wheaton is Web 2.0

July 31, 2007

I imagine most of you know who Wil Wheaton is. He is an actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Actually, he has done a lot more than that, but that is mainly how I know of him.

But what makes him interesting is his love and knowledge of technology and his leading edge use of Web 2.0 tools. Here is the wikipedia entry that talks about him and what he has done.

From wikipedia: “After leaving Star Trek, Wheaton quit acting altogether. He moved to Topeka, Kansas to work as a programmer for Newtek, where he helped develop the Video Toaster 4000.” (I assume they meant he temporarily quit acting)

Wil was a very early adopter of blogging, creating his site wilwheaton.net (see the wikipedia article on his blog) which is currently being updated (since about last June) and is replaced for now by his blog WWdN: In Exile – Wil Wheaton’s not-so-temporary blog. Per the wikipedia article on his blog: “Rather than just a fan forum, it was a place where people could gather to talk about various subjects including movies, music, books, religion, politics, gaming, geocaching, and miscellaneous topics; the original emphasis was on topics of interest to Wil Wheaton and not the man himself.” He has entries on his blog dating back to July 2001.

Wil also has written 3 books, and most of the entries are extended versions of his online blog entries. (Take note, bloggers, this is not a bad idea if you have a following).

Also from wikipedia: “In late September of 2006, Wheaton began hosting a Revision3 syndicated video podcast called InDigital along with Jessica Corbin and veteran host Hahn Choi. ” Of note: Wil found an error on the wikipedia entry for himself and asked on slashdot for someone to correct it.

Wil also twitters regularly and has just recently twittered on the Comic-Con he attended. Interestingly, he is having a problem at the moment trying to remove people he no longer wishes to follow and is talking about it on twitter. Update: as of about 4 hours ago, he twittered that the problem was a bug in twitter and was fixed by Biz Stone.

Wil also uses flickr and has some very interesting photos. And something I found interesting too that Wil has been doing on buzznet is “What is Wil looking At?” which is sort of a cross between flickring and twittering (flittring?). It looks like he is taking pictures with his phone of whatever he is doing and uploading them. It’s a neat idea and I’m sure at some point, people will be doing that just like they twitter now.

And of course, he checks technorati for links to his blog and has a profile technorati for wilw. Here are some other things of his (from his blog):

And there are quite a few interesting videos of him talking about technology on YouTube. Here is one where Wil talks about Podcasting (answering fan’s question at reading of his book, Just a Geek)

And there is a lot more that he is or has been involved with. The wikipedia article and his blog has more information.

To be honest, although I knew who he was, I’m old enough that I watched the original Star Trek more than I watched The Next Generation. But I think he seems like an interesting person and certainly one who is Web 2.0.

~Susan Mellott

Google Analytics Update and WordPress Beef

July 27, 2007

Well, the latest on my problem accessing blogger.com, google analytics, etc is now fixed. I’m not sure what the problem was, but I closed Firefox and reopened it and everything was OK. I had tried closing all but 1 tab and that didn’t do it. I thought I might have to reboot my PC but fortunately not.

As you may know, I’m trying to decide between Google Blogger and WordPress for my blog. Currently I am updating both and trying to decide which one I want to ultimately go to. So far, in many ways I have been leaning towards WordPress. Part of this is because I like the idea of hosting it myself and I am hoping that when I do, some of the problems will be solved with the additional plug-ins available.

But it is driving me crazy trying to add buttons and whatnot to my WordPress.com blog. I am trying to add a “Digg It” button for Digg. But it seems to be impossible. I have looked and looked and can’t find a reasonable solution. And there are many other ones that won’t work on WordPress, usually because WordPress doesn’t allow Javascript.

And it would not be so bad if it wasn’t almost every single thing I try to do. I do it in Blogger and it is easy. I try in WordPress and it is somewhere between difficult and impossible.

I am still hopeful that if I host my WordPress blog, it will solve alot of these problems. I really hope so because for some reason, I still like WordPress.

~Susan Mellott

Twitter joins the Presidential Debates!

July 22, 2007

On July 23rd immediately following the Youtube/CNN debate John Edwards will answer questions from Twitter users in a live webcast on JohnEdwards.com. He wants twitter-ers to @johnedwards some questions in advance. Pretty cool.

This information came from the Official Twitter Blog.

Elections 2.0 aka Politics 2.0

July 18, 2007

As I was taking our cat, Ubi, to the vet this afternoon, I turned on the radio to NPR and there was a fascinating discussion on Talk of the Nation about the web’s role in the presidential debate. It was called Digital Democracy: YouTube’s Presidential Debates and you can listen to a podcast of it on that site. It is very well worth listening to. It is about what role Web2.0 tools such as YouTube, MySpace, blogs, web searches, etc. will play in politics, both in the upcoming presidential debate and in politics in general. Here is the NPR Blog of the Nation post entitled Democrawikiyoutubia 2.8 that is about this NPR broadcast.

As you may or may not know, CNN is asking people to submit YouTube videos with a question for the presidential campaign debate that will be taking place next Monday, July 23. Here is where you can submit your video. And here is a Washington Post blog post entitled CNN/YouTube Debate: The Best of The Questions So Far that has videos of some of the best questions that have been submitted so far. There are also many interested comments for this article.

Another interesting fact is that much of this information is in blog format, such as the NPR Blog of the Nation, The Washington Post’s Blog and the Official Google Blog post where the YouTube Presidential Debate program was introduced. YouTube also has a You Choose ’08 channel for the 2008 presidential campaign.

And after listening to this broadcast and reading the associated articles and blogs, I realized just how much Web 2.0 is permeating our culture in every way. Yes Virginia, there is Politics 2.0.

~Susie

Creating my Blog and Random Web 2.0 Musings

July 11, 2007

I have been working on learning about and creating a blog. It has been very interesting and time-consuming I might add. All the choices: what template to use, what widgets to include, which blog engine to use, what to name it, what should I say about myself… the list goes on.

I created this blog using the Google Blogger and another one in WordPress http://allthingsweb20.wordpress.com/

After trying each, I believe I prefer Google Blogger. It seems to have more features and customization capabilities. I especially like the ability to easily edit the HTML. Although I do not know HTML yet, I was able to add the code to add a button to “Add this blog to my Technorati favorites”. I tried to do the same for del.icio.us but was not as sucessful with that yet.

So what is the purpose of Technorati and del.icio.us? Honestly, I am not completely sure yet. I have tagged my blogs and added buttons to my firefox to add/tag in each, but I have not quite figured out what real purpose this serves. I hope to learn more about these soon. For now, I am just going to use them and see where it leads.

I am not sure what to do about posting to each blog. I don’t want to duplicate my posts, but I still want to explore both blog engines. I figure I will eventually settle on one but for now, I will add different posts to each. Hopefully I can combine them into one relatively easily at some point.

I should probably come up with a division of thought for each blog, maybe have one contain more personal observations and one that is more technically oriented. That is problematic though, since everything I write tends to be personal, even when I am trying to just explore something technical. It is, after all, my own personal journey. And isn’t it ultimately the personal journey of each of us, no matter what we do or where we go with it?

And how do people keep their blogs (and online persona for that matter) so impersonal and ultimately, so unrevealing? I think it is easier to state a position than a direction, and a thought than a feeling. Even the bloggers who like to take stands and state opinions seem to do it passionately, but impersonally. Do they ever feel vulnerable? Do they agonize over what they said, not so much for the content, but for the nakedness of exposing themselves to anyone who comes along? What is the difference between a blog and a diary? How do you keep the content and hide the person? What is the difference between data and information?

It seems to me that much of the Web 2.0 paradigm involves social sharing and
networks, like Second Life, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Blogs, MySpace, Twitter, wikis and more. Much, much more. Although I don’t know if it has been suggested yet, I could see having a presence in other places such as online gaming site (again, virtual worlds) like World of Warcraft. It makes sense to me to have libraries in such worlds, after all, everyone needs help and information and reference materials, everyone, everywhere needs libraries. And what are libraries if not a presence in every place and every way people gather and disseminate information?

It’s way too late (or should I say way too early) and this post is all over the place. I see that I need to learn to break my blog posts into concrete, coherent pieces. But I’m going to let this one stand. So just view it as my “stayed up too late” Web 2.0 stream of consciousness.

And one last thought. I’ve noticed that wikipedia is really becoming a viable source of information. For a long time it did not seem to have whatever obscure thing I was looking for. Now, more and more, it is becoming a first source for information.