Random blogging advice

3269727123 19bbc4fd0e o Random  blogging advice
I remember summer!

Via Sleestak.

Now that we’ve all woken up, let’s talk meta. Let’s talk THE BLOGGING LIFE AND THE TOOLS THEREOF. The other day Marc-Oliver gave a nice shout out to dedicated daily bloggers, and highlighted Dirk’s truly ghastly schedule, which sometimes requires him to wake up at 10 pm. Ours isn’t that bad — for some reason our best hours for blogging are between midnight and 4ish, but we can’t do the vampire thing — we have to be up well before noon. We dunno how Tom does it, but once we were on a panel together and he said it took him an hour or so to do TCR, which, given his great powers of focus and discipline (which we lack), we can see.

The other day it struck us that we’ve been doing the daily writing thing for in excess of six years, so obviously, it’s something we enjoy and when you get right down to it, it’s absolutely no worse than getting up every day at 8 am, getting in the shower, grabbing a coffee and going to work, which we did every weekday for 17 years with only two weeks of vacation a year.

On another topic, we are still on the quest for the perfect Mac blogging client. The Beat has long been loyal to Ecto 2, which has 90 percent of the features you could ever want, but is no longer being supported. When Ecto 3 came out, we thought it was the answer to our prayers, but it put in a ton of unnecessary code into posts, and had about 2/3 of the features of Ecto 2. Adriaan Tijsseling, the brilliant (but cranky) Ecto developer, seemed set on making it his own personal piece of software, not something that his loyal users wanted. And then he sold it to illumineX, who don’t seem to be in any hurry to fix all the glaring holes in the software. To be honest, we do use it for complicated things like tables, which import much more easily, but it doesn’t have the intuitive ease that Ecto 2 has.

We’ve mentioned Scribefire here before, and they do keep improving it — aside from the fact that every time they do a major update it won’t post at all until the first big fix — and we use it regularly for quick link dumping. At least they are very active in updating it, and for blogging we can give it an unabashed thumbs up.

But nothing is PERFECT yet. We had a quick fling with MarsEdit, but quickly grew bored. Just the other day, we heard of a NEW program called Blogo, and quickly downloaded the trial, but while it looks nice, and it has an ADORABLE logo of a rabbit wearing glasses, it’s just not there yet. In Ecto, we can hit Control-C on any image on the Web, hit Control-V in the post, and blam, there’s a picture. Or we can drag and drop from Graphic Converter when it needs more extensive image editing. (In case we have never said it, GC is on our 10 Indispensable Mac Programs list, although 6 hasn’t really appealed to us.) Maybe they will keep fiddling with Blogo and it will grow up into a fine blogging program. But it is too young as of yet.

Finally, we noted with alarm that Google has — for some bizarre reason — discontinued its Notebooks program. What the–?? This was the perfect addition to the whole Google suite of programs, a quick Firefox add-in and everything could be clipped and sorted for later research. (You should see our “Women’s issues” file — it would curl your hair!)

While our Notebook has been grandfathered into the zombie world of dead programs, we’ve been dallying with Evernote, but it seems odd to entrust our personal information to YET ANOTHER company. With Google, they already know absolutely everything about us, so one more little clipping service didn’t make much difference.

The one thing we probably long for more than anything is a reliable BACK-UP system for posts, with local storage. Since we’re using such an old, old version of WordPress, The Beat is vulnerable to many different kinds of hacks and attacks, and dozens of our old posts have been eaten by spam. We do have our old backup logs, but do you think we’ll ever have the time to restore them? PLEASE. It’s sad to have your content stolen like this, and like the superhero who lost everything he once held dear, we’re going to keep looking for justice.

There is no way I could blog the way I do every day unless I had all my software calibrated to work together, as I do. Between Ecto, Graphic Converter, Text Wrangler, and NetNewsWire, it’s all second nature now. The right tools for the job — don’t go home without them!

Comments

  1. I tried Scribefire for a while, but after I used Windows Live Writer, I never went back. Seriously, Windows Live Writer is awesome and it does store local copies of your drafts while you’re working on them. You can have multiple stories going all at once.

    Try it: http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com

  2. Tom Spurgeon says:

    It takes me about 16-18 hours a week, depending on if someone died, actually. Thanks to the economy, I think I’ll be able to jack it up to 25 starting next month if I can find a way to spend that time that’s as valuable as the time spent elsewhere might be. I wish to god I were disciplined as your nice sentence implies.

    For me any increased efficiency comes not from technology (I’ve used ExpressionEngine since the beginning and it’s been great, but now I’m totally jealous of a lot of what you describe) as much as finding ways to cut time. Like the reason I post everything at the same time every day is that way I don’t have to store stuff in a note book or folder to post on that day once I get it all assembled. I can go right ahead and post, say, a birthday or an event when I get it, without worrying about what I might find later on and how that might rearrange things. I get rid of a second step I had for three and a half years, which seems insane now.

    It’s a great job, I’m very grateful to the readers and advertisers that allow me to do it, and I hope to provide much, much better product in the months ahead as I learn to get over myself and hopefully develop better skills.

  3. Heidi — I like MacJournal.

  4. I too am a Ecto devotee. I recently had to update WordPress from 2.3 to 2.7. It makes a big change, even if it was a disastrous upgrade.

  5. Can I ask a stupid question?

    What’s the advantage of using blogging software as opposed to, say, just writing in the CMS or writing in a notebook document and then cutting & pasting to a CMS?

    I ask because I do it that way, and jeez, all this talk of Blogos (which has an unfortunate name as Rod B’s nickname in Chicago is Blago) and Evernotes has me wondering if I’ve been back-asswards for years. Help me be a better blogger, someone!

  6. I’m confused. Isn’t Adriaan Tijsseling the smartest man on the planet? Or is he the one with the giant circumcised blue penis?

  7. The Beat says:

    Matt:

    I find a dedicated blogging platform WAY more versatile than any blogging interface I’ve ever used. In Ecto I can program my own shortcut keys (I have the quote format as one, for instance) set up my own templates for different formats, easily change type face, type size and so on. And I have images set up so I have preset formats..I just hit a drop down menu and it’s formatted exactly how I want, with padding and alignment.

    I should note that I use html not CSS…I know all of this is automated different in Web Kit…I just have everything running so smoothly now I don’t want t have to learn a different system.

  8. I’m in the process of going back to blogging, so I find this fascinating.

    ScribeFire, while impressive-looking, seems to have a ton of bugs, so I’m scared off for now. I’d love a browser-based solution, or a Windows solution (I’m a database developer by trade, and my clients use Windows, ergo…).

    One question, Heidi- why do you use, as you claim, an old version of WordPress? Isn’t there security issues? Is it that hard to update your template?

  9. The Beat says:

    The PTB at Reed don’t support WordPress and won’t update it until a larger company wide switch to a new platform. Oh well. If I could update it I would in a heartbeat and add a ton of features. It’s “in the works” as they say.

  10. I live and die by TextWrangler. My usual workflow involves doing a first draft in TW, gathering images via Firefox’s handy “Save Image to Folder” plugin, a draft polish in the WordPress interface, and posting.

    On rare occasions when scanning or photoshoppery is necessary, I have a bunch of actions for resizing or color correction.

  11. Steven R. Stahl says:

    Some Mac blogging software packages not mentioned in the entry:

    RapidWeaver
    Fluid
    Qumana
    TextMate
    Blog.Mac
    Pixelmator
    MacJournal

    SRS

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