Friday, October 28, 2005

Don't Look at the Man Behind the Curtain

For a long time I was dissuaded from starting a blog because I knew I wanted it to look good, but my eyes kept shutting every time I opened the CSS manual. After a brief foray on Squarespace, I settled on Blogger because I like the simplicity of Douglas Bowman's Minima template, and I saw how it was possible to customise it quite nicely. (Here & here, for example.) It’s not what I have in mind for my ideal site, but god knows those manuals aren’t going to read themselves, and it’s been far too much fun posting to worry about kerning or the ideal photo size or why everything underlines when you mouse over the Blogroll. But I do have lingering questions, and some of you might be able to help. Normal craft programming will resume tomorrow (I finished Kate’s Backyard Leaves!) so bear with me if you can.

The comments function, for starters. Sometimes, it’s hard (or impossible even) to find the commenters e-mail address. Other people so politely reply to my comments, and from their header it looks as if they have a function that allows them to simply reply to the comment, rather than scrolling back through Blogger profiles. I noticed that some of you use Haloscan: is this what I should be using? I test installed it, but lost all my Blogger comments in the process. But perhaps I just have to live with this, and move on? If you’ve left a comment and I haven’t replied, I’m very sorry. I get a thrill every time I see that someone’s visited, but I haven’t worked out yet how to best answer back.

Lots of you use Typepad, some of whom were previously using Blogger. Why? I’m not against paying for a host, but then again, I already pay for the girlprinter domain. Does anyone have a compelling reason why I should learn Movable Type and host my own site?

And Trackback. Don’t ask me what that is. Or RSS feeds, Bloglines or XML syndication. I’d like to understand what these are, and believe me, I’ve visited the appropriate websites, but I don’t get it. It’s like crochet: I should understand it, but I don’t. There’s no help at home either: I live with a medievalist and a cat, neither of whom blog. One doesn't even type.

And finally, I’m loathe to bring this up, as it brings my personhood into question. Does anyone else have any difficulty deciphering word verification combinations? I’m often stumped: is that a U? Or a V? What letter IS that? Am I a person? Or perhaps I’m a spambot, who just happens to knit?


Blogger craftoholic said...

I'm with you on everything. Tried to figure out what bloglines is or what rss feeds are to no avail. Often can't read the word verification. I'm glad I'm not the only one ;-)

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Typepad for me is dead easy because I have NO CLUE about html or any of it's guises. Typepad lays everything out for you, and you just tell it what you want, how you want it, and away it goes. There are no formatting things to work out, and no tricks.

2. Bloglines - allows you to compile an ongoing list of all the blogs you read, flickr pages etc in one spot, and it searches through them and lets you know exactly which ones have been updated since you last logged in. It's very handy if you read a lot of blogs and want to know who has updated without clicking on each one individually. All you need to do is set up an account, and copy and paste addresses into it. Simple.

2. I have no idea what trackback is either or why it would be useful, but I'm interested to know.

3. RSS feeds allow third party programs like bloglines to access update information from your site. I'm sure it's much deeper and more complex than that, but I don't care :)

4. Everything else I can't help you with. I think most people on blogger change comment facility because of the same comment reply issue.

Good luck!

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typepad is basically the hosted version of Movable Type. The people who reply to comments with a nice template are not using blogger... blogger does not get email addresses of non-blogger commenters. Typepad/Movable Type provide excellent blogging software, and if you are not down with figuring something out, go the Typepad route.

Trackback is not used too much with knitting blogs. Its basically if you reference a post by someone else in your blog, you set up a trackback. Then when someone goes to that person's original post, it shows who is also writing about the subject. Shows the popularity of a post.

Bloglines pretty much rocks. It uses the RSS feed to find out when new entries are posted. Then it tells you when blogs you read have new entries. Go sign up. Its cool.

1:51 AM  
Blogger the stripey tiger said...

I'm with blogger and I'm with you on wishing to email back those who leave a comment. Usually you can get to their though to leave a reply comment. I've recently discovered bloglines and think its pretty ace- sign up and see. I think I'm happy to stay with Blogger for free rather than move to Typepad (although I was tempted in the beginning). And I think blogger (with all its warts) is likely to be less time consuming than setting up a blog you host yourself at your girlprinter domain. (although I've thought about doing that too) Thanks Diana for explaining Trackback. Thanks Girlprinter for asking. :-) Stripey
ps I think the verification things are getting longer and longer.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Janette said...

What a great post! I thought I was the only one who couldn't figure it out and was too embarrassed to say.

I'm with blogger, it's plain and simple, otherwise I wouldn't be able to use it!

I'm challenged - I know it. I still cannot get two photos in the same post or the pictures of the knitting blogger rings to show. Unless I can cut and paste ... well, you know.

I've not signed up for bloglines or flickr but after reading what everyone has said, I'll spend some time this week and see if I can work it out.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Di said...

I picked blogger because it's free and I'd rather be spending money on yarn, or books, or fabric, or shoes!
I changed over to haloscan comments pretty early on and yes I lost all my old comments, but that's life. Haloscan though isn't totally quirk free- you have to pay a very small fee to get the comments emailed to you, and then they don't email every single one, just most of them! but you can log into their site and reply to emails from there directly (if you use Outlook for example).
Good questions! I'm convinced that the blogger word verifications are getting longer too...

12:02 AM  

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