3/09/2006

Teach Yourself to Blog

Blogging in a Snap by Julie C. MelonI is a Sams Teach Yourself (Sams Publishing, 800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240, USA) handbook that teaches you the fundamentals, tips and tricks to create a blog.

This is a book for those who fall under the A-B-C list of bloggers, which is why we feature it here on Poetslife: A Z-List Blog. These pages have the blogging tools that are useful for the rest of us.

The Forward contains this gem: Blogging is not about technology, It's about people. It helps if you learn some of the technology tools that enable you to create and maintain a blog so that you can interact with people in the blogosphere. This book is your toolkit.
Where Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's book naked conversations gives the why and how of business blogs, Julie C. Meloni's Blogging in a Snap is a book of blogging procedures for the everyday blogger. It gives straight-forward descriptions of the navigation tools, screens, buttons, and fields of Blogger.

I have tried to use the "Help" section of Blogger many times to write this blog only to find that the "Help" descriptions are in need of help. This is speculation on my part, but I worked for a modem company once that was taken over by another modem company. They did not want to "waste" money going back and redoing and updating the help descriptions. To my eye, this is what happened at Blogger. Google bought it and then never bothered to update the "Help" section. For example, just try to do a spell check in Blogger...oy vey...

Blogging in a Snap fills in the gap by providing plain English, concise explanations of all the Blogger software's navigation tools, screens, buttons, and fields. Use this book and avoid the frustration I experienced...and still experience...trying to create Poetslife: A Z-List Blog.

More specifically, it explains the details involved in a good blog, such as how to:

  • Register and configure a new blog
  • Create posts using the blogger editor
  • Create expandable blog posts
  • Insert images into your posts
  • Understand the blogger template structure and editor
  • Customize your template
  • Use a third-party template
  • Maximize comments
  • Implement haloscan commenting and trackback
  • Blog on the go with moblogs, and,
  • Use blog indexing
As the back cover states: [Blogging in a Snap is for you if] blogging is new to you and you just don't have time to sit down and figure out all the ins and outs on your own....and...you just want a book that quickly and efficiently shows you how to get your web log up and running.

It's short, clearly-written, well-illustrated lessons let you zero in on that one particular task you need to figure out right now--and then lets you get back to blogging. Learning how to
set up and maintain a weblog shouldn't be tedious or time-consuming.
Blogging in a Snap makes learning [how to blog] quick, easy, and even a little bit fun.

Having read many technical and programming books over the decades that are dense, poorly written, even more poorly organized, difficult to get through, and because no one bothered to edit them are five times as thick as they need to be, I can say that Julie Meloni's work is well written, well organized, and...most importantly, BRIEF!

She follows the old tech writer's 10% rule...she includes the 10% you need to understand to create and maintain a blog...which is useful to 90% of the new bloggers. Then, once you have mastered the basics (creating, naming, using, configuring your blog, etc.), she shows you how to create more advanced features (HTML, trackback, RSS, etc.).

She uses tabs (shades of Technorati) to organize the information and chunking of common elements. So, the Contents are on the inside cover with a number. For example, under Chapter 4: Using Basic HTML and Working with Images, Creating Hyperlinks in Your Posts number 23 is listed. You can page through the numbered tabs to 23 and see several screens that show you how and where to hyperlink on a blogger screen.

Chapter Titles Include:
1. Start here.
2. Getting Started with Blogger
3. All About Posting
4. Using Basic HTML and Wroking with Images
5. Working with Bogger Templates
6. Commenting and Trackback
7. Additional Blogging Tools
8. RSS, Incices and Folksonomies

Other representative topics covered in Blogging in a Snap include:
  • Creating Your Blogger Account
  • Naming Your Blog
  • Using Blogger's Publishing Settings
  • Setting Up Blogger Archives
  • Enabling and Publishing Site Feeds
  • Configuring Blogger's Email Settings
  • Setting Up Groups and Members in Blogger
  • Modifying Your Blogger Profile
  • Creating a Post using the Blogger Editor in Manual Mode
  • Using Keyboard Shortcuts in the Blogger Editor
  • Using Paragraphs, Blockquotes and List Markup in Your Posts
  • Inserting Images in Your Post
  • Understanding the Blogger Template Structure and Editor
  • Using Blogger's Commenting System
  • Moderating Comments with Blogger
  • Using Blogrolls
  • Creating a Moblog
  • Creating an Audioblog
  • Using the Blogger NavBar
  • Using BlogThis! Add-Ons
  • Using Blogger for Word
  • Providing an External RSS Feed
  • Creating and Sharing Your Bookmarks
  • And much, much more

Blogs and The Poplar Spring

I'm a poet so I like metaphors. What goes in the Blogospher through Blogs to me are like what went on for centuries around springs. For example, Poplar Springs is nearby my house. Here is what the sign says.

The Poplar Spring

In 1795 on a land-sale handbill, John Gillis, local tavern owner, referred to this location as The Poplar Spring. As the town grew in the center of this farming community it became known to locals and travelers as Poplar Springs.

The Indians passed this way centuries ago foraging for fish and game and created the trail. In the 1700’s, this trail became the Old Frederick Road used by travelers and Revolutionary War Soldiers.

In the 1800’s the wagons, stagecoaches and drovers came wit their animals traveling east and west on the National Road and the Union and confederate Soldiers during the Civil War on their way to and from the local skirmishes and battled [such as Mt. Airy and Westminster, MD where Captain Charles Corbit and 90 Company C 1st Delaware cavalry made a suicide charge on 5,000 of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry delaying Stuart’s arrival at Gettysburg and helping to win that battle for the North].

We invite you to pause a moment and contemplate the value of this particular spring to man and animal as they lived here, worked, and traveled westward through this area.

The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks
Adopt a Park
Boy Scout Troop 882
Cub Scout Pack 827
Poplar Springs, MD

So, when our Native American, Revolutionary War Era, Civil WarEra, and other ancestors gathered around this spring, much of what went on then is what goes on now in Blogs. This spring provided water, shade, rest and the opportunity for hunter gathers, farmers, store owners, merchants, farm wives, children, and the community to gather, talk, exchange ideas, learn, and organize. Eventually, other uses for this spring were discovered, such as for gathering and storing large milk pails before they went to feed the city people in Baltimore. Blogs, used correctly, are modern day poplar springs.

Blogs may or may not create a business, but they connect people who can create the business. They make a good business better (see naked conversations). They allow people who need help to connect with people who offer help. Julie C. Meloni has done a yeoman's job of giving us the tools we need to create good blogs in Blogging in a Snap.

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