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How to Blog
by Don Singleton
President, Tulsa Computer Society
APCUG Director
dsingleton@apcug.net


I have been blogging since late February. My primary blog is http://donsingleton.blogspot.com/,
although I have tried a few other systems, which I have described in a separate article. I described
some of the items I have "blogged" last month in the article My Blog, but I have received questions
about how I do it, so I decided to write this article.
In January I described RSS Feeds in Firefox, and in February I described the use of Tabs in
Firefox. and you may want to review those two articles, because I will be talking about both RSS
Feeds and Tabbed Browsing in this article.
If you want a BlogSpot blog you can get one for free by signing up at
http://www.blogger.com/start.
There are two ways to create a blog entry. One way is to login to your blog by going to
Blogger.com and selecting Create. With this alternative you will have an entry screen




And at the bottom you will see that you can decide whether or not you want to allow comments on
the post, and you can control the date and time stamp for the entry.
The other choice involves having a Blog This entry on your Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.




This entry is actually javascript
(javascript:popw='';Q='';x=document;y=window;if(x.selection)
{Q=x.selection.createRange().text;} else if (y.getSelection) {Q=y.getSelection();} else if
(x.getSelection) {Q=x.getSelection();}popw =
y.open('http://www.blogger.com/blog_this.pyra?t=' + escape(Q) + '&u=' +
escape(location.href) + '&n=' +
escape(document.title),'bloggerForm','scrollbars=no,width=475,height=300,top=175,left=7
5,status=yes,resizable=yes');if (!document.all) T = setTimeout('popw.focus()',50);void(0);)
and clicking on it will open a new window where you will be asked to Sign In to Blogger
And when you Sign In you will have an entry screen.




This latter option does not give you the ability to decide whether or not comments are allowed (you
have the ability to select the default answer to this question in Blogger Settings, but whatever you
choose there will be used when you use this option. Also this option does not allow you to select
the date/time for the post. The current date/time (in the Date Header Format, Timestamp Format,
and Time Zone selected in the Settings area. The advantage of using the javascript option is that if
you are looking a the news item you want to blog about. For example if I select the Chicago Sun
Times entry from this item in Google News and then click Blog This
it will be a smaller window on the page you are viewing, and the title will be filled in from the title
for the news item, and you will have the html code for a link to that article, already set up.




You may need to modify both the Title and the Link (I ususally do), but it is nice to have them set
up.
I modify the Title and Link fields and then add <i></i> which is the HTML code for start and stop
italics. I then select the part (or parts) of the news item I want to quote, and paste it between the two
html tags.
I then go to a text file I have open in UltraEdit (the program I use to write Web Pages) and copy
these lines and paste them into the entry screen for BlogThis
The first of these is a link field, with tags to start and stop italics, in case I have a second news item
to quote (otherwise I delete that line), then there is an entry for me to indicate my comments (in
bold face, so the reader can distinguish what I am saying from what I am quoting), then four entries
for me to reference something from other blogs (I link to their blog entry, give the name of the
person posting that blog entry, and in italics I quote a section from their blog entry. There is then
another line for me to say what I thought about some or all of those quotes. It is followed by four
entries where I can quote something someone else entered as a comment to another bloggers entry
for this subject, and the last is a line that I can paste into the middle of something I am have quoted
(if you look at the html tags it turns off italics mode, turns on blockquote, which indents the
subsequent text, turns on bold face to identify this is something I am writing (this is where I type
my comment on what they have said so far), then it turns off boldface and blockquote, and turns on
italics again.
Here is an example where I used this html string
The blog entry I am using as an example in this entry involves a proposal to increase the price of
stamps by two cents, and whereever possible in my blog entries I like to come up with additional
links that will help the reader evaluate the situation, so in this entry I came up with a link to the
Postal Service's official announcement




and since it refers to a particular law (Public Law 108-18) I provide the reader a link to that law.
As I indicated in the February issue, Firefox has Tabbed Browsing, which allows you to have one
Firefox on your Taskbar, but it has a number of web pages open in it. I actually have two Firefoxes
open on my task bar,




one has these web pages open
and the other with these web pages open.




I use two different Firefox entries on my task bar so that I can AltTab switch from one to the other.
AltTab switches me from whichever tab I have active in one Firefox, to whichever tab I have
active in the other Firefox.
Some of the tabs in both Firefoxs are unrelated to blogging, but some are, including my primary
Blogger.com window, where I can Create a post, Edit an earlier post, alter Settings, and modify
my Template.
I use my BlogRolling window immediately after I post a new entry, to inform it I have posted an
entry. The purpose of this is that some bloggers have very long BlogRolls, and if they are
maintained by BlogRolling.com, it will sort the blog roll with the most active blogs on the top, so
notifying them each time I post a new entry makes it more likely my entry on other blogger's Blog
Rolls will be near the top.




My Manual Trackback Ping window
is used when I quote another blogger (that has indicated a TrackBack URL on his blog). It provides
a way for me to inform that blogger, and all of the readers of his blog, that I have quoted him, and
that I have my own blog entry on the same subject. He or his readers may want to come over and
view my blog entry, to see what I had to say on the subject.
If another blogger reads the entry on my blog about the stamp price increase, and wants to blog
about it on his own blog, he would see the TrackBack field at the bottom of my entry




And when he clicked on it he would get
This indicates that my TrackBack URL is
http://haloscan.com/tb/singleton/111306092638387543, and if he highlighted the line, and
copied it to his clipboard, he could then switch to his Manual Trackback Ping page and and paste
the URL into the URLs to Ping area.




Obviouly this example shows my Manual Trackback Ping page, and I would never do a TrackBack
to myself, but I have done this to show you what the quoting blogger would do. He would then fill
in the name of his blog, the URL of his post quoting my blog entry, his Post's title, and a short
excerpt of what he said on his blog. He might have quoted several bloggers in the same post, so the
Manual Trackback Ping allows him to enter as many as 5 blogs to post to at the same time.
The last blog related page on my first Tabbed Browser is my blog itself.
I need to have that available whenever I enter TrackBack when I quote other bloggers, because I
need to know the URL of my blog entry to fill into my Manual Trackback Ping page.
My second Tabbed Browser has the following pages open




Google News is one source for items for me to blog about
If we take another look at the Google News item for the story I blogged about on the increase in
stamp prices, you will see that this story was reported in 326 different news sources. I like to
include a graphic with news items I post (if possible), and as you see I used the graphic from Top
Tech News, but I found the news item from the Chicago Sun Times was better for me to quote
from, because they mentioned something Top Tech News left out. Frequently I may quote from
two or three different news items, because some give some details but leave others out, and to get
the whole story I may need to combine things from multiple entries.




You can customize your Google News page:
 Y      You can have a custom section for stories matching
 o      certain Keywords (so if you want stories about
 u      your own city or state, you can request those.
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     Another very good source for items to blog about is Memorandum.
For an example here is the Memorandum entry for the story of the spammer that was sentenced to
nine years in jail (my blog entry on this story is here. It provides not only a link to the AP story
about the subject (in my blog entry I quoted SFGate's news report), and it also gives us links to six
different blogs that discussed this story, including a short part of each blog entry.




The next three are sources that I sometimes find useful, but I have not used them very many times
because I am still learning how to use them.
Technorati allows you to enter the URL of a news entry or a blog entry, and find other blogs that
have entries quoting that URL.
The Annotated New York Times is a BlogRunner page which lists a number of news items from
the NYT, and the blog entries that referenced it. I find it somewhat useful, but it is cumbersome to
use, because it quotes the entire blog entry, and sometimes not all of it is related to that item. I wish
they would just list a few lines from the entry, like Memorandum does.




The previous entry was a special case of the more general BlogRunner service, and so I have a tab
open for it as well, but like the above, it is cumbersome to use, because it quotes the entire blog
entry, and I wish they would just list a few lines from the entry, like Memorandum does.
Most blogs have an RSS (or Atom) feed available, and I use these feeds to quickly see if any of my
favorite blogs have discussed a particular subject. In this example you can see the most recent
posts from the Captain's Quarters blog. Blogs that use the TrackBack feature are flagged with (t),
and blogs that allow the reader to leave a comment are flagged with (c).