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February 26, 2005

Why did I choose myblogsite.com?

I did consciously choose to host my blog here at myblogsite.com (which exited the blog hosting business since I wrote this), but I confess I didn't do a lot of research.

(Interesting sidenote: I saw the link to this site in an ad in my Gmail session.  I know Google owns blogger.com, but I didn't see an ad for that site.)

I'll talk more about why here another time, (I want to go for a drive!) but l did look at blogger.com, livejournal.com, and a few for-pay sites, and this looks (again, based on not much research) like the most full-featured free site.

 

Update: 2005.03.17

When I first looked at blogger.com, I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped. Either they've made improvements since then, or my initial look wasn't as thorough (likely) as it should have been; it looks a bit better/easier.  (And though I'm a "computer guy", I want blogging to be super easy; I have enough computer-related problems to deal with.)

In any case, I setup a blog at blogger.com to see what I think of it in contrast to myblogsite.com.

I do wish Google would take a lesson from Yahoo and let me have a single account with Google and attach various services (e.g. gmail, blogger) to it. I already have a gmail account, but had to create a new account at blogger.com, which is owned by Google.


A few minutes of working with it reminded me of one of the big differentiators for me: Categories.

myblogsite.com allows you to have categories, which work in the same way as Gmail's labels. (Ironic that Google's own blog hosting service doesn't have this. I know they didn't initially develop blogger.com, but still.)

For reference, here's a comparison of features. I should have re-read that before even bothering to sign up at blogger.com.  It does have some cool features, and I may check it out again, but for me, categories are a deal-breaker.  I need to write an article about the use of categories/tags/labels one of these days...

Update: 2005.03.21

In addition to providing categories,  myblogsite.com also lets you tag posts with keywords, which, as the help documentation points out, can lend context and improve search results. 

They make a good point about this that I hadn't considered; it's conceivable that one might make a post related to a topic without ever directly mentioning the topic.  Their example is a post talking about replacing drywall and carpet in the context of a renovation project, but the post doesn't contain the word "renovation".  Adding a keyword ensure that it would turn up in a search about renovation.

Update: 2006.02.25

Now I've moved my blog to its new, probably permanent home, at http://jameselee.alwaysaskwhy.com/blog, hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting.

 

 

My blogspace debut!

Well, contrary to my initial thinking, I realized I do have some stuff to say that could warrant me having a blog. I'm sure it's not all relevant to the world at large, but that's why they invented choice.

If nothing else, I think I'll use this as a place to keep a record of my thoughts and ideas related to information & knowledge management, user interface design, and information technology in general. I'm sure other stuff will creep in too.

It's probably also a good excuse to start keeping a journal, as Ania and I keep meaning to do. Maybe one day our kids will look back at our old-fashioned blog entries to learn about us...

Anyway, welcome to my debut in blogspace!

February 25, 2005

What started it all for me; Bloglines

I was getting tired of trying to figure out a good way to keep track of the cool stuff I've been finding online (more and more in blogs these days), so I did a little research and found Bloglines, which showed me the value of using a feed reader, something I didn't realize I needed until I tried it.

One of the main reasons I started using Bloglines is because of their "Clip Blog" and "Clippings" features, which allow you to save blog entries you read via Bloglines to either your own Clip Blog (which you can make public to share with others) or your private "Clippings" folder.

Update: 2005.06.10

Goodbye Clip Blog, hello Furl - I've completely abandoned my Bloglines clip blog in favor of Furl, a service that does a lot more than Bloglines' clip blog, and is a much better tool for keeping track of anything (not just blog entries you read in Bloglines) you find on the web.

Update: 2006.02.02

Switched from Furl to del.icio.us for most things.

There may be others and/or better feed readers out there, but none has yet jumped out at me.  I think Bloglines could/should be stronger in the blogging department, (I have yet to figure out, for example, if I can have another Bloglines blog aside from my Clip Blog, but I've just begun learning about all this) but I'm not sure that's their focus.  They seem to be one of a small number of web-based aggregators who see the value in providing some blogging service (specifically Clip Blogging) together with aggregation.

Now you can keep track of the stuff I find online at your discretion, and without me having to constantly send you email.  It's one of the great things about the "publish and subscribe" paradigm!

Update: 2005.05.08

I inserted this section months later, after having written it as part of an article about using Bloglines to track packages.  I think it belongs here, because I didn't really cover the other uses for Bloglines before, as I'd just begun to understand all this.

Feed readers are not just for blogging!

Many people think Bloglines and other feed readers are just tools for people who are "into blogging". They are indeed a great way to keep up with constantly-changing information, such as blogs, but they're useful for much more than that. We'll soon start to see more benefits of feed readers, because RSS -- and "web feeds" in general -- are very versitile and powerful technologies/ideas. We're just starting to see innovations in how feeds can be used (for example, to keep up to date on the status of a package).

RSS newspaper icon
Feed technology is used for syndicating much of the news information on the Internet right now. News agencies & web sites have known about the advantages of syndication for a long time - think AP. But they're using syndication so their servers can exchange news information; Feed readers allow people to start realizing the benefits of syndication for all kinds of content. For example, all this incoming information generated by syndication soon leads to a need for more efficient ways to manage it, which leads to the use of feed readers to bringing it all together in one place.

To see if a web site you read provides a feed, look for the words like "Site Feed", "Atom", "RSS", or "XML" often in small orange buttons, like this: RSS icon ATOM icon XML icon. Update: A new movement has has been started to standardize on a universal feed icon that looks like this: Feed icon

Hopefully, this gives you a sense of why you'd want to use a feed reader. Most (like Bloglines) are free, and it's easy to get started!