IT’S THE GEEKEND! Volume 1, Number 1

My Mobile Adventures *~*~* presents…
“It’s The Geekend!” Volume 1, No. 1

Introduction to “It’s The Geekend!”

Look, it’s like this. I have a Google Reader, and it’s loaded. I subscribe to fun stuff like Gizmodo, Mashable, ProBlogger and Lifehacker. Keyword searches on Goggle and Google News come into my reader, too. I search on mobile blogging, camera phones, MIDs (mobile internet devices), UMPCs (ultra-mobile personal computers), and all that other fun toyage that makes my heart sing.

Some days, I am so immersed in work, I don’t get to read much, so it piles up until the weekend.Or, in my case due to the subject matter, the “Geekend”.  :D

Now, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me when I call myself a “geek”. I am not a technical expert on anything. I am, rather, a fan of personal technology. I do not pretend to understand a lot about what makes it tick. I am only interested in it for what it can do for me, and how well it can do it.  In other words, my interest in the latest gadget really pertains to how it can make me more personally productive. 

As I read about all this stuff, I may have a thing or two to say about it. I might also try some tools and tricks and tips and have something to say about that, too. And when I do, it will all be published right here, under the heading of “It’s The Geekend!”

The first thing I have something to say about is a Firefox add-on blogging tool called ScribeFire.

ScribeFire

This post is being written in ScribeFire. I’ve written posts in ScribeFire before; I just haven’t told you about it.

It’s a pretty neat tool, a Firefox add-on. After installation, you can open it by using an icon in the bottom bar in Firefox, or else you can go to Tools and it will be there. You could also just push F8 while in Firefox. Personally, I use the icon in the lower bar.

A window pops open that is initially sized to float horizontally across the open browser window. This is handy if you are going to blog about something you just read on that page.  You have the option to size this window any way that works for you, so you’re not married to the default size.

There is a full complement of editing features at the click of the mouse; the standard toolbar full of buttons that do things like bold, italics, switch fonts, etc, plus buttons that allow you to insert from Flickr or YouTube.

You can start a number of posts and save them as “notes” for future publication (note that I’m making notes about Feedly and about DashBlog as well; you’re just going to have to keep guessing about “things I love ab…..”  :D  )   I found this feature pretty handy as I was preparing this very post; I’ve been using ScribeFire for about a month and a half now, and would periodically come back to my ScribeFire note to record an observation or peeve.  That note became this post.

Something I kind of like is the “insert a special character” button, which makes a special character toolbar suddenly appear. When was the last time you knew where to find § or ¥ or even © when you needed them? I bet you didn’t even KNOW that you needed them; but now, with the “insert a special character” button, you suddenly need them all the time! :D

Another feature I really appreciate is that ScribeFire is a Firefox add on, and can therefore apparently leverage the Firefox spell check feature. Like Firefox, ScribeFire underlines all your errors with the dread dotted red line, and you can right-click to correct.

You can insert links or photos into a post from ScribeFire. You can insert from a URL or from your hard drive. The application asks you if you want to upload them via the blog’s API or via FTP. I always pick the API. The resulting code, which you can view in ScribeFire’s source editing pane, is different than the code you would get if you were using the Blogger interface, but it does the job. Also, the photo still landed in my Picasa Web account, but in an album called Drop Box, which I didn’t create, and is not named in keeping with the naming convention of the rest of the albums in there that I didn’t create. This does not seem to have any affect on the way in which the photo posts.

When you are ready to post, you can apply “categories” – they show up on Blogger as “Labels” – and you can also apply Options, such as setting the date and the time of the post, Technorati tags, or enabling pings.

If you wish, when you are ready to send the post to your blog, you can check “Draft” and it will be there waiting for you to put some finishing touches on it before publishing.

ScribeFire gives you a right-click menu too.   From there, you can quickly log into Del.Icio.Us, blog the page, or share on Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and a few more sites.

I recently had issues with ScribeFire when I tried to upload photos as part of a blog post. I went to ScribeFire’s site for support, and eventually found the support forum (it’s on Google), where I saw a spate of posts about this very problem. One poster seemed to be of the strong opinion that the problem was using ScribeFire with the Firefox 3 beta, but since I and several others were still in Firefox 2, this theory died pretty quickly, and there was silence for a while.  Then one day when I visited the forum, I started to see some of the posts about this problem marked “fixed”. Sure enough, I was prompted one day soon thereafter to download the update, and voila! I’m back in business uploading photos via ScribeFire. It could not be easier, and I am glad they fixed the problem.  Although the fix came a little slower than I would have liked, and in a little bit of an information vacuum, it still came and that’s the important thing.

Another problem I’ve had recently is getting the post drafted up to the blog only to discover that no carriage returns have made it there.  When the post is viewed in ScribeFire, it looks great, but once it reaches Blogger, the paragraphs and carriage returns have disappeared, and the post is one giant run-on paragraph that has to be edited.  I’m not sure whose issue this is – ScribeFire’s or Blogger’s – but I haven’t seen it brough up on the forum yet, so I might take a shot at it.

What I wish it had -

1. I don’t seem to find a “back” or “undo” button anywhere.  Always useful!
2. I’ve clicked every button and I’m pretty sure there’s no way to change the color of a font; this is something I’ve been doing once the post arrives at Blogger

Overall Impression – I think ScribeFire is better to work in than Blogger itself, and that was probably the goal.  The Blogger interface provides you with a relatively smallish window into which your blog post is entered, which isn’t very convenient.  The fact that the ScribeFire window can be made full size is a huge plus for me, and why I continue to use it.

Of course, there are no other blogging tools I’ve ever used, so it’s hard to say how superior ScribeFire is when I’ve nothing to which I can compare it.  This I know – compared to the Blogger posting interface, ScribeFire rocks.

Tink’s *~*~* Highly Scientific Rating of This Software: Three Stars!

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  2 comments for “IT’S THE GEEKEND! Volume 1, Number 1

  1. Mare
    July 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    What a wonderful idea, Tink!

    I’ll just let you research everything for me, and I’ll stop here to read and learn all about it-LOL!

    As Mark would say, “You Rock!” =)

  2. digitaltodd
    July 19, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Scribefire is great, I really love that you can open it in a split screen so when you are using multiple tabs in your browser together you can just flip through them and keep writing.

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