A customised car. Like a customised blog, only bigger. Image by Steve Metz - click to see original
Although I cover blogging in some depth in my online journalism book, I thought I should write a supplementary section on what happens when you decide to start customising your blog.
Specifically, I want to address 3 key languages which you are likely to encounter, what they do, and how they work.
What’s the difference? HTML, CSS, and PHP
Most blog platforms use a combination of HTML, CSS and PHP (or similar scripting language). These perform very different functions, so it saves you a lot of time and effort if you know which one you might need to customise. Here’s what those functions are:
HTML is concerned with content.
CSS is concerned with style.
And PHP is concerned with functionality.
If you want to change how your blog looks, then, you will need to customise the CSS.
If you want to change what it does, you will need to customise the PHP.
And if you want to change how content is organised or classified, then you need to change the HTML.
All 3 are interrelated: PHP will generate much of the HTML, and the CSS will style the HTML. I’ll explain more about this below.
But before I do so, it’ll help if you have 3 windows open on your computer to see how this works on your own blog. They are:
On your blog, right-click and select ‘View source‘ (or a similar option) so you can see the HTML for that page.
Open another window, log in to your blog, and find the customisation option (you may have to Google around to find out where this option is). You should be able to see a page of code.
When people start out blogging they often ask what blogging platform they should use – WordPress or Blogger? Tumblr or Posterous? It’s impossible to give an answer, because the first questions should be: who is going to use it, how, and what and who for?
To illustrate how the answers to those questions can help in choosing the best platform, I decided to go through the 35 or so blogs I have created, and why I chose the platforms that they use. As more and more publishing platforms have launched, and new features added, some blogs have changed platforms, while new ones have made different choices to older ones. Continue reading →
The iPhone is overrated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Yes, it’s got great usability, but for a journalist it just doesn’t compete. And here are 10 reasons why:
A crappy camera. 2 megapixels is terrible – the N95 has 5. Not to mention auto-focus, flash, etc. etc.
No video camera. Inexcusable in the YouTube age. Yes there are workarounds but…
You have to jailbreak the iPhone to use streaming services like Qik. Installing Qik (or Bambuser, or Shozu) on the N95 is pretty straightforward. The fact you have to jailbreak the iPhone at all says a lot about Apple’s attitude. Nokia’s Symbian operating system is open (if not open source yet).
You can’t save webpages. Once again, you can on the N95.
No alternative browser. Opera Mini is great on the N95.
Battery power. You can at least have a spare battery for the N95.
No recording of audio. You can on an N95, and email it to Posterous for instant podcast.
Walled garden for apps. Apps on the N95? Get them anywhere, without the worry that Nokia will lock them out in the future.
Fiddly keyboard. Particularly difficult when there are…
No external keyboards. You can buy a number of cute bluetooth keyboards for the N95 which make it possible to type updates and blog posts very quickly.
And that’s not to mention bloody expensive. If you know of any solutions to these weaknesses, let me know. You see, I do have an iPod Touch…
All you do is send an email to the address used by the service with the URL of the web page you want in the subject line. After a few minutes (they say) you receive the web page in HTML format in your email.
Assuming you want them to, how do you get people to blog? It’s a challenge facing most community editors, particularly as they seek to encourage a conversation with readers for whom WordPress or Blogger are still too fiddly.
Enter Posterous, a fantastically intuitive, quick and easy blogging platform. Scrapping the need for registration, or even the need to go onto the web, this has the potential to be a mass blogging tool – as well as a great tool for blogging on the move. Continue reading →