Blog Buster

There are billions of web pages and millions of web sites out there. This month WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST shows you how to create your own space on the web and walk you through the talk of the blog

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  December 7, 2004

Blog Buster|~|Blog-workshop-main.jpg|~|Blogging tools such as Word Press offer usable WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing tools|~|There are billions of web pages and millions of web sites out there. WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST shows you how to create your own space on the web and walk you through the talk of the blog... 1: Time to blog Google claims to index over eight billion web pages. A simple search for your name will tell you how omnipresent you are on the web. A few years ago, anyone without a homepage on free web page site such as Geocities.com, or Tripod.com, was considered homeless or a nobody. The question is how do you make your presence seen and voice heard on the crowded internet? Blogging is the answer. A blog, short for a web log is basically an online journal. To update you on the parlance, the activity of updating a blog is 'blogging' and someone who keeps a blog is a blogger. Sometimes referred to as self-publishing in your underwear, blogs are the online place to show off and share your ideas, thoughts, opinions, photos, videos, personal stuff, in other words -- just about anything of interest to you and hopefully to others in English, Arabic, or any language. Blogging has become a phenomeon, so much so that Blogwise.com lists more than 31,000 blog sites with over 80 blogs being added each day. If you want to cut to the chase and start blogging right away, we recommend you jump online where you'll find numerous free blogging sites. Eight of these are detailed on the current issue of Windows Middle East's 'Web Browser' page. They offer easy to use interfaces, with which you can post and update your blogs. The catch though is that since these blogs are free, your journal is buried with the millions of other blog users. For the more discerning, sites such as Userland.com, Moveabletype.org, Typepad.org, BlogHarbor.com and others offer blog hosting services for a monthly or annual price ranging from a few dollars to hundreds. If you are content with just having a blog presence under the hosting company's domain, then they should serve the purpose. However, if you want your own exclusive blog real estate, then in this month’s workshop we will walk you through creating your own personal portal. But be prepared for a technical learning curve,and investing some time. 2: online identity First things first. Getting a domain name, which reflects your identity as well as the identity of your blog site, is vital. With a choice of over 15 domain names, besides the usual .com and .net, and country specific domains available through your local ISP, getting a domain is easy with a credit card at hand. Netsol.com, Godaddy.com and thousands of hosting providers offer domains starting from as little as US$9 per year with basic features to get started. 3: blog off Most web site hosting plans offer you a choice of Windows Server 2003 servers or Linux. Before you sign up, do check with the hosting plan to see if it supports CGI, Perl, PHP scripts and My SQL databases running on the open source Linux operating system. Most of these blogging software tools are free, but the only catch is you will have to wade through the documentation for a few hours and brush up your technical finesse’. Writerswrite.com/blogging offers a comprehensive listing of various blog tools, such as B2evolution.net, Wordpress. org and some fifty other blogging tools to choose from. Agreed, the initial installation and setting it up on the server may not be as simple as saying ‘blog’, but most blog tools come with good documentation, user example sites, message boards and so on, which should help you overcome initial technical hiccups. If you want to push the envelope further, free content management system tools such as Zope and Mambo Server, not only let you blog but give you the power to run your own full blown portals. But for starters, once you follow the instructions, and set up the scripts on your hosted server, your blog should be ready to go. 5: BLOGGING Now that you have your blog system up and running, design a few broad categories based on your interests. The sections could be as simple as ‘photos’, ‘my work’, ‘contact me’, ‘thoughts’, ‘links’, ‘friends and family’ and so on. All standard blogging tools such as Word Press offer WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing tools, so you can add, update, modify and post content like in your wordprocessor, with no knowledge of HTML, the language of webpages. Once you post the content, check the preview to see if the respective blog section has been updated and see if it looks fine, with no glaring errors or typos. When the blog is well cooked, simply publish. Its as simple as sending a web-mail. 6.Blog of advice Most users start off blogging with initial enthusiasm, but after a few posts do not bother to update. This also creates what are known as ‘cob web sites’, which litter the net. Nobody wants to spend time on a stale web site. Update your site with fresh content as often as possible, either daily or once a week. It can be writing your own review on a movie or book, or your holiday trip, or your thoughts on global warming or your work. Some bloggers out there have turned blogging into a near art-form.Have a look at plenty of such sites for inspiration, before you dive in. Also add Really Simple Syndication (RSS) 2.0 feeds, by simply copy-pasting some HTML code into your blog page. RSS automatically updates your web site, with fresh content from other RSS enabled web sites. New sites, such as Photoblogs.org, offer you easy ways and resources to create visually rich blogs, so you can add some life to plain text. Once you have added some flavour to your blog, try out mobile blogging or moblogs and video blogs. When you have enough content on your site, sign up for Google’s Adwords, Amazon.com’s referral programme and register in blog directories and search engines to ramp up traffic. This could also help you make money from ad revenues, which could cover some of your hosting expenses. Also offer links to other interesting blog sites and create a personal blog network. And... after you’ve been blogging a few weeks, don’t be surprised to see your name turn up in a search! BLOG.RESOURCES www.blogexplosion.com www.bloggingnetwork.com www.bloglines.com www.livejournal.com www.loudthinker.com www.mamboserver.com www.networkgulf.com www.rollerweblogger.org www.zope.org www..writerswrite.com/blogging www.blogger.com www.ebloggy.com www.blog-city.com www.blogdrive.com www.22blog.com www.blogarama.com www.blogit.com ||**||

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