by June 2, 2003 0 comments



Think blog, and the first name that probably springs to mind is Salam Pax, a resident of Baghdad, the blogger who logged the recent Iraq war. There have been claims all over that the war was covered better through the Internet than through popular news services. Everyone was biased, except
netizens. 

What Salam Pax did was simple. He published his personal account of the war on the Internet. Such publishing, known as blogging, may be broadly classified as personal blogging (like that of Salam Pax) and community blogging (like at slashdot.org). While, personal blogs are much like online diaries, community blogs are oriented towards discussion of news, ideas or something of interest to a group of people. 

You can blog either from a website or use blogging tools. Blogging tools, or blogware, involve installation and some configurations, especially if they are server-based tools. Most of such websites and tools are free, but not all. You’ll find most of the tools discussed in this article on this month’s PCQuest
DVD.

With
RadioUserland, you can use
your browser to publish pages locally and then post them on the Internet for public access

Blogging Sites
First, there are the basic centrally-hosted websites that are a refined form of geocities/tripod-like free homepage providers.

The refinement comes from the addition of essential blogging features: date and timestamps and a focused approach to invite users, for example, “this is where you and others
blog”. 

Some such personal blogging sites are pitas.com, diaryland.com, blogger.com, webcrimson.com and bigblogtool.com. Pitas and Diaryland are browser-based and don’t support FTP, while the others provide FTP to upload content to your server, if you don’t host with them. These sites also provide free Web hosting and, hence, are really attractive for new bloggers. Out of these, only BigBlogTool is a pay-for site. 

At these sites, all that you’re required to do is sign up for the service by providing some details, like name and e-mail address, and you can start blogging. Some sites provide extra features when you pay for them. Blogger has Blogger Pro, with features like spellchecking, secure posting using SSL, international-language support, posting via e-mail and e-mail notifications of your posts to other
bloggers. 

Though personal blogging is extremely popular today, it is community blogging that has been around for longer. The best example of such a blogging site is slashdot.org. Yes, it is a community blog. Other such sites are Xanga, Upsaid, Onclave, LiveJournal. Here you can just sign in and start blogging without having to download and install any components. 
But, such centralized sites have one major disadvantage–their uptime. Since, all your blogs are in that one place, if something happens to those servers or even if the service is down for a while, you’re out of luck. 

Blogging Tools
One way to overcome the shortcomings of centralized sites, is to use desktop blogging tools. These tools maintain your blogs and post them to a website from time to time. So, there’s replication of content and data loss can be avoided. 

Server-based blogware is usually written in Perl. You can get some free blogware for personal publishing from Movable Type
(www.movabletype.org), Grey Matter (http://noahgrey.com/grey
soft/
) and Blosxom (www.blosxom.com).You need to make some configurations on your Web server to get these Perl scripts to run. 

There are also click-and-install client-side applications like Radio Userland
(radio.userland.com). Once installed, you can use your browser to publish pages locally and then post them on the Internet for public access. Radio Userland is a pay-for tool, but you can try it for free for 30 days. Another client application is CityDesk from FogCreek software. This is also a pay-for software and, apart from blogging, can also be used for a variety of other content management. The trial version has limited functionality.

For community blogging, you can create your own Slashdot-like community blogging site by installing slashcode. The full code and software is on the DVD. You can also get it from
http://slashcode.com.

Like Slash, another community tool, Scoop, is also Perl-based, while some like phpnuke, postnuke, drupal, geeklog, pmachine, b2 and nucleus are
PHP-based. 

For community blogging, blogware is more database oriented, so you need a database running. MySQL does fine usually. 

Shruti Pareek

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