Blogging, Life, Thoughts, Wordpress

Blogging Without Obligation

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I have come across a lot of blogs recently where the blog owner apologizes for not having posted regularly. In fact, one particular blog owner blogs only to let everyone know that he/she has been busy and will blog when he/she gets the time to do so. (Edit: I’m not talking about posts where you let your readers know about your whereabouts. I’m talking about blogs where the authors only blog about their busy-ness in different permutations and combinations.) I feel that nobody should ever apologize for not blogging regularly. It’s your blog, your content, your thoughts! Blog when you feel inspired and most importantly, blog when you feel like it. Don’t blog because your “readers” need you to blog everyday or every alternate day!

I’m going to sign the “Blogging Without Obligation” Pledge Today because I’m not blogging under any compulsion. I don’t earn even a single cent from all the time I put into it. It’s not my profession either. And thankfully, my readers don’t expect me to blog regularly. 😉 Let the people who comment on my blog also take some well deserved rest.

After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.” I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.

If you feel the same way feel free to grab the logo, make a logo or whatever you would like to do!

I release all the logos, thoughts and words mentioned here about this concept into the public domain. Take the idea and run with it. . .or walk away. It is all good.

  • Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable”.
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time. . .

My personal favorite is “Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone”. So the next time you worry about not getting enough hits, or comments or track backs, just think about this! Don’t ignore other parts of your life by getting too obsessed about one thing.

In fact, I would like to add another point to this entire issue. So many times, we comment on other blogs not because we really care, but because we think that by writing that comment, we’re obligating the blog owner to make a trip to our blog. I really think that it’s very important to get over this feeling and comment only when you have something to add or you really feel like it. Don’t do it for the sake of it. Don’t do it because writing that extra comment will earn your blog post another comment. I admit that I’ve done this several number of times in the past, but I’ve stopped doing it now. Since the past couple of days, I’ve been analyzing the hypocrisy of the entire issue. Do we really make good friends if we comment with such shallow thoughts in mind? Blogging, for me, is another way of making good friends, in addition to a method of letting people know what I think. We misguide each other into thinking that we really care about each other’s blog posts, but in reality, all we care about are the stat and comment counter of our blog. Bottomline: Don’t comment just to keep up with appearances.

It’s amazing that a blog that gives pro blogging tips advised blog owners to blog “everyday”. Not everybody finds the need or the desire to blog everyday. It works for some people. It doesn’t work for some people. Like the oath above says, “because sometimes, less is more”. 🙂

So remember that and hopefully, you feel better (or maybe worse) after reading this post. You have the full right to agree or disagree with me.

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Cartoons, comics, CSS, E-books, E-mail, Facebook, General ramblings, GMail, Google, greasemonkey, Life, Microsoft, Mozilla Firefox, Programming, social bookmarking, Social Networking, Software, Technology, Themes, Thoughts, Tumblr, Web 2.0, Web designing, Windows Vista, Wordpress, yahoo

What’s in my Laptop?

Amit Agarwal from Labnol recently posted a link to Gina’s article, where she’s listed all the programs that are currently installed in her computer. I have seen many other bloggers prepare such lists too. I spend so much of my time every day, tinkering around with various applications, but have never given them any credit on my blog. So this post is a tribute to all these lovely creatures who improve my browsing experience every single day. It might help you get some ideas or discover some new tools too.

My primary Laptop: Compaq Presario V2000 with Windows XP Operating System

Secondary Laptop: HP Pavilion dv2000 with Windows Vista Operating System

My desire is to own a tablet PC made by Apple. I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released. 🙂 I also fester desires of learning how to install a fully functioning Linux OS someday!

Browsers: The social browser Flock– Amazing browser for people who are avid bloggers and social networkers on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr etc. Check out my review here.

Mozilla Firefox version 3 beta 2– Just downloaded it yesterday and I’m in love with their new location bar feature, that pulls out page titles and addresses in two different lines and colors, from your recent browser history and bookmarks!

Here’s a screen shot from the Official Website:

Add-ons and Extensions:

Shareaholic– An extension that lets you submit a page to countless number of social networking sites such as Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Google Bookmarks, Friendfeed, Facebook etc. You can customize the drop down menu to include only those bookmarking sites that you use. You can also email the page you’re viewing. Here’s a screen shot (notice the green button with a drop down list only):

Screenshot: This Flock extension allows you to save webpages (entire, visible portion, selection) and windows (eg. browser, blog, uploader) as .png or .jpeg images. You can save these images to your file system, the clipboard or even send them straight to the photo uploader.

Cocomments: This extension helps me track every single comment that I’ve left on any sort of web page- Be it a website, blog or a channel like Youtube. I get notifications in my browser (in the shape of a small envelope) if there’s a reply to my comment. I find this to be really helpful because the “My Comments” tab at WP.com is very slow and it only shows a certain number of recent conversations. Plus, there’s no other way that I can track my comments left on non-WP.com blogs. All you’ve got to do is install the extension and it takes care of everything!

Here’s a screen shot:

Greasemonkey: What in the world would I Do without this add on? 🙂 This is the best thing about Firefox and Flock. Too bad that Internet Explorer people have to suffer! Currently, I’m using the following scripts:

LookitUp2– Quickly look something up in wikipedia, a dictionary or whatever you like (its easy to add custom sites!). The result is displayed directly on the page.

TextareaBackup– Retains text entered in text areas

WordPress Comment Ninja- Respond to comments directly by post and/or email from inside your WordPress dashboard. For WordPress bloggers.

Comment Pre-fill– Fillout comment form fields with a single keyboard shortcut!

Greased Lightbox (v0.15)– Enhances browsing on websites that link to images such as Google Image Search, Flickr, Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, and deviantART

Userscripts.org Rank By Popularity– When browsing scripts on userscripts.org it will change the icon on the left to show how popular a script is. Very useful for focusing on the best scripts.

Mailto 2 Webmail– Open those “mailto:” links in your GMail, Yahoo, AOL etc. email accounts instead of the default Outlook Express.

Yahoo Pipe Cleaner– Removes most of the HTML markup from Yahoo Pipe run output so that it can be cut-and-pasted into WordPress blogs.

Out of these, my absolute favorite is the WordPress Comment Ninja and the Greased Lightbox (when I’m looking at images and want to see the expanded version, all I do is click on the picture and it zooms out. No need to open another link! Cool, isn’t it? 🙂

You can also check out this and this, where I’ve prepared a list for other scripts that are very useful.

GoogleDocs Extension: Great stuff for all you Google Fans out there. 🙂 From the official website:

With gDocsBar, you can drag and drop multiple files into the sidebar to upload documents. You can search and filter documents right from the sidebar. Your Gmail credentials are sent to Google directly over SSL. Your passwords are stored in Firefox Password Manager.

Software Applications:

Pidgin– Log into all chat clients and receive new email notifications and lots of other features.

WinRAR– For opening zipped files

DietMP3– compress your MP3 files

TextPad– Works great for CSS/HTML coding etc.

CDisplay– For reading e-comics

Irfanview– Resizes your images and lots of other capabilities

Apart from this, there’s the usual crap that’s worth not mentioning. I prefer to keep the number of applications running at the minimum and have a fetish for keeping my hard disk neat and tidy.

Some other junk that I found over the internet:

Ten Quickfixes to Make Your Windows Computer Run Faster 

DownloadmyLink– Free Megashare/Rapidshare file downloader…no need to wait for 60+ minutes or reset your internet connection.

Senduit: Easily share you files- very clean UI

Instapaper: Bookmark those articles that you want to “Read Later” and might not be “Delicious”.

Social Bookmarks:
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Blogging, Business, Facebook, Finance, Google, Microsoft, Orkut, Social Networking, Software, Technology, Thoughts, Wordpress, Yahoo! Mash

Someone forgot about WordPress

In this Web 2.0 picture:

I thought that Reddit was bigger, but it’s reach is 900 and valued at just about $30 milloon. Of course, Stumbleupon is much bigger, with a reach of 1,800 and valued at a little less than $100 million. Digg remains strong and steady with a reach of 6,000 and a little less than $500 million in valuation. The biggest joke here is Windows Live Spaces, right at the bottom of the graph (towards the middle), with a reach of 15 and any guesses regarding its market value?

MyBlogLog, Netvibes, and Meebo (also won a Crunchie) are almost in the same category. Orkut (reach of 26,000) is still bigger than Facebook (reach of 9,000), yet the latter makes more noise in the Web 2.0 world.

And you know the best thing? Google owns three out of the top five market value/reach grossers- Youtube, Orkut and Blogger. Just another graph to show how powerful Google is becoming. The only thing is that I see Bloglines in the third tier, with a reach of 2,200, but I don’t see Google Reader anywhere. It might be possible that Google Reader was excluded (very unlikely though). Bloglines was my first feedreader. Then I changed to Google Reader and now I use the in-built feed reader provided by the social web browser, Flock.

Box is also doing pretty decent with a reach of 500 and I strongly feel that it will rise very soon because of its lovely user interface.

Where is Yahoo Mash? It seems to have disappeared already. I wanted to do a follow up on it…maybe I need to take a look at my account and see if Yahoo has introduced any new features. There is no way Yahoo Mash will be able to play catch up with Facebook or Orkut. Something that is very evident from this graph.

Now let’s get down to the big question- Where is WordPress? With millions of users, surely it should have made a splash here, even though the graph has been made by the CEO of Esnips?

While we’re on the topics of Web 2.0 start ups, maybe it’s not too late to assess what kind of a Web 2.0 user are you? I’m sure most of you are at least Spectators (33%), else you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

I could write miles about Web 2.0 and each of these companies, and still not get done. So, it’s better if we just talk about issues in the comments section, right? 🙂

Edit: By the way, Apple haters might want to take a look at this. Microsoft haters, I have something for you too. I don’t disappoint either of the sects.

Social Bookmarks:
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Blogging, Technology, Tumblr, Wordpress

Get Yourself a Tumblelog Today!

Let’s move away from Twitter and make space for the new kid in the block, Tumblr! I’ve never really been fascinated by Twitter/Jaiku/Pownce because they lack the power of customization and are very restricted in their usage. Tumblr is a tumblelog that “slightly more structured blogs that make it easier, faster, and more fun to post and share stuff you find or create.” It’s a Twitter-meets-WordPress kind of thing, if you will. Most of you often find links, photos, videos or quotes that we would like to share and in case you don’t want to make it into a blog post, you can just post it to your tumblelog. So, technically, these are shorter than traditional blog posts, but longer than your Twitter updates. The sign up process is really simple and easy. All that you’ve got to do is enter an e-mail address, user name and password and you’re done! This is my Tumblr page, if you’re interested.

Tumblr has a number of amazing features that will make you want to get an account ASAP!

  1. Free domain mapping- How cool is that? Especially for WP.com users who pay $10 per year to get the same service.
  2. You can upload one MP3 song, less than 5 MB in size, every day! Yay!
  3. Embed videos directly from the internet or upload your own videos.
  4. You can also make a link post, that shares only a web page link.
  5. You can also share “chat conversations”. I haven’t tried this…but apparently, you can post chat transcripts from MSN/Gtalk/Yahoo/AOL etc.
  6. There are some really cool themes to choose from. Most of these themes are only single columned. This is the one of the major differences between having a full blown blog at WP.com/Blogger and having a tumblelog at Tumblr. But I did see a couple of two column themes (including A Bus Full of Hippies) too.
  7. Most of the themes are totally customizable. You can edit the CSS/HTML and add Java scripts.
  8. You can also “Follow”people, like you do in Twitter. Others can also follow you.
  9. Fully functional RSS feeds.
  10. Amazing “Archives” system- The way Tumblr archives all your posts is such a beauty. Just take a look at the Archives of any of the tumblelogs that have been featured on the Front Page.
  11. Upload your personalized avatar, which also doubles up as your tumblelog’s favicon.

Basically, there are no restrictions to what you can do. Feel free to write just a line updating your status or talking about something else, if you want to.

However, I did find some restrictions:

  1. As of now, there is no in-built comment system, but Tumblr does plan to introduce this very soon. But you can use a third party comment service provider, such as Haloscan or Disqus.
  2. I couldn’t find any way by which I can check the “Stats”. This is not really a drawback, because we need to understand that a tumblelog is different from a blog. So, we can’t really expect all the features. But yes, you can see the number of people who are following you. On second thoughts, I’m sure you can use Sitemeter or Google Analytics or a similar stats service easily, by adding the HTML code to the sidebar (in case you use a two column theme).

If you would like to know about Tumblr, then take a look at the Help page. I signed up for their service two weeks back, but didn’t start using it until today. I’ll be regularly adding lots of things to it.

Edit: Just found an interview by Tech Confidential  where David Karp says that 40% of the traffic comes from referrals.

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Blogging, Stupidity, Thoughts, Wordpress

Just a Small Note..

…to say that I’m back here. Self hosting turned out to be too time consuming and I’m afraid, I can’t do it. Besides, I was feeling too guilty of leaving this blog. So, what I’m going to do is get myself domain mapping and stay put at WP.com.

All of you who were against the move… you people turned out to be correct after all. 🙂

P.S- Here comes the part where I will ask you people to update your feeds/links again. I swear, this is the last time. Please bear with me. 🙂

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Automattic, Blogging, MyBlogLog, Wordpress

Do You Have a Gravatar Yet?

Gravatar was recently acquired by Automattic and it lets you select a global avatar, which will be associated with your e-mail address. If you comment on any blog or website and use that email address, then your gravatar will be automatically displayed. I think that this is a big move and might outpower MyBlogLog soon.

Personally, I don’t use MyBlogLog much- it only acts as a journal of most recent visitors. All those links of communities, friends, fan etc. are too complicated for my understanding. I don’t think that I need another social-networking-like service.

Gravatar, on the other hand, is very easy to sign up for. I was surprised at the ease actually. You only enter your e-mail address and then Gravatar sends you a comfirmatory e-mail with a link that you click on to be re-directed to their website. Next, you choose an image (either from the web) or from your computer (in this case, they will let you crop it). And you’re done! 🙂

I’ve seen Ashish use it in his blog and never bothered much about it, until today 🙂 I’ve added the Gravatar plugin to my blog. So, your gravatar (and not your MyBlogLog picture or your WP.com avatar) will be displayed next to your comment.

If you still don’t have one, then I would recommend you to sign up for it because of the aforementioned reasons. 🙂

***

On a different note, I’ve made some more changes here. The ones that are useful to you are-

a. You can subscribe to the comments left here by checking the box “Notify me of any follow up comments by E-mail” when you respond or by using the Comments feed URL (in my sidebar).

b. You have the power to edit your comments (Yes!) for ten minutes.

c. Top commentators- the ones with the most number of comments- get displayed on my sidebar. A link to your blog is also included. So, that’s some link lurve from my side. 😉 Is that enough to make you comment?

Blogged with Flock

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Blogging, Life, Uncategorized, Wordpress

Sorry for Another Shock

Lots of heated discussions took place in the previous post “A Simple Question“. The general trend in the comments section was something like this-

People who have self-hosted blogs could mostly see the positive in shifting. They pointed out various advantages like –

1. Total control and being your own boss

2. Ads

3. Lots of plug ins, themes and other frills

4. Learning something new

On the other hand, others who have free blogs at WP.com gave me some good points that made me want to stay back-

1. WP.com has an amazing blogging community

2. No tension of back ups or down time

3. More time to write instead of coding

4. Since I recently bought the CSS upgrade, I should make use of it

5. Domain mapping should solve the URL problem and pave the path for a smoother move to self-hosting.

I’m one of those types who takes a lot of impulsive decisions, unfortunately. I’m also quite adventurous and love to test new waters (sorry for the cliche). Behind your backs, I’ve also been playing with self-hosting and registered for a domain for this blog. I know that I won’t rest in peace unless and until I conquer my next distraction, that is, self-hosting.

So, I think I was ready to move! And sorry for giving you guys another shock. Thank You! All discussions should henceforth take place in my new pad. Iam trying to fix a couple of things here. But the majority of stuff have been taken care of.

Some of the recent comments in the post “A Simple Question” have not yet been imported, because WP.com hasn’t yet generated the back up. I’ll sort those out as soon as I get the time.

Edit: Ashish, Cat and Ish: I replied to your comments in the post “A Simple Question” on my old blog and closed the comments section. Any further discussions on that post can take place here.

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