Browsed by
Tag: blog

On the Go and Around the Web

On the Go and Around the Web

I’ve been giving a bit of thought to my writing, my photography, the structure of this blog and what I want to focus on going forward.

As I see it, this blog has three aspects to it:

  1. Articles on things that interest me, such as technology, productivity, the customer experience, scuba, photography, etc (which I call Des Paroz On The Go)
  2. A venue to share some of my selected images (Photos of the Day)
  3. A link blog (Around the Web) which is where I share a selection of links to sites, posts or images that I think you’ll find interesting

I’ve already shared some thoughts on my link blog, for which I’ve decided that I am going to narrow down to a maximum of 3-5 links per day, each with some commentary from me.

In order to increase “focus” on the main page, I’ve gone one step further, and have decided to move the link blog to a separate site (on the Scriptogr.am platform) which I setup recently. This linkblog is called Around the Web with Des Paroz, and can be found at around.desparoz.com.

The most recent three posts on Around the Web will be shown in a sidebar here on Des Paroz On The Go, so they can be easily seen, but where they’re out of the way of the main posts. There are no comments on the linkblog – the idea is to visit the target site and for you to interact at that source, if you want to.

Des Paroz On The Go will remain here on a WordPress blog, and will have the main posts by me. I am going to focus my posts on 3 topics – personal productivity, presentations and photography. Of course, the enabling technologies of these will feature significantly. The URL will remain desparoz.com.

Of course each site will have its own web feed (RSS), but there will be one aggregated feed, which will continue to be feeds.feedburner.com/desparoz/. If you’re already subscribed to that feed, you’ll receive all posts from both blogs.

I’m going to keep other topics on their own sites – diving related material will be at DivingIDC, and general martials arts writing will be at Applied Karate.

So, I look forward to greater focus on productivty, presentations and photography on this site, with the other sites supporting that focus.

Let me know how you think this will work in the comments.

Publishing a Post on Scriptogr.am

Publishing a Post on Scriptogr.am

Earlier I discussed my experiences in setting up a Scriptogr.am blog site, so this post is going to be about posting. In fact, its the posting process that drew me to Scriptogr.am in the first place, as it allows you to write in Markdown, my preference for doing websites. I dislike writing in HTML, and am not a fan of most WYSIWYG editors, as they tend to distract you from the core task of writing.
With the exception of short quick posts on my Des Paroz On The Go WordPress blog (for which I might use the WYSIWIG editor), most of my posts are written in Byword, directly in Markdown. Sometimes I write the text first, and add the Markdown tags later, though often I just do them as I go. Squarespace handles Markdown natively (along with HTML and WYSIWIG).

Byword and Marked

As you might be able to see from the screen shot, the Markdown tags get out of the way in Byword, allowing you to focus on the writing. You’ll also note that I have a second app open – Brett Terpstra’s excellent Marked app that allows me to get real time previews of how my posts will look, without any of the Markdown. It’s really a lovely way of writing. Of course, this only applies on the Mac OSX version of Byword – its not available (or needed really) when I run Byword on an iOS device.

The beauty of this process is that I can basicaly write once then publish to both my WordPress blog and my Scriptogr.am one. For the WordPress blog, I will start by using the File > Export > HTML to Clipboard option in Byword, then paste that content into either MarsEdit or directly into the WordPress console. I then tidy up any images, add tags and categories, and publish. For my Squarespace sites, I just cut and paste the Markdown code directly into the editor.

For Scriptogr.am posts, I stay in Byword, and add some header text to the file, so that Scriptogr.am knows a post name, publish date and time, tags, etc. I have a standard TextExpander snippet setup to generate the following:

Date: 2013-01-25 06:07 
Title:
Tags:

As you can see the date is autogenerated in the correct format by TextExpander.

Once all this is done, I move the file (File > Move To…) to the designated sync folder for Scriptogr.am. One more step is to go over to the Scriptogr.am Dashboard, and Synchronize my site. The file should now be published.

So publishing in Scriptogr.am is very easy, and really leverages the power of Markdown.

There are only a couple of downsides that I can see.

  1. Firstly, there are no categories, as far as I can see in Scriptogr.am. Perhaps they have a worldview of sticking to tags, and I guess that I am ok with that.
  2. The extra step of having to over to the Scriptogr.am dashboard and synchronise means that you lose some of the standalone nature of things. Maybe some sort of push capability with a widget or menu bar item.

There are some other limitations I am finding with the overall Scriptogr.am platform, but as they are not directly about posting, I’ll leave those to another post.

I should quickly mention that there are a couple of other options for writing blog posts. One is to use a simple editor built into the Scriptogr.am site. Seems to work fine, but you still have to synchronise

All in all, I find the process of creating blog posts on Scriptogr.am to be straightforward, functional and seamless. For a writer interested in writing and not coding a website, it offers a low-cost (free at this time) platform that leverages the power of Markdown and Dropbox. Using it doesn’t require a lot of technical know how (Markdown is easy to pick up), and the results are great.

Setting Up a Scriptogr.am Blog

Setting Up a Scriptogr.am Blog

Scriptogr.amYesterday I setup a test blog on scriptogr.am. I am quite experienced with blogging and content management systems, and have used a range including WordPress.com (hosted at WordPress), WordPress.org (self-hosted), Moveable Type, Blogger, Joomla, MODx and others. Currently I have 2 sites on WordPress (self hosted), 2 on Squarespace and 1 on MODx.
I am not really looking for another CMS (I am happy with WordPress and Squarespace), but listening to Mac Power Users Episode 121 (The Website Show), I was a bit intrigued by the concept of Scriptogr.am – a new (and evolving) CMS that uses Markdown as the format to write the blog, with files simply saved into a Dropbox folder. Push a sync button on a management page, and presto, your post is live.

So I decided to set up a site to play around with, and will of course blog my thoughts both here at Des Paroz On The Go, and also on the Des Paroz Scriptogr.am site.

My initial experience was good – visiting the home page you are provided with clean information, and are presented with a very simple signup process. The steps are basically to link your Dropbox account, enter basic details and you’re up and running.

Once you’re setup, a blog is created at scritogr.am/username (where username is the username you created) with an initial post providing an overview of how to use Scriptogr.am. All very easy.

I will talk about creating a blog post or page in a separate post, and for now will stick to my setup experiences.

Settings

Clicking on the “Settings” tab on the Dashboard brings up a settings page where you can manage details like

  • Username, Real name, E-mail & Blog description
  • Profile & Cover image
  • Accent colour
  • Mobile layout (on/off)
  • Time zone
  • Custom domain

You can also see your Scriptogr.am ID, which will be used with third party apps to log you in.

The first few items are self explanatory, but the next couple bear some thought before using them. As the screen shots, I uploaded a “Profile image” and a “Cover image”. Unfortunately you can upload, but I can find no way to delete an image once uploaded, so if you don’t like the result, your only option is to upload another file[1].

Personally I don’t like how the Cover image is handled, and now I am stuck with a pretty crappy shot[2] . Why they convert a cover image to 960×960 confuses me, as this is a banner, not square. Should be something like 960×250, which is coincidentally the size used on the Des Paroz On The Go blog.

I see no reason not to use the Mobile Theme option (it is off by default), and its good to set time zone.

I’ve tried setting up a custom domain (blog.desparoz.com), but as of this writing it doesn’t seem to work[3].

You may note that the top of my Scriptogr.am blog has some links to my other sites. These were easy to setup. Each link is simply setup as a post with the type of “page”, and a header link attribute pointing to the target page.

I’ve also changed the theme. Clicking on the “Tools” link in the sidebar brings up an option for “Themes archive” where there are several themes available for easy adoption.

Another early gripe relates to the way images are handled in the Dashboard. When you click on upload (e.g. for Cover image or Profile image), nothing seems to happen, until there is a sudden change. The same applies when you click on a different theme for preview. There needs to be some feedback that lets you know that something is happening!

Setting up a Scriptogr.am site is very straightforward, but with what seems to be a couple of bugs at that time. This could be that I am missing something obvious, or it could simply be a bug (or perhaps as yet undeveloped functionality). What I do like is that the effort results in a clean and functional blog.


  1. I have discovered one way of making the cover image go away – I changed to another theme that doesn’t seem to use it!  ↩
  2. IMHO, the image is good. Its the way it was cut to a 960×960 square then rendered at some crazy dimensions that makes it pretty crappy.  ↩
  3. This might be an issue of this subdomain having previously worked to WordPress.com, so I’ll give it another day or so before making a final judgement.  ↩