The first part of this series focused on storing and manipulating ideas for blogging. Today, I’m going to talk about the way I write. No, not the scatter-brained stream-of-consciousness-hopping-from-topic-to-topic thing, the technology that I use. Remember, I’m a geek. I have a geek job and I have geek things that are the result of having that geek job. So, even though I’m going to try to be non-geeky, it’s going to sound like I’m a geek. We all have to work with what we know. If my wife were writing a food blog, she’d be talking about pots and pans that I never use. If I were writing a food blog, it would be a collection of one-pot recipes or things you can eat over the sink with a spork.
I write almost every blog post in Word. I have Microsoft Office, and since it’s part of Office 365, I can install Office on five (yes, that’s five, as in 5) computers. These can be laptops, desktops, PCs or Macs. I can also install it on (yes, also as in “in addition to”) five devices. I wrote parts one and two of this series on my iPad, on a plane on my way home from our company’s Annual Meeting. I edited them later on my Windows laptop. You’re thinking “parts one and two? Does that mean he’s going to write more of these?”
I work on the layout in Word. Spacing, indents, image placement and links. Once I think I have things looking the way I want them, I print from Word and read/edit the paper copy. I usually reread it after a day or so. I give the “final” version to my wife for review. That comes back looking like the papers I wrote for Mrs. Richardson in 5th grade. Lots of red ink. Once I / we like it, I move it into Live Writer.
Live Writer is a blog editor that is part of the free Windows Essentials kit. I like Live Writer because A) it’s free, B) it is dirt-simple to connect to a WordPress (or Blogger) blog, C) it syncs with your blog so it knows your categories and tags, and D) it incorporates your blog’s style/theme. It doesn’t do all these things well, but it does them all free.
Note: I did try publishing directly from Word, but I didn’t like the result. Word publishes everything in the document. I like to store the titles, urls and descriptions of the photos I use in the document with the text. That way, if I’m editing a WordPress gallery. I just have to copy and paste the text from Word. So, I copy just the blog text into Live Writer.
Once published, I keep a copy of the Word document on my laptop and in Box, an online storage service. So, I have a blog post, a backup of the post and descriptions and a backup of that backup. “Belts and suspenders” as a business mentor of mine was fond of saying. I also back up my photos. If I don’t upload the photos to WordPress, I embed them and link to them on my Flickr site. Flickr gives me 1 tb of free storage for photos. The high-quality illustrations you see here are usually stored on WordPress or in Pinterest in a board called “blog photos.”
By the way, those illustrations? I sketch those on my iPad in Jot, a free freehand drawing App. As I wrote a year ago, I love Jot because I can draw, doodle, store, save and send illustrations (jots) very easily.
One of geek things that I use at work, but that I don’t have access to at home is Adobe Photoshop. Unlike Microsoft, Adobe doesn’t let me install their software on five PCs and five devices. Since I don’t do a lot of photo editing, just a little cropping and adjusting, I use GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is free and if you’re familiar with Photoshop, you will find all the same features in GIMP – they just won’t be in the first place you look. They won’t be in the second place you look either but you’ll find then eventually.
I get some of these things because I need them to do my geek job. But unlike my friends over at This Old House, these tools are affordable. I’m not talking about a laser-guided crown molding measuring and cutting tool with robotic molding installation supports. Just like Evernote and Trello (from Part-I) GIMP is free. Do you see a pattern forming? Flickr is free, Box is free for 5gb and on the right day, 30 or 50 gb. Jot is free. Office 365 isn’t free, but the home edition is affordable at $99 a year and you get those five plus five copies. And, if you buy Office 365, you get 1 tb of storage on OneDrive for free. Who doesn’t like free?
I don’t think that we need a Part-3. Several people have asked me about building the photo galleries. I just use the WP media features. I would be happy to share more information about that, and anything else people want to know about, but I don’t want to bore you to tears. Leave a comment. If I can, I’ll answer it there. Thanks for reading.