2012, blog

Blogging Without A Computer


This is what I do really. I don’t possess my own computer or laptop and don’t often get to use the main household one. It’s a little bit tricky to get to it due to having to navigate past the car boot sale laden dining table and the assault course of guitar cases and amps left lying around on the floor.

All of my blogging is done on my first generation iPad, subsidised visually by my iPhone. For someone who loves writing in a notebook with a fountain pen (my favourite budget pen is the Lamy), I’ve been pretty much enamoured with the iPad, which was a birthday present from Slaveboy a couple of years ago. I now only write, in the traditional sense of the word, for visual pleasure and leave all the mundane list compiling to my trusted iPhone Reminders app.

I thought today I’d share with you the apps that I use to enable me to blog. You might never know, you might be persuaded to take up blogging yourself. I find blogging deeply cathartic and it also requires some amount of discipline, something I am bad at. I’ve been writing a novel since the age of 15 and have never completed it. By my calculations, given the 24 years of it being in draft mode, I should really by now have an epic saga befitting a place in the same category with Wild Swans. However the reality is, I don’t think I have more than around 3000 words.

I’ve had 3000 words since I was 15. Not the same 3000 words, mind you, as I have this crazy habit of destroying what I write from time to time. I’m a firm believer that if it’s good enough, it will come back. Crazy shit, I know, I think it’s more to do with the degree of honesty and venerability required to go down the path that writing inevitably takes you if what you are sharing is deeply personal and almost primal.

So despite my aspirations to become a published, widely read author, I now have to practise at this discipline lark and commit to writing and producing something readable even on days when I have no words in my head. Let me share with you the tools that I have been using to help me blog.

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Above is what a screenshot of my blogging screen looks like on my iPad. All those icons, or apps are what I use to create those posts that you read on my blog. I really cannot rate how useful iPad has been for me, its open architecture means that the device functions in the way I want it to. I know I am probably coming across as an absolute geek but I do love my gadgets and I do appreciate gadgets that deliver.

No man is an island and the same applies to blogging. Unless you intend for your blog to be an online version of a personal diary which is open to others to peruse at, you might find the wealth of the blogsphere captivating. Other people’s blogs have taught me to cook and bake. It stopped me being the clueless mother who couldn’t sew on the elastics on my daughter’s ballet shoes. It was how I discovered that the man I had been exchanging dirty letters (oh fancy those times before emails and instant messaging!) with at the age of 15 is now missing. The word on the street is he upset a few people and they made him disappear.

I follow blogs by subscribing to them either via email or with a reader. All the blogs I subscribe to get sent to the Reeder app on my iPad.

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I can read the latest posts on here and have the ability to star any posts that have caught my interest. I can also save them to Readibility, an app where you can save any web page that you might want read later.

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All photos used for my blog are taken with my iPhone camera, with the exception of the ones that I have had permission to use by Dancing In My Converse. these photos get saved in both the iPhone and the iPad’s photo album and also uploaded to the Flickr Stackr app.

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I use two gimmicky but effective apps to help me, Strip Designer, which allows me to present my photos in more creative ways. I haven’t use this app much but I found it really useful in producing a sequence of photos to fit a smaller area than it would had The photos been posted individually.

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The other one is Popplet. You won’t get to see this app in action at all in my posts. I use it as a visual brainstorming platform. I can take any photo inspirations, textual instructions, web links and paste them a la post-it-note in this app. Basically, I can take a recipe that I like the idea of, a photo reference of another cake, add to it information as to how to, say, make pulled sugar ribbons and annotate the changes I want to make. The result of which would look something like below.

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Popplet refers to itself as a platform for your ideas.

Of course, above and beyond all the above, you would need a blogging app to get those posts published on the blogsphere. There doesn’t seem to be many reliable blogging applications on iTunes, a lot of them are very limiting and plagues with technical bugs or just very clunky to use. My blog is hosted by WordPress as I do find them preferable over Blogger. WordPress comes across with less of a painting by number approach to blogging and seem to inspire more creative output in me. I also love their Freshly Pressed feature which coaxes you out of the comfort and confines of your blogging genre on to other topics which might inspire and challenge you.

The two blogging apps that I use are WordPress and Blogsy. There are pros and cons to both of them.

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WordPress is great because it’s simple. There’s nothing fancy schmancy about it and it would be perfect as a starting point. All photos that you upload on this app gets stored in your WordPress account media gallery, which basically means when it comes to wanting to set a featured image on your post, you can actually select from the media gallery. You can’t insert photos at specific points of your post though as all photos that you insert after writing your post somehow end up at the bottom of your page.

However, neither Blogsy nor WordPress has the facility to enable you to set a features image from the app itself. This is a development that I would welcome greatly.

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Blogsy on the other hand is really the all singing, all dancing blogging app. I’m yet to discover the full extent of its abilities but setting aside a few teething bugs, this app has proven to be quite intuitive and also liberating. You can do so much more with this app and it’s rally advisable that you do sit through their video tutorials. They also have excellent customer support. I made a mild rant on Twitter about their app not functioning properly and within minutes, I had received a message from them offering assistance. I also had the rather lovely Lance Barton emailing me to make sure that the issue had been resolved.

So there you go. Apologies as this might be a rather dry post but I do appreciate functional facilities. Blogging is something that I really enjoy, but at times get exasperated with. The tools to help me blog are important in making what I post attractive to readers. I get frustrated by blurry out of focus photos. Or clumsily laid out pages. Nevertheless, nothing irks me more than badly written drivel. All drivel are worthy of a read, as long as it is entertaining. If you have a story to tell, then you owe it to your story to tell it well.

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6 thoughts on “Blogging Without A Computer

  1. This is a great post. As you know I have been flirting with the idea of blogging for a little while, The Virtual Yurt page on FB is more to me than a place to merely flog some stuff but an expression of the life I live, the things I love and I like sharing the creative side of all my makings and craftings. Perhaps it is time to bring a fuller sense of life to the yurt through a dedicated blog? I am sure I am going to find this post really helpful…..eventually… when I move the baby from the breast longer than 5 mins and have enough space to set myself down to the task!

  2. I confess to skimming over all the strange app stuff – you know me, giant technophobe etc. But I do think it is interesting that you are trying to be disciplined about writing every day. Do you find it is helping with producing more of your masterpiece-epic-blockbuster novel? (Please tell me it is a bodice ripper of outrageous proportions) Or is the process of blogging an end in itself? If I had gadgets such as yours, I wonder if I would find it easier to write straight on to a screen as you do? Despite my laptop which I still love lots, I cannot usually write directly on to it and still prefer the process of writing by hand (expensive gel pens in bright colours) on to notebooks and then later transferring that on to computer. I suspect my best seller is therefore a long way off completion for similar reasons to yours…

    • No. My novel would be depressing, perversed with no sense of redemption in the end. I will reinvent Catholic guilt.

      Is the blogging a practice run? Yes and no. It’s practice because I have to relearn to write in that beginning, middle and an end. You and have read stuff which hangs worse than Gene Simmon’s tongue.
      No it’s not practice because I’m hoping there’s some entertainment value to the blog as it is.

      Which makes me now ask, when are you going to write yours? I’ve given up on fancy stationery. The children mug me for it.

  3. I’m going to stealing a few tips from you! I LOVE my iPad but I usually tidy up the blog after writing it on computer. It’d much handier not to have to bother. First step I think is to move to WordPress!

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