Hello .. er .. World

So having unsuccessfully tried to operate a blog once before I’ve decided to try again.

When I started blogging a couple of years ago I found it to be extremely awkward to do. This is, in part, because I cannot stand those blogs where people post pointless and bland commentaries about nothing exciting, or indeed interesting. Its not that I don’t like blogs. Some blogs are very interesting – although I don’t follow any with any degree of regularity – as they let you see interesting perspectives.

Developer/coder blogs are particularly useful for this as they allow you to see a product evolving. Indeed I was so interested by this that I’d even started writing one for my company. We don’t have any policy on writing blogs unlike many large companies who insist that their staff also blog about what they’re doing. I loved the idea that I could increase interest in our software by letting customers (current and future) know what I was adding to the program. I mean isn’t it kind of cool to see the software you’ve bought (and get free upgrades for) or are thinking about buying being made? Okay, yes it is nerdy, but its cool in the same way that you can watch doughnuts being baked or coins being minted. Many people have the same fascination with seeing a product being made – even if they don’t necessarily understand what is happening, or indeed care about how it happens, may be it is just because they’re simply seeing something unusual.

So with the best of intentions I’d decided to write a company blog, or at least a developer blog for my company. I set out with the idea of making quick posts and rapid updates. Short posts which would say “I’m adding a feature X” or “Having a little trouble making X work” or “Hey look, it looks like this now”. But somehow it never quite worked out like that. Instead I would release a new version of the software and then to “relax” would blog about it. So I’d try to cover some of the new featues. But then a new feature would be involved, so I would write a little more about it than other features. Then, as I would be describing something I’d realise that not everyone would understand, but because my post was too long already I couldn’t describe it there, so I’d start a new blog entry to explain that … and by the time I’d fixed the second post the first one had taken so long that I’d have to save it and come back to it.

As you might expect, “coming back to it”, was a pretty final statement. All of a sudden a few months had gone by without any new posts. And thus ended the company blog. This wasn’t really a bad thing because my boss didn’t really have any interest in me running it – unless it increased sales in which case that would be great. But for some reason, even though I was using WP and Google et al. were visiting it seems like it was never indexed or some such. Certainly no one else ever saw it, although this was partially because my boss wouldn’t add it to the main site, because it wasn’t a revenue generating source…

My own blog had gone the same way, and apparently even blogger though it was wasting space because it zapped it, as far as I can tell. So I decided to start again and signed up with blogger again. And let me say this quite clearly. Google does many things very well, but blogger is *not* one of them.

I hate the setup stuff for blogs. It takes so long – even with WP – that you just don’t have anything to say by the end of it and it feels like you just wasted an hour messing around. But blogger… well I decided I’d use it and wrote my first post – something similar to this one, but shorter – and posted it. The writing was a little awkward as I felt like I was fighting the editor window the entire time, but I was going to write it in the WYSIWYG editor, even though I don’t really like them, because hell, that’s what bloggers do. And it was okay, but for the fonts which insisted on defaulting to some template value.

So on my next post I decided to fix that in the HTML source view. Now to me there are two modes WYSIWYG which is for dummies, and HTML which is your standard textarea element without adornment. Not so in blogger. At least not so when I was using it. The HTML view was … a WYSIWYG’ed text area, but with less WYSIWYG components. There was no raw HTML. It was like blogger was saying you can have the idiot’s blog writing area, or the simpler idiot’s blog writing area. And that doesn’t even address the issue of the HTML it produced being akin to the crap spewed out by Microsoft Office apps when saving as HTML. In resetting font tags caused span tags to be randomly whacked into paragraphs. Trying add a picture was like trying to wrestle a small but decidedly uncooperative bear into place. You’d move the thumbnail up slightly and three lines of text would jump down to the otherside of the image. I’d place it where I thought it was good and look at the “HTML view” only to find that the image was embedded part way into a block of text when it very clearly should have been before it, and there were freaking span tags randomly opening and closing.

This is ridiculous because most programs just use FCKEditor or TinyMCE and these bugs aren’t generally a problem. And if they are then you can just grab the HTML source and fix it. Screwing around with that access doesn’t help, so after wasting the better part of an afternoon fighting with it I decide to give in and I looked around for an alternative.

I ended up on WP because I was going to install WP on my own site, but that required upgrading a bunch of stuff which I don’t have (old box, which is due to be replaced) so I thought I’d stop fighting the flow and signup here.

So hopefully … hello world :)


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