Pondering Blogs and Blogging

I have missed a couple of days posting here but I am not going to let that discourage me. I am determined to continue making blog posts as frequently as possible. I am writing them for two reasons. First, I am posting to become more proficient at expressing myself in writing. I find that when I write my thoughts down, I can more easily examine them and evaluate them.

The second reason I am writing is to share my thoughts with others. I have noticed that there are a few people that have subscribed to my blog. They get notified when I make a new post. I can only assume that at least some of them read what I’ve written. I’ve also set up a utility that copies my blog posts to Facebook. I’m sure that I get a few readers there on occasion.

Which brings me to the point of this post. If you have read this far, take a moment to make a comment, whether here or on Facebook. Let me know what you like about my blog. Let me know what you don’t like. I don’t guarantee to change what I post but I’m certainly interested in what you think.

If you’ve got something you’d like to discuss at length, set up your own blog, make a post, and share the link in the comments here. Establishing a conversation is another goal of my blog. I know, I said there was only two reasons but now we’ve both learned something.

A Long Time Between Posts

A lot has happened here since I wrote the last post. Shortly after my last post, my iMac died. I have been borrowing Pam’s laptop for almost a year now. I am still happy with my iPhone and my iPad, they just don’t replace a computer entirely (yet). Maybe at some point they will. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

I have added a little ASUS Transformer T-100 to the menagerie. It runs Windows (*shudder*). I call it my radio since I bought it primarily to run Ham radio software. I named it Elmer as that is what Hams call a Ham that helps new Hams find their way around the hobby.

Hams seem to prefer PCs to Macs. I finally gave up on trying to swim upstream. I have found one or two hams that agree with me. They use PCs for their shack and the Mac for everything else. I have also noticed a preference for Android over iOS among Hams. I have nothing against Android. I just like the way that my iPhone and my iPad and my Mac all integrate so well with one another. I also have a considerable investment in iTunes products (apps, music, video,etc.)

Enough for today. I am going to attempt to make blogging a daily habit. We’ll wee how long I last this time. Until next time, enjoy life.

A Joyous Day

Thursday Pam and I bought new iPads. I worked all afternoon getting them set up and now I am using mine to write a blog post with Fargo. It is nine o’clock and I have to go to work in the morning. I still need to exercise. That is going to cut this session short. I will come back and see if it is worth posting sometime later. In the mean time, I am going to see if I can use my iPad to watch Netflix at the gym.

I got Netflix installed and found the password and went to the gym and exercised. The new iPad looked and sounded great. I took it to work the next day. It was exciting to have access to my personal stuff all day. I still need to get the ssh tunnel set up through the firewall again. The new iPhones arrived a little after seven thirty. I tried to sit and watch TV with Pam but I was so tired that I went to Bed at eight twenty four.

Today, we went to the Grand Opening of the new wing of Lowe Mill. It was a lot of fun but Pam over did it and ended up being exhausted by the time we got her to leave. We went to Rosie’s for an early dinner. Then we came home.

After we got everything arranged from the shopping trip I sat down to activate the new iPhones. I got them both backed up and got Pam’s setup. Then I started getting mine setup. It is still working as I write this. I am very excited.

I’m going to go ahead and publish this. If I don’t, I probably will let it sit for a couple of more days. It has been several joyous days in a row. I’m a very lucky man.

Some Thoughts on Writing

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. I’ve read some advice that various writers, in particular Neil Gaiman, give to aspiring writers. As I thought about it I came to some realizations.

First, writing is difficult. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The difficult part is thinking. Everyone has random thoughts. They are interesting to them but not necessarily to anyone else. The trick is to think about things that other people find interesting.

Many writers advise to write about things that you feel passionate about. It seems that this is the best way to write things that interest other people.

Another common piece of advice is to write a lot. And then write some more. This is very good advice. The only way that you learn to do something is to practice doing it.

One thing that I read recently surprised me. The author said that he doesn’t recommend that his students “write what they know”. He goes on to explain that when they try to follow that advice novice writers tend to report their experiences as they happened instead of exploring the infinite possibilities of what might have been. A work of fiction is an exploration of an imaginary place inhabited by imaginary characters, not a recapitulation of reality.

So much for capturing some of the advise about writing that I have collected and thought about recently. It only took me three days to wrap this post up.

What is Blogging Anyway?

Dave Winer wrote a piece about a lesson that he learned from listening to his users. In it, he talked about how he saw his product, Fargo as an outliner and Mathew Ingram wrote an article calling it a blogging tool.

I think what we have here is a case of two different concepts of blogging. I think that blogging is more about the content than the medium. A blogger could write a blog with a text editor in raw html and post it to his site using ftp.

A different concept of blogging is that it is anything that is published in a blogging framework like WordPress or Blogger.com. I have seen more than a few WordPress sites that were anything but a blog. It turns out that the templating facilities of blog publishing tools make building a more conventional site easier too.

An outliner is not synonymous with a blogging tool. It is like a word processor. It can be used for a lot of things. The fact that it can be hooked up to a blogging API is incidental to it’s primary identity as an idea processor. As Dave points out in the “What is Fargo?” Document section What outliners are used for, it can be used for:

  • 1. Notetaking.
  • 2. Organizing projects.
  • 3. Course outlines.
  • 4. Bulleted lists.
  • 5. Narrating your work.
  • 6. Thinking.
  • 7. Presentations.
  • 8. Brainstorming.
  • 9. Writing.
  • 10. Design.
  • 11. Programming.
  • 12. Specifications.

I think that what often happens is that someone sees that Dave has come out with a product, associates Dave with blogging, and naturally assumes that the intent of the product is as a blogging tool. I think it is fair to say that is one of the uses of Fargo, just not the only one.

I must acknowledge that Dave learned one important thing from Mathew. You’ve got to listen to your users. They are the ultimate authorities on what your product is good for. We have heard a lot of interesting ideas that people are using Fargo for in the Fargo Community Forum.

I suspect he already knew it, as he has been advocating for users for the entire time I have been reading his blog — some fifteen or twenty years now.