Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tools for Bloggers

Every endeavour require some kind of tools, and blogging is no exception. What kind of tools depend on what kind of blog or blogs you create and what you want to put on your blog. Let us go through some of them. The items mentioned are by no means exhaustive, and I may have left out some. If a reader points it out or I realise or discover what is missing, I hope not to forget to update the post. Here we go:

Basic minimum for blogging

The very basic minimum to blog is a computer and access to the Internet, and that means a modem. Google Blogger I think provides for publishing post from hand phone, but I am not sure if you can publish to your regular blog, or you have to start a special blog. Their Help Page has this to say: "Blogger Mobile (that is, sending messages from mobile devices to will automatically create a blog for you the first time you use it, so you can get started blogging even if you aren't near a computer." is a general email address, not one specific to your blog.

I know you can publish posts via email. See Schedule posts to be published at future dates. I don't have a hand phone, but I have been told you can send email from hand phone. If true, you can publish posts from hand phone without a computer or modem. If so, the basic tool for blogging is either a computer plus modem or a hand phone. My children have been pestering me to get a hand phone as my son-in-law works in Digi and all of them have a hand phone number with which they can call each other for free (within the Digi network) but I don't known if that is still available as I heard it had been stopped because of abuse. If I do get it, I would try publishing from hand phone and I can be a roving reporter and can start a news blog with breaking news as I can report things as they happen without having to wait till I get home to my computer.

Basic computer or higher end computer?

For those who are not as active as I am online, a basic computer will probably will do. I am online almost all my waking hours and do multitasking. I have simultaneously a few browsers opened, many tabs in the browsers, man Notepad files, 2 photo editors, 2 Excel files, etc. If you want to know why I have so many browsers in my computer, see Why you should be using more than one browser. My son says I should get a computer with a dual core or a duo core processor. For heavy usage like this, a larger RAM (Random Access Memory) will also be good.


You may want to include photos in your posts. You can always upload your photos direct, but some may want to do some editing like cropping, sharpening, rotating, etc. In this case, you will need some kind of photo editor. I make do with Irfanview and Paint that comes with Windows. I use them together (Irfanview more) to make screenshots and edit photos. You (and perhaps I too sometime in the future) may want something more sophisticated like Photoshop.

I also have a webcam and a headset with microphone for making video. I use the Windows Movie Maker that comes with Windows. I don't make much video for uploading to Youtube, then embedding in my posts, so I am not too picky. But if you are embedding video into your posts extensively, you may want to consider getting more sophisticated video editor software.

Computer accessories

Two computer accessories have already been mentioned in the section above - webcam and headset with microphone. If you have to make videos outdoor, you may need a hand phone with video capabilities or a webcam. My son have a compact digital camera which I use to get digital photos to add to my posts. However, I am not too happy with the camera and in three recent incidents, I could not finish taking the photos I wanted because of low battery even though I charged the battery before I went. I may need to get one for myself.

However, if you are shopping for a camera for blogging purposes, please do not get trapped into the mega pixels trap. You do not need huge mega pixel digital cameras. Those are for people who wants to print poster size photos. Putting a photo on the computer screen only requires a low resolution image, so any camera is sufficient (well below 1 mega pixel). However, there may be other considerations like zoom capability and dual usage, for example, to be used also for printing photos. For printing photos, let the size of the photos you intend to print guide you in your choice. You may also require certain features, etc. Each person have their own requirements and preferences, but please don't go chasing huge mega pixel cameras for only putting photos on the web. I wouldn't be printing photos (I am environmentally conscious) so I will probably purchase a simple camera.

If the digital camera does not come with facilities for transferring your photos from the camera to the computer, you may need a card reader which is what I am using now because the cable for transferring photos from the existing digital camera to the computer somehow went missing.

You may perhaps want to put printed materials on your blog. You can use a digital camera for that or use a scanner. There may be other accessories you may need that I cannot think of at the moment.

Where to get the tools you need for blogging?

There are many possibilities. One is to physically go to a mortar and brick stores to purchase what you need. That will mean driving there (burn up precious and depleting fossil fuel and contribute to global warming, hunt for perhaps scarce parking space, pay for parking, walk to the shop, etc. If you want to do comparison shopping, you may have to drive from place to place. Compare that to online shopping. All you need is to sit in front of you computer which should be connected to the Internet. Then you can do all the comparison shopping in the comfort of your home.

Coupon Chief is a site that offers discount coupons for shopping for items online. There is a search box on that site, and since I am looking for digital camera, I typed "digital camera" into the search box and click Coupon Chief search button and the resulting page is Search Coupon Chief for digital camera result page.

There was a long list, and one attracted my eye - "Coupon Chief - Coupons". I clicked that link and was taken to Ritz Camera. Some pretty high end cameras were listed, but this one - "$32 Off a Canon Sure Shot 65 - 35mm Point & Shoot Camera" sounds like what I might be looking for, so I clicked on the link. It says "35mm Point & Shoot Camera - Clearance! - $69.95 Now $32. Off Original Price! Our Stock # CLR541163085. $37.95". Well I am prepared to pay $37.95 but was worried about the shipping charges, so tested clicking of "Add to Cart". Paypal was included in many payment options and I have a large Paypal balance. So I chose Paypal to pay. It turned out that the shipping charges was "Ground, 3 - 7 Business Days, $16.90". $16.90 is 45% of $37.95, almost half of the cost of the item. Another worrying item was the statement "Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, military APO/FPO and PO Box orders are shipped via USPS only. Please note, not all items can be shipped via USPS to these locations, and in some instances, we may be unable to fulfill your order, based upon these restrictions". Because of all these, I did not proceed with the order as I stay half way around the globe from United States of America.

However, for US residents and neighbours, Coupon Chief may be a viable means for getting your tools for blogging, as there are a "Coupons by Store" section and "..By Category" section in the sidebar as well as other options. One store you may be interested in may be Dell Home. Clicking on that link at the time of publishing (may change when you visit that page) produced only a few items, but one that may contain what I seek may be "Save big on Dell Systems or Electronics and Accessories" and clicking on that showed a computer system complete with a picture frame, a digital camera and something else I am not familiar with. It says "A different deal everyday" so I wouldn't know what you will get when you try them out. But be prepared for surprises, sometimes pleasant surprises in form of a great deal.

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