Category Archives: Blogging

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 2

WordPress 3 works really well once you get the hang of it and I found WordPress for Dummies to be an excellent guide — see more about the brand new 3rd edition below. I’m having no trouble so far running the blog which means making posts, setting up categories for posts and links and moderating comments. It all works like clockwork.

Everything is going swimmingly using WordPress 3 with the default theme: Twenty Ten. The above photo is one of the 8 header photos that comes with the theme. I’m using the theme as is with just a tweak of substituting my own photo. In the coming weeks, I will be making more changes, so stay tuned.

I haven’t tried to make any major changes to the theme as yet. I will be changing settings for type, size and color, of course. It is big fun to play with styles in cascading style sheets. It’s kind of a cross between art and programming and since I’ve taken only one art class my whole life, the chance to play with color, type, borders and backgrounds is a kick. Make sure you have a reference handy — pretty much anything can be found on google at this point when you get stuck.

The Twenty Ten theme seems really generic and clean. This clarity makes it easier to write widgets for. You get four columns in the footer area for widget material and two sections in the right column.

One demerit for Twenty Ten so far is that it doesn’t have a way to change the number and arrangement of columns the way Thesis Theme does. Twenty Ten defaults to a wider main content column on left and a thinner widgets and links column on the right. I’ve heard that it is easy to set it to have a single column. I wonder if adding a third column would require rocket science.

I’ve gotten used to a 3-column layout on my site. The extra column allows me to show my 12 most recent tweets without obscuring links and other vital information that typically goes in column 2. I’ll let you know how it goes with 2 columns. I have already seen one site running Twenty Ten with three columns. My guess is that before long a simple way to do a 3-column version of the theme will get published and be readily available.

One thing I’ve done so far is add a Blogroll. I wrote my About page which is just like making a blog post – dead simple. I’m adding links as they occur to me and have been setting up several link categories. Blogroll is my favorite. The Blogroll is where I put my favorite bloggers and blogging friends. I will add several links groups to the sidebar as I go along so that it is easier to find the kind of links you like.

As mentioned, Lisa Sabin-Wilson’s Word Press for Dummies 3rd edition was just released August 9th. Unfortunately for ebook fanatics, it is only available in trade paper so far. Buy the paper edition if you need it now. Don’t accidentally buy the 2nd edition which is dated Feb 2009. I  will post  part 3 of this series on WordPress 3 once I’ve had a chance to play a bit with the information I find in the new WordPress for Dummies book.

[Image: one of the 8 photos that comes with the Twenty Ten theme.]

Writing with your iPhone 4

I just hooked up my bluetooth keyboard to my iPhone 4. Saw a guy at my local Starbucks doing it and he raved about it.

All this is wireless — no dreaded cables at all. Ever. Just 3 AAA batteries to power the keyboard which is surprisingly light at about 10 ounces. Lighter than carrying an iPad.

Here I am at the Caffe Acri in Tiburon writing a brand new blog post. I’m using the WordPress app which has crashed a couple of times already. Not to worry, though, it saved all my work anyway.

If you have an iPhone, you may want to get on this brand new bandwagon. It started after a recent iOS4 update that enabled bluetooth keyboards to work with iPhones, not just iPads.

I’ve got my iPhone 4 in a vertical position tilted up against a coffee cup. I guess I will photograph it with my iPhone 3GS that’s still kicking around. The keyboard is on my lap where it belongs. It works on the table but isn’t really very ergonomic that way.

The reason to have a keyboard with your iPhone is to do some serious keyboard input. It’s not for twitter, but when you want to write in paragraphs, this keyboard is a godsend. I didn’t realize how light it is.

It is a lot more comfortable on your lap than a laptop — even a MacBook Air! Even an iPad which is more than twice it’s weight and fiddly — you don’t want to drop your iPad.

So, what can you do? You could write email if you must. But I would suggest writing in your journal or simply writing in Momento, 3Banana Notes, Awesome Note, Simplenote, Evernote or even the built-in Notes app.

I love the 3Banana Notes app for its responsiveness, ability to add a photo to your note and the excellent hashtag keywords feature that lets you make keywords in your notes on the fly which subsequently act as hotlinks to all notes containing that keyword. I think 3Banana is better than Simplenote. Evernote lags from my point of view because it tends to be sluggish and sometimes that looks like unuseable if you need to get your note entered without delay.

I have greatly enjoyed the Momento journaling app for its great tagging, photos, UI and more. It works great on iPhone but a big upgrade has been in the works a long time and many of us are getting impatient for the promised new features.

In all these apps, all you need to do is type and won’t find it difficult to occasionally touch your iPhone screen when you need to press a button. I found a list of keyboard shortcuts at theappleblog:

You can find detailed instructions on how to pair the Apple wireless keyboard in the iPhone User Guide PDF. See page 48. I’ve heard other keyboards work with the iPad, so I’m guessing they will also work with iPhone now. If you want to write and travel light, this combo can’t be beat!

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 1

I confess to not being a complete beginner at WordPress. I have two blogs already that I mentioned in my first post that I created last summer. While researching and creating those, I wrote a series of five blog posts called Dipping a Toe into WordPress on my Tech Ronin TypePad blog. If you are here to learn more about WordPress, you may want to check them out starting with my first post.

My first two WordPress blogs are running under the Thesis theme using WordPress 2.9.4, currently. I was scared to upgrade them to WordPress 3, so started this new blog as a trial that hopefully will become my personal blog here on out. Having more than one blog is something I’ve become accustomed to since starting my very first blog in 2003 on Movable Type.

I really like the look of the plain vanilla Thesis theme, which my and blogs use with only minor modifications. I love the white space. But, there are definite advantages to using the default theme. You get the absolute best compatibility with WordPress itself and best compatibility with the most books, blog posts, images, widgets and plug-ins by using the default theme.

I own the 2nd edition of WordPress for Dummies available on iBooks for around $11 and Kindle for $15. Lisa Sabin-Wilson does a great job and she spends time teaching you how to modify your own theme. Now, she is referring to WP 2.8 I think, but still it is much easier to understand the teachings using the default blog than using Thesis which has lots of unique power-user features in its plumbing that I don’t have time to learn.

If you want what Thesis has, you might want to buy it outright. I am now on my third WordPress blog and feel I have the time to learn from the ground up a bit more and live with less features to get simplicity and compatibility.

The Default Theme: Twenty Ten. But on with the post. The first thing you see on a brand new WordPress 3.0 blog is the default theme that includes a great photo across the top. You get 8 photos to choose from in your dashboard under Appearance/Header.

The Photo. While the default photo is awesome, I don’t want to be among the 9000 blogs using it or one of the other 7 default photos. Keep the trees and winding road for a while if you like. But, in the end, blogging is self-expression and representing yourself and your style. I bet there are a lot of other photos already available for this theme that are free to use with attribution. Try Flickr for openers.

I chose to use one of my own photos as a start. Inferior to the trees and windy road, but it will do in a pinch. I cropped this photo of the San Francisco Bay with San Francisco in the background. Improving on it will be a challenge that I will continue to pursue. I can do better and digital photography is pretty easy.

Dreamhost. Before I go, I should mention that I’m using Dreamhost, one of the top recommended and used web hosts that is recommended by both WordPress and WordPress for Dummies. And, it’s only about $10/mo for a very generous set of capabilities. Dreamhost staff know about WordPress and can supply answers to some of my and possibly your dumb questions that we all have when doing these kinds of things.

I’m Using a Subdomain. Also, I long ago registered the domain and chose to create a subdomain for my first name so that I would have this nice URL: Better, really, than from a readability standpoint. This cost nothing extra to setup.

Getting this Blog Up and Running. Once I defined a subdomain using Dreamhosts Dashboard in the evening, I also created one email address and then slept on it knowing that it takes a few hours for a new domain to become available.

Some time the next day, I got an email saying my subdomain was up and running. I then did a one-click WordPress 3.01 install and was given the option to install it at which I did.

An hour or so later I got an email with a link to my WordPress dashboard. I clicked it and saw the dashboard. Very nice. Then I typed into Safari to take a peek at my new creation.

That motivated me to change the default blog post number 1 that appears, to entitle my blog and few other good things. I loved the default photo as described above. And today, Day 2 I am writing this post.

In business. Good stuff.