How should I blog?

2007-02-24

To start doing something you never have done before with the use of a computer, that is a pain. Blogging is no exception from that rule! Let us call it ‘computerized problem solving’, I will return to this subject in a later post.

After digging around (i.e. Googling, Testing digital image software, copying and pasting different type of HTML…) with mixed success it might be the time to sum everything up and see if there is a good solution lying around unobtrusively. I really tried to find someone out there who initially had the same problems as I, but wasn’t successful. I must do something totally wrong. Is it my definition of the problem or am I using the wrong type of tool? I mean 2 posts so far within 40 hours. Lets us start with my problem:

  1. I want to start blogging on the theme ‘Office 2007 experience’ under the title XLRocks.
  2. I will use screenshots and nice photos with connection to rocks in the blog.
  3. I want the layout of the blog to appeal to the group I want to reach.
  4. I desperately need a good spellchecker since my English spelling needs all support there is to be found.
  5. I want people to find my blog, read it and hopefully get engaged and enter comments.

What is so special about that, and there are so many enthusiastic people out there who actually achieve this and blog constantly. Do they have my pain?

My finding so far could be summarized like this:

  1. Blogger or Life Space or why not both? Or some of the others?? Or my own website? When not using Word 2007 there are much more choices.
  2. Without knowing my preference still is Blogger in the hope of better indexing from Google.
  3. Tools offered by both services for entering a post through the Web and the browser don’t fulfill what I want. Spent hours making them do what I want. The tool for entering the post must be local on my PC, i.e. a nice Windows program, no silly java-applet or AJAX or … I tried Word 2007 and that gave me a lot of pain when meeting my requirements. Best is if it is YGWYS
  4. The tool I need should be capable of producing HTML that could be used on either Blogger or Life Space to produce the result I want in the blog without having to edit the post with the tools offered.
  5. I don’t want to learn HTML. I have managed so far in life without it. A language with so many ‘</>a:refs’ is not meant for humans. It is not my baby and will never be how much I try.
  6. I have collected and produced 50 oblong photos on rocks with smoothed edges. They are not exactly the same shape, but hopefully I could shrink them when using them. I only managed to get them in PNG-format which means they will load slowly for people with poor connections. This could be a problem in the US. I would have been better off with JPG:s but that has to wait for a while.
  7. The JPG:s from screenshots loose in quality when resized the.

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Blogging with Word 2007

2007-02-24
The idea of using Word as the tool for handling my blog was just fantastic, I felt. My expectation was soon getting high. I saw all the possibilities with all the new nice formatting features of Office 2007 for creating an appealing blog, avoiding what I really dislike, HTML. So my first experience of Office 2007 had to be Word to get me going. Problem was I was no blogger, but I have been a blog consumer for a while, so I had my own personal view of what I needed to implement my vision. I needed spellchecking and wanted good picture support to display screenshots.

Looking around at the alternatives that Word 2007 claims support for I decided to user Blogger from Google hoping that my blog would be better indexed by Google than using another alternative. So I went to Blogger: Create your Blog Now — FREE where I registered XLRocks as my blog site. I was advised by Google to put up a Google account and use their new blogging facility. I tested the web based interface provided by Google for maintaining the content of the blog and needless to say as a keen Office-user – I was not impressed. I felt the remoteness and limited WYSIWYG as usual when interacting by means of HTTP, good but not good enough. If you know of nothing else you would probably be more positive (i.e. a personal problem of being too old).

So I rushed into Word 2007 creating a ‘new blog post’ after a painless installation on my computer at the hospital where I have had a surgery. Lying in the bed makes you creative and full of energy doing something unusual, so I started to type in some of the ideas my brain came up with when I was lying getting rid of the anesthesia in my legs, feeling like concrete. I collected some rocks from my library of digital photos, and when using Word I found that I could dim the edges by a simple two-click in the ribbon. I really liked the smooth edges and felt they gave the impression of Windows softness and user friendliness, so these I really wanted to keep. I soon had produced text enough to make it have a go into the Google’s Blogger. No big problem, I just entered my user name and password creating a new blog account in Word 2007. I used the alternative of ‘Publish’ and it went out all smooth. I called up IE 7 with the link : http://xlrocks.blogspot.com/ and it all came up, except my beautifully edited picture which went away somewhere in Cyberspace, but who cares.

Pictures in a blog are a great pain. Some hours later after a lot of investigation I managed to find out how to solve it. But Word 2007 ignores them!! Why?? Instead I found some of my wording incorrect so I did a change in the document and tried to do a new Publish. But what happened?

And of course you try ‘More Information’ which is actually the only information I have found on my silly idea of using Word as a blog-editor. Who told me?? The idea was great but the functions behind seems quite thin. ‘Contact your provider’, is it an insult? Do you know how to reach someone at Google who could help you, calling from Lund in Sweden? I tried, and I tried and the same stupid message. Some people went west, they were called pioneers, and if I have lived then I would probably have been one of them.

I went into Google and found an add-in they provide for using Word as the blog interface, great same as my idea. But since I was forced into Google’s new blogging I was disappointed, no support for the new release. My idea was that the MS Word 2007 support for the new Google blog was not there or why was it complaining?

Would I be better off using Microsoft’s Live Spaces? The communication inside Microsoft might be better than that to Google? Reasonable I thought. So I went into another mystery wasting some three to four hours making Word to understand what I wanted. Problem was, I had an old space I renamed to ‘XL Rocks’, silly me using a blank. I didn’t get it going before deleting my old space and creating a new without blanks, more than 30 years of experience should have told me. I had some twenty occurrences of the silly message box above before I got it running, and please don’t ask me how I finally managed.

Happiness is a warm gun! When you are there nothing could hurt you. It worked without problems after some initial problems of misunderstanding and it was all forgotten and forgiven. In my next life I wish I will have another brain! I still had a reaming problem though. My stupid idea of having pictures in the blog, silly me, they all vanished in Cyberspace when publishing. Reading and rereading the only available information on how to get the function going, and stuck after a surgery, my brain must be out of all sense. My only advice is, print it and learn it by heart!

All rocks are not solid, the walk between Coggee and Bondi . (more pics…)


What I wanted was the smoothly edged photos shown in Word 2007, but where could I find them? I tried to save the docx-file and renamed it to zip. When running ZIP the only thing I found was my original JPG-files without smoothed edges. Where was these nicely smoothed photos hidden? Try to save the document as htm instead? There were two choices, filtered and unfiltered. Filtered was no hit, the photos were by some reason destroyed into worthless gif:s. The hit was on unfiltered, then they were saved into a subdirectory as png:s, they were hugh but they were there. My first idea was converting them into jpg:s with Picasa, but surprise, surprise Picasa didn’t like them, ugh! I needed to invest in a better photo program, being an enthusiastic Picasa-user for a year. I decided to dump them in png-format to my ordinary web-hotel and then using these copies when I entered them into my Word-document. What a splendid idea, this must be the solution of the problem. Blogger offered a function for uploading directly from my PC, but it seemed a little bit cumbersome. Some new tries to publish, but still with pictures vanishing. Who would ever like to have a blog with pictures? Silly me….

Conclusions:
  • Live Space and Blogger, features roughly equal – Blogger has spell check but using Word why worry
  • Copy pictures to own site, and don’t overuse new feature for formatting them in Word.
  • If you want modified pictures, pick them from subdirectory after Save as htm unfiltered.
  • Don’t rename or use blanks in the name of your blog site if using MS Live Space.
  • Word add-in not supported by Google for new version of Blogger??
  • Life in Sydney seems great.


XLRocks – the place to discover Office 2007.

2007-02-22

Welcome to my blog. My name is Rickard Olsson and I will try to be your host and guide you here. I am a middle-aged man running my own IT-consulting business for more than twenty years, focused on Microsoft Office for the last fourteen years. I will try to tell you about my first stumbling steps into Office 2007, the new release of Office with a lot of great new features for many of the common and advanced users. I have given this blog the name ‘XLRocks‘ because I guess you are as many of my clients ‘Rocks on Excel’. This is meant to be a meeting place for all interested in exchanging experience around MS Office 2007.

Some of the XL rocks along the beautiful road between Mellbourne and Aderlaide. ( ‘Twelve Apostles’ ) (more pics…)

I have the feeling that the new Office release has a lot of Rock’n-Roll built into it. What is your opinion? I really hope you will take your time and share your thoughts about Office 2007 here. Having more than a decade’s experience of Office I feel like a solid rock and I hope that many more of the real rocks in Excel and other Office products will participate in the creation of this meeting place.

One of the new sexy features of Word 2007 is the blog-support. So what is more natural than starting this blog by giving the new Blog-functions of Word 2007 a chance?

Conclusions: This blog is organized like this. If you are in a hurry and just need facts, just read this section. Here are the conclusions of the story above.
· If you use new software, be aware of that anything your brain fantasizes is available, is not there.
· Dreams come through in release 2 of a feature, is another aspect of the same fact.
· This is true of Microsoft today, but in history it was not, and for most other SW-suppliers it has always been the case.
· Clicking on a photo in this blog will give you an entry into ‘Virtual Earth’ where it was taken.
· Clicking in the text below the photo has two links, one giving you more information of the area.
· And the second gives you more of my photos in the surroundings when I was there.