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iWeb '09 Essential Training

What is a blog?


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iWeb '09 Essential Training

with Garrick Chow

Video: What is a blog?

In this chapter we are going to talk about blogs and podcasts. I'm hoping that you have at least heard of these two terms before and don't think I'm just making up words. But just in case you don't know what they are, I'm going to spend a little bit of time explaining blogs and podcasts. The two are actually sort of similar. We'll start by talking about blogs. What they are. How to set one up in iWeb and how to publish and update it, then we'll move on to podcast. So let's begin with blogs. Blog is short for web log, but nobody really says that anymore these days, everybody just says blog. And it's basically a journal that's posted online for people to read. These days it seems like just about everyone has a blog, and that's really one of the great things about the web.

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iWeb '09 Essential Training
3h 30m Beginner May 13, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Anyone looking for a fast and easy way to build a great web site can use iWeb to bring together and post photos and videos that were created using other iLife '09 applications. Instructor Garrick Chow demonstrates the basic functions and the new features of this application in iWeb '09 Essential Training. Garrick shows how to create and publish everything from basic web pages containing text and images to more involved pages with video. He also demonstrates how to create blogs and podcast pages. Exercise file accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Manipulating and adjusting images directly in iWeb '09
  • Using built-in widgets to add interactivity
  • Importing movies from iMovie
  • Creating photo pages from iPhoto
  • Managing multiple sites
  • Using MobileMe with iWeb '09
  • Blogging and podcasting
  • Publishing a site via FTP
Subject:
Web
Software:
iWeb
Author:
Garrick Chow

What is a blog?

In this chapter we are going to talk about blogs and podcasts. I'm hoping that you have at least heard of these two terms before and don't think I'm just making up words. But just in case you don't know what they are, I'm going to spend a little bit of time explaining blogs and podcasts. The two are actually sort of similar. We'll start by talking about blogs. What they are. How to set one up in iWeb and how to publish and update it, then we'll move on to podcast. So let's begin with blogs. Blog is short for web log, but nobody really says that anymore these days, everybody just says blog. And it's basically a journal that's posted online for people to read. These days it seems like just about everyone has a blog, and that's really one of the great things about the web.

Anyone can post their own opinions and thoughts on just about any topic they want, and anyone interested in reading those journals can do so. What makes a blog different than a basic webpage? Glad you asked. True, you could open up just about any page template in iWeb, type a couple of paragraphs of your thoughts and call it a journal, but blogs are special in that they allow people to subscribe to them. Meaning if someone is interested enough in your blog, they can use special software to subscribe to your blog, so they'll know there is a new entry as soon as you update your blog. This ability for people to subscribe to your blog makes blog attractive to not just individuals, but also to companies and businesses who more and more are taking advantage of the interactive aspects of the web, and doing things like maintaining their own blogs to keep in touch with their customers or to draw in new business. Now typically blog entries are organized on a single page with the newest entries at the top of the page. Visitors to your blog can quickly scan the entry titles, and maybe the first few sentences of the entry. If they want to keep reading they can click a link to read the entire entry.

For example, if I go to apple.com/ mobileme/news, here you will find a blog about using MobileMe. So here you can see a list of all the entries in this blog. Notice that each entry is dated and actually this is a great site to visit for news and tips on using MobileMe and iLife apps in general. Now the articles in this particular blog are kind of a typical of other blogs in that all the entries are short enough that they appear in their entirety on the main blog page. Blogs longer entries typically displayed just the first few sentences or paragraphs of an entry, and then provide a link to read the entire article on its own page. Usually you will see something at the bottom of the entry that says something like read more, or continue reading, or something like that.

Now the MobileMe blog here still works in that way in that I can click in entries headline, and then read that article on its own page, but I had already seen this article in its entirety on the front page. But the advantage of each article having its own page is that you can bookmark this page so you can always find this exact article again. Due to the nature of blog pages pushing older entries down the main blog page until they are moved into an archive, you probably won't always be able to find this article on the front of the MobileMe blog. But now that I have it on its own page, I can bookmark this permanent page and come back to it anytime I want. You can see this is the permanent address for this entry. Let's go back to the main page.

Notice this button that says Subscribe to Updates with the RSS icon next to it. When you create a blog with iWeb it automatically creates what's known as an RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and RSS feeds provide the titles and summaries for each blog entry in a simple list format without any special formatting or presentation. It's basically the quickest way to scan a blog's entry to see if there is something you want to read. So when I click Subscribe to Update here in Safari, I'm taken to the RSS feed. Unlike some other web browsers, Safari is actually an RSS reader as well as a web browser.

So I can view and subscribe to any RSS feed I want without a separate program, and just to give you a brief rundown of Safari's RSS capabilities, I can use the Article Length slider to determine how much of an article I want to see on this page. Right now it's at the maximum, but if I drag to the left you can see the entries are getting shorter, and if I drag all the way to the left, I'll only see the article headlines and the first sentence or so of the article itself. Seeing less of the articles can make it easier to get an overview of all the entries. Let's drag that back up. I can also sort the list of entries by Date, which is the default, Title, Source or just the newest entries. We can also search by articles that were published today, which are none. Yesterday still no articles. In the last seven day, one article, this month and last month.

I'm going to switch it back to the defaults of All and Sort By Date. There is even a Search Article's field up here to search the articles for specific words or phrases. So for instance, if I wanted to find any articles on the iPhone, I could type that in, and now I see all the articles that mention the iPhone, and I'll clear that search field. But the real power of RSS feeds is the ability to subscribe to them. When you subscribe to a blog or any website with an RSS feed, it means you don't have to remember to check back periodically to see if there is new content available.

Safari will check for you and automatically display the number of new entries or articles that have been posted since your last visit. Subscribing to an RSS feed in Safari is as easy as bookmarking the page. So if I want to subscribe to this blog, all I have to do is add it to my Bookmarks Bar. First I have to see my Bookmarks Bar. First I'll choose View > Show Bookmarks Bar, and I can just drag its address icon into my Bookmarks Bar, and I'll leave its default name, click OK, and you can see it's now been added. Then I can go to Safari's RSS preferences by choosing Safari Preferences, RSS, and here I can specify how often I want Safari to check for new articles.

I can check for updates Every 30 minutes, Every hour, Every day or Never, meaning I would manually choose the check for new articles. I can specify how Safari will determine whether articles have been read or not. I can choose as soon as view them are in the RSS page they have been read, or after actually clicking them to go to their permanent pages that would mark them as read. By default Safari will highlight unread articles making them easier to find, and I can choose to remove articles after two weeks, after one day, after a week, and so on and so on. I'll go ahead and close preferences. So now anytime a new article is added to the MobileMe blog, I'll see the number of new articles appear next to the icon in my bookmarks bar. Kind of like you see next to the New York Times technology blog that I have previously subscribed to, let me go ahead and click on that. This is the view that you will find at tech.nytimes.com. So this is the technology page of the New York Times, and in the address bar again I can see an RSS icon, clicking that shows me the feed that we were just looking at. Now I previously subscribed to this technology blog simply again by dragging its icon down into my bookmarks bar, don't need to do that again since it's already right here, and you can see that I have 114 articles that I haven't read, so I'm kind of behind on reading my New York Times articles here. But again, this is a great way to quickly scan through headlines without having to scan around an entire webpage, and be distracted by blinking ad banners.

Anytime I see that a number of new articles have been added, I can visit the site to scan through them. Now this feed actually contained advertisements as you can see here Melt my Wrinkles Away, 2009 Credit Score, and so on, and that just gives me an opportunity to demo how great it is that you can easily customize your feed display by dragging the Article Length slider to the left until those adds disappear. So this may seem like I have been talking a little bit more about RSS feeds and subscribing to them, than about blogs, but really the two go hand in hand. Basically you set up your blog in iWeb then you update it whenever you like and publish your updates. People who visit your blog in Safari or another RSS browser can subscribe to your blog to be alerted anytime you post a new entry, or they can just choose to skip subscribing and visit your blog whenever they remember to do so on their own, and that's the gist of it. In the next video we'll actually setup a blog in our iWeb site and add a couple of entries to see how this whole thing works.

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