Saturday, May 12, 2012

6 Tools That I Cannot Blog Without
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  • Saturday, May 12, 2012
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  • Maintaining a blog is not easy. Since I am the only blogger for TechCovered, I have the responsibility to both publish articles and also to maintain the blog – which includes editing the design, making it more classy, etc. I, obviously, cannot do without a set of very useful, yet free, tools. Here are the collection of tools, that is responsible for TechCovered:

    blogging-tools

    1) Windows Live Writer

    I honestly cannot imagine blogging without firing up this blog editor everyday. Since I use blogger to host my blog, the inbuilt editor is much much worse than Windows Live Writer. Whether it is to edit code within a post, or add some cool effects to photographs, WLW does it all, and hence deserves my foremost respect and the first mention in blogging tools.In fact, its so great, that it even has a dedicated blog about it.

    Here is a tip sheet from TechieBuzz. Don’t blog unless you have this installed.

    2) Stats

    This actually isn’t a tool, but deserves a mention. You probably won’t know how much a blog is being appreciated or loathed by the general public, unless you have a stat counter or analytics enabled for your blog. I still learn from some of my crowd-pulling articles, and imitate the same style of blogging I used in those articles, to improve the chances of the article I am working on.

    I rely on the blogger stat system, though it may sometimes be inaccurate, but is simple enough for me. Wordpress users must, without a doubt, use Google Analytics.

    3) Paint.Net

    Every blogger needs an image editing tool if he wants to publish images on his blog, and in my case, Paint.NET is THE image editor I use. It was originally meant as a free replacement of MS Paint (which I strongly advise against any blogger to use) but has grown into a much powerful tool, even being compared to the industry standard Adobe Photoshop. It also supports a lot of plug-ins and filters, which is another plus point.

    The GIMP is also a free image editor, but isn’t really that simple to use, and is (in many cases) too complicated for casual bloggers to use.

    4) Your Own Font

    Another less important point in blogging is using special fonts, instead of using standard and default fonts like Georgia, Arial and such. Google Web Fonts is an excellent resource for some really interesting font, all of which can be used online easily, and can also be downloaded and be used offline.

    For TechCovered, I use Patrick Hand Regular as the primary font in images, and Droid Serif (the Serif font Android uses) in my theme.

    You can also try Font Squirrel and DaFont for a list of free fonts available for download.

    5) Firefox with Firebug

    I am not that good a coder to just create a theme from scratch, or to edit code blindly. I need the help of Firefox browser, loaded with Firebug plug-in (one of the best combinations I have ever seen) to edit the HTML of my website. I also use ColorZilla to pick colors for my website theme, that is actually an icing on the cake with firebug.

    Chrome and Opera too offer website inspectors, but none as good as the Firefox-firebug pair.

    6) What to blog about ~

    This isn’t really a tool, but is rather a technique. Any blogger, would eventually, run out of stuff to blog. In that case, the internet is to your rescue, and provides with a ton of aggregating and social networking websites, with which you can easily get stuff to write about.

    Social networks like Twitter (mainly) and Facebook are places where you can follow big corporations and follow up on their stories.

    If you subscribe to feeds, then Google Reader is on your side – easily aggregating the news across the web and keeping you updated. Feed Demon is an offline alternative to Google reader, that is also recommended.

    What you can also use:

    The above mentioned tools are what I use for TechCovered. However, the internet still contains a vast majority of tools which can also be additionally used to make your blogging experience go smooth.

    Evernote is an application (online and offline – even available for phones) that you can use to sketch/jolt down notes/points regarding anything. Ideas for articles come at unexpected times, and if they do, then note it down on evernote for later use. One Note is an alternative, but is not as flexible as evernote, though it offers great features. Using an actual notebook while blogging also makes sense.

    If you are a technology blogger, you might also need to capture screenshots, for which I would recommend Snag It. It is a screen capture tool, which also has an inbuilt editor, which I mostly use to make quick screenshot images. The Windows default Print Screen key+Paint.net is also good enough for me, most of the time.

    You need a lot of coding expertise to make a good looking, functioning blog, and if you lack those, then W3 Schools is more than happy to help you learn the essential languages. Learning JavaScript is also a necessity these days, so keep your head full.

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    Modified Mash2 theme being used