Happy Anniversary Rena! — Thoughts on Blogging

Peacearena.org: 5 year blogiversary, or, my thanksgiving story

I started blogging on Thanksgiving weekend in 2003. I was inspired by an Oklahoma blog I started reading shortly after moving to the state in January. That blog: JMBzine and its owner is now a friend and colleague of mine in several social service and political projects.

Of course, I have blogged very sporatically, and using at least five different URLs and using the following blog tools

* Movable Type
* Blogger
* WordPress
* Xoops
* Wordress again
* Drupal
* WordPress again

It is hard to believe that it has been 5 years (both of Rena’s blogging but also of my friendship with her). Time sure does fly.

Rena’s post has made me think a bit of what I’ve learned about blogging over the long haul. (I started blogging on May 24, 2001, so I’ve been doing this for 7-1/2 years)

I’ll have to give it some thought, but most blog authors who stick with it for a long time do one of three things…

1. They write lots and don’t worry much about editing. (which is mostly my philosophy)
2. They are super dedicated and treat much like a “real” publication (sorta the Okiefunk.com model — most who manage to do this either have lots of free time, are super-dedicated and/or have figured out a way to make money off their blog)
3. They stop and start many times, often reinventing themselves in the process, but they don’t ever give up for very long (I’ve done this some, as has Rena)

I think the key though is to just do it. I wish more people would. It is such an empowering thing to do and has definitely made my life richer.

Also on a sidenote, I took a quick scan through my old mass media grad school term paper, The Blogging Phenomenon: An Overview and Theoretical Consideration. It is interesting to look at for me, because I had only been blogging for a few months when I wrote that paper. I also found it interesting to look at the Mass Media theories discussed in the paper (the 2nd half of the paper). I think I can now say that those theories were in fact pretty descriptive of what happened with the phenomenon of blogging. Blogs serve as both the “agenda setters” but also as news makers who shape not only what is discussed but how it is discussed.

My linux experience thus far

Some of y’all know I’ve been wrestling with computer problems a lot lately. My old Gateway laptop’s hard drive crashed on me (after only owning it a little over a year), which was a big headache as my backup procedures were not as good as they should have been.

So I ordered a restore disk from Gateway and in the meantime bought a cheap Compaq laptop (for around $450). It ran great for a couple of weeks and then the touchpad and keyboard quit working on me. I did everything imaginable to try to fix it without luck (I can use it with a usb mouse and keyboard), but thankfully I have the protection plan on it so hopefully I can get it fixed or replaced asap.

Meanwhile I bought what I thought was the right hard drive to put back in the Gateway (I had to replace the crashed HD before trying to restore the OS) but I got a stupid SATA hard drive instead of an ultra ATA hard drive. So I went back and turned it back in for store credit, and then bought another hard drive online but they goofed up and sent me a 3.5″ HD instead of a 2.5″ HD (in other words, a desktop HD instead of a laptop HD). Fun times.

So while waiting for all of this, I started messing around with web-based desktop suites and later with linux (to run on my Gateway while waiting to get a HD).

After trying 4 different Linux versions and a bunch of different web-based desktop suites, I ended up with what I think is a pretty sweet situation.

For the OS, I’m using Puppy Linux. It is pretty barebones (similar to DSL – Damn Small Linux) but has most of what I need and runs great right out of the box. I tried some bigger Linux versions (fedora and ubuntu) but they frankly were more buggy and harder to configure. For storage, I’m using 2 flash drives – one for the OS and applications, the other for data.

By the way here are some pretty slick screen shots from Puppy linux users.

As for the desktop suite, I wanted something that would store all of my critical files (so that I would always have an off-site backup) but also would allow me to ideally work on my files from any computer. And I wanted to have basic office functions — calendar, task lists, etc. I tried several different packages that have try to do it all (the best I found was Desktoptwo, but in the end I combined several things together.

What I’m using is IGoogle.com (google’s personalized widget-based homepage). On my front tab, I have Gmail, Google calendars, a task list, and widget for Box.net. I then use Box.net for my file storage (which is much better than google docs, as I can upload entire folders at once). As for working with the files, I can either use Open Office or MS Word on whatever computer I’m at, or I can work with the files on Google documents and then load them back into Box.net.

So far, so good. I suspect I’ll still probably use Windows Vista once I get all of my compter problems worked out, but I gotta say that Linux is looking pretty good right now.