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    The Best Blogging Platform is…

    Posted: January 12th, 2009 | Author: Agitationist | Filed under: blogging, social media, tools | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Tumblr.

    By far.

    If you’re not familiar with Tumblr, don’t let the stupid name put you off. While everyone has been nattering on about Twitter, Tumblr has built what is very nearly the perfect tool for publishing on the web. It’s easily the best blogging platform in existence. Why?

    It’s incredibly easy, and it scales effortlessly from Twitter-length messages to full-length blog posts with images, multimedia – whatever you like.

    Some elitist techie gatekeepers may not like this ease of use, but I say screw ‘em.  It’s a new day, people.

    Here’s how you do it with Tumblr:

    1. Go to tumblr.com (time: 1 second).
       
    2. Sign up. Fill in three text fields – your email, a password, and the name you want, i.e. xxxx.tumblr.com (time: maybe 10 seconds).
       
    3. You are taken to your Dashboard page. From there, click one of these buttons, and share something: (time: whatever you like).

      Each type of post has a built-in code snippet that tells it to treat each type of post differently, with zero effort on your part. Audio files you upload are served up in a sweet little Flash-based player. Quotes are pre-formatted with blockquote styling. Everything looks like it should – automatically.

    4. Done. You don’t even need a title for your post. It’s amazing how freeing that is.
       
    5. (optional) Put a “Share on Tumblr” button in your toolbar (get it from the “Goodies” page). When you see something you want to share on the web, click the button. Absurdly easy.
       
    6. (optional) Surf other tumblelogs (yes, that’s what they call them), and when you like a post, click the “re-blog” button. It’s added to your blog, with the proper attribution.
       
    7. (optional) Customize your look. Although Tumblr is the first and only platform whose default style looks absolutely great, there are plenty of excellent, free styles to chose from.
       
    8. (optional) Make your own style (if you’re handy with CSS), point your own domain at your blog, add custom html/javascript…do your thing.
       
    9. (optional) Get fancy. Publish RSS feeds, post via email, phone, IM, OSX widget. Import posts from your other blog with one click. Embed this blog in your other one with a tiny bit of code. Use third party tools and mash it up. Follow other users – yes, like Twitter, only much much better.

    You’ll soon see that Tumblr scales up and down with your thoughts, from random asides to lengthy manifestos. Find something on the web, and want to share it without jumping through hoops? No problem, click one button. Just had a funny thought, but not enough for a blog post? Scribble it out and click a button. Found a great photo of Mr. T and Nancy Reagan smoking crack? Please send it to me privately – I think we could get some money for that. Everything else, put it on Tumblr.

    Oh, and all the cool kids are doing it:

    For a few examples of what you can do with this amazing tool, check out the winners of this year’s Tumblr Awards, announced on Friday.

    And have I mentioned that this is all free

    There is no longer any excuse. Take your passion. Make it happen. Et cetera.

    p.s. Yes, I’m using WordPress for this blog. Though it is annoying, complicated, time-consuming and difficult to maintain, it’s still more suitable for long, editorial-style posts, and some of the plug-ins are must-haves for a blog of this type. But I may just switch over any day now. Meanwhile, I’ve been toying around with it here.

    p.p.s.: As with anything, there are disadvantages: the data is on their servers, with no back-up option. If they perceive you as a spammer, they’ll “disappear” you faster than Dick Cheney. But if you own your own domain, use a roll-your-own backup tool (Google “Tumblr backup”), and play nice, you should stay happy.

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    CSS Grid Design Made Easy

    Posted: January 9th, 2009 | Author: Agitationist | Filed under: design, tools | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

    Via ISO50 comes word of an excellent (and free) tool for grid-based CSS layout: Grid Designer 2, by Danish web developer Rasmus Shultz.

    For anyone not yet on the grid, here are two nice introductory pieces, some more resources, and a couple of well-known systems.

    Grid Designer 2 allows you to mock up a complete grid design online in a single open source script. Incredibly, it’s only three simple steps:

    1. Columns

    Input the number and width of the desired columns. Use the buttons, or type in numeric values. You can play with the gutters and margins to your heart’s content, while previewing live on screen.

    2. Typography

    Now it gets fun. Adjust the fonts, styles, leading, spacing, line height and more, again with live preview. Paragraph and H1 through H6 are all available.

    3. Export

    Are you kidding? Yes, unbelievably, we’re done. Grid Designer outputs the CSS style sheet and an html container, scalable if you wish. Copy it, use it, love it.

    I’ve just begun playing with this, but as I’m sure you can tell, I’m pretty impressed. I’m sure the output will require some tweaking unless you want a straight-laced, magazine-style grid.

    Also, despite the alert stating “NEW! Now supports designs with spanning columns!” it looks to me like you’d have to add these manually after the fact. If anyone can see that I’m missing something, please let me know.

    In any case, Grid Designer 2 gets five stars so far, and I look forward to using it for real very soon. Thanks Rasmus!

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