Other Blogs – part 1

As you might expect, there are blogs available on just about any topic that you can imagine. One of the interesting things about blogs is that it is lowers the hurdle for having your point of view ‘heard’ on the web, so blogs are available from ‘professional authors’ and ‘regular Joes’ alike. Here are a few blogs that you may find interesting:

Dan Miller’s “No More Monday’s” blog:
http://48daysblog.wordpress.com/

Slidell Katrina Relief Blog (Our friends the Sweetland’s at Faith Bible Church):
http://web.mac.com/mjsweetland/Katrina/SlidellBlog/SlidellBlog.html

Betty Crocker’s Recipe Blog:
http://www.bettycrocker.com/tools/RSSFeeds.htm

Lauren Brooks Photo Blog
(Lauren and Lincoln were the photographers who shot Laura’s wedding)
http://www.breathe-deeply.com/

Lincoln Barber’s Photo Blog
http://www.lincolnbarbour.com/ides-of-may/

More later

Photo: © Copyright Jon McDermott – Taken on the intracoastal waterway, Florida. Feb 2006. (it has nothing to do with the topic of this post, I just thought it was a cool Grady White pic)

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Blog Readers

I get a lot of feedback that many don’t “get” blogs. What is the purpose? What is the advantage of a blog? I think one of the issues behind this is that folks who are new to blogs don’t yet know about blog readers. If you want to keep up with the latest posts on a few or many blogs on the internet, it can be a big hassle to visit each blog website individually, checking to see if anything is new.

Enter blog readers. A blog reader is an ‘aggregator’ of blog content. You ‘subscribe’ to one or many blogs in the blog reader, and let it do the work for you. The blog reader pulls the newest posts from all the blogs that you have subscribed to, and it pulls all those posts into a single “inbox”, much like your email inbox. You can then browse and read all new blog posts in one list. Any time you find that you are no longer interested in the blog, you just “Unsubscribe”.

Avid blog fans almost never visit the individual blogs that they are interested in. They let their blog reader do all the work.

Where do you find a blog reader? As usual, there are many choices. Some are used on a website, so there is no software to buy or install. Others must be downloaded and installed on your computer. Here is an incomplete list of popular blog readers:

Google Reader (this is the one I use, I like the fact that it uses my existing Google/Gmail account to log in, no new username/pw required)
http://www.google.com/reader

Bloglines (like Google Reader, you use this one on a website)
http://www.bloglines.com/

Newsgator (they offer both a web based reader and one that you download and install) Note that blog readers are sometimes called “RSS Readers”.
http://www.newsgator.com

As blogs become more popular, they are being supported in software/websites you may already use. Examples include:
Outlook 2007
My Yahoo
Windows Live
My AOL

Once you have selected your blog reader, go to your favorite blog, and look for the “Subscribe” link. Sometimes this link is also labeled “RSS” or “ATOM”.

On Jons Blog you will find a subscribe button on the right hand column, below the archives. Click the colorful “Subscribe” button, then choose the reader you have selected.

There are other cool things that you can do with a blog reader, but I’ll save this topic for a future post.

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Quotation for 17-April-08

“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick

Photo: © Copyright Jon McDermott – Taken on the Road to Hana, Maui – August 2006

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Verse for 15-April-08

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.

Mark 12:13-17 (NIV)
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Portland Area Real Estate

This Spring we are ‘celebrating’ the 2nd anniversary of our home search. It has been a frustrating process, and I’ve been particularly mystified about the Portland area real estate market’s apparent disregard for the law of supply and demand. The number of houses on the market continues to grow, the number of days on the market grows, and yet there is no significant pullback in prices. A post on the Hillsboro Realtor blog today has a perspective on the market that I really appreciate:

The Hillsboro Realtor: Weekly Mortgage Matters!: “Many of us are anchored to home prices and mortgage application processes in vogue four years ago. But that’s not today’s market, and no amount of wishing will turn back the clock. If buyers are only willing to pay $200,000 for a house bought for $250,000, the $50,000 difference is gone. Listing the house for $250,000 is a waste of time for everyone involved. Same can be said for applying for a subprime, non-verified loan.

This isn’t to say that home-price appreciation and more relaxed lending standards aren’t in the future; they very likely are. But if someone needs to sell a home or get a mortgage today, he has to play by today’s rules. The sooner everyone realizes that fact, the sooner the housing market will begin its recovery.”

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We must go out

“A young man beginning his work with the Coast Guard was called with his crew to try a desperate rescue in a great storm. Frightened, rain and wind pounding his face, the man cried to his captain, “We will never get back!” The captain replied, “We don’t have to come back, but we must go out.”

Spirtual Leadership, Chapter 8, by J. Oswald Sanders

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Why Blog – Part 2

Reasons to Blog (cont’):

3. It is cathartic. Something about writing down my thoughts that helps me work out what I really think about something, and brings clarity.

4. It brings some sort of ‘closure’ and enhanced enjoyment of a recent event. Remember when people used to create scrapbooks or photo albums with captions for each photo? They did this both to share the experience with others, and to ‘relive’ it one more time for themselves.

5. It is very easy. Despite what my friend Tom says, creating a blog post takes no more time than writing an email. There is some one time setup involved to create the blog in the first place, but once that’s done – you can create a short post in less than 1 minute.

6. Something unexpected may come of it. I like to try out new stuff, often I find value or usefulness in it that is totally unexpected.

Enough already.

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Why blog?

A good friend of mine called me over the weekend in response to my “Anyone out there?” post. (following instructions must not be his strong suit, I asked for a comment to my post, he called me instead).

In any case, he asked me why the heck I blog. He implied that it ‘looked like I was going to a lot of trouble’ to blog, and wondered what the motivation is. Given that I was absent from my blog for over 2 years, the motivation still remains to be proven out, but here are the best answers I can give off the top of my head:

Reasons to blog:

  1. Kindof / sortof a substitute for sending cards or letters to friends and family (which I never do). As a kid, I remember that my Mom’s side of the family would make a tape recorded ‘letter’ on the new fangled reel-to-reel tape recorder, and send the tape through the mail to other members of the family. It was a cool way to catch up on family happenings, and it was so much richer than a paper letter because of the addition of the voices and sounds. I don’t have the patience to do a recording, but a blog is richer than a paper letter (albeit not as personalized), because it is easy to include text, photos and videos in your blog.
  2. Quick and easy way to share pictures. I use Picasa to manage digital pictures on my computer, and including one or more pictures on my blog using Picasa is literally a ‘one click’ exercise. Click the “Blog This” button, write the optional narrative/caption/text, and click submit. Picasa takes care of posting the thumbnail picture and text to your blog, and even takes care of making a full size version of the picture available through a link.

Wow, this has gotten verbose already. Blogs are intended to be short and sweet… easily consumed. I’m going to stop here, and pick up with reason #3 in a future post.

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Anyone out there?

The strange thing about blogging is that it sometimes feels like a monologue, because you can’t always tell if anyone is paying any attention to your blog. Anyone out there? Leave me a comment if so. Just click the nn comments link just under this post, and have your say. You don’t have to register/login to do so, either choose the Name/URL option and enter your name or handle, or choose Anonymous to be mysterious. Thanks.

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