I write my blog posts on a PDA. Whenever I get a handful of minutes I whip out Attila, my trusty Tungsten T and I’m swimming with the words. With a few useful free tools and productive “processes” its become a liberating experience. The commute has become an productive time. I have no problems if Mrs C wants to check out yet another shop. The Tungsten T is small enough to use without sitting down. Miraculously it works after all these years of heavy use.
My mobile blogging is a consequence of negotiating the priorities of how I spend my time. I prefer to reduce computer time at home and spend it with Mrs C (though she’s sceptical that’s happening). By going mobile I have managed to cram fragments of writing time that add up to about uber an hour a day. Not ideal but better than nothing.
I write my posts in 2 stages. The first “mobile” stage is where the actual writing happens. Its about getting vaguely interesting ideas scattered in my head into the PDA. I then organise those ideas into a supposedly coherent flow of sentences. Stage 1 is very much a “brain storming through writing” process which deserves a separate post. During this stage, I use the default Memo Pad app in the Palm OS which syncs easily with my desktop. Memo Pad’s minimal features doesn’t get in the way the writing. Memo Pad’s character limit is a helpful editorial tool against wordiness. If the post gets too long to fit in a single memo pad file, I’m left with 2 options:
- “optimise”/prune the verbiage to fit the post into a single memo pad note
- split the post into a series. The <road trip posts> are a result of taking this editorial axe to a long rambling piece of word vomit.
Stage 2 – editing and “research”- happens at home. It also includes creating – in the case of blog posts using Google Earth images – formatting and adding images. “Research” involves looking up background info and sites to link to. Ideally to support what I’m writing about. Time pressure on this stage is quietly frantic – sandwiched between dinner, e-mails and talking to the Mrs. It also competes with other blogging tasks such as responding to comments and checking out other blogs. Lately I have started to do more editing while on the go. It slows down the posting rate but will hopefully cut down on time spent with wife #2.
Desktop blog editing tools
I use the Scribefire blog editer on Firefox for stage 2. After syncing the PDA with my mac, I simply copy-paste the text into Scribefire I gave up using Textedit and Writing room because it is much simpler to add links in Scribefire. I usually have one Firefox window dedicated to Scribefire and another to browse for links. Copymenu Firefox extension has become an indispensable bloging tool. Specifically for quickly grabbing URLs and text to create meaningful links. When I had the time, I used the TextEdit application’s Speech function on OS X to read out the text to me. Its a fantastic way of proof reading. As you will notice that doesn’t happen anymore :)
Downside of Mobile blogging
Most glaring is the disjointed nature of the writing. Its quite obvious at the start of the editing stage. Even if I manage to smoothen it out, the jerky jotted feel of the writing is still there. Quite often there’s a lot of repetition. A natural consequence of scribbling a few sentences at a time. The scattered writing process make it harder to keep a “big picture” view of a longish post. Outlines tend to restrict rather than help during the early writing/brainstorming phase.
I am not the only “mobile” in the Sri Lankan blogosphere. Kalusuddha blogs with a Blackberry, and a tablet PC. At a differently mobile level, the nomadic Urban Urchin of Lost Landscape blogs from net cafes using a set of apps installed on an USB key. Not sure if he still does.
Up-next: Mobile Blogging without connectivity costs.