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28 June 2012

Blog Activity Tracking Comparison

Sometimes readers of your blog will do something to indicate their presence, such as leaving a comment, clicking a like button, or subscribing. Many readers, however, choose not to leave their mark. As a blogger, it's nice to know how much of an audience you're reaching and which of your posts they find the most interesting. This is where activity trackers come in.


Blogger gives you many different views of your blog's activity from various parts of your blog's main page.

Blogger Overview Page

The Overview page displays a graph that shows page views for the past week. You can move your cursor around on the graph to see the number of page views for each day. Text beneath the graph indicates the top website sources for your traffic. The Updates box on the right gives you some quick summary information.

25 June 2012

Blog Audience Comparison

Writing a blog can be fun and satisfying on its own, but having an audience makes it even better. The question is, how hard do you have to work to find your audience?


Blogger has a Blogs of Note page that shows links to blogs in a format that you can choose, with a seemingly infinite scrollability, and a search box to narrow the field. You can get to this page either via a link from the login page or by knowing the address of the page. I was unable to find my blog here.

Blogger Blogs of Note

21 June 2012

Blog Posting Comparison — Styles, Tools, and Ease of Use

The options that you have and the tools that you use while creating a post are very important. There are some interesting similarities and differences among Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress. The information that follows is based on the blog themes that I chose. There may be differences for other themes.

Post Styles

Blogger has one post style — a text box in which you can put whatever you want. The text box can be resized to the length of the page by dragging down on the little arrow, which is very useful for long posts. You can switch back and forth between Compose and HTML views.

Blogger Post Page

20 June 2012

Blog Appearance Comparison

Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress let you adjust the appearance of your free blog to varying degrees.


Blogger has several templates, 34 at last count, that are categorized as follows: Dynamic Views, Simple, Picture Window, Awesome Inc., Watermark, Ethereal, and Travel. I chose a simple template whose layout allows me to do the following:
  • Upload a custom favorite icon
  • Choose a navigation bar color and style
  • Enter a blog title and description and upload a header image
  • Add gadgets — such as an About Me link, a search box, a Google +1 button, blog archive links, etc. — and place them in a location and order that I choose within certain constraints
  • Add a copyright footer line

Blogger Template Layout
Blogger Template Layout

15 June 2012

The WordPress Dashboard

 WordPress Main Dashboard

 WordPress has a tabbed main dashboard that gives you access to the following:
  • New Post gives you quick access to creating a post for your primary blog. The post layout is determined by the type of post you choose: text, photo, video, quote, or link.
  • Reader is where you can link up with friends or search by topic and find other blogs to follow.
  • Notifications is where you can see who likes or has commented on your posts, followed your blog, or reblogged your posts. You can also see awards given to you for things like getting 5 likes, for example.
  • Stats gives you information about traffic to your site, including At A Glance, Views by Country, Top Posts & Pages, Clicks, Referrers, Tags & Categories, Search Engine Terms, and Totals, Followers & Shares.
  • My Blog gives you access to your blogs and allows you to create a new one.
  • Freshly Pressed shows the latest blog posts at WordPress.

The Tumblr Dashboard

Tumblr has a fairly simple dashboard for accessing and maintaining your blogs.

Tumblr Main Dashboard

The links across the top of the page give you access to your dashboard, each blog that you've created, the ability to create a new blog, your message inbox, help, preferences, and logging out.

The top word balloon contains links that allow you to create a new post of one of the following types for your primary blog: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, or Video.

The word balloons below this show not only the posts from your primary blog, but also posts from other blogs that you follow.

The Blogger Dashboard

Blogger has a simple main dashboard that gives you access not only to your own blogs, but also to other blogs that you choose to follow. Well, theoretically. The All blogs link does not appear to work, but when you click the Add button, you're allowed to enter a URL to follow.

Blogger Main Dashboard

13 June 2012

The Free Blogging Site Experiment

Eenie Meenie Minie Moe

I recently picked up The Blogger's Book in my local Barnes & Noble bookstore. It's one of the many cool computer, art, and design-related magazines published in Great Britain. This bookazine is a guide to blogging with WordPress, Tumblr, and Joomla, and contains Getting Started, Hosting, Customisation, and Themes sections, as well as a section called Tips, Tricks & Social networking.

The Blogger's Book

08 June 2012

Mod Interrupted

The Plot Thickens

After releasing TGD03 The Lizard's Head, I immediately began working on the next Morrowind mod I wanted to do in my Traveller's Guide to Dining series. I turned my attention to the Plot and Plaster tavern in Tel Aruhn, which had always intrigued me because of its name. First I looked up the various meanings of both plot and plaster to see which kinds of story ideas they would engender. Plot can mean plan, scheme, conspiracy, intrigue, scenario, story, design, or tract of land. Plaster as a verb can mean spread or smear; as a noun can mean a thick gooey material or something to make a molded structure with; or in slang can mean to get drunk (plastered). I eventually came up with a story along the conspiracy and intrigue line that would be weird and Lovecraftian and would be revealed to the player throughout a multi-part quest.

Tel Aruhn is a small island, the home of Telvanni Archmagister Gothren and his entourage, and populated with many local shopkeepers and fishermen. I decided to involve quite a few of the existing characters in my story. To give each one a different character, I came up with personality types: gossip, skeptic, scholar, spiritualist, and weirdo. I also created two new characters, one to serve as a local travel guide, the other to be the waiter in the tavern. I wrote quite a bit of dialogue for at least a dozen characters, making each personality unique and defining their relationships to each other.

01 June 2012

Night of the Lizard

Boring Inn

For my fifth Morrowind mod I decided to do a treatment of The Lizard's Head in Vivec. In the plain vanilla version of the game, this inn is pretty blah. There are five characters in the place, but only one of them has anything particularly interesting to say. You'd think with a name like The Lizard's Head, and the fact that there's a mounted Argonian head hidden away in the storage room, there would be an intriguing back story. But there wasn't, so I made one up.

After considering various ideas and coming up with a story that involved several new characters and some complicated interactions, I eventually simplified the concept to disturbances at the inn seemingly associated with the Argonian head in the storage room. So as not to spoil the mod for anyone who hasn't played it, I won't go into detail here. I'll just say that the player can find out what's causing the disturbances, get some back story that explains something that happened in the past, and do a small quest to resolve the situation in a satisfactory manner.