More on blogging with touch

Another day, another try with blogging on the iPod Touch. One nice feature of the wordpress iPhone blogging tool is the ability to store local drafts of posts. So while it takes longer to type an entry, one can take a break, save the local draft, and return to writing later.

The onscreen keyboard takes some getting used to, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Still, I’m not as well versed in the “texting” approach to typing. My thumbs seem to big to type accurately while using both of them. Perhaps I’d be better at this if I had pointier thumbs. I seem to do better using one finger.

Now Optimized for the iPhone / iPod Touch

Today I installed the excellent WordPress plugin WPTouch to my blog at With this plugin installed, my blog is now optimized for display on the iPhone or iPod Touch. If you have one of these devices, check out how looks on it. You’ll notice a very compact, highly readable, clean and “iPhone” like appearance.

The folks at BraveNewCode have really done an excellent job with this plug-in. It was very easy to install and configure. They provide a template for customizing icons, and I was easily able to create my own “badge” that appears if you add my blog to your iPhone’s home screen.

In fact, I like the look of this “mobile edition” of my blog so much, I’m hoping that BraveNewCode releases a full WordPress theme based on the WPTouch plugin. They do offer a minimalist theme called Minimalia, which looks both simple and flexible. They suggest on their website that a 2.0 version of the theme is in development. It would be great if they integrate some of the WPTouch flavor into this theme.

Where’s Dr. T?

Recently at the RECAP conference at West Chester University, a colleague mentioned that I hadn’t updated my blog in awhile.  That’s true, but to be fair, I was having some technical difficulties…

My hosting provider (ixwebhosting) had moved to a new server farm in April, so I needed to migrate content to the new system. My first priority was to get and set up properly, and that took some time.  I left my personal blog for last, and by the time I had gotten around to it, the backup servers at ixwebhosting apparently went off-line.  

So I had to rebuild my blog from my own backups.  While I was at it, I also upgraded the WordPress software to the latest version.  And I’m trying out some different themes to spruce up the appearance of the blog.  I hope to have things back to normal in the next few days.  

ScribeFire Blog Editor

I’ve been exploring different Blog Editors lately, trying to find the best combination of features, speed and flexibility.  I have been using MacJournal, which has some nice features, including a very cool full screen mode.  Unfortunately, I have found that there are some issues with formatting and aligning images that required manual adjustment in the WordPress web interface.  Most of these issues are probably related to the new version of WordPress, but nevertheless they have prompted me to look for alternatives.

I have tried Qumana in the past, and decided to try the latest version.  It seemed promising at first, and the Q-Ads monetizing feature was intriguing.  But like previous versions, I found Qumana to be far from perfect, at least on the Mac platform.  Perhaps I didn’t give it a long enough test drive, but I soon found myself frustrated with entries not refreshing and  quirks with embedded images.  Ecto has a lot of features, but isn’t free.  At $17.95, it’s quite reasonably priced, but I’m not convinced it offers much more than what is available in freeware applications.  WBloggar is free, but is only available on Windows, and hasn’t been updated for quite awhile. 

Then I discovered ScribeFire, a Firefox add-on that used to be called Performancing for Firefox.  So far I like it a lot.  What is great about ScribeFire is the ability to blog with an editor while in the browser.  You can split the browser window in half, blog in one half while surfing in the other. ScribeFire has built-in support for Technorati tags and bookmarks, the ability to save drafts and notes, and three different editing views (WYSIWYG, code and preview).  I’m currently testing it out, but so far it seems to provide a very useful environment for blogging. One disadvantage is that it only works in Firefox, and I’ve been mainly using the new version of Safari lately.  I’d love to see a ScribeFire plug-in for Safari (or something like it).

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A visit to Newlin Grist Mill

This morning my wife, sister-in-law and I paid a visit to the Newlin Grist Mill, a restoration of a water-powered mill that was originally established in 1704. I didn’t know quite what to expect at first, as I’m not a huge history buff, and hardly a “mill enthusiast.” But it turned out to be a very interesting and enjoyable visit.

We began at the visitor’s center, a small building that houses a few exhibits, a small video theater, and a gift shop. After looking at some of the exhibits, we watched a brief video about the mill, with a somewhat corny but cute story about a young boy who found himself “transported back in time” by a visit to the mill. We were then asked if we would like to take the guided tour ($5 a person). My sister-in-law offered to pay, so we took her up on the offer, and spent the next hour or so listening to an informative tour guide describe in detail the intricacies of water power, wooden gears and spinning grind stones. The most impressive part of the tour was when the tour guide turned the water on, and we were able to watch the huge water wheel being set in motion. It was loud and impressive, and we got to see the mill mechanism “in action,” not once, but twice, from two different rooms of the mill.

After the tour of the mill, we looked at some of the other buildings on the property, including the neighboring miller’s house, which housed quite a few antiques. We also enjoyed just walking the grounds. The mill is surrounded by a beautiful park, featuring a trout pond, picnic tables, an idyllic creek and numerous walking trails. It was a beautiful morning for a walk, and taking lots of pictures, of course.

The Newlin Grist Mill is located in Concord Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, just off of Route 1 and Cheyney Road. Both my wife and I have passed by the Mill many times while driving down Route 1, but neither of us had stopped to visit. We’re glad we did…the Newlin Grist Mill is well worth turning off of busy Route 1 to step back to a simpler, slower time.

I’ve posted more pictures from our visit to this Picasa Web Album.

What’s up with this?

You may have noticed some changes to lately. Not only have I changed the look of the site, but I’ve also been adding a few “monetizing” elements. I don’t want to overcommercialize things, but I did want to experiment with a few of the methods other bloggers use to help pay their hosting costs. I don’t expect to get rich from this; in fact, I’d be surprised if I make more than a few pennies. But I want to get a better understanding of the monetizing trend in blogging, and the best way to do that is to just dive in and give it a try. So far, I’ve added Google AdSense and PayPerPost, two of the better known monetizing programs.