Category Archives: Nerd Stuff

Get Acronis True Image 10 Personal Edition for FREE

Want to get your hands on a free copy of Acronis True Image 10? Act quickly and you can! In conjunction with PC World, Acronis is currently giving away licenses of True Image 10 Personal Edition.

Linkhttp://www.acronis.co.uk/mag/ati10pe

The catch, of course, is that they hope you like the now-outdated version 10 so much that you decide to upgrade to the newer 2009 version.

The site is currently getting hammered pretty hard, so you may have to try several times to register if you really want it. Registration only requires a name, valid e-mail, and a listing of other PC publications that you read (mess with their heads – put TipsFor.us in there).

Once you register for free, you will receive a confimation e-mail, then a temporary password. I found that since the UK site was getting slammed so hard, it was faster to proceed to the US site (link), log in under My Account, and download the software under Registered Products.

Free Alternatives

Miss this deal? Don’t fret. There are other free ways to create and restore hard disk images. We’ve documented a few already.

Option 1 – Macrium Reflect Free Edition (tutorial)

Option 2 – Driveimage XML (tutorial)

Option 3 – ntfsclone (tutorial)

Happy imaging!

FREE Book – Ubuntu Pocket Guide (PDF)

For those of you just getting started with Ubuntu Linux (and for you seasoned veterans as well), don’t miss this opportunity to get your hands on a FREE pocket guide (PDF).

Download – Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference

Alternate download link (in case the original is unavailable)

Written by Keir Thomas (author of the venerable Ubuntu Kung Fu), the 170-page Ubuntu Pocket Guide is aimed particularly at Windows users curious about the Ubuntu operating system. It covers everything from installation and configuration to security and command-line tricks.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

  1. Installing Ubuntu
  2. Configuring Ubuntu
  3. Getting to grips with the desktop
  4. Users and the filesystem
  5. Hands-on at the command-line
  6. Software management
  7. Securing the system
  • Appendix A: Glossary of terms
  • Appendix B: Learning more and getting help

Don’t feel like reading 170 pages on a computer screen? I don’t blame you. A print edition is available for a mere $10 (Amazon link).

This is definitely a handy resource to keep near your desk, whether you’re installing Ubuntu for the first time or just need a refresher on some CLI magic.

Have fun.

TipsFor.us is now on Facebook

If you are a Facebook addict casual user, I invite you to visit the official TipsFor.us Facebook fan page.

TipsForUs - Facebook

Yeah, it’s pretty bare right now, but you are welcome to change that. Feel free to become a fan, add any photos or videos that you like, and participate in the discussion board.

Facebook also taps into our RSS feed, so if you spend 23 hours a day on Facebook (you know who you are), it can alert you whenever we post a new article.

If you ever have a quick tip or an article suggestion, or if you just want to say Hi, please feel free to write on our Wall.

Most importantly, if you find our site helpful, we humbly request that you become a fan (just click the button in the top-right corner). If you have been resisting the temptation to create a Facebook account, maybe now is the time to finally give in to the pressure? Resistance is futile.

We look forward to meeting you on our Facebook page!

Ace that Exam by Studying Flashcards Online (7 Resources)

Classes have started again at most universities, so now is the perfect time to make sure those grades don’t start slipping. While studying hard and making A’s come naturally for some people, most of us need a little help and motivation.

One of the most tried-and-true methods of studying is to create and review flashcards. While I can personally attest that flashcards have helped me pass many classes (especially Latin – semper ubi sub ubi), I hate dealing with flashcards. It seems that I’m always running out, or losing them, or maybe I can’t read what I previously wrote. It’s a mess.

Fear not. Here are seven online resources for creating and managing flashcards online. With a little luck (and some hard work), they can help you make the grade this semester.

Study Bulb logo 1. StudyBulb

Link – http://www.studybulb.com

StudyBulb describes itself as a free online collaborative community for study materials. The site launched in April 2008 and is still in early Beta. Despite their Beta status, they have a growing number of existing flashcards that you can browse, ranging from Elementary difficulty through College. Of course, you can create a free account and start contributing your own.

One handy feature of StudyBulb is the ability to copy an existing collection of cards to your own account. They also provide a mobile link to each collection for reviewing on a web-enabled mobile phone. Nice!

StudyBulb is promising, but is weak on content right now. The interface is simple and slick, so I hope they continue to grow.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of the King Arthur legend.

Quizlet Logo 2. Quizlet

Link – http://quizlet.com

Quizlet is a popular free online flashcard portal with a number of features. Originally created in 2005 by a lone high-school student with the purpose of making French vocabulary more fun, Quizlet has since grown into a massive site with millions of existing flashcards. Naturally, you can create a free account and start your own collections.

To aid the learning process, Quizlet offers five different review modes, ranging from the simple Familiarize mode to the more fun and strenuous Scatter and Space Race modes. Nothing strains your knowledge like quickly typing answers to overhead flying questions, I suppose.

Other neat features include flashcard sharing (Facebook included) and the ability to add friends and classmates to study groups (public or private). Quizlet can also track your study progress with accuracy scores.

Quizlet is impressive, for sure. Once their iPhone app works out some kinks, it will be even better.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of European capitals.

Study Stack logo 3. Study Stack

Link – http://www.studystack.com

Study Stack offers a number of creative ways to help memorize information. Though the foundation of the site is built around flashcards, Study Stack allows you to test yourself in some engaging and unusual ways. Getting tired of traditional flashcards? Try reviewing your material as a hangman game, or maybe a word search. You can even play a game of bug match, in which you maneuver a rather happy spider across the screen in an attempt to catch the bug that represents the correct answer. Think of it as multiple choice, but with… bugs and spiders. Hey, whatever helps you learn….

Study Stack - Bug Match

If your mobile phone supports Java, you can export data to it for review on the go. Study Stack has a decent amount of existing material, but you can always create a free login and contribute your own.

Try it now: Need to do some review for the A+ Certification Exam?

Flashcard Exchange logo4. FlashcardExchange

Link – http://www.flashcardexchange.com

FlashcardExchange proudly boasts that it is the world’s largest flashcard library. That may be true, considering that the current flashcard count is approaching 17 million. It’s also one of the oldest (launched in 2001). However, it’s also one of the only flashcard sites that separates free from premium services.

A free membership will allow you to create unlimited flashcards, plus the ability to study and share them online. That’s about it. A premium membership adds such necessary features as the ability to print and export flashcards to Word or Excel.

To be fair, a premium membership is only a one-time fee of $20 USD, and it does add some other handy features, such as the ability to add pictures (jpg) and audio (mp3) to your flashcards. It’s up to you to determine if $20 is worth it. I’m glad to see that they offer support for the iPhone and iPod Touch, even for free members.

FlashcardExchange is indeed massive, and they have some nice features. I dig the keyboard support for manipulating cards. If you spring for the premium membership, there’s not much you can’t do. Otherwise, the free version is handicapped.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of the Greek alphabet.

Studyblue - logo5. Studyblue

Link – http://www.studyblue.com

Created in 2006, Studyblue aims to be much more than just a flashcard review site. While flashcards are certainly an integral part of their service, they also offer class notes, textbook outlines, study groups, and tutors. In fact, in their efforts to build quality content, Studyblue is willing to PAY you to upload your class notes and flashcards, up to $5,000 per semester. See their blog for details.

Studyblue is more than an individual study portal – it has features commonly associated with social networks. You can invite friends, create groups, send shouts, and participate in forums. There’s a big emphasis on connecting your profile with specific classes. Before you can do much of anything, you first have to add some enrolled classes. The flashcards and notes that you create will be associated with those specific classes.

The interface is slick and easy to use. Studyblue shows much promise, but there is room for improvement. Flashcard printing is not yet supported, nor did I find anything about exporting or mobile access. However, you CAN attach images to flashcards. Because of the emphasis on class, I found it difficult to link to a specific deck of flashcards. Instead, here’s a screenshot of me trying my hand at some French vocabulary review:

Studybulb - French vocab

Studyblue’s all-in-one approach will appeal to a lot of users. The ability to earn some extra cash is an added incentive.

Flashcard Machine logo6. Flashcard Machine

Link – http://www.flashcardmachine.com

As the name implies, Flashcard Machine focuses exclusively on interactive flashcards. No more, no less. Registration is free. Like FlashcardExchange, the service has been around since 2001. There are currently over 9 million available flashcards.

Concerning features, Flashcard Machine has the basics covered. You can create an unlimited amount of flashcards, plus view all the existing cards by subject. You can even attach audio and pictures to flashcards for free, though space is limited to only a few megabytes. You can’t export flashcards to another format, but you CAN print (via printer-friendly HTML). Mobile access on the iPod is available, but it requires integration with iStudyToGo ($20).

Using Flashcard Machine is simple. No, it doesn’t keep any detailed statistics about your overall accuracy, but for quick-and-dirty flashcard review, it’s hard to beat. You can manipulate the cards with simple keystrokes.

Flashcard Machine - Latin words

Flashcard Machine’s simple interface won’t turn any heads, nor does it have any fancy social networking features, but if all you want is to create and learn some flashcards, it’s got you covered.

Try it now: Need to review a little Greek mythology? You can get an overview of the cards, but actually attempting them requires registration (free).

Anki logo7. Anki

Link – http://ichi2.net/anki

Anki derives its name from the Japanese for “to memorize.” As such, it’s in a league of its own among flashcard sites. I debated whether or not to include it in this article because it is primarily an installable application, but it DOES include online access.

Anki is not just a flashcard creator, it’s a Spaced Repetition System (SRS). In a nutshell, Anki intelligently determines how often to repeat individual flashcards based on how well you’re able to determine the answer. If you know the answer easily, Anki might wait several days to show you the card again. If you fumble with the answer (or don’t know it), Anki will repeat the card soon.

Anki - Main

The program is completely free and open-source, and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. See screenshots. Anki includes online support – you can sync your cards across multiple computers, plus study them online from any Internet-connected computer. Yes, you can even access your cards on most mobile devices, including the iPhone. Windows Mobile support is currently experimental.

You can use Anki to learn most anything, but it excels in subjects that you plan to study for months or years, such as language. If all you want to do is cram for an exam, there are better choices. If you REALLY want to add material to your long-term memory, Anki is a prime choice. I strongly suggest watching the introductory videos to get going quickly.

You can find an assortment of pre-made decks of cards, but Anki works best if you create your own.

—-

So, which resource is the best? Naturally, that depends on your needs. Every service that I mention here will allow you to create and review flashcards – it’s up to you to determine which one has the features and the interface that you like most. If sheer numbers impress you, take a look at FlashcardExchange. If you want a flashcard portal that borders on a social network, Studyblue is your best bet. If you really want to learn a topic over an extended amount of time (such as a language), you owe it to yourself to check out Anki.

No matter which service you choose, may there be only good grades in your future!

A Reference for the VI Text Editor (aka VIM)

If you’ve done any programming at all on the command line (in Linux or OS X, or using Cygwin on Windows), you have probably heard of VI and the other powerhouse command-line editor, eMacs, and the epic battle between them long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away… The goal of this article is to give you a functional overview of the VI text editor and give you a useful reference of its commands. I spent a lot of time putting these notes together, so I hope they’re helpful.

Right off the bat, some purists will snipe me for saying “vi” when I really mean “vim” — the latter being the IMproved version. But pretty much everyone uses vim and they call it vi… most of the time when you type “vi” on the command line, it opens up vim anyway.

Open a file with vi just like with other editors: vi [filename] . If the file doesn’t exist, it will be created. And then you will have entered the realm…

There are 2 Modes: Insert and Command

The insert mode is the “normal” typing mode that you would normally think of when using a word processor. The command mode is when you are typing in commands to operate on the text (in lieu of menus, you’ve got to type in all commands). vi starts in command mode, but if you’ve gone to the edit mode, pressing Esc gets you back into command mode. Entering Insert mode is actually a command. Enter insert mode by pressing i (preceded by the Esc key if necessary): Esc to enter command mode. i to enter Insert mode.

How to Type Commands in Command Mode

The command mode commands are normally in this format: (Optional arguments are given in the brackets)

[count] command [where]

Count is the number of times to run the command (e.g. delete 7 lines), and where is the destination of the action, e.g. save this file as xxx.txt.

I’ve grouped the commands here loosely into groups, some of them corresponding to traditional menu names.

Modes

i – enter insert mode (you can also type ‘a’)

Esc – enter command mode

File (the colon commands, mostly)

:n create a new file (not common).

:e [filename] – Edit (open) a file.

:w – save. :w [filename] acts as “Save As”.

:wq – save and quit. Also ZZ (in caps).

:w [filename] – save as filename.

:set xxx – sets option xxx. See Preferences section below.

:q – quit.

:q! – quit without any prompts (i.e. quit without saving).

Edit

u – undo the last change (or redo it).

U – undo the changes to the current line.

ctrl r – Redo. This redoes whatever you undid.

. – Repeat last command.

x – deletes the character under the cursor (Del).

X – deletes the character before the cursor (Backspace).

d – delete (i.e. cut). Usage is dw, d$, d^, dd. to delete a word, delete till the end of the line delete to the beg. of the line, repeat delete, respectively.

y – yank (i.e. copy).

– clipboard. See “Multiple Buffers” below.

p – paste.

r – replace the character under the cursor (specify count).

/ – Find (searches from the current position towards the end)

? – Find (searches from the current position towards the beginning).

:s[regular expression] – Substitute (find and replace). See below.

View

:set nu – show line numbers (:set nu! to remove)

zc – folds Closed a section of code, delineated by {{{ # code here }}} #

zo – folds Open a section of code, delineated by {{{ # code here }}} #

Format

> – indent highlighted text (like tab)

< – shift tab.

Insert

O – open the line above the line the cursor is on.

o – open the line below the line the cursor is on.

R – enters Replace (overwrite) mode until Esc is pressed to exit.

Navigation

h – move the cursor left

j – move cursor down

k – move the cursor up.

l – move the cursor right.

control F – move forward one screen (i.e. page down)

control B – move back one screen.

H – home window line (top of visible)

L – last window line.

]] – next section/function

[[ – previous section/function

0 – Move to start of line (zero)

$ – move to end of line.

shift g – move to end of document.

gg – move to start of document

ctrl g – returns the current line number.

123 shift g – go to line 123.

Tools

% – when the cursor is on a (,),[,],{, or } this will locate its matching pair.

Window

:split – split screen horizontally

:vsplit – split screen vertically.

ctrl w [up/down/left/right] – jump to new portion of split screen.

ctrl z – move vi to background (recess to the Terminal)

fg – brings the process back to the ForeGround (type this in the shell after you’ve done a “ctrl z”).

Help

:h – help

crtl ] – follow a link in the help file.

:q – closes the help file (it’s actually a separate text file), so you quit it.

Search Commands (Find)

These commands let you search the current file looking for a given string. When you press the ‘/’ or ‘?’ key, the cursor will move to the bottom of the screen, where you will enter the string you wish to search for. Pressing the [RETURN] key will signal the end of the string, and cause the search to take place.

To include a ‘/’ or ‘?’ as part of the search string, you must “escape” any of these characters with the backslash character (\).

==> /search string[RETURN]

This command will let you search forward through the file looking for the string. The search will wrap around to the start of the file.

==> ?search string[RETURN]

This command will let you search backward through the file looking for the string. The search will wrap around to the end of the file.

Press n (n) to move to the next result. Press shift n (N) to move back to the previous.

Mnemonics:

The ‘/’ is a forward slash, and is used to search forward. The ‘?’ is the shifted ‘/’ key, and you can think of the act of shifting as reversing the command direction.

To repeat the search, press ‘/’ or ‘?’ depending on whether you want to search forward or backward for the next occurrence. When the cursor moves to the bottom of the screen, press [RETURN] without entering anything. Vi will use the last search string entered as its target.

Substitute (Find and Replace)

To substitute new for the first old on a line type :s/old/new

To substitute new for all ‘old’s on a line type :s/old/new/g

To substitute phrases between two line #’s type :#,#s/old/new/g

To substitute all occurrences in the file type :%s/old/new/g

To ask for confirmation each time add ‘c’ :%s/old/new/gc

Multiple Buffers ” : Frequently Used Text

Most users just use the general buffer, but you can cut and paste text from/to multiple buffers. There are 36, specified by all letters (a-z) and all digits (0-9). The buffer is specified using the command (the mnemonic here might be to QUOTE something). For example, the command: “mdd uses the buffer m, and the last two characters stand for delete current line. Similarly, text can be pasted in with the p or P command. “mp pastes the contents of buffer m after the current cursor position. For any of the commands used in the next two sections, these buffers can be specified for temporary storage of words or paragraphs.

These buffers remain in memory after vi has closed (for a while, at least… I’m not banking on these buffers being 100% persistent). So you can use them to store frequently used bits of text. For example, you may want to use:

“i to contain the block code for an if statement.

“h to contain basic html tags.

Copy, Cut, and Pasting

(i.e. Yanking, Deleting, and Pasting)

The command commonly used command for cutting is d. This command deletes text from the file. The command is preceded by an optional count and followed by a movement specification. If you double the command by typing dd, it deletes the current line. Here are some combinations of these:

d^ cuts (deletes) from current cursor position to the beginning of the line.

d$ cuts (deletes) from current cursor position to the end of the line.

dw deletes from current cursor position to the end of the word.

3dd deletes three lines from current cursor position downwards.

There is also the y command which operates similarly to the d command which take text from the file without deleting the text.

The commands to paste are p and P. They only differ in the position relative to the cursor where they paste. p pastes the specified or general buffer after the cursor position, while P pastes before the cursor position. Specifying count before the paste command pastes text the specified number of times.

Keep in mind that the targeting of the pasting actions isn’t where you’d expect from working with traditional word processors.

Execute External Commands

Type :! followed by an external command.

:! perl -d % launches the current (perl) script in debugging mode (very useful!).
:! php -l % if you’re editing a php file, this checks syntax.

Highlighting Text

v – enters visual mode so you can highlight a visual block. You can highlight entire lines AND columns. Very cool.

To highlight several lines: ctrl v, then hold shift and use the arrow keys and the Home and End keys as you would do normally in commercial word processor (or the j,k,l… equivalents). E.g., pressing d after highlighting a block would delete it (cut it).

Shift g moves to the end of the document.

Alternatively, with most terminals you can use the mouse to highlight a block of text, then move the cursor to where you would like to paste it. A right-click will paste the text. However, this method is a bit awkward because of the keyboard/mouse/keyboard interaction.

Setting Preferences using :set (Pimping Your Ride)

You can set a number of preferences in vi including text and highlight color. Many of these options can be set using :set. Notice than anything you can set, you can unset by using the same command followed by ! – the exclamation point is the universal program code for NOT.

:set ic – ignore case (for searches)

:set hls– sets highlighting for a search

:set is – include search

:set nohlsearch – remove highlighting (or use :set hls!)

:set ai – sets autoindent

:set nu – adds line numbers. (:set nu! to remove)

Edit your ~/.vimrc file to add preferences to this file to make them permanent. E.g. I have the following in my ~/.vimrc file:

highlight Comment ctermfg=lightblue
highlight Search ctermfg=0 ctermbg=3*
set tabstop=4

Other Useful Functions

To push a vi window (or any window, really, to the background) press ctrl z. To bring it back, press fg (for ForeGround). There is fg1, fg2, fg3, etc.

Conclusion

Well, there’s my reference for you fine folks. I may grow some more hair on my chest if I ever do the counterpart for eMacs… but I’m not holding my breath. As of Sunday, this article represents the knowledge gleaned from 2 years spent editing scripts on the command-line. In parting, I’ll share one little tidbit of wisdom: don’t worry too much about the navigation shortcuts: although some shells don’t support the standard arrow keys and Page-Up/Page-Down key bindings, most of them do. Whew!

Please feel free to add corrections or additions to the comments!

Content Management Systems (Prelude to MODx): Part I

Introduction to Web Sites, CMS’s, and MODx

MODx lets you take control...
MODx lets you take control...

Some of you may remember the little article I wrote a while ago about content management systems where I shared a bit about MODx. What is MODx? (pronounced like “modular”… and it’s eXtendable… get it?) It’s a content management system (CMS), and it’s used to help you manage and publish web sites easily. It’s very cool, and it is very flexible… but I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to spend some time with our readers and talk a bit about web sites and CMS’s and use that discussion to segue into an upcoming video series about MODx. If you already know what MODx is and you want to learn about it, stay tuned for the upcoming videos… if you want to read a nice walk-through, check out NetTuts recent article.

Web Sites 101

If you’re reading this, you should have some idea of how this is happening… in the interest of the stringent word count limitations imposed by… uh… Brian (?)… I’m going to assume that you understand the concepts of a domain name, a web server, and how a traditional request such as “http://www.tipsfor.us/some_page.html” is handled and a page is read and returned to your browser. You with me? Great.

Higher Education: Dynamic Web Sites

A static site grabs a file from a folder and displays it to the browser, whereas a dynamic site operates a bit more like the “printing on demand” technology. Many sites (including this one) rely on dynamic technology to serve up a page… the page that you are requesting may not even exist until you request it. The “page” that you end up reading is often assembled on the fly from a series of scripts and bits of text from the file system and/or from a database.

Making Web Sites: The Perils of Static Sites

Coding Sites by Hand is Perilous
Coding Sites by Hand is Perilous

We all start out bald and naked, filling diapers and making static web sites. As you get older, you learn a little more HTML, and your “<h1>Hello World</h1>” progresses to animated GIFs and maybe some CSS and Javascript, but some people take a long time to mature out of static web development. And not unlike growing up and leaving home, there’s a profound turning point in your web education that propels you out of static land. Let’s say you want to change the name of one of your pages from “articles/cool-stuff.html” to “articles/archive/cool-stuph.html”. You have to move the document and change its file name, then you have to wade through all the pages on your site and update any links or menus. It’s only palatable if you have a few pages. If you have more than 10 or so, this scenario quickly becomes cumbersome and prone to error… you’ll be wanting to ask mom to do your laundry.

Another not-so-hypothetical situation arises when you want to change the look and feel of your static site. If you’ve followed the rules of semantic web development, you’ve separated your content from its formatting using CSS files and well formed HTML (check out CSS Zen Garden), but it can still be tricky if you’ve got to change Javascript files to make menus work. And you still have to know a lot about HTML and FTP logins to make these changes.

Enter Content Management Systems

If your own learning curve of web site development has roughly followed the previous descriptions, then you can appreciate that someone found a better way to do things. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Benefits to using a CMS

  • — Isolates content from formatting (it’s much easier to search content and update templates)
  • — Editing content is easily done via a GUI
  • — Roles and permissions can be established: e.g. an editor, an admin, a blogger all can be allowed to do certain things to a site.
  • — Links between documents can update automatically (with most CMS’s)

A CMS allows you to forgo the FTP client and use a front-end interface so that users can edit documents and templates. A CMS usually has editing tools built right in, so you don’t even need to know HTML to edit the content of a page — this is great if you’ve built a site for someone else. You can be the HTML genius, but you can give them the key to the CMS and they can edit and add content all day long. Finally, a CMS provides the ultimate separation between content and its formatting. This means that the text of an article can be fully isolated from the template used to display that article, and then the task of switching layouts for an entire site of thousands of pages becomes a trivial affair. Changing the “location” of a file or its name is also dynamically rendered so it can be done in an instant. These are the benefits to running a site using a CMS.

Down Sides to CMS

  • — Complicated to set up. Math is hard! Let’s go to the mall!
  • — It’s more resource intensive. Serving up flat files is much easier for the web server.
  • — More complicated server requirements: not all hosts will have a scripting language and database available to you.
  • — More bandwidth is required.

A site running a CMS is almost never as responsive as a site simply serving up static files. A CMS has many more moving parts, so it’s more likely to break or be attacked. You can’t do much to thwart the display of a simple HTML file, but you can experience all kinds of malicious attacks on a database an your scripting language of choice.

In my opinion, in most circumstances, the benefits often far outweigh the drawbacks. You make some extra backups, you take a few extra precautions, and bamm… you can be pimping out your web site in CMS style, and once you’ve done it that way, you’ll never go back.

So now you know why you might want to use a CMS for web site development. In the next article, I’ll discuss why you might want to choose MODx over some of many other systems available. Lots of systems will alleviate some of the pain and stress of static development, but not all Content Management Systems are created equally. The dudes working hard on MODx have made a really cool application that makes life so much easier for developers and content editors, and one of the founders asked me to upload some high resolution videos about it. Thanks guys. Stay tuned…

How To: Post to Blogger from Your Mobile Phone

One really cool feature of Google Blogger is the ability to quickly create a post directly from your mobile phone. With Mobile Blogging, all you have to do is send a text message from your cell, and Blogger will automatically post the text (and photos!) that you send. Neat!

With mobile blogging, imagine the possibilities:

  • Post photos from that amazing hiking or camping trip.
  • Quickly publish breaking news from an event while in attendance.
  • Post mood and gossip updates while in class (ugh, please don’t).
  • Snap a photo of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or a UFO before someone confiscates your phone.

Signing Up With Blogger Mobile

Getting started with Blogger Mobile is easy. The only real requirement is a phone with a text-messaging plan.

Step One – Register For Your Mobile Blog

To claim your mobile blog, first send a text message to go@blogger.com. In numerical terms (US only), you can also use 256447. Type REGISTER as the content of the message.

Within thirty seconds or so, you should receive a couple of reply text messages from Blogger. The first will contain a link to the Terms of Service, and the second will contain a link to your new mobile blog, plus a claim code.

The unique code identifies your mobile device so that posts are routed to the appropriate blog.

Note: instead of a text message, you can also send an e-mail from your phone. For it to work, the e-mail should not pass through another gateway (such as an IMAP account or your school account). The Gmail app and Yahoo! Go should work fine. You CAN use both text messages and e-mail to post to your blog, but you have to claim them separately.

Step Two – Claim Your Mobile Blog

Once you have your unique claim code, you can claim your new blog or attach your phone to an existing Blogger account.

On any computer, visit go.blogger.com. Enter your claim code (plus the captcha code).

Step Three – Configure Blog Settings

The final step before you can start posting from your phone is to tell Blogger where to direct your future posts. You can accept the new default blog, or if you already have an existing Blogger account, you can log in and choose an existing blog.

By default, Blogger assigned me the address of husbin147. As you can see in the screenshot above, I chose to direct my mobile posts to an existing blog.

Create a Mobile Post

Now that you have a mobile blog, it’s time to start posting. To create a new post, all you have to do is send a text or e-mail to go@blogger.com. The text that you write (and any pictures that you attach) will automatically show up as a new post. Neat, huh?

In the example above, I’m using Yahoo! Go instead of a text message because it supports a Subject line. The e-mail subject becomes the title of the post.

Within seconds of sending my message, Blogger responded with a Success reply. Sure enough, my new post was live.

I’m pretty amazed by the Blogger Mobile service. I don’t see myself using it every day, but for certain situations, it’s a dream come true.

Other Stuff

A couple other details: You can manage which devices post to your mobile blog by looking near the bottom of your Blogger Dashboard. This is handy in case you get a new phone.

Also, my only complaint about Blogger Mobile is that I have not yet found a way to attach labels to a post. As of now, you have to log in post-factum with a computer and manually add labels. It’s a small price to pay, but if anyone knows an easier way to add labels to mobile posts, please share.