There’s a new world in cyberspace. It’s upsetting Search Engines. It’s moulding new opinions. It’s putting publishing power into the hands of individuals. It’s called blogging, and I’m going to look at how you can start your own blog – and use your Symbian phone to maintain it – no matter where you are in the world.
In the beginning there was notepad.exe and an ftp client. You manually hard coded your web page, adding in all the tags, formatting and info. Uploading them to a server, and voila. You had a website. You want to make a change? Dive back into the depths of the code, change it by hand, check it, and upload.
There was always a high barrier to starting your own website – but as the Internet became more pervasive, a new way to publish on the web came about. It started as Web Logging. A small application ran on a web server, so all the user had to do was type in the websites that they had visited, and it created a web page of those links. It didn’t stop at links. People started to post comments, what they thought about issues of the day, or perhaps they focused on one area (such as the current goings on in Eastenders). And another small app allowed people to leave comments at the bottom of the page for other visitors to read.
Thus blogging (weB LOGging) was born. Sites with short bursts of content, that rapidly changed. Daily updates is the aim of most blogs, although many are updated throughout the day. So, you want to join in? While you could start from scratch, download the Blog tools that run on your server, set it all up, fiddle about a bit, and finally get going, there is another option. There are many Blog communities out there that have everything set up for you to start blogging.
We’re going to look at Symbian Diaries. It’s specifically geared up to interact with your Symbian phone – and you can write about any topic under the sun. The front page (http://www.symbiandiaries.com/) has a list of popular sites on the right hand side. Browse them and you’ll find a wide variety of sites and uses. You’ll have personal sites where the topics can be wide ranging (such as my own at http://ewan.symbiandiaries.com/). You’ve got the Liverpool Java Users Group page (http://liverpooljug.symbiandiaries.com/) which keeps members of the User Group updated as to what is happening. How about a site to host an application? Same Game is a good example of this (http://samegame.symbiandiaries.com/). Symbian Diaries is flexible enough to allow all of these with very little set up work on your part.
First thing, of course, is to get yourself a blank Diary to work with. Symbian Diaries doesn’t have an automated system, so a short email to admin@symbaindiaries should see you sorted out. You’ll need to suggest a username and a password, and the return email will provide you a link to the Editing system. The front page of Symbian Diaries provides a link to the Tutorials section. In here you’ll find a few useful articles, but the one you’ll want to start with is called "How to Get A Symbian Diary." As well as the same information as the paragraph above, you’ll get information on configuring your Diary, helping you choose the look and feel of your diary, and how to make those all important entries. (Hint, it’s the button marked "New Entry" when you log in – Sophie).
The Tutorials also link to two pages that show you how to jump from blogging to moblogging. Mobloggin (MOBile weB LOGing… cripes!) is the new buzzwored. Put simply, it means making your blog mobile.
Symbian Diaries can do this in a few ways. The first (and unusually) is to provide your Blog to anyone out there who is mobile themselves. Symbian Diaries generates not just web pages, but pages for WAP and XML browsers as well. Have a look at http://ewan.symbiandiaries.com/index.wml on your Symbian Phone and compare it to my full blog on the web. All the content is still there. Making your WAP site is easy, just follow the tutorial provided!
The other service for Moblogging, is making posts to your Blog directly from your phone. Imagine you are at the Great British Beer Festival (it is next week at Kensington Olympia!), and you want to let the whole world (or at least those who read your blog) to know what you think about the Beer. With a mobile blogging tool, you can do just that.
Symbian Diaries provides a few ways of doing this. The first is to use your built in email client on your handset. You’ll need to ask the Admin team to set the address up for you, but once it is in place, you can do all the composing on the handset, and on sending the email, it will get turned into your latest post on your Blog. This has the advantage that MMS (which can be sent directly to an email address on most networks), can be used as well if you haven’t got email working - or you have a phone which only has MMS, though why you’d be reading Your Symbian if you didn’t have a Symbian phone…).
But one of the most powerful ways is to use an application called Azure. Azure (and surprisingly there is another template on how to use it!) allows you to log in from wherever you are, and not only create a new post, but edit your existing points (handy when you find a spelling mistake via WAP!), and work on entries, saving them as drafts as you go along. The majority of my site’s entries are drafted (at least in topics and areas to cover) over GPRS, and fleshed out at home. The great thing about using GPRS for this is that as you only pay for data transmitted, not time, you have a fraction of data as you log on, 15 minutes editing and typing, and another short data burst when you’re finished. Reckon on 4p at most for an update to your blog through Azure.
Some time ago, they said the Internet was mobile. Blogs are almost there, and Symbian Diaries has made it as easy as possible for you to join in the revolution.