Review: Picoblogger


Picoblogger succeeds in one of my cardinal rules of program design. Make a program do one thing really well, rather than do ten things in an average way.

Author: Picostation

Version Reviewed: 1.3

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RecommendedPicobloggerA long time ago, if you wanted a web site, you had to have an intimate knowledge of HTML, FTP, and all the techy bits behind the scenes that only the strokey beard Computer Science Undergraduates understood. Now of course, Internet publishing is the next big thing, and the promise of anyone out there being able to write their own 'blog' is a reality. Sites like Live Journal, Blogger, and even our own humble Symbian Diaries mean that you can ignore all the techy bits, and just type into a box on a website, and bing, your own site has that text on the front page, nicely archived, indexed, filed and stamped. Where do we go from here? Moblogging!

There's a huge debate on what moblogging actually is, so I'd better define my viewpoint for the rest of this review. Moblogging is any action which posts information to a blog, from a computer that is not on a fixed line Internet connection (prepare for flames on that – Rafe).

Right then, so what can this information be? Well traditionally moblogging has been all about capturing pictures and sending them to your blog. (Text America is almost exclusively a photo blog that provides free hosting for this type of blog). Typically you take a picture with your camera phone, and then either MMS it (expensive) or email it (with a fiddly combination of email addresses, subjects, and secret passwords). It makes sense to have a single dedicated application that will handle all of these fiddly things, and simply post your thoughts and pictures to your blog with the least amount of hassle. There's been a few apps that have promised this, and here comes the new kid on the block to stake its claim. Say hello to Picostation, and their first product, Picoblogger.

PicobloggerOn first impressions, Picoblogger is slick. Thanks to a clear understanding of the Series 60 UI, Picoblogger feels more like a built in application than some of the applications that ship in the ROM. This makes a huge difference to the new user, because everything is where you expect it to be. If you can imagine the Messaging application, but set up for posting to your blog, rather than posting email, then you'll know what to expect from Picoblogger.

PicobloggerOne thing to point out is that you'll need to provide your details to the Picoblogger server the first time you use the application. Your name and email address will be used to set up your account on the Picoblogger server, and any pictures you take and post to your blog are actually stored on the Picoblogger server, rather than being uploaded directly to your blog. Which is great for some people, but I'd much prefer an option in this mix to add in details of your own FTP server so you can host pictures where you want, rather than with Picostation. There's a tiny voice in the back of my mind going “what happens to all my pictures when they go bankrupt and can't pay the hosting cost?”

Setting up your blog is the next step. For the on-line services such as Text America, LiveJournal and Blogger, you just need to punch in your username and password. Those of us with our own blogging software will need to point directly to the cgi script or api location. These are well documented, but make sure you type everything correctly, because if you make an error, you can't go back and edit any options, you need to type in all the setup details again in the blank form.

PicobloggerLooking at the main Picoblogger screen it's immediately obvious what to do to make a new post. So in we go and have the view from the camera, allowing you to take a picture. You're using the Picoblogger software, not the built in camera software, so on the 6600 I used to review Picoblogger, I couldn't get to the digital zoom, or the “night time picture” setting – it was like using the basic camera in the 7650 all over again. With more and more camera features being added (the 6630 has ten steps of digital zoom), Picoblogger should really be accessing them and be able to use images stored in the phone's memory, rather than only read in through its camera software.

PicobloggerOnce you've taken your picture, you can add a title and some text to it, and then either post it there and then, or save it - which moves it into the My Drafts folder for posting later. Maybe when you get into coverage, or maybe when you can use a Bluetooth desktop connection to get onto the Internet.

As well as taking pictures, you can switch to “Text Post” and start typing away merrily on your keypad to do something in depth. This is where the benefit of the Drafts folder comes in, because you can work on something throughout your journey on the London Underground, jumping to other apps, and posting it after editing it at lunchtime in the pub.

Once you've uploaded your post, you can set up Picoblogger to store these posts, but this is purely for your own reference. You can't edit a post you've made, nor can you look at other posts on your web site and edit them. We're talking one way traffic here, that's data going up to your blog, and no more.

But for all these little faults, Picoblogger succeeds in one of my cardinal rules of program design. Make a program do one thing really well, rather than do ten things in an average way. So Picoblogger gets a very nice thumbs up from me, and an AAS Recommended award with a score of 80%. There's scope for improvement, and it's going to be nice to see where Picostation as a company go if this first product is anything to go by.

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