Blogging On The iPad: It CAN Be done!

There are a lot of skeptics out there, I know. But I am here to report that the iPad has come a long way in its quest to achieve content-creator status, particularly on the blogging front.

I am drafting this post on my iPad using a few apps that cost a small handful of bucks. I am using the touch keyboard, although I do have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard that certainly would make the process even faster.

For a full featured blog entry, you are certainly going to need more than Mobile Safari. I also have tried once or twice to engage with my self-hosted WordPress blog using the Official WordPress app, but I have not been entirely happy with the process. For a much better experience, I recommend loading up a new app called Blogsy. Blogsy, with its smooth interface, connects to WordPress.com, self-hosted WordPress and Blogger blogs. It offers a rich text WYSIWYG and HTML editor that you can easily switch with a horizontal swipe of the page. There are several formatting options, including bolding, italics, lists, quotes and alignment. But the real kicker is the media buttons along the right of the screen which make embedding photos and videos drag-and-drop dead simple. Hook up your services (more on that later). Then press the service button, press and hold a desired image, drag it to your post and drop. Click the image to pull up a more than adequate editor and you are good to go. You also can use Google directly or the built in browser to find images on the fly. Hold down on text to open a pop-up that lets you paste in a link. Set title, publishing date, categories, tags, visibility, pretty much all the key components of your web editor. But on your iPad. So easy. Thanks, Blogsy.

Now, if you are like me, you like to include visuals. While Blogsy makes it easy to retrieve them, what if you want to manipulate them before embedding them? Maybe you want to add annotations or text to your images, like on the one at the top of this post. Superstash has you covered on that account. Superstash is an enhanced web browser built around taking, annotating and collecting screenshots. Open the app, use the browser bar to navigate to your favorite photo site or Google Images. Select an image in the browser, press the camera icon at the top and access a set of annotation tools, pens, text, erasers, etc. Select the crop tool to refine your image boundaries. Then save into a folder you create, with tags if desired, and you now have a catalog of web snips. If you want to pull them out, simply email them to yourself, copy them into your photo album, then upload to one of your photo service accounts like Flickr or Picasa (check out iPicasso for a really nice Picasa interface) and access them via Blogsy. Superstash is supercool.

It really didn’t take me a whole lot longer to create this post this via iPad than it would have taken me on my laptop. The real time was spent setting up my apps, But now that they are all set up, it is a breeze. I guess that means I can blog on vacation now. *sigh*.

EPILOGUE: After finishing my post, I struggled with getting it to publish to my blog. So I called on the big boys and got the founder / developer of Blogsy, Lance Barton. That was the beginning of a long series of proactive and responsive emails from Mr. Barton, who genuinely wanted to solve my problem. The only other person I know who would have put in that much customer service effort is myself. Despite my initial frustration, Mr. Barton was able to assist from afar and get the whole process running smoothly. Blogsy is one of a select group of products / services where the humans in the machine transform a great tool into a great experience with their personal touch. Thanks Mr. Barton for sticking it out with me and I wish you great success with the awesome Blogsy.

Scrible: Your Web Search Annotation Tool

Remember the days of scribbling notes in the margins of your *gasp* paper-filled text book, highlighting passages with your yellow (or pink or green or orange) marker, dog-earing pages or photocopying and marking up copies of library volumes? Reach back — I know you can find that lost memory.

If it is to be believed that Web research is beating book research at the very game it invented, then how is a researcher to mark-up or jot down all the rich thoughts a source may evoke as you tear through them on the Web? One option is the very cool new bookmarklet / toolbar Scrible.

Scrible hits the highlights: save pages for later, sans broken links; annotate pages right in the browser; save and find research with tags, legends and search; and, access research from anywhere (because its in the cloud).

The primary means for accessing Scrible’s goodness is via bookmarklet or browser add-on that works in most browsers. The resulting toolbar offers the tools for annotating the page you are visiting. Share or save the work, and then retrieve it and use it further from your library on scrible.com.

Scrible currently is in public beta, as of yesterday morning. Basic service, with 125 MB of storage, is free. It appears Scrible is contemplating paid and enterprise versions with more storage and features.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Check out these images from scrible’s own tour page and see how cool this little toolbar really is:

Rich annotations with multiple text styles and colors

Add thoughts to page with "Sticky Notes"

Categorize Annotations with "Dynamic Legends"

Quick, easy export of annotations to a Document (IE add-on only at this time)

Share Marked Web Pages by Email

Save Web Research to Online Account

Organize, Search, Retrieve Saved Web Research

 

Go forth, Scrible, and mark up your Web!

XYDO – Your Social News Reader

What do you get when you cross the now, apparently, defunct Socialmedian and social-question-site darling Quora? Well, I am not sure, but it might look something like XYDO. If you like your news crowdsourced, timely and with a healthy side of friends, then XYDO might interest you. Instead of using algorithms to filter news of interest, XYDO prompts you to use your trusted friends to sift the good stuff to the top of your web page. You create an “activity stream” of content by choosing fairly fine-grained topics of interest and friends to follow from your social services. This content is pulled from links shared by these users. Further break down this content by stories that are trending, newest or top in the past 24 hours (or current). If you want a broader view of the news, step back and peruse the front page, so to speak, which pulls top content sitewide. Each news story offers some interaction as well, in the form of a voting option (which looks a lot like Quora’s answer voting mechanism), the identity of who shared the story, the categories the story belongs to, how and when the story was shared and a process for commenting on or discussing the story within the news blurb displayed on your XYDO page.  And, when you check out a story, note the related articles showing in the right hand column – you could dig yourself pretty far down into a given topic pretty if you are following the right people and subject matter. And it isn’t all tech – some of the early closed beta adopters set up some legal channels in XYDO, so the topical content is not strictly tech-oriented (although I don’t mind that particular orientation myself).

Follow content, follow sources, contribute your own sources to existing topics. Trending updates on a story can show back up in Twitter from XYDO if you choose to follow them there or keep tabs on the highly interactive, clickable, information-laden XYDO page. But don’t forget to leave a trail of popcorn – if you are a news junkie like me, you might need some help getting back out of the forest of information.

When all is said and done, I like XYDO’s take on news delivery, post-information explosion. It seems the best options for filtering content these days are either leveraging high tech algorithms or leveraging people you know and trust. No matter how you slice the “behind the scenes”, any filtering, tagging and sorting of the vast quantities of content is a GOOD thing. Cheers to XYDO – hope they keep it flying.

This week, XYDO opened its closed beta doors to the public. Go check them out at the link above and add your own voice to the mix – the more quality curators hopping on board, the better this crowdsourced news mecca will become.