The Kaizen of Blogging

Ah, I love this stuff… Edublogs just keeps getting better and better, thanks to the efforts of James Farmer.

First we had a server upgrade a few weeks back and we got all sorts of extra goodies included for adding media files to posts – stuff like Youtube, Flash, Flickr and even video players. We also got a bunch of cool extras like the synthetic voice podcasting plugin from Talkr, and a new backend interface with many more options. The static pages can now be nested to form a hierarchical site structure as well as the regular blog structure, which could be very useful. Then 2 weeks ago James added a bunch of new CSS templates to the list of possible look’n’feel options, all with much tighter integration for the new plugins.

Now, I log on to find yet more new goodies in here… a poll option! I’ve been having a play with the poll tool – appropriately called Democracy – and as you can see on the left, it works just fine. It’s a pretty naff question right now, but I’m excited by the possibilities of being able to conduct polls.

Thanks again Mr Farmer! I think you’ve pushed Edublogs way beyond what’s offered with WordPress itself, and this really has evolved into the best blogging space I’ve seen.  The need to know how to create a webpage using the traditional HTML methods has all but vanished…

I do hope these new tools all find their way into Learnerblogs too!

Shiny Object Syndrome

I admit it. I’m terrible at staying focused. Especially when you put me in front of a computer, I find it easy to get distracted by the million and one things that can distract a computer user… emails coming in constantly, IM messages bleeping at me every few minutes, RSS feeds constantly updating and all the other services that tend to bombard one with “stuff”. Sometimes, especially when I need to write, it would be good to just shut it all out for a while and resist the temptation to answer that email, respond to that IM or browse that RSS feed.

I suppose I COULD try to use a bit of self discipline and just ignore these things, but where’s the fun in that? I COULD turn off all that stuff and just shut it out, but it’s too tempting to need a distraction from what I should be doing… and that’s the problem in the first place.

So I thought this piece of software looked interesting… it’s called WriteRoom, and basically turns your fandangled, geewhiz, all-the-bell-and-whistles MacBook Pro into something about as distracting as an Apple IIe. Writeroom blanks your screen to fullscreen mode, and gives you plain green text on a black background. Your digital world is hidden behind the fullscreen mode and can be retrieved in a single keystroke, but all the distracting IMs and emails are shut out temporarily… sounds like a good idea to me. Windows users can use a similar tool called Dark Room.

I think it’s worth a look if you also suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome.