How to Use WordPress Image Gallery?

WordPress Image Galleries are built into the WordPress core and, as such, provide a very useful, entertaining and colorful enhancement to your content – and your content marketing.

This is a post that was orginally posted at the site of WordPress Meetup Southwest Florida

For Relevanza, and a Google+ Hangout on WordPress gallery, I produced the two videos. In the first I  walk you through the task to created an image gallery to be displayed in a post or a page and how to change some of the display options for Thumbnail Grid and Slideshow built into WordPress Core. You don’t need to install any plugins to make this basic functionality work beautifully on your site. As mentioned before the basic WordPress gallery is built into the Core of WordPress.

How Jetpack Modules improve WordPress Gallery

Once familiar with the WordPress Image Gallery built into WordPress Core, Jetpack gives you additional options and and features to augment the look of your gallery or to display various galleries in the side bar widgets.

 

 

Nothing But Writing – Distraction Free Writing Tools

We compared three web-based applications that support you in your quest to produce works for your various writing assignments. And, yes, nowadays everyone has writing assignments, from letters to clients, a seminar curriculum, a how-to blog post, or a story about your favorite non-profit. However, as soon as I sit in front of the computer, with all the windows open on my computer screen, (i.e., e-mail, browser, facebook, etc.), fighting for my attention, I get distracted. Sometimes, I just need to write and shield myself from the world. It seems I am not alone. There is, yet, another software available.

Here we start with DarkCopy. You can start using it from the very first page. Very quickly, I found the full screen mode button, so everything else on my computer screen disappeared, and I only saw my green on black letters, filling the screen. It feels like channeling a time traveler who is stuck in the eighties with a monochrome screen. I wonder, to myself, if I can change the green to amber? Nope.

No fluff, no features. Just go to the site, hit the full screen button, and start writing. Click on Save as file? and your text is saved on your hard drive. If your browser is set to save downloads into a default directory for download, that’s where you will find it afterwards.

No login, no registration. Easy, fast and focused. A rare, refreshing experience.


Next one up: Writer.
Again with the neon green on black background retro look. And, again, the question, does this come in amber? Yes. Under Preferences, you can select different font colors, select from three different line spacing settings, and select from a list of a few different font families. OK. Go crazy, and procrastinate once more, (he, he, he).

The links on the bottom of the writing box disappear after a few seconds, until you hover over to explore and use them. Writer is a little more advance for the everyday writer. It gives you word and character count. I tested it for postings to the Twitterverse, however, this revealed that character count doesn’t help; it doesn’t count spaces, which do count towards your 140 limit in Twitter.

It also gives you a rudimentary version control/auto-save on the bottom of the page. It prevents you from loosing your text in the heat of your writing frenzy. You’ll get a little more options, apart from the one click save we saw in DarkCopy. This one actually seems to save it on the site’s server and you can send it, download it, .pdf it (nicely done!), and print it right from the space there. On the bottom underneath the writing box you’ll find a running list of documents you created, with information on size, modified date and shared status. Shared? No, not social-media-shared. Keeping it easy, basic, it converts the document into a public web page.


Some of the feature, of course, can only be used after you create an account, so your choices can have a more permanent existence. The link “Lost your document?”, which is supposed to give me peace of mind, scared me a bit.  Now, I need to download. The download ended up again in my default download folder on my hard drive, but only with the filename “document.txt” which makes it easy to overwrite as soon as I download another file. But, my browser is smarter, and it automatically changed the file to document(1).txt.

Creating an account, works painlessly. You don’t have to give out your e-mail address, type in your username and password of choice. No fiddling with password #%@%&*I rules. Despite the basic and prehistorical look, this program is more than a mere typewriter. If you write on a project for more than one session, it makes sense to register and create an account. Depending on the cookie settings on your browser and the state of the web, you might loose your fragmented text, brilliant thoughts and collection of ideas, otherwise. This was also a pleasant experience. With just enough customization options to not be a big complicated application, it is also very focused in letting you do your work.

Last one: MyTextfile

Now the last one, seems to be the odd one out. On the first screen/page of the application, I can read all about how simple it is supposed to be, and what I can and can’t do. And, for attention holding purposes, there are some icons next to each bullet. Well, it’s not that easy. After DarkCopy and Writer, I was spoiled, I wanted to get down to the writing matter immediately, and be able to do it. Not with this one. First, have to have a Google account in order to use it. On login, I was assured not to worry about giving my Google password to this developer, as it wouldn’t be shared with the application, and only my e-mail address would be saved. Although, I knew about the Google App Engine, and that this is very well the case, but anybody else would not be so sure if she proceeded at this point. This assurance feels a little creepy. Now, that wouldn’t be all that bad for a simple application, but this is way too much hassle. And, I noticed I am not able to test it while writing this review. I am already a hundred words into my thoughts about the start up before I am able to do what I came to do: just write.

Once logged in, I have this space, and, at first, I missed it the retro eighties monochrome look. In comparison to the silent dark space, where my lettere appear magically in neon color, this black on white is very bright. It comes back to the early web days, when it was considered too bright to use white background, and one considered light letteres on dark background much easier to read. I haven’t thought about this for a long time. It seems it’s still true, when you want to concentrate on words. It has big buttons like Save/Print and revision history, which remind me of the document writer in Google Apps, and if I am that far, I would rather use that.

When I tried to use the full screen mode, it wanted to open a new window, and, of course my pop-up blocker busted it. And, that was it. My text file is not in the league of the other two programs, DarkCopy and Writer, which support the mere writing task. It does get in the way a lot. This is a total disappointment.

Just writing this post, while reviewing the three web applications, made Writer by BigHugeLabs.com the clear winner. It gets out of the way quickly and the set of features is exceptionally well balanced. Just enough to make me feel at home, and not too much to get me all distracted with a large number of decisions to make. It is a role model in application development: focused, direct and complete.

The web isn’t the only place that houses ˜distraction free writing tools”, and it’s not everyone’s favorite environment.

Here is a list of desktop applications, also free of charge.



What is your experience? If you have used any of the desktop applications, please comment below and share with our readers.

 

Formatting Your Content: What Blog Software is Right for Me?

In another post, we talked about blogging as a format you can use to build website content, including some back-to-the-basics info onwhat a blog is, tips for getting started and avoiding blogger’s burnout. Here, we’ll focus on the software available, and how to determine the best fit for your needs.

Bottom line, the type of blog software you choose is mainly dependent upon the current state of the rest of your online presence. If you have static web pages, you might want to consider using a self-hosted WordPress installation. This would allow you to easily convert your static pages and start blogging in a short period of time. What’s more, the chances are good that your current website design can be transscribed by your designer into a WordPress theme.

However, if you have already a fairly expansive website built on top of a content management system (CMS), you can ask your web developer about integrating their favorite blog software with your website. He or she will probably be able to offer you several options to choose from. For example, our CMS, Pauli Systems – Community Suite, includes membership administration, photo galleries, and an events calendar feature, and integrates very well with open source blog software that is developed in the same programming language. And, the layout can be seamlessly integrated.Â

If you don’t yet have a website, think of a domain name and order a self-hosted WordPress installation; WordPress.org provides you with a list of hosting companies. We have an easy two-minute WordPress site signup available, that offers variety of templates.

Here are the must-have features for blog software:

  • Auto-creation of RSS feeds
  • Auto-creation of archive pages by date, by categories, by authors
  • A widget section and ability to have 3rd party code displayed from Flickr, YouTube, e-mail signup forms and recent posts
  • WYSIWYG editor for content production and formatting
  • Easy upload feature for images
  • Comment administration with moderation and spam prevention
  • Effective creation of meta tags for description and page title to be visible for search engine’s and optimized for social media sharing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others

A closing thought:

With more frequent updates on your blog and, therefore, your website, you will increase the visibility of your company on search engines for various keywords. Make sure you are able to benefit from it and have your domain name be part of your blog’s address. For example,  blog.mycompany.com, or www.mycompany.com/blog is fine, as well. Keep in mind that if you use a service such as WordPress.com or blogspot.com, they will benefit from increased search engine visibility, not you and your business.

The Idea of the iPad – I’d Rather Wait

or Why I didn’t buy an iPad?

 

My imagination tricked me into thinking I would love the iPad. I believed the advertising. And, it’s completely true. It has changed how many people interact with digital content. I was drooling over the previews posted on various websites, (links are included at the end of this post). I could see how my parents or friends would love it. They are, for the most part, still struggling to integrate basic technology into their daily lives. The iPad is the perfect device for them; the time has come when technology stays out of the way, and, just like a car, you turn it on and just “drive”. And, a smooth drive it is! The iPad is a wonderful magazine and book reader when you’re on the road and in situation where you can’t use a computer, but you need something to do, i.e., while waiting in a hospital, in an airport, or sitting on a commuter train.

 

During my first weekend back in the US, the lust for an iPad steered me towards the Apple store. I was finally able to put my hands on it! My husband and I gave it a good 60-minute run around the internet, and tested a few apps we have grown to love on the iPhone. I was fascinated with the touch screen user controls when flipping through photos, reading books, watching videos, and browsing the internet.

 

We punched in our favorite websites. Then, the first “oh, that doesn’t work” or a few similar revelations, started to emerge. We were surprised that the limits associated with an iPhone experience, which we were ready to accept, felt entirely unacceptable on a device created to augment the current content consumption experience. And, as a result, our enthusiasm waned, piece by piece.

 

Here is our short list of the major deal-breakers:
No multi-tasking: 
It’s hardly an issue that the iPhone can’t multi-task, but it is really unacceptable for a larger device. It seems this device is a returning time traveler, who went from the 21st century into the early 20th century, but hasn’t returned for 7 years, and is now surprised how much technology has progressed while she was away. One example: I took a screen shot of an iPhone look-a-like application we created for a non-profit, and wanted to e-mail it to myself so I could show it to the client. Well, I wasn’t able to use the e-mail feature to click on the attachment, and then attach it to a document. Instead, I had to go into the photo application and click on the “Share via e-mail” option, one at a time. Now, I would accept this on the iPhone, as it is meant to be used a “crutch”, or a limited feature tool, but I am not able to accept that limitation on a computer device, as limited as it wants to be.

 

No Flash: 
It might make sense on the iPhone, but it really gets in the way on the iPad, when you expect to be able to view all your favorite websites and see all the TV shows, etc., like you do on your laptop or desktop. A grudgingly, albeit, accepted annoyance on the iPhone, it is a deal breaker on the iPad. Seriously? Really. No Flash? No Fox TV, no Hulu, and no, no, no to lot of other websites. A plug-in that has been around for over 12 years, just came out in Version 10, and an army of web developers, designers and animators have used it to spruce up the web experience for three generations. And, now, I can’t enjoy it anymore? Seriously? The touted ‘alternative’ HTML 5 is not yet up to the task, as the Apple HTML 5 Demo revealed.

 

No browser cache:
Every time I hit a website that I’ve already visited, it’s loaded again; I can’t just hit the back button or forward button and jump between sites. Again, an annoyance on the iPhone on which I hardly browse, because of the tiny screen, but it’s definitely getting in the way of my iPad experience. Of course, in light of AT&T doing away with the unlimited data plan, the ticker runs with any reload of a website you have just visited. That way, you are hitting the bandwidth ticker faster, of course.

 

Not more than 9 Safari tabs:
The OS will tell me that I am not able to view this page because there already 9 browser windows open. It’s a content consumption device, therefore, I would prefer to see no limit on browser tabs.

 

Mobile version browser:
Any website that has a mobile version available might display the same version on the iPad, as on the iPhone. This doesn’t really make sense, as the iPad screen is about 8 times larger. It looks clunky on iPad. I am always happy when companies have websites that change their behavior when you look at it through the tiny screen of an iPhone, and I’ve studied mobile web space a bit, and have had my share of problems. I still do not understand the reasoning behind the decision for the iPad to register with websites as a mobile device, when it is a full-sized screen device, and the browser renders large websites beautifully. Apple is in control of how their browser comes to a website; if it pretends to be an iPhone, then it is doing something wrong on behalf of their users. The NBC site, for instance, doesn’t register as a full browser, it shows the mobile version, which might be OK on the tiny iPhone, but, on the iPad, it’s virtually unreadable.

 

No camera:
Yes, it doesn’t have a camera. As astonishing as this is, I was equally surprised when I learned that the iPod touch doesn’t have a camera. Apple was very late to include a video camera on the iPhone — about 3 years late to the game. Why do I want to have a camera? Because, then I would be able to use it as a convenient Skype device, that allows me to talk to my friends and family, without hauling around a big laptop or failing at the attempt with my iPhone. 

 

Price/Value ratio:
Considering the convenience in digital content consumption I would have to give up using an iPad, the $499 price for the basic version, is way too high. We have seen wireless picture frame devices for $79, that allow photos, music and video playback from my computer on 8″ screens, with a touch interface. And, I can plug my SM cards and USB into it.

Summary: For occasional, beginning online creatures, it is a fantastic device. It makes for a great online content experience. However, even novices will outgrow the iPad fast. No Flash definitely diminishes the online experience. No multi-tasking limits the sharing, and no camera diminishes connecting and subsequent sharing. There is a lot of catching up to do. A shiny cool interface does not make up for the loss of features dear to my convenience level since Win95, and necessary for an all around experience. The fate of my iPad would be that I’d use it extensively for a week enthusiastically, and then never look at it again, waiting for better things to come about. I like the idea of it. The practical implications, however, are less exciting for me.

 

All the photos in this post are from other tablets/slated products in the pipeline of major manufacturers around the world.  I captured them from Tablets.com, a site reporting on the latest development of tablet devices. If you are still on the fence, browse there for a while and compare features, sizes and prices.
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