Sunday, October 14, 2007

October Free Slam

Come one, come all - October 27 is the date. We plan to continue these on the last Saturday of every month. You can find Tanze directions here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New widgets and features

I haven't posted anything new for a couple of weeks, but my blog has been changing nonetheless. I spend as much time thinking about my sidebar as I do the actual content of postings, and over the past month or so I've been tweaking the sidebars to make use of tools that provide a more "seamless"way for me to track my activities. Specifically:

  • LibraryThing is an amazing site for avid readers like me. I'm using it to populate my "currently reading" and "desert island" book lists in the sidebar. All I need to do is add books to my personal library (up to 200 titles are free, beyond that you can pay - with $25 being enough for a lifetime/unlimited subscription). Then I tag them as either "current" or "desert island". When I'm finished reading something in the current list, I just remove the tag. The wonderful thing about LibraryThing is the ability to find other readers with similar tastes, locate reviews, participate in forums where the titles are mentioned, search for more info on authors, etc. My LibrayThing library is located here.
  • LastFM is a similar site for music, but especially excels in tracking and reporting listening in real time. I removed my "currently listening to" category, and replaced it with two LastFM widgets. The first one reports individual songs I've listened to recently, either from within iTunes or on my iPod. (I believe it will also integrate with WinAmp and other players). The second is the "artist quilt", which keeps track of my listening habits over time and generates a clickable patchwork image of those artists. LastFM gives many options for generating widgets within different categories. My next step is to replace the "desert island" music list with info from LastFM. My profile is here.
Along with these changes, I've also enabled Snapshot previews, which brings up an image of the website associated with various links. This morning I did some tuning to eliminate links to things like photos and sidebar sites, so the Snapshot usage is now cleaner. And all of this becomes very easy to manage due to Blogger's new layout scheme which makes it much easier to add widgets and other content via drag and drop features. I had briefly considered trying a pay blogging service, but with the layout manager features, I see no need to move.