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Personal Tech

Blogging now wireless, with photos

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John P. Mello Jr.
April 12, 2004

Blog.

It sounds like a monster from an Eisenhower-era horror movie.

But for many cyberspace denizens, blogging has become a means of unfettered self-expression. Blogs give the "great unwashed" a place to hang their laundry--dirty and otherwise--but some household names have become bloggers, too, like humorist Dave Barry and Bill Maher, host of the now-defunct "Politically Incorrect" television show.

While the lure of an online journal was attractive to many Web surfers, it did require, for the most part, being chained to a computer, which put a crimp in the style of more spontaneous diarists.

Soon, however, tools began emerging on the scene that allowed bloggers to dash their computer darbies and perform mobile weblogging, or moblogging.

Moblogging allows bloggers to add postings to their blog sites from almost anywhere at any time, using a cellphone, RIM Blackberry, or wireless handheld computer.

One early tool for moblogging was Kablog (rawthought.com/projects/kablog/). It operates on a number of mobile devices that can run software programs.

If fiddling with software on a cellphone is more hassle than a blogger is willing to tolerate, there are simpler approaches to the problem. One of them is Mfop2 (new.bastish.net/cgi-bin/mfop2/index.cgi).

Once you set up a free account with Mfop2, you can post to your blog site with a simple e-mail message.

The service requires that you format the top of your e-mail message in a certain way. On the first line, you enter your Mfop2 password; on the second, the heading for your posting; then you type your posting's text.

When you're finished. you mail your message to mfop2@bastish.net. The message will then be posted to your blog site.

You can attach a photo to your message, and it's supposed to be posted, too, but I couldn't get this feature to work with Blogger.com.

I also received a "message undeliverable" message when I e-mailed my posting, but the posting arrived at my site anyway--although my attached photo didn't.

I found the registration form for the service as obtuse as much of its online help. But the online enthusiast who created the site says that it's still a work in progress so its bugs may be worked out in the future.

If you've ever tried to enter text into a handheld device--be it cellphone or personal digital assistant--you know that few people are going to add long, thoughtful ruminations to their blogs from one of those gadgets. But with the advent of camera phones, they don't have to. They can add pictures.

Camera phones have given a whole new dimension to moblogging and rise to a new kind of blogging site that caters to images rather than words.

One of the better known camera klatches on the Net can be found at ironically named Textamerica (textamerica.com).

You can set up a moblog at Textamerica for free. Free moblogs contain advertisements. If you want to ditch the ads, you'll have to pay a monthly fee of $5.99. Private moblogs are $9.99 a month.

Setting up a moblog is painless. After registering at the site and logging in, you click "create moblog." That takes you to a simple form on a slickly designed web page.

On the form, you create your user name and password, choose a domain name and secret word, and pick a title and description for your moblog.

When you want to send a photo to your moblog, you create an e-mail message and attach a photo to it. The subject line in your message will become the title of your photo on your moblog page and any text in your message will become a caption for the photo.

After you finish your message, you mail it to your user name and secret word at tamw.com.

To view your moblog or refer your friends to it, you use a custom Web address that consists of the domain name that you chose and the suffix textamerica.com.

Once you build your moblog, you may want to customize it. Textamerica includes some online tools for doing that.

Blogs and moblogs give you an opportunity to share your thoughts and images with others as never before. Once bitten by the bug, "blog" won't sound like a Hollywood monster from the '50s any more.

John P. Mello Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at jpmello@cox.net.

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