Tag Archives: blogger

Online Accounts: Email and more

Creating an online email account used to mean just that: you signed up for an email address. Now, all of the major web-based email services – Google, Hotmail/Windows Live, AOL and Yahoo! – also offer other tools like photo sharing, instant messaging/chat, blogging sites and more.

For example, your Yahoo account is also good over at Flickr and your Google account works with YouTube. Even your Facebook account can be used to sign in to and comment on hundreds of sites around the web. As this post was written, Google had just launched Google+, offering even more features with your single Google account.

What Is It?

How did this happen? As the email companies grew, they purchased smaller companies that had developed other interesting tools and added these new tools to the services they provided. Google bought Picasa, Blogger, YouTube, Picnik (a photo editing tool) and Orkut (a social network). Yahoo! bought Flickr, Match.com (a dating site) and Monster.com (job searches). AOL owns Patch.com (local community news & events), Going.com (event organization), Mapquest and many more.

How Is It Useful?

Having a single account to log in to many services means not having to remember (or write down) dozens of account name and password combinations. Many of the tools you’d want to create an account for are already bundled together. In fact, when you’re choosing an email service, take a look at everything else you can get with that one account and make your choices based on what might want or need to use.

How are all those individual tools useful? That’s a question we’ll be answering throughout this program.

Try It Out

If you already have an account with one of the big four (Google, Yahoo!, AOL and Windows Live/Hotmail), look around on the home page or menu bar to see what other services you have access to. Choose one tool you might find useful and log in with your existing account. Change a few settings and get started using the tool.

If you don’t already have an account with one of the above, take a look at each of them and see what services they offer. Choose one big provider and create an account, then start trying out tools to see what’s useful to you.

Help & Resources

Blogs and Commenting

Learning for Life Online tool #1:
The Learning for Life Online blog (and website)

What Is It?

So, what is a blog, anyway? Blog is a contraction of web and log, and a web log is a series of posts (articles) displayed on a website in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. That’s it — nothing too fancy. This post that you’re reading right now is part of the Learning for Life Online blog.

How Is It Useful?

Originally developed as online diaries, blogs have become a way to share information about almost anything in a format that’s easy to read and follow. Blogs are more useful and interesting than websites because readers can add comments that create a conversation between the original poster and anyone reading along. Blog posts are easily shared by copying and pasting the web address, by sharing directly through social media like Facebook and Twitter, and by subscribing to a blog’s feed (a stream of new blog posts is sent directly to your email or to a service like Google Reader).

In fact, a blog is such a good format for sharing information online that many websites now use many of their features on all of their pages. Newspapers are a great example, where every article encourages comments and sharing. In fact, some websites started off as just a blog and have added other pages as they’ve grown.

Try It Out

There is a blog out there for every topic you can think of: recipes, diy fashion, gadgets, book reviews, opinions and more. Use a search tool like Google, Bing or Yahoo to find blogs on topics you’re interested in. Make sure to look for posts with dates on them to know you’ve found a true blog.

Reading a blog is as easy as finding one and scrolling down the entries. However, some definitions may make things easier:

  • The Home link will get you back to the main page of the blog, where the most recent entries are. You can also click on the title of the blog to get you there.
  • The About page usually describes the who the author is or what the blog is about.
  • Categories or tags are ways to organize a blog’s content by topic. Think of categories as chapters in a book and the tags as posty notes on individual pages — quick ways to find something you were looking for. Click on a category or tag link on the side of the blog to read more entries about those topics.
  • Subscribe will sign you up to have the latest posts on a blog sent directly to you by email or RSS.

Commenting on a blog post or article is as easy as typing in the comment box below the post, but you may also need to prove that you’re a real person by typing in a reply to a captcha. Be patient with these; captchas protect blogs from automated spam comments that may be obscene, selling something, or linking readers to a malicious site.

Starting a blog is as easy as signing up with a blog platform like WordPress or TypePad and writing your first post. Before you do, consider who you want to write for, what you want to write about, and how much time you have for keeping your blog fresh and interesting. Try reading and commenting for a while before you commit to maintaining a blog. In a future Learning for Life Online lesson, we’ll highlight some Best Practices for Blogging.

Easy, right?

Help & Resources

Wikipedia article about blogs
Common Craft video explaining blogs
Technorati, an excellent place to find blogs to read