Mac Lab Report

iBlog or Blogger, Which Is Better?

- 2004.12.14

I was an early adopter of iBlog (see Blogs for Teachers: Post Your Lesson Plans on the Web and iBlog Revisited), paying my registration fee before Apple provided it for free for .mac subscribers. I liked the ability of the program so well, I ditched my old method of posting homework assignments and used iBlog for last school year and the beginning of this school year.

The main attraction it held for me was that the postings were stored locally and then uploaded to my .mac account. I could edit posts anywhere, even if I was not online.

Unfortunately, every now and then iBlog seems to forget where its directory information is. Twice I've had to completely rebuild my blogs and abandon archives because it would suddenly start publishing titles as random strings of numbers, forget the titles of blogs, and refuse to update.

One of these events occurred after I allowed it to auto-update; another happened after a several week hiatus in the summer when I wasn't posting. When I tried to post again, it wouldn't work.

I've been through reinstalls and all of the usual stuff about rebuilding the application's database, reposting and republishing, and the rest. It just never came back to being as clean and friendly as it was when I first started using it.

I've corresponded once or twice with the developers, and they simply reiterated stuff from their online help files.

So I went in search of another blogging tool. I found a website called Blogger, which has free hosting. I have issues with free hosting services, having been burned once or twice in the past, and I have an aversion to services that don't store my data on my local drive.

But Blogger has several important advantages that have added up to my replacing iBlog as my primary daily lesson plan archive tool. First, it's very easy to use. It could use one or two more features on the Mac side, but basically it is great.

Second, it allows you to post into the future, which iBlog would not. That means I can make entries in advance of the actual date of the event. That may not be useful to a typical blogger, but to a teacher it is essential if you're going to use it for making lesson plans.

The only things missing from Blogger is an "add a link" button (you have to type in your own HTML code using the code <a href="http://URL">TEXT</a>). There is a nice function buried on the site called "Blog this!" that takes the current URL of your browser and prepares a simple form for posting on one of your blogs.

Blogger doesn't host pictures, so you'll have to link to pictures on external servers. Instructions are given for a service that integrates well, but pretty much anything will do if you know the address of the individual image.

There are many blogger programs around, some with more features, more control over the formatting, etc. However, given my difficulties with the reliability of iBlog, I have to say that despite the fact that my school's Internet connection is flaky sometimes, I've never experienced any problems with Blogger over the past several months since I've made the switch.

If you need to keep an online diary, take a look.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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