Blogging and Flickring

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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By Article19

Creating and maintaining a website can be an arduous business for the non technically minded and for a busy, understaffed dance company it can be nothing short of impossible. There simply isn’t the time or the inclination to learn complex coding and software programs and then go through the tedious task of making your website function correctly on all available web browsers.

Such things often defeat the patience of professional web site developers who have been known to throw computers from high buildings in frustration. Employing someone else to do it costs money and few companies or independent dance makers have the financial resources to take that particular path. Not having a website is a big mistake, so what are the poor, non-technically minded dance community to do?

Fortunate Tools

Fortunately there are some excellent free tools out there on the internet that are just waiting to be exploited by anybody who cares to use them and they are so easy to use a demented monkey with arthritis could make them work. We will focus on two of the most popular out there in internetdom, Blogger and Flickr.

Blogger was the first free, personal, blogging tool that became so successful it was bought by the search engine monolith Google a few years back. A blog is nothing more than a sequential page of ‘diary’ like entries that, more often than not, are used to describe the day to day ramblings of individuals that most of us could really care less about.

There is no reason however that as a company or individual you can’t use a blog to tell the world at large all about your company and what you are doing.

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The folks at Google, with the help of some of the world’s best online designers, have created an incredibly simple system for starting a new blog. Simply visit the Blogger.com home-page and hit the big orange button. Follow the simple setup steps, (choosing a name for your blog may take some time because they have millions of users) and you are done. Blogger will create your new website in seconds and you are ready to start posting.

A number of templates are available that determine the look and feel of your site and, as mentioned above, they have been prepared by some of the top web designers out there and they have plenty to choose from. If you’re feeling adventurous you can customise the layout but if not, leave it be.

Get Control

Controlling your new site is all done via the ‘Dashboard’. Simply log in and click on the blogs name, you can have more than one blog if you wish, and you are presented with an array of options for controlling how your site looks and behaves.

We won’t go through them all here but click through them all and familiarise yourself with the options available to you. Click on the little orange questions marks for a detailed explanation of any of the features that may be confusing we assure you that you cannot break your blog, feel free to experiment to see how the changes affect the way your site looks.

Creating new entries is simple, just log in, click the 'new entry' button and type away. When you are finished formatting everything, just click ‘Publish Post’ and you’re done, simple! Creating links, making text bold, spell checking, uploading files for linking is all included in the clear interface for creating new entries. If mistakes are made you simply edit your entry and re-publish.

All of the technical heavy lifting is taken care of by Blogger and because the site is backed by Google it’s not going offline any time soon.

You can create company specific details within your Blogger profile, editable from the Blogger ‘Dashboard’ and you can include links to other sites. This is one area that could be improved by Blogger because a default link is always to Google News and this is not easily editable without a little bit of technical knowledge which we shall now impart to you, because that’s the kind of folks we are here in the Lab.

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1. Login to Blogger and select your blog from the list

2. Select ‘Template’ from the tab list at the top of the page.

3. You are presented with a screen containing a box full of computer code, use the scroll bar on the right of the box to scroll through the code until you see the section that resembles the code in the image above.

4. To alter the links simply change the text illustrated in the green box above between the two quote marks (make sure you don’t delete those quote marks).

5. Change the text indicated in the blue box to something relevant to your new link. This is the text that will appear on your site.

6. Change the other links to suit.

7. You can add more links by copying and pasting the code highlighted by the red markers (including the "li" tags) in the image above. Make sure you paste the new links directly under the existing ones.

8. Click the ‘Save Template Changes’ button and after the screen refresh click the ‘Republish’ button located at the top of the page to make the changes apply to your website.

In The Picture

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Websites are nothing without a few images to liven up the pages and Flickr leaps to the rescue in spectacular fashion. Here in the Lab we are usually unimpressed with so-called ‘social networking’ sites that encourage you to make friends over the internet by sharing personal information with strangers. With Flickr however they have designed something so elegant, simple to use and effective that you can forgive the whole online ‘community’ building nonsense.

Like Blogger, Flickr was started by a few enterprising individuals and then, when it became hugely popular, was bought by another internet search engine giant, this time Yahoo.

Essentially, Flickr allows you to upload your digital images to the internet and keep them all neatly organised in ‘sets’, make them easy to find using ‘tags’ and, importantly for our purposes, easily publish those images into your own blog just by entering a few simple details.

As with Blogger, setting up a new account is simple enough and completely free of charge. If you already have a Yahoo id then you can log in with that to create your new account or simply make a new one up by clicking the big pink button on Flickr’s home page. Fill in a few details and you are ready to go.

Upload Thy Image

You can either upload images using the the ‘Upload’ link on your new Flickr page or download one of the tools for your particular computer. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page select ‘Account Page’ and on the following screen click ‘Uploading Tools’. On that page you will find tools for Windows and Apple computers to send images to your Flickr account.

If you prefer the web browser method you simply select the pictures you want to upload (the Upload link is always at the top of any screen you are on), six at a time, add some ‘tags’ (see below) then hit the ‘Upload’ button and wait. Depending on the size of your images they may take a while to upload. We would suggest scaling your images down to a maximum width of 800 pixels for comfortable viewing on a computer screen but there is no limit to how big your images can be.

A maximum upload limit of 20mb is set for free accounts per month but other than that there is no limit to how many images you can have in your Flickr account.

Once uploaded you can add descriptions to the images if you wish, organise them into sets, create slideshows, add them to groups within Flickr so others can see them and generally mess about with them. Other users can leave comments about your pictures which can be deleted if you don’t like them.

Tagging is nothing more than adding key words to describe your images. They can be anything you wish but make sure they are relevant or people will get annoyed if your images don’t match their tags. An image can have as many tags as you like and phrases are allowed, just enclose the phrase within double quotes. If you have an image tagged with ‘Dancer’ and ‘Norway’ then any images you have with those two tags in will show when searched for by other users.

Blogg The Image

As we mentioned previously; one of Flickr’s most useful features is that it enables you to publish any of your images straight into your Blogger site with minimum fuss.

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When you click on one of your images a larger version appears with a number of options above it. Click on the ‘Blog This’ button and you will be presented with the screen shot above. Then carry out the following steps after clicking 'Do That Now';

1. Flickr will ask what kind of Blog you have, for our purposes the default option ‘Blogger Blog’ is the one we want so click ‘Next’.

2. Enter you Blogger username and password (don’t worry it’s perfectly safe).

3. Flickr will retrieve your Blogger details for you, leave the ‘Store your password’ box ticked and you will not have to re-enter it every-time you want to post an image. Click ‘All Done’

4. On the following page click the ‘create a custom posting template’ as this will allow you to determine how your images show up within a Blogger post.

5. We strongly advise selecting the ‘Mid Size, Aligned right’ option on this page since this presents your images in the most usable format. The thumbnails are too small and the ‘Original Size’ option may break the layout of your Blogger page.

6. On the following page select ‘Use This’ and you’re done.

You will then, finally, be presented with the image you are about to blog and a simple form to fill in, covering the ‘title’ and your actual Blog entry, when you are done click ‘Post Entry’ and the image and text will be posted to your Blogger account and you never lifted a finger (well not much anyway). Once you Flickr account has been set to work with a particular Blog the ‘Blog This’ button will give you the option to post directly, you don’t have to configure it again.

The added bonus is that images on your posts will link directly to your Flickr page where your readers can browse all of your images, leave comments, and have a look around your company’s visual workings at their leisure.

Small, Perfectly Formed

Although a combination of Blogger and Flickr is not the perfect solution to the online needs of your company they do present an ideal starting point to get a well designed, easy to update and, possibly, fun way to keep you potential audience informed about what your company is doing.

Posting new information or just a fun story about what’s going on with your latest project at least once a week can create an engaging internet presence that people will return to time and time again. Letting people know about your page is simple, every blog has its own unique link.

Blogger and Flickr take care of the technology, all you have to do is take care of the content, so arm yourself with your digital camera and hefty dose of wit for your writing and let us know about your new website, remember, none of this will cost you a penny!

[ See Article19's Demo ]
[ Blogger ]
[ Flickr ]

Notes:

Article19's demo is published within Article19 for practical reasons, you don't need any type of internet hosting or webserver to run a Blogger Blog.

Flickr 'Pro' accounts can be purchased for $29, these allow 2Gb of images to be uploaded per month and other additional features.

If full resolution images are uploaded to Flickr this may take longer but it does mean you can make high quality images available for promoters and the media to download should they require them.

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New Technology 2006

Kit Haigh (Music)