There’s also the paid blogging
hosts, typically offering several levels
of features where you can match the
monthly price you want to pay with
the features you want. A notable
example is Typepad.com where you
can choose from any of four levels of
service; from a low-end $4.95 per
month that gives you one blog, up to
Pro at $14.95, where you can have
an unlimited number of blogs under
the same account. (Typepad also
offers a business class account at $89
per blog, but this service is designed
more for corporate hosting and is
beyond what most robotics hobbyists
See the Sources section for a
short list of free and paid blogging
hosts. The list isn’t exhaustive, and
if your favorite isn’t listed don’t get
mad! The idea is simply to give people
an overview of what’s available.
Note that most of the free blog
hosts recover the costs of providing
their service by inserting ads into your
blog, either along the top or bottom,
or sometimes in the body of the
text itself. Look for blog hosts that
permit only unobtrusive advertising,
otherwise visitors to your blog may
misconstrue the ads they see as
sponsored by you.
On the better hosts, the ads are
contextually related to the subject of
your blog, but sometimes you get ads
inserted that are totally inappropriate.
So, the less conspicuous the ads,
Simple Steps to
Whether free or paid, the typical
blogging platform lets you set up
one or more blogs and publish them
under the domain of the blog host.
For example, you might create a blog
called Super Duper Crazy Robots and
have it hosted at Google’s blogger.
com. To access your blog, you’d type
something like http://superduper
(last time I checked there was no
such blog, but you never know).
The first order of business in
setting up any blog is to define its
look and feel. Most blog hosts let you
select from a number of themes that
define the overall appearance of the
page. Many blog themes have a
two-column format: a larger column
that’s wide enough for the articles
you write, and a narrower column for
Free hosts such as Blogger.com let you set up and maintain a blog at no cost.
things like navigation links, activity
calendars, and ads.
Apart from changing the title of
your blog, you can usually change
some other aspects of the theme, like
the main logo picture (incorporating a
robot, of course!) or the overall color
scheme, and what “widgets” you wish
to use on your blog.
Widgets are containers for
different kinds of content. You might
add or remove a Links widget that
contains links to other sites that you
define. Or, a widget might contain
an About box that describes the
purpose of your blog. On more
complex themes — such as those
with three or more columns — you
can often specify which column the
widget is placed into.
With the overall appearance of
your blog set, you’re ready to add
some content. This is where the fun
begins. Blog entries — or posts — are
created using an online editor that is
provided by the blogging host. Just
click the New Post link, enter a title,
and begin writing. Most blog hosts
provide an online editor that is
switchable between WYSIWYG (what
you see is what you get) and HTML.
When using the WYSIWYG editor, you
can apply formatting such as bold,
italics, or headlines by selecting the
text and clicking a button. If you
already know HTML coding, you can
switch to that mode and hand-tweak
the content of your posts.
Note that most blog hosts
check the HTML you enter and may
automatically correct invalid markup
or may simply delete the bad coding.
This step maintains the integrity of
your blog posts and allows them to
be distributed (if you choose to) via a
mechanism known as RSS.
An RSS feed requires data to be
provided in the strict XML format;
any coding errors contained inside
will prevent the feed from operating
Many blog hosts add restrictions
on some HTML code, such as
(or limit what you can do with them).
The reason is that these technologies
may be used in certain security
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