Will the blogging platform “Ghost” be successful?

Ghost” is the newest player in the field where blogging platforms compete. It’s creator John O’Nolan’s blog post explains why he saw the need for a new platform. Basically, he created Ghost because his ex-favorite blogging platform WordPress is no longer just a blogging platform. He still loves WordPress as a platform on which advanced websites can be created, including blogs, but for someone who want something for “just blogging” he thinks WordPress is too much; So he created “Ghost”.

I tried Ghost

The self hosted edition of Ghost has been out for quite a while, but I received an invitation to try out the hosted edition yesterday.

Invitation to try out

Invitation to try out

I clicked on the get started link and it took me to the login page.

Ghost Login Page

Once you’re logged in you can start a blog hosted in Ghost’s servers, or download a copy of Ghost to install on your own server.

Ghost Home Page

I wanted to try Ghost on their server, so I clicked “Start a New Ghost Blog” button, and I was given the choice to select a plan.

Ghost Select Plan Page

There was an option to try Ghost for free for 30 days; I choose that. And I got your typical screen to set a blog name and (sub) domain.

Creating a Ghost Blog

Once that is done, a page with the list of blogs I have created on Ghost, is presented.

Ghost Blogs List

This is how a Ghost blog looks like just after it’s created.

Front end of a Ghost blog

Following is the page where you can see all the posts you have written in your Ghost blog.

Ghost Posts List

You have a menu to access account settings in the top right.

Ghost Account Settings

When you click the “Settings” button, you’ll get a screen where you can change settings of the blog.

Ghost Blog Settings

You can change your profile too.

Ghost Change Profile

Ghost Change Profile

You can change or view details of posts by clicking on the gear icon at the top right corner of posts.

Ghost Post Details

When you click on the “New Post” button, you get an empty screen like the following. You write on the left side while you can view a live preview on the right.

Ghost Post Details

This is how you write posts in Ghost.

Ghost Post Details

You can set vanity URLs for the posts.

Ghost Post Details

There are no categories, but you can tag posts.

Tags in Ghost

You can save drafts and publish them when they’re ready.

Tags in Ghost

This is the homepage with a recently published post.

Tags in Ghost

And this is the single post page.

Tags in Ghost

I like Ghost

Just like Medium, Ghost is so minimalistic, and I like that. It is very writer friendly and inviting to write. It indeed is distraction free. If you are familiar with markdown, you can easily format your writings in Ghost; you can use the universal keyboard shortcuts like “Ctrl+B”, “Ctrl+I” as well. Just like John O’Nolan wanted it to be, it is just a blogging platform; no more – no less.

But…

Will it succeed? Ghost have all the functionality to be the one thing it intends to be – just a really simple blogging platform. But will it be able to reach writers without technical knowledge or financial back up?

First of all, there are no any free plans for their hosted platform. When WordPress.com and Blogger are offering free hosted blogging platforms, why would someone choose Ghost paying 5USD per month for the cheapest plan? For the simplicity of Ghost you say? If you don’t make it complicated with plugins and more, WordPress is simple enough out of the box. Of course you can’t install plugins in the hosted edition of WordPress, either.

The self hosted edition is free. But you won’t be able to run it on your typical Apache, PHP shared hosting account. You’ll have to buy a VPS (Virtual Private Server) and install Node.js to be able to install Ghost.

Neither is the cheapest way for someone who is looking to start a blog on a low budget. The latter requires some proficiency in technology to handle a VPS; someone who is comfortable with that will be very very very comfortable with using WordPress and won’t find it as complex as Ghost people say, and they’ll even appreciate the extendability of WordPress.

What do you think? Will Ghost be successful?

[Today I Learned] Insert and Update rows with MySQL “ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE”

Today at work, I had to create a SQL query that’d insert some rows to a MySQL table. The rows are not user generated, they are dynamically created through several SQL queries. The results of the queries should be entered to a separate table, unless if they’re already inserted.

Imagine there’s a table called “library_lending”, which looks like the following.

CREATE  TABLE `library_lending` (
  `id` INT NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT ,
  `user_name` VARCHAR(45) NOT NULL ,
  `date` DATE NOT NULL ,
  `book_name` VARCHAR(45) NOT NULL ,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`) ,
  UNIQUE INDEX `user_date` (`user_name` ASC, `date` ASC) );

Please note that we have created a “Unique Index” (“Unique Key”) called “user_date” that combined both “user_name” and “date” fields. MySQL won’t allow inserting two rows that has same values for “user_name” and “date” fields. In other words, the above table is designed to keep records of people who’re borrowing books from a library, and this table won’t allow anyone to borrow more than one book in a day, because only one record can be inserted with same “user_name” and “date”. Continue reading [Today I Learned] Insert and Update rows with MySQL “ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE”

Features I don’t Use in My Smartphone

I bought my current smartphone Sony Xperia P on 1st December 2012 (Thanks Facebook Timeline!). Since then I have made a good use of it. It helps me to read mail, check-in to places, take photos, send and receive text messages, make calls and everything that a smartphone would do. However, I have noticed that I have never used some features packed with it. I am going to try and list them, so I can know what exactly I need from a smartphone, and that’d give me an idea of what should I look for in a future smartphone I might purchase.

Internal Storage

Sony Xperia P comes with a little more than 11GB of internal storage available for users. From that, I have only used about 2GB of that! This is because I don’t use my phone as a “file storage facility”. I don’t listen to music on phone regularly, so I don’t have to store music in it like most people do. I think an smartphone with about 8GB of internal storage would be more than enough for me.

Features I don't Use in My Smartphone - Internal Storage

WiFi Hot Spot

My phone can act as a WiFi Hot Spot if necessary. I have used it one or two times, but I decided not to use that ever again. Ever. Turning the WiFi Hot Spot drains the battery so fast and heats the phone too much. I could even fry an egg on the phone while the WiFi hot spot is on.

NFC

After testing the feature with Praboda’s Xperia V, I haven’t use NFC in my Xperia P. I know it’s cool when you can tap another device with your phone and send files, but the need never arose. And NFC enabled payment systems are at least a decade in the future for us Sri Lankans.

Ring and Notification Tones

This might not be a big deal, and may be just me. I use a plain ring and notification tones, and I never change them. So the dozens of different tone options go unused.

Pre Installed Apps

Here are a list of apps Sony had installed on my phone and I then uninstalled (Actually I froze them using “Titanium Backup”).

  • All the themes except the one I am using. I’d never change it.
  • Back Up and Restore. I don’t store any file in my phone. My emails are already backed up in GMail, and I save my text messages to PC once a month or so.
  • Stock Browser. I use Chrome and Dolphin.
  • Stock Email Client. I use GMail app, Outlook app, and SolMail for other email accounts.
  • Text Messenger. I used this for a long time. But as Google Hangouts now support text messaging, I said goodbye to the stock text messaging app.
  • SenseMe. I guess it is Sony’s alternative to Shazam. I use Shazam.usage-of-features-and-functions-in-a-software-system
  • Sony Select. Sony’s “recommended” apps can be found in this. Duh. Why waste time Sony? I know what I want, and Google Play’s own recommendations are better.
  • Timescape. Updates from social networks are displayed “beautifully” in this app. Why?
  • Voice Dialer. It can’t recognize Sinhala names, which almost all of my contacts have.

Features I don't Use in My Smartphone - Pre Installed Apps

Do you use all the features of your phone? What are the ones you don’t use?

PS:

The featured image was taken from http://www.softwareresults.us/2011/07/where-do-unused-features-come-from.html. It shows most of the features in a software system goes unused. I think it’s the same for phones.

usage-of-features-and-functions-in-a-software-system

Following-up your own Tweets and Creating a Sensible Thread

We all have faced that moment when we need to add a little more to your last tweet. May be what you have in mind can’t simply fit into 140 characters limit, and you need to find a way around to get your whole opinion out there. May be you tweeted something and then you remember you need to add something more to it.

I have seen some people divide ideas into multiple tweets and place “1st of 3″, “2nd of 3″ etc at the end of the tweet, so that people who sees that would look for next tweets as well. Some simply use “1/3″, “2/3″, “3/3″. This approach doesn’t do anything more than letting people know there are more tweets related to the one someone just saw. They have to come to your Twitter profile and look for the other related tweets. If the tweet is few days or more old, they will have a hard time searching for it and it’s most likely that they will never bother to.

The only solution is finding a way to display all the related tweets in one place.

That is impossible, right? We don’t have any options to tell Twitter that there will be following-up tweets for the one you’re currently tweeting, or tell it that the current tweet is a follow-up for a previous one. Well, not really – we have that option. But it is hidden in the plain sight.

We all know that Twitter can identify replies to tweets and it can display a tweets with all the replies to it. We are going to use that feature for our purpose. I am not sure whether Twitter intended it this way, but it makes sense and does work. This can’t be any more simple – you just have to reply to your own tweet!

When you have a lengthy idea to be tweeted, just start typing. When you reach 133 characters, type “… TBC” so that people would know that the tweet isn’t complete and it is “To Be Continued”, and then tweet it. Now click the “Reply” button for the tweet you just tweeted. Twitter will automatically fill in your Twitter username and any other Twitter usernames you had in the last tweet in the reply box, just select them all and delete. Type the rest of the tweet. If your tweet is exceeding limits again, just repeat the process.

If you need to add something more or “comment” on a previous Tweet you tweeted, just find that old Tweet and reply to it. Just remember to delete unwanted usernames Twitter auto fills for you.

Following is an screenshot of a Twitter thread created that way:

Twitter Thread

On 11th of October, I have tweeted about a glitch I experienced in news reader app Feedly. On 17th, I found that they have fixed it. I needed to comment on my tweet about the glitch and say they have fixed it, so I did what I explained above. If someone directly come to the original Tweet, they’ll see my comment and know that the issue is no longer there.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell me what you think about this.

Credits: Some Image(s) From: http://wallnen.com/wallpaper/twitter-02-hd-wallpaper.html.

[Rant] “I won’t use Google Hangouts, until it adds an invisible mode!” – Me

Yeah, you read the title correct. Yeah yeah, I am a huge fan of Google and I have made fun of people who uses alternatives for Google’s products and services, like when someone uses Bing instead of Google Search, or Yahoo! Mail instead of GMail – the list goes on and on. But ever since the replacement of GTalk with Google Hangouts, I have stopped using it.

Why? I am glad that you asked. Well, here is the thing. I really like to be online in Google Hangouts, but the biggest problem is people come to talk… err… chat with me in it! You are always more than welcome to pass me “Instant Messages” in it, but if you wish to have long chit chats with me, I am not your guy. You see, I am not that talky and when I am online, I am always doing something productive – like scrolling through 9gag, and umm… well… you know what I mean.

I am sure I am not the only one who has done this. Back in the day, when we had GTalk, I was always in “Invisible Mode”. My friends knew I do that. So if anyone wanted to contact me, they could’ve just sent a message and see whether I’d respond. If I did, I was online, if I didn’t, I was either offline or didn’t want to talk to them. But it isn’t possible to hide the fact that you’re online in Hangouts.

Have you faced this trouble with Google Hangouts? What did you do about it?

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mapleveins/5446464200/in/photostream/ .

GnuCash – The Free and Easy Accounting Software

I and one of my colleagues at Sanmark Solutions started a little side business couple of weeks ago. We immediately ran into the problem of managing and keeping track of money we put into that business and we spent for various things. Neither of us knew anything about accounting. So we clearly needed the help of a software, that would make it easier to handle it all for us. Continue reading GnuCash – The Free and Easy Accounting Software

FocusWriter – A Distraction Free Writing App for Ubuntu.

Although I am not a full time writer, I have maintained couple of blogs for the past few years. All of them were WordPress based ones – May be Blogger is the only Google service I am not using! – and I have only written my posts at the WordPress admin panel, except for few occasions. I remember I tried Zoundry Raven few years ago, but I didn’t adhere to it. I have the WordPress app installed on my Sony Xperia P, but I am almost not using it. That’s it about my usage of blog editors. Continue reading FocusWriter – A Distraction Free Writing App for Ubuntu.