Photobucket had recently made a very dick move by disabling all third-party embedded pics unless I pay $399. I've been blogging for 13 years and have 2000+ embedded pics across 650+ blog posts, which are now all unviewable. I'm working on moving my images to a new host, so until then, please do bear with me if you cannot view any images on my older blog posts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chp 289. Five Important Tips for Bloggers


…who type their blog posts on Microsoft Word document first before publishing it on their blogger/blogspot host.

FYI: There are a gazillion blogging tips out there. But trust me, this set is different. I have come across so many people facing an issue with MS Word-to-blog publication. Hence these tips are purely for those bloggers who use Microsoft Word to write their posts first before publishing it on their blogger/blogspot domain blogs. The tips are based from my 7 years of blogging experience on blogger.com using MS Word.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Blogging Tip #11. Knowing where to paste your stuff.

After you’ve written your post using MS Word and edited it and fine-tuned it etc, where do you copy-paste that content on your blogger.com account?

This is the first mistake most people make. On your blogger account, there are two composing options:

Edit HTML:
Blogger edit HTML

Compose:
Compose

NEVER paste it directly at the “Compose” section. It will give a really weird output when you publish your blog The “Compose” section is actually the WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get). First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect WYSIWYG editor. There are always some flaws here and there. And secondly, this WYSIWYG editor converts every formatting that MS Word generates (which are invisible to the human eye ) and screws up your post when it is published.

Your published post will display stuff like, “Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000177 EndHTML:0000003397 StartFragment:0000002613 EndFragment:0000003361 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/Kima/ Desktop/Important%20Blogger%20Tips.doc meta name, mso-footer-margin:.5in; /w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery” etc etc.

Or you will get an error message something like this:
Blog Error

Shocking right? Here’s a way to avoid this.

After you have composed your blog post on MS Word, make sure you are happy with the paragraph breaks etc. Once you are satisfied, copy that entire content from MS Word and paste it at the “Edit HTML” section. This will remove all the weird formatting mentioned above. (It’s pretty much like pasting it on a .TXT file)

Once you’ve done that, THEN click on “Compose” if you want to change the font color or paragraph alignment to justify etc. You don’t even need to do this if you know basic HTML codes for bold, link, paragraph, italic etc. Just click “Publish” after that and Tha daaa! Your published post is displayed just the way you want it.





Blogging Tip #22. The problem with curly quotes.

First of all, what is a double quote? You get this when you press the single quote (aka inverted comma, aka apostrophe) key + shift key on your keyboard. It is used as a citation or when you are quoting somebody. I sometimes use it on my blog to deliver a pun or sarcasm.

Double quote

Single and double quotations can either be curly or straight. You get curly quotes as the default style on MS Word.

Curly quotes:
Curly quotes

Straight quotes:
Straight quotes

Straight quotes are what you get on a normal .TXT file. Note the difference.

So, why are curly quotes a problem?

Suppose you know a few basic HTML, like image link command, or “a href” command. The problem is, when you type the command on MS Word, you get curly quotes instead of straight quotes. And HTML does NOT understand curly quotes once you copy-paste that text to your blog. See the examples below.

This command is wrong and will not be executed:
Curly quotes command

This is correct:
Straight quotes command

When the command is wrong, you will not see what you want. Hence you have to use the straight quote for all your commands. This applies not just to the image command above, but to every single HTML tags.

Solving this issue:

I came across this site: The World Of Office where Vincent has given an easy solution to this problem. He said one can simply uncheck the "Straight quotes" with “smart quotes” check box at AutoCorrect option on your MS Word and you will get a straight quote every time you press the open/close quote key on your MS Word document.

Replacing quote
[Image courtesy theworldofoffice]

I must say this is a pretty good answer. But now every time I press the quote key when using MS Word even when I am not writing a blog post, I will get the straight quote. And especially for someone like me who is a copywriter, we have to use the proper curly quote every time we write a script or concept note.

Hence there is another solution to this. No need to change anything at your AutoCorrect option or anything like that. Just Control Zee it!

Control Zee

Whenever you press the quote key and curly quotes appear, just simply press Ctrl+Z (undo). The curly quote will automatically transform into a straight quote and you can continue typing in bliss. Try it.





Blogging Tip #33. I see broken links everywhere…

Ok so you’ve followed the above procedure and managed to link to a website, or you’ve done it on your own. However, when you publish your blog, the link appears to be broken.

Well, because of MS Word, this happens regularly. Suppose your blog is ABC and you want to link a part of your post to another website called XYZ, you type the following on MS Word:

a href="http://www.XYZ.com"

The moment you press space on your keyboard, the text automatically transforms to:

a href=http://www.XYZ.com

Yeah that’s the problem with MS Word when it comes to hyperlink. You may think this is not an issue, but if you copy-paste this on your blog (ABC) and publish the link (XYZ), the particular link will not go to XYZ when you click it. Instead, it will lead to a “Page not found” error because if you look at the link destination carefully, it has become:

http://www.ABC.com/www.XYZ.com

Such a page does not exist. Therefore, always get rid of any blue underlined links that are automatically generated when you type a link on MS Word. You can easily do this by simply pressing Control+Z the moment the link is automatically created. The blue link will revert to the one with straight quotes. After that, just continue typing. Similarly, this works for “img src” commands too.





Blogging Tip #44. OMG! Who created that vast empty space?

You know how to create tables in HTML. Very good. Congratulations.

But what you may not know is that when you create the table on an MS Word document (table, tr, td, etc) and publish your post on your blogger account, suddenly out of nowhere, there is this huge ugly odd-looking blank space at the end of your post, before the comment field begins.

Where the hell did that come from?

Again, the thing with MS Word and Blogger.com is that, they do not make good bedfellows together when it comes to certain HTML tags like table.

DO NOT leave any space between your table elements when you are typing on MS Word.

Here is a very simple table command. This is what you should avoid on MS Word.
Blog Tip Table1

Below is how you should type table commands on MS Word.
Blog Tip Table2

Note the difference. I did not leave any line breaks or space in between the table elements. Because whatever space you leave (like the first table pic above) will lead to an empty space at the end of your post. Don’t ask me the technicality behind this. It’s just one of those things you observe, and then find the solution through trial-and-error method.

For advanced users: You can also use a nobrtable styling sheet and wrap your table element within this. This way, there will be no empty space at the bottom even if you use the first table command given above. However, the problem with this is, it not only removes all breaks between the table elements, it also removes all breaks within the table including the text breaks. Hence it may be alright to use this if your table cells contain one or two words. But I never use it because many of my table cells have break commands in it.





Blogging Tip #55. Knowing the potential of MS Word.

Ok, I know many of you who don’t use MS Word to write your blog posts may ask, “Why don’t you just use some other text editor?”

Makes sense, if you consider the points given above. Notepad (.txt) generates straight quotes immediately and link commands are not transformed to hyperlinks. Wordpad too is not a bad text editor. But they do not have “auto correct” for spelling and grammar. MS Word has “auto correct” which is useful for people like me who type fast, but then again, there are now many text editors that can do that.

The bottom-line is this - I am extremely familiar and comfortable with MS Word. Hence as a blogger, sometimes it is important to be at your comfort zone to churn out a good post.

MS Word can do a lot of stuff to your blog.

For example, as I’ve mentioned before, I never use the WYSIWYG editor on blogger.com to write a post. Hence I do not use this function to insert images or videos because it is quite unfriendly if you want to place an image at a particular location etc.

It’s much easier if you do it first on MS Word. All you’ll have to do to embed YouTube files on your blog is:
  1. Go to the YouTube page you want to embed on your blog.
  2. Select the embed links given on that page.
  3. Paste that code on your MS Word document at a location in the post you’re writing where you want the video to appear.
  4. Once you finish writing your post using MS Word, follow TIP 1 given above – Paste the MS Word text content to the “Edit HTML” section and not “Compose”.
  5. Once done, select “Compose” if you want to change the paragraph alignment, font, etc.
  6. Your YouTube video will not show in this “Compose” section, but don’t worry, it’s very much there.
  7. Publish post.

Likewise, displaying images is much easier when you do it directly from MS Word first by simply using the img src code. And from here you can change the alignment, border, position etc. This is much easier than using the unfriendly option on blogger. As I have said many times before, you don’t really get what you see in a WYSIWYG editor.

And then there are certain limitations to MS Word too.

  • Bullet points: You cannot copy the bullet points you’ve created on MS Word and paste them directly to the text editor at blogger.com. It will not be displayed correctly. I am currently working on other CMS tools like TYPO3 for my clients, where it is possible to do this, but on your blogger CMS, it’s not. Hence the bullet points that you see on this explanation are all created using HTML.

  • Blank space: No matter how many blank space you “type” on your MS Word, your blogger profile will not show more than one unit blank space. For this too you will have to use the nbsp HTML command.

  • Subscript and Superscript: When you type numbers like “first”, your MS Word automatically converts it to 1st. Nice huh? But if you copy paste this to your blog, it will only display it as 1st. To get the desired superscript or subscript, you will have to use the corresponding HTML codes.

  • Line Indent: You may quote somebody on your MS Word, and show that by indenting the quote. However it makes no sense copying the indent format from MS Word to Blogger because it will not show. Hence you’ll have to use the blockquote HTML command for this directly on your blog editor.

There are a lot of other tips I want to share with you all about blogger.com, but for now, I want to mention only those that are related to Microsoft Word document. I hope I’m able to clear some of your doubts, and feel free to add points or contradict some of the tips I have mentioned. After all, they are for the greater good. Cheers.





Ps. You can publish your blog post directly from your MS Word document itself without logging in to your blog account from another browser, but I don’t recommend this. I’ll tell you why on another day. For now, I hope you've found these five tips for “MS Word – blogger.com” bloggers useful.



Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chp 288. Cheraw World Record!


Yesterday was a wonderful and memorable day for all Mizos around the world. We’ve just set a new WORLD RECORD for the most number of people dancing simultaneously to our traditional dance called “Cheraw”, where bamboos are used as props.

It was a proud day for every Mizo worldwide.

Then of course I woke up this morning, still feeling the aftertaste of pride and sense of achievement (even though I was not a part of this historical moment) and happily picked up the newspaper. I was completely shocked that the Times of India and Mumbai Mirror mentioned nothing about this spectacular event. I was expecting at least a picture, because “Cheraw” dancers are so beautiful. Yet, nothing, nada, zilch.

On my way to office, I picked up Mid Day and DNA. Nothing in Mid Day either. DNA at least mentioned it briefly on page 12. Thanx guys.

According to newKerala.com:

Lucia Sinigalie, an adjudicator from the Guinness, who supervised the entire event declared at 1500 hrs that Mizoram has achieved the largest dance ensemble in the world to a thunderous applause from what was believed to be the largest gathering of people in Mizoram.

''I was enthralled by the dance. It was fantastic and amazing. Aizawl is a mystical place, the people are fantastic. The people well deserve this world record,'' Sinigalie said as she handed over the certificate to Mizoram Art and Culture Minister P C Zoramsangliana.

Mizoram has edged the previous record of world's largest dance ensemble set by 7,000 dancers in Cebu in the Philippines last year.


w00t!!!! Now just thinking aside, had some dance troupe from Maharashtra, Delhi, Kolkata etc done the same thing and shattered the existing World Record, would the newspapers not mention anything about the event either? Ah…

Anyway, here’s hoping some of them at least mention about it tomorrow. Better late than never, aye?

BBC News too had already announced this event yesterday itself.

The dancers, who were mainly students, performed the traditional "Cheraw" dance along a 3km (1.8 mile) stretch in Aizawl, capital of Mizoram state.

Guinness World Records judge Lucia Sinigaliesi watched the dance along with tens of thousands of spectators.

The 10,378 dancers performed for eight minutes in Aizawl's spacious Assam Rifles Grounds, with many spilling out beyond the grounds.


People in Mizoram spent a lot of time preparing for this grand event. Here is one of the rehearsals on a roadside at night, because during the day the girls and boys had to go to school or college. Video courtesy samuelapa



I’ve collected a lot of photographs that people have submitted at our Mizo community site misual.com. Here are some of the pictures. Do remember that a lot of these people danced on the streets of Aizawl and the entire traffic was closed for the day, since all of them didn't fit at the venue location. Click on the pics to enlarge. Pics courtesy Rina, Nancy, Shailendra, AS_Khiangte, and many others.



























Even children took part in this:







Also got these great pics from my good friend Shahnaz:




















Here are some of the videos on youtube so far.

This one is at a busy bazaar street. Video courtesy: Anoch



On the road. Video courtesy: mzvision



Chhinlung Academy. Video courtesy: andr3whiho



Road view, from top. Video courtesy: mzvision



Another view, from the roadside. Video courtesy: Jayanta Kumar Nath



Dancers at the main field. View from the VIP area. Video courtesy: Anoch



When it comes to Cheraw, there are a lot of different steps. The particular step that you see in all these videos, has been decided and approved by the Arts and Culture Dept. Below is a clip that I think is the same one approved by A&C. Video courtesy MrPaduh



Here are some of our girls practicing Cheraw, in casual wear. This is not a part of the World Record event though. Video courtesy: kimcanpo



Everywhere Mizos go, Cheraw is always taken along with them. Here are some Mizos in the US performing at a function there. . Video courtesy: lalthachianga



This dance is usally performed at Chapchar Kut, one of our main festivals. Here are the dancers on that same occasion. Video courtesy: MrPaduh



Last but not the least, here are our very own Mumbai Mizo girls performing this dance recently. MSYM – Mizo Students and Youth of Mumbai. Video courtesy: maruatafanai



Hope you enjoyed the pics and vids. Cheers! To end this amazing journey, here is a grand finale video. It is from the INCREDIBLE INDIA commercial. Check out 0:53 minute and watch the guy doing the Cheraw!!!!







Update: March 16th, 2010.

Times of India nor any of the other papers mentioned anything about this World Record, even the next day after I posted this. And I heard from a Facebook friend who is a journalist that she was contacted by DNA, so she’s the one sent them the press release from I&PR to DNA so that they could publish a small paragraph from it.

Anyway, it is at times like this that we feel more isolated, like we do not matter much to India. Breaking a world record of this magnitude is a landmark achievement, and yet with none of the media reporting it, the rest of India’s ignorance about people from the North East will only continue.

As I have just commented at Abhinav Blog: North Eastern Indian Women face Racism in their Own Country!: “Stereotypes can be abolished only when there is maximum exposure about a particular culture or community. The main reason we stereotype is simply because we don’t know anything about that person, or know too little.”