Any ICCFA member in good standing (i.e. current on your dues payments) can use numerous extra features of this Web site, which can be accessed via the black administration menu visible at the top of the page after you log in.
Writing A Blog Post
(New, simplified method!)
1) After logging in with your username and password, click the "Write a blog post" link in the top menu.
2) Write a title in the "Title" box.
3) OPTIONAL: Choose a "Category" if one fits. These are not very comprehesive and we probably need more. You can do it or ignore it.
4) OPTIONAL: Write a "Tag" or multiple tags if you wish, in a list of words separated by commas. This offers the opportunity for more free style categorization. There are multiple places in the site where you can find "tag clouds" users can click on to find information on various topics. They can also be incorporated into blog posts like this: cemetery. You can see how it brings up blog posts, articles, and profiles tagged with that word.
5) In the "Body" box, write your blog post. You write it just like you'd write in most computer programs. For the majority of blog posts I've written. I just write what I want to write in this box, then click "Submit" at the bottom of the page, and am done with it.
IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND AND DO THE ABOVE FIVE STEPS, YOU DO NOT NEED TO LEARN OR DO ANYTHING MORE. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW A BLOGGER. YOUR BLOG POSTS WILL SHOW UP IN THE CAFE, BLOG CORNER AND IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL BLOG LIST WHICH WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED AT www.iccfa.com/blogs/your-name-here
6) Now, if you want to get a little fancy, you can also add basic text effects, links to stuff on the Internet, and image (photos, drawings) to your blog post, using the controls at the top of the "Body" box.
Text effects: Highlight the text that you want to add an effect to, then click on the effect control above. For instance, to make this text bold, I typed the text, then highlighted it, then clicked on the "B" button above. Same deal for italics. If you are some kind of renaissance man or woman, you can create slick looking bulleted or numbered lists. And by using the handy "Format" selections you can easily make your blog post completely unreadable if you don't understand how pre-format options work (the thing to remember is that some of these format both the text you've highlighted, and the lines above and below that text). I would avoid these until you understand how they work.
Links: If you want to create text links to other stuff on the Internet, you highlight the text you've typed and then use the "chain link" button at the top of the box and write or paste in a Web address. For instance, first I type the words: funny thing I found on the Internet. Then in another window I copied the URL from the top of the blog post I was reading (I put my cursor up there, to highlight it, then "Edit-Copy" from the browser control at top left), then came back here and highlighted the words and clicked the "chain link" button, and pasted in the URL ("Edit-Paste", or SHIFT + INSERT keys). Voila, a link. Do this a few times and you will see how pretty soon you can do it really quickly without even thinking about it.
Images: Please only submit images smaller that 600 x 600 and 72 dpi. (If you don't know what this means, you probably should not be submitting images or you will only get a frustrating series of error messages and reprimands from the system.)
-Put your cursor where you want the image to appear.
-Click on the "Image Assist" control at the top of the "Body" box - it is the control on the far right.
-Click the "Upload" button. Give the image a title, anything will do, this is mainly for your own reference. You can ignore categories and tags - I do - but if you are into that kind of organizing please knock yourself out.
-Use the "Browse" button to find the image file on your computer.
-Click "Submit" button at the bottom.
-In the "Properties" window which will next appear, you can write a caption for your image in the "Description" box if you want, and you can control whether the image appears as a tiny "thumbnail" that people have to click on to see the full image, or as a "Preview" which is a moderate sized version. I always use "Preview".
-You can try different "Alignment" settings but at the end of the day, please only use "left". Because of the way the Web works, there are all sorts of bad things that can happen to your blog post if you try to get too fancy with the formatting simply because html is not a word processing program. Nobody really cares if your post looks like a layout from Vogue, just show the pictures in a vertical line.
-Click the "Insert" button and there you are, an image in your blog post.
-To add more images just do the above over and over.
-Always remember to put your cursor where you want the image to appear before using Image Assist. It is not that easy to move them around after they've been placed; again, because the Web is not a word processing program. If you do need to move one it's usually better to just delete it and re-add it to your post. This is really easy because when you delete the image, and then click on "Image Assist" you will see your image is already there in your personal gallery so you do not need to browse for it again. (And you can add the same image to multiple blog posts and Forum posts if you want, although at the moment I can't envision a rationale for doing so).
[There is another little image control up there, the little yellow graphic with what looks like a mountain. Do not click on it, do not attempt to use it, as it is evil and is only there to tempt you, test you and ultimately ruin your day and possibly life.]
7) Don't mess with "Input Format" because, if you needed to read this document, you really do not want to change input formats. I only change them for very specific and uncommon purposes. It's a button that could be useful for real techie people to do interesting things with, but frankly those people could probably find way better uses of their time than submitting custom coded documents at this Web site - like meeting a new friend at the local bookshop, or watching the latest Clint Eastwood film.
8) "File Attachment" can be useful if you have a PDF document, Word document or Excel file you want people to be able to download by clicking on a link on your blog post. It's extremely easy to use and automatically puts a link at the bottom of your post. Cool feature if you need it. If you try to upload anything huge you will get in trouble.
9) HANDY TIP: You can write your blog posts in another program and simply copy and paste them into the blog "Body" box. Many times, this feature is absolutely amazing because it allows you to do all your interesting formatting stuff in, say, MS Word, and have it replicated pretty closely here in the blog writing function. Sometime it does not work exactly, but it has surprised me many times alread. You still have to use the process described in step 7 above to get images uploaded, though. This practice has the added benefit of letting you have a second copy of the blog post saved on your hard drive. If, for instance, you spend an hour writing a post, and accidentally navigate off the page to check the weather or bid on a rototiller blade, you could lose your work. This I can tell you from experience, is a very, very sad thing, which can make you melancholy enough to throw your computer out a window. So first writing drafts in another program is definitely a blogging best practice.
If I've missed anything feel free to point it out and I will add to this document. Now start blogging, you blogger, you.