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Friday, January 16, 2004  

Blogospherics: Blogging via PDA a challenge

I've been trying to use my PDA more often during the last couple weeks. If you are going to own something that cost someone a month's rent, it shouldn't just clutter your desk or handbag, after all. The feature that really convinced me I wanted a new personal digital assistant was the ability to have wireless connections available when I don't have my laptop with me. So, it made sense to attempt wireless uses. One of the things one can, theoretically, do with a wireless PDA is blog. My efforts at achieving that goal have been mixed.

They definitely began without promise. The wireless blogging applications seemed not to work with my Palm Tungsten C, which uses Palm's latest operating system, OS 5. I've yet to wheedle a post out of Blogplane, Azure, Vagablog or Kablog. The responses from the PDA to Blogplane, Azure and Kablog is: "The application required to view this data cannot be found." That is after installing and reinstalling the software, both from the laptop and directly into the handheld. Vagablog alternates between saying there is a Java language format exception, to saying something is wrong with XML, to just refusing to make the post.

I've had better luck with the oldest of the PDA blogging software, Avantblog. The program uses a channel on the well-known anthologizer of websites for handhelds, Avantgo. Many, if not most Palm and Pocket PC users, consider Avantgo a must have service.

Beau Lebens, its developer at Dented Reality, describes the processes.

Access to the Internet via your synchronisation/cradle

1. Install the AvantGo program on your Palm.

2. Install the AvantBlog channel in AvantGo, using the link provided on http://www.dentedreality.com.au/avantblog/.

3. Synch your palm to get the channel onto your Palm.

4. Open AvantGo on your Palm and there should be an AvantBlog channel listed there - open it.

5. Log in using your Blogger.com username and password.

6. Synchronise again to transfer your user/pass to Blogger and make sure you are allowed to continue - you will get back a list of blogs on your account.

7. In AvantBlog on your palm, there should now be a screen where you can enter a post and submit it to a blog. Write something to post, then click 'Post.'

8. Synchronise one more time to transfer the actual post to your blog, via the Blogger.com server.

Direct access (wireless Internet)

1. Install AvantGo if you need to.

2. Install the AvantBlog channel as above, making sure to refresh the pages in AvantGo and get the new channel listed.

3. You should now be able to access the channel and log in directly, as soon as you do, you should get back a form which will allow you to post to your blog. Clicking 'Post' will immediately post it to your blog and republish it.

I was unable to get Avantblog to function properly until recently. In fact, it caused crashes on my PDA whenever I tried to access it directly from the Avantgo Channels list. That has changed. I am now able to post to Avantblog directly using my wireless connection. The alteration I made most immediately before achieving success with Avantgo was to turn off the VPN (Virtual Private Network) on my PDA. However, I am reluctant to identify VPN as the lone culprit in previous failures. There are issues between Avantgo, which houses Avantblog, and Palm software editions 4.0 and 4.1. I also got memory messages when I had to do resets. Or, there could be something I haven't identified that caused those problems.

This lede for an upcoming blog entry was sent to my drafts blog via Avantblog.

Sometimes scientific information can be misleading That seems to be the situation with businesses that offer to analyze people's genetic makeup. Some of them even claim they can locate relatives of customers merely from examining their DNA. But, it isn't true.

So was this picture.

But, simply getting a blog-by-PDA program to work does not resolve the difficulties inherent in blogging with a tiny, and often, touchy, device. Other challenges are already apparent, including how to input the arcane symbols that are important to blogging, but not readily available on PDAs. (I am not aware of any API clients that work with Palm devices.) I will have more to say about blogging via PDA as I experience more of it.

2:29 PM