Posterous is shutting down. Here’s how to make sure you don’t get burned again.
I’m ill at the moment: I can’t seem to shake ‘flu-like symptoms that struck last Wednesday. On the plus side, not being able to do ‘productive’ work means I’ve got done some stuff I haven’t been in a position to prioritise for a while.
Posterous, a blogging solution I’ve really enjoyed using and have advocated widely, was bought by Twitter recently. It was a talent acquisition, meaning that the future of the service is in doubt. Yesterday, I spent some time moving my Conference and FAQ blogs (previously hosted on Posterous) to subfolders of dougbelshaw.com.
The next step is to find a way to transfer Thought Shrapnel, my Tumblr-powered blog, in a satisfactory way. Truth is, Tumblr is an excellent (although painfully proprietary) platform with some really nice features. I like the defined post types and the way you can queue-up blog posts to go live.
Another thing I’d like to do is move both this blog and my e-books space from separate installations to my new WordPress ‘multisite’ installation running on the site root.
Finally, I’ve discontinued blogging at literaci.es (transferring the posts here) and moved my Ideas Garden to a public Evernote workbook.
You can find all of these spaces linked to from my profile at dougbelshaw.com.
Image CC BY-SA Fey Ilyas
In addition, you may want to check out both Martin Waller and James Michie who have also been consolidating their online presence.
This week I have been mostly…
First of all we had a bit of a scare with Hannah’s pregnancy. The risk of the baby being born with Downs Syndrome was elevated from 1/1000 to 1/28. She had an amniocentisis (which means she needs to take it easy for a couple of weeks) but everything’s fine. Oh, and it’s a girl! (due late December) 🙂
And then, whilst at nursery on Thursday, Ben decided it would be a great idea to stick a chickpea up his left nostril. Cue my coming home from work early. Two hospitals, three doctors, some pinning down from Daddy and a bloody nose later, it was out! I don’t think he’ll do that again…
They say things comes in threes and that no buses tend to all come at once. It’s the same with me presenting. I’ve got three in the space of a week – yesterday I demoed the OER infoKit at the Open International Resources International Symposium.
Next Tuesday I’m presenting to a JISC Advance comms group about the benefits of Google Apps, then it’s Google Teacher Academy on Thursday. Awesome.
Whilst I’m no longer committed to blogging every day, it would seem that being free to post every day (and not necessarily with images) means I might as well be!
I’ve also been experimenting with Posterous, importing this blog to http://dajbelshaw.posterous.com. It was mainly an experiment (took 5 days, worked flawlessly) but it actually looks great and works really well. Hmmm….
Well, not since the BUPA Great North 10k, actually, but I was really pleased that I managed it in 49:30. That’s underneath the 50 minute target I set myself! My main target was to get around the course in under that time and at the end I felt I could have gone faster. I’m aiming for 45 minutes for the next one (although it’s a half-marathon next according to the plan)
Many thanks to those who sponsored me. Overall, including Gift Aid, UNICEF received over double the target amount! 🙂
Update (same day!) – well that didn’t last long: I’ve stripped it back even more with the Minimalist theme. :-p
Earlier this year I changed the theme on this site. I was reasonably pleased with it. It was faster-loading than the previous iteration. However, as I kept adding stuff to it the site became slower to load. As @MoodleDan pointed out, I had lots of images being loaded from external sites.
So I’ve stripped it down to look a bit like the default theme on Posterous. It’s a WordPress theme called Minimous. I like it, although I’ve got a plan to strip it down even further…
What do you think?
Image CC-BY photoplaydotcom @ Flickr
I’m not so sure on the name, but it’ll do for the time being. What follows comes from a few discussions I’ve had with EdTechRoundUp folk and a previous post entitled The importance of heuristics in educational technology and elearning. You may want to read the latter to understand what I’m getting at.
Suffer the poor person new to the wonderful world many of us inhabit. I don’t think the phrase ‘Web 2.0’ quite covers it any more, to be honest. Some have clutched at different titles to set those who inhabit this ‘other’ space – some have talked of the ‘networked teacher’, the ‘connected educator’ and so on. I’m not sure sure we need a formal title, but I think most people will know what I mean when I say there’s a difference between being a teacher in a classroom with a textbook, and being a teacher connected to literally hundreds of others worldwide through various communications technologies and conventions. 🙂
The trouble is, how do you get into this cocktail party?
- What happens if you don’t know who to turn to?
- What if you haven’t got a Twitter network to support you yet?
- What if you’ve just found a tool and you’re wondering if it could be used with students?
- What if you can envisage an end product but don’t know the technological means of getting there?
That’s where this idea of heuristical templates comes in.* If people committed to using a common format to review and discuss tools and applications relating to educational technology and e-learning, then this would have a number of advantages:
- It would give the newbie a common structure that they could seek out.
- If Creative Commons licensed, these could be syndicated in a central place.
- It would lead to some cohesion in certain parts of the edublogosphere.
An example of someone who blogs extremely well about new tools and approaches is Tom Barrett. By the end of reading one of Tom’s posts you know what the tool can be used for, why you’d use is, any problems there may be, and other people who have used it before.
To that end, and inspired by Tom, I suggest the following structure taking Posterous as an example.
* Perhaps E-Learning Templates is better? Hmmm…
What is it?
Posterous is a blogging solution. A blog is a website that is easy to maintain and which has the most recent content at the top. Posterous sets itself apart from other blogging solutions as it is almost entirely updated by using email. Sending an email to email@example.com serves not only to set up the blog but to update it. Posterous deals ‘intelligently’ with email attachments – for example turning MP3s into an embedded media player and Powerpoint presentations into slideshows.
How much does it cost?
Posterous is free for up to 1GB of space. The FAQ says that in future Premium (paid-for) features will be add-ons to the functionality available for free.
- Low barrier to entry – everyone can email!
- Does intelligent things with attachments.
- Can blog via mobile phone.
- Integrates with Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.
- Custom avatars.
- Group blogs (by adding more than one email address to a blog)
- Custom domain names.
- Blogs can be imported from other platforms.
- Limited customisation (stuck with white background)
- Sidebar not very useful
- Ads in future?
- Doug Belshaw’s Posterous – links to his Year 10 History students’ blogs.
- John Maklary – Texas Weather Bugs
- Mr Herbert’s Geog Blog Site
- Mr Smart’s Learning Smart Blogs
- AJ Cann’s Posterous
So what are your thoughts? A good idea or not? :-p
I’m off to TeachMeet Midlands 2009 tonight. I’ve decided to do a micropresentation on what I’ve been doing with my Year 10 History students this year…
Over the next three weeks, staff e-learning sessions will focus on getting started with podcasting. This first session starts off with the basics you will need as a teacher before even pressing that ‘record’ button:
- An understanding of what RSS is.
- A blog onto which to put MP3 files.
The easiest way to get your head around what RSS is and how it means that audio files can be delivered to interested parties automatically is by watching this excellent explanatory video prepared by CommonCraft:
A podcast differs from simply placing an audio file on the Internet because of RSS. It means that new content can be ‘pushed’ to interested parties rather than them having to manually check for updates. The process of interested parties requesting that podcasts are delivered automatically is known as ‘subscribing’.
Now that you know what RSS is, you need to have a mechanism by which you can generate one. In our case, this is going to be a blog. Anything that you add to a blog post will be automagically turned into a subscribable podcast.
To learn how to set up a blog, check out the elearnr guide entitled:
Creating a homework blog in 3 simple steps using email
If you want to jump ahead and have a go podcasting before the next session, you should visit the Box of Tricks website where José Picardo has put together an excellent short presentation entitled Podcasting in Five Easy Steps. 😀
My school’s Special Educational Needs department asked me to do an E-Learning Session just for them, as many within the department couldn’t make my lunchtime sessions for one reason or another:
One of the tools I recommended I haven’t yet done an E-Learning Staff Session on. That’s Voki – here’s a sample of what you can do:
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Get a Voki now!
I’ve run a session – and therefore created guides to – the other four web applications I recommend for SEN practitioners:
- How to create engaging video starters without any creative talent using Animoto
- Using del.icio.us to synchronise bookmarks & find new, exciting stuff
- Creating a homework blog in 3 simple steps using email
- How to use Google Earth more effectively.
My Twitter network, as ever, were extremely helpful – although unfortunately I received some of the ideas after I’d finalised the resources:
Posterous has been mentioned a couple of times before on this blog. First, Phil Rowland set up a blog using the service for his BTEC Sport students (although he’s now extended it to include all his PE groups). Next, our librarian, Angie Dickson, set one up. Both have been impressed by how easy Posterous is to use.
Here’s how to get started (taken directly from Posterous‘ official guide):
Yep, that’s it! It really is very easy. No signups, and pretty much everything can be done via email. You can, of course, create a blog post via logging into the site itself, but most of the people I’ve spoken to about it like the ability to create them by email. 🙂
Anything that you attach to an email to Posterous will be dealt with ‘intelligently’ and added to the blog post. For example, here’s an email I sent to my Posterous blog:
(click to enlarge)
and here’s how it turned out:
(click to enlarge)
It really couldn’t be any easier to set up a blog! The only things I would recommend you take care over are:
- Set the name of your blog, it’s address, and decide who can comment: login to your Posterous account and then click on ‘Manage’ at the top right-hand corner of your blog. Clicking on ‘Edit my posterous’ allows you to change the site name, where it is on the Internet (e.g. mrbelshaw.posterous.com and choose who is allowed to comment on your blog posts.
- Set an avatar: an avatar is a small icon representing you on the Internet. I always use my little South Park character. There are many sites you can use to create something similar, including faceyourmanga.com, a South Park character generator (unfortunately blocked on our school network), and the Simpsons character generator on the SimpsonsMovie.com site! 🙂
- Add some information about yourself: it doesn’t need to be much, but students and interested visitors need to know they’ve found the right blog and not someone else with the same name as you…
Here’s the Posterous-powered blogs so far at our school. I hope to add many more in the near future!
- Mr Belshaw (History – also links to GCSE History student blogs)
- Mr Rowland (PE)
- Mrs Dickson (library)
Today, I helped Phil Rowland set up a blog to use primarily with his BTEC Sport class. We’d previously set one up via Edublogs, but it didn’t really get off the ground.
The blog platform I introduced to Phil was Posterous. I chose Posterous because it’s so easy to use. Here’s what you do:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org from any email account of your choosing. The subject of your email is the title of your first post and the body of the email the content of the post.
- Posterous emails back asking you to click on a link to validate your blog. You are then logged-in and ready to setup your username (giving you username.posterous.com) and password.
- Further emails from the account you used to Posterous add more post to your new blog. Attachments are dealt with in an intelligent way: for example a YouTube video link automatically embeds that video in the blog post. It does similarly great things with Word documents, Powerpoint files, MP3s, etc.
- You can configure your profile by logging into Posterous – avatar, details about yourself, and link to other accounts you’ve got online – Flickr, Twitter, and more!
Phil’s still playing about with and getting used to his new blog – you can visit it at: http://mrrowland.posterous.com. I’m sure he’d appreciate a comment or two. 🙂