Tools • 5 August 2008 • The SnowBlog


I have to say I've been stunned by the comments to Rob's climate change post, which broadly say 'there's not much wrong'. It's shaken me because if you and I feel so differently, what can I say - about anything - that's going to resonate with you? So I find myself a bit short of things to say, because I have to recalibrate who I thought I was talking to. Instead of writing, then, here's a list of the webtools I use in my everyday life. First up, I've mentioned it before, but it is my structure, my sanity, my salvation. I have 15 lists on it ranging from Snowbooks Company, Snowbooks Titles and Snowangels to Personal, Things to Chase Up, and Things To Do One Day. It's free, but if you love it to bits you can upgrade to give them $15 a year. Next, Firefox's web developer plug in. I only use this when reviewing our website, or building other people's, or spying on other people's (if I find a particuarly nice site I want to see how it works) and then it's indispensable. You can display the CSS (the code that defines the layout) of any page; .you can outline anything you like, ranging from images to headings; you can display things like links and divs; you can hide elements like images. It's amazing. Also free - google 'firefox plug in web developer'. To run the Snowblog, we use Movable Type. It's fine and dandy and does the job, although it does something weird to commenters every now and again. I suppose we could upgrade, but the chances of something going catastrophically wrong are always present, and it's kind of low on the priority list. Nowadays, when I build new blogs for people, I install Wordpress. It takes no time at all, it's pretty and robust and runs on mySQL databases which tend to be supported by most people's hosting package. It's free (are you discerning a trend, here?) For tinkering with code of any kind, like XML (ONIX), XSL, HTML or even Java if I'm feeling very brave indeed I use ConTEXT. It's a free text editor that I like because it colours different elements in different colours and I like the layout. If I'm getting really serious, though, I'll use Eclipse (free) which is much more robust - in fact there's nothing it doesn't support, for my level of programming - but is overkill if I just want to change a few lines. You also need Java to run Eclipse. I use a few Yahoo Widgets. I have a job timer (helpful for doing boring tasks like bank recs that I want to speed through. I set myself a goal of getting them done quicker than the last one, then use the Yahoo timer to time myself. I did the last one in 44 minutes - w00t!) There are gazillions of widgets for every eventuality, from time management to personal organisation. Worth a browse. I use iGoogle to track blogs and newsfeeds. From the Google homepage, click on Sign In in the top right corner and use your gmail account (which everyone should have, just for convenience) to sign in. I decorate mine with an artist theme (link at the top of the page) and have a newsfeed, the Bookseller's feed and a smattering of blog RSS feeds. I only have four blogs I'm tracking at the moment because I've just had a cull - I was reading 25 a day and it was getting silly. That's probably all. Needless to say I use lots of other software, but it tends to be the paying kind - as you have noticed, every one of the tools above is free.


The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

Many of the older posts in our blog archive suffer from link rot. Apologies if you see missing links and images: let us know if you'd like us to find any in particular.

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