Today’s cool tool will be a little like looking in a mirror – I’m going to write about the tool I’m writing with WordPress.

WordPress comes in two flavors.  There’s the free software that you can run on your own servers and customize like there’s no tomorrow.  Be my guest – we’re going to talk about the one that is hosted on wordpress.com.  There are tons of fancy features, and the price is right (like all Cool Tool Tuesdays, this is free).  You can sign up off their home page.  It’s easy:

Your user name can be your blog name.  You can have multiple blogs if you’re so inclined.

Next, pick a theme for your blog.  I use Tarski, which lets me put in a custom photo, but they have almost 80 different choices.  You can play around some, too.  This is how my blog looks with the Regulus theme:

I’ll stick with what I have now.  Next, you can fill in your “about” page with something about you.  Or make something up, or borrow one from somebody fun (as in, not this one).

Finally, add a new post.  The entry screen looks like this:

with space for the title and then the contents.  The buttons show what they do when you float your cursor over them:

Making a link is as easy as selecting some text and choosing the chain icon:

Drop in the URL, choose a target (I pick “open in new window” so that people don’t navigate away from my blog), and then press Insert.

The last thing that I’ll explain is uploading pictures.  That’s the square box next to Upload/Insert, which is above the B for Bold.  Press that icon and you get a pop-up for loading pictures.  I tend to have the pictures on my computer instead of pointing to another one with a URL.  There’s always the chance that they will turn the picture you’re pointing to from a cute kitty into something less cute (you’re pointing to a name, not a specific picture).  After you have your file picked out, hit the Upload button.  I don’t bother with titles or alternate text.  I hit Insert into post and it goes in right at my cursor.

It will resize your pictures for you.  For my blog, the real maximum width is 490 pixels.

If I’m bringing in pictures from Picasa, the procedure is just a bit different.  Go to the picture you want from Picasa and press Link to this Photo.  I pick a size of 400 pixels and check the Hide album link box.

Then I copy the Embed Image line, come back to WordPress, and press on the HTML tab at the top right of the writing area.  I paste the code in where I want it, and then switch back from HTML to Visual to see how it looks.

Have fun.  Play around.  Try the Preview button to see how your post works.

And don’t forget to write!  There’s a world out there that wants to hear you.

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