Essential downloads for kewl bloggers

  • Aggregate your news/bogs with RSS
    Are you reading blogs by typing in each site’s URL and perusing the site to look for updates?  If so, you should hang your head in shame over the time you’re wasting.  You should using news aggregator to show you all new headlines/postings in a single place.  That way you have a single page that you can scan to see if your favorite websites (assuming they’ve set up RSS feeds) have new content for you to come read.  It’s a huge time saver.

    I use Bloglines, which is web-based and free.  I’ve set my Bloglines dashboard as my home page in Firefox, so whenever I open up my browser I can see if there’s new stuff at my favorite blogs, news sites, or general websites (helpful hint:  if your spouse blogs, it’s a good idea to put his/her’s at the very top so you never miss the latest).  And many popular news websites like BBC, NYT, etc., have RSS feeds, too.  I can scan headlines, or read the whole article.  And I can easily open up the originating webpage if I want to see it in its original form.

    While I’m at it, if any of you have the ear of webmasters for major Islamic websites (e.g., IslamOnline) please urge them to set up RSS feeds for their sites.  More and more people simply don’t have time to surf the web just check for updates–smart webmasters make it easy for readers to keep up by using RSS.  Admittedly, most people don’t rely on RSS yet, but you’re definitely missing out on hits from a valuable demographic who no longer have the patience for the old way of doing things.

  • Mozilla Firefox.
    If you’re still using Internet Explorer, you really ought to be hanging your head in shame.  It’s antiquated, slow and sometimes even downright dangerous (there are all sorts of security holes that expose you to virus and spyware threats without even clicking a button).  For the love of God, get with the program and install the Mozilla Firefox, which is free, and waaaay cooler.
  • Firefox add-ons.
    There all sorts of really useful, entertaining and time-saving free Firefox add-ons.  It’s really worth the effort to explore them, as they often allow you to do really neat things (e.g., translating a word from Spanish to English) with a single mouseclick.
  • Test your blog in IE, but without using IE
    Since IE is the most finicky and tempermental major browser out there, it’s important to test your site in IE periodically to make sure it looks right to everybody (this is particularly true of Blogger in my experience). 

    I recommend IE Tab, which allows you to open up webpages in Firefox but see how they’d look if you were using Internet Explorer.  This is a great way to test your site without putting yourself as the mercy of IE’s flawed security.  You can choose to open links in a special tab that renders according to IE rules, or you can rightclick and change your current tab/window into an IE version.  It’s great.

  • Consolidate your Instant Messenger apps into a single app
    is a free IM client that allows you to use one program for all the major IM networks (i.e., AOL IM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger).  That way you can have one address book, too.  And if your office uses, say, MSN Messenger for internal communication but your friends use Yahoo Messenger it’s harder for your boss to know you’re being naughty.

    All you hip young bloggers who are toggling back and forth between IM clients need to take a tip from an old timer.  Put down the iPod for a minute and install Trillian so you can stop juggling IM programs. 

  • Use Performancing to blog seamlessly while surfing
    If you use one of the major blogging platforms (i.e., Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal,…), install the Performancing Firefox add-on, which allows you to conveniently blog while surfing.  It’s really convenient.
    [A tip of the horned helm to Faraz at
    Seekers Digest for bringing this great app to my attention.]

This list obviously isn’t exhaustive, so please make suggestions if you have any.