I've been trying to decide on a blogging platform for a while now and have settled on Fargo. There are two main reasons:

  • it offers a really intuitive writing process;

  • it synchronizes into Dropbox, meaning all of the content is backed up and stored on my computer as well.

The reason Fargo is so good for writing is that the interface is an outliner, rather than a standard blog CMS (which I've always found clunky). The first time I used an outliner was the Inspiration mind mapping software. I used this with students to plan essays and found it was a flexible way to create an essay outline that included topic sentences and quotes. When I started playing with Fargo I didn't quite get the concept of how to use an outliner for a full piece of writing, but after watching this video where Dave Winer (Fargo's creator) explains the concept it seemed to all make sense.

Outliners are a good way to write as you can easily type up all of your ideas into discrete sections and then rearrange each section by dragging and dropping. You can also nest ideas into larger topics and you can collapse or expand whole sections of text- making the writing process much cleaner and more focussed. Fargo feels like a tool for writing and organising ideas first, and a tool for publishing online second. This makes it more usable than the CMS of blogging platforms like Blogger or Wordpress.

Keeping a second copy of the blog content in another service appeals to me, and this was one of the reasons that at one stage I considered using Postach.io for a blog. The idea of our content being stored in one service (or on our own servers) and then other services plugging into them and presenting that content makes a lot of sense for the user, as it makes the migration process from one service to another much easier (App.net is a good example of a service that tries to provide the backend which other services plug into). Obviously this model won't suit companies who are looking to lock you into their proprietary service. Considering how many services get acquired or simply shut down, I think it's more prudent to try this model. I don't know how long Fargo will last, although I suspect from Dave's passion for the project that it should be around for a while. Either way, I know that if Fargo does go away then at least I'll still have my content in Dropbox as easy-to-open OPML files. It makes me much more willing to try this new platform.

After seeing Dave's blog and how he is using a Fargo linkblog for bookmarks I've also decided to ditch Diigo and instead use Fargo (with the newly created bookmarklet) as a way of saving my visited links.

I think Fargo and outliners in general are promising tools for writing and research, so I'm looking forward to committing to it and learning how it all works.

I'll keep updating here as I learn more.

(Update 27/3/14. Here's a screengrab of how this post looks in Fargo's Outliner view, so you can get an idea of what the CMS looks like.)

03/26/14; 07:20:43 AM

GfyCat is a new site (still in beta) that created more efficient versions of animated GIFs. You can upload your own video clips or grab sections from YouTube and convert them. The site uses HTML5 video to create smaller and faster versions of GIFs.

Here is an example GfyCat of Ted, my Cavoodle.

The process of creating a GfyCat is relatively easy. You can upload a video file (no longer than 15 seconds) or if your video is on YouTube or Vimeo just use the Fetch URL option. Paste in the URL to your video and enter the starting time of your grab and also the duration (again, up to 15 seconds). You don't need to login to create a grab, but if you do then your account will keep track of all your created GfyCats.

Once the process is done you'll be taken to your GfyCat page. The Links option gives you embed codes, and you can also choose to display the grab as a GIF. I had varying success viewing GfyCat files on mobile devices, so it's good that this option is available for compatibility. (GfyCat also has my favourite URL naming structure ever- with URLs like HorribleHappyBalloonFish).

Here's the finished product (if it's not displaying properly just tap on the frame and you'll be able to view as a standard animated GIF).

03/25/14; 11:47:44 PM

Last built: Sat, May 10, 2014 at 11:10 AM

By Cameron Hocking, Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 11:30 PM.