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Blog Challenge: Describe Your Software – Then and Now

Last week’s blog challenge was Describe Your Computer Setup – Then and Now. This week, I am challenging you to blog about your blog software, then and now.

I’ve used just about all types of computer technology, from the early days of data storage on gigantic floppy disks to magnetic cards to “640K is enough for anyone” to my favorite current love, my 750 gig portable drive. Along the way, I had harsh words for most software, from the earliest Cobal and Fortran to Visual Basic to DOS to Windows, and a lot of other stuff in between.

From day one, I hated the lack of functionality, clear thinking, and usability in most software programs. “Clunky” was my favorite descriptive word. With little ability to style graphics in the early days, we were stuck with nothing but words on a green, amber, or white monochrome screen, putting more work into the manipulation of data than data presentation. Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time to help change much of that in the early days as an early beta tester and part of the program development teams with Microsoft, Apple, WordPerfect (Novell), and other early software companies, but it was a battle to get the concept goal desired to work with the limitations of programming and computer abilities at the time.

Slowly, software changed as hardware technology shrank, speed up, and became more flexible and versatile, and the ability to handle graphics improved. Programs became more colorful, faster, and usability became more important than just “pretty.” Competition, and trips to the courtrooms of intellectual property and product design, helped to actually create standardization, so we could install any program on any machine in a similar fashion, and all the buttons and menus were in basically the same place, speeding up the learning curve as you moved from program to program. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) became a slogan as programs now showed you what the final version would look like before you hit print or publish. Things seemed to become faster, but not always easier.

Pre-WordPress 2.5 Write Post Panel look and style of WordPressMy web life was totally changed when I switched my huge static HTML website to WordPress when WordPress had just released version 1.2. No longer was I burdened with long and frustrating search and replace sessions to change just one little bit of code across a thousand static HTML pages, then sitting through hours of FTP uploads to get the new versions on my site. My site loaded faster than ever with dynamic PHP/database driven template files and tags, and managing the content and the site itself went from being a week long job to a few minutes. No longer did it take hours to publish a single article.

WordPress 2.5 Write Post PanelIn order to customize any aspect or add a feature on my old site, I’d have to write up Javascript or hand code HTML and CSS. With WordPress, I could use WordPress Plugins – a couple clicks and a new feature is added to my site! One much more powerful than I could create.

What did I use to make this static-to-import conversion? Software I used to depend upon that I haven’t touched in years. I used WordPerfect and InfoRapid freeware to search and replace across multiple text files. After Corel took over WordPerfect, it’s gone downhill for me. The last two upgrades of WordPerfect crashed randomly and without warning, and sometimes not even loading to start without errors. I do all my writing for my blog and other editorial work in NoteTab Pro and rarely do I need to search and replace across multiple files. On the rare occasions I have to write a letter or major document, I use Word, though I curse and scream every few minutes for the “improved” lack of usability and difficulties in completing the easiest of tasks. I’ve tried Open Office and it’s usability is also problematic, taking me three times as long to do what I could do in a few clicks or keystrokes in WordPerfect.

Where I used to use dozens of programs on my computer to do simple tasks, I find that I am using only a few programs and doing more focused work on them. A couple months ago I bought a new laptop and it took only a couple hours to get it up and running so I could work without stress and struggle. It would have taken days before to find the disks and upload all that software. I feel like a minimalist when it comes to my software dependency.

I could talk for ages about the powerful software I have used over the years that lost funding and support as the monopolies and slow thinking bureaucracy stifled software development within the corporate offices of the United States, which spread to the rest of the world quickly, leaving people using decent but uninspired programs – but this is your blogging challenge.

I want you to write about the software you use, whether it is software you used in your day-to-day work and life, or online software that brought the web into your life, as it was then and how it works for you today.

As usual, send a pingback or trackback to this post, or put the link to your blog challenge post in the comments, so we can all see how you’ve done with your blog challenge.

Did you know that you don’t have to write these blog challenges? You can also use audio with podcasts or make a video in response to the blog challenge and publish it on your blog. There are a lot of ways you can have fun with these weekly blog challenges. Use your imagination and see how far you can take the challenge into territories you haven’t explored before.

These are published weekly and are an attempt to kick your blogging ass. They serve to challenge your thinking and efforts in blogging and blog writing. To participate, start challenging yourself now. Today. Go for it.

Past Blogging Challenges

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted July 10, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle! I’m still working on transferring my static HTML site to WordPress – it has over 3000 pages – and it is proving to be quite a task!! I. Don’t. Want. To. Do. It. 😦

  2. Posted July 11, 2008 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Re: Kym

    3000 static pages?

    I really hope you’re not creating 3000 static pages in WordPress :-\ In my experience, it does not handle that well. Have you investigated any other content management systems?

  3. Posted July 11, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Can’t do a pingback because a post about software would be ummm… very out of place on my Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attack site!

    I’m relatively new to blogging, but I have become accustomed to several tools to help me. I use software on a HostGator server. Some plugins, my favorites being Akismet, cforms, ShareThis and Stats.

    As a Mac user, all the following software is for that computer. I handle all my research and write the blogs in a wonderful sort-of-database program called DEVONThink Pro. Photos are handled by PhotoShop. RSS reader is NetNewsWire. Twitter client is Twitteriffic. Research browser is a search-specific product called DEVONAgent. Browsers are Safari and FireFox. Mail is Mail 😉 Those are the main ones.

    Thanks for the challenge, Lorelle!

  4. Posted July 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Seems like perhaps my trackback didn’t go through, either, or else it’ is in moderation. IN which case I am being redundant! Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to address an interesting topic, Lorelle. The more I pondered, the more interesting it became.

  5. Posted July 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    @ Katie Baird:

    The trackback didn’t work because you linked to my root blog and not the post. 😀 You have to link to the specific post to find the trackback there.

    And great article! Good look back at then and now. Isn’t amazing how far we’ve come and how big a role open source and freeware is playing in our lives compared to when shareware and paid ware were our only choices.

  6. Posted July 11, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    @ Matthew:

    Actually, Matthew, the problem is not so much a WordPress issue as a database issue. Static HTML pages can be converted to match the MT-import that comes with WordPress, but the import must be done in sections, with no single import file exceeding 2 megs. I’ve done it and it will work, but it’s a pain. The clean up of the HTML is the most painful part.

    As for WordPress being able to host 3,000 posts once in the database, it handles it well. It’s the import that’s the issue, not the ability of WordPress to handle the quantity.

    I’ve talked to Kym offline about the issue, but thanks for chiming in on this off-topic question.

  7. Posted July 11, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to interupt you guys, what is the advantage using the static html compare to dynamic page like wordpress?

  8. Posted July 12, 2008 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    @ belajarseo77:

    None. The issue is converting an old website into a new, modern, dynamically created site.

  9. Posted July 12, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle. Without going into chapter and verse about my personal Adventures in Computing (I will say that my first hard drive was 20mb and my first word processor was PFS:Write), I can testify about the difficulties of static HTML pages vs a CMS system. Like Kym, I had a site that started with a dozen or so pages. The site became huge, pages had to be subdivided and subdivided again, more and more navigation schemes had to be included…feh. I began migrating the site to a site, but about the same time I was wrestling with that (and got some good advice from you on this and that problem, as I remember), I was invited to join another, much more expansive site that did the same thing I was doing, only better. So off I went. I’m now back in the loving clutches of WP with a .com blog for the site I work with (not my decision to go with the .com instead of a self-hosted site) … and somewhat ironically, facing something of the same problem I was on the first WP site.

    All I can say to belajarseo77 is, if you haven’t created the big static site, don’t do it! Go with WP or another CMS and do it NOW. If you’ve already got the site up and running, you’re in Kym’s shoes, porting content until your eyes bleed. Been there, done that, blech.

  10. Posted July 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Addendum: This is the first comment I’ve posted as a user that hasn’t been on my own blog. I was interested to see that my name link goes to our main site, not our blog. If anyone is interested, it’s .

  11. Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Hey Lorelle,

    I need to doublecheck something on my end, I think. I grabbed your trackback url and put it in the send trackpacks/pings field, and it just, uh, disappeared. I did also link to your root in my post, but that was just supposed to be icing, or additional bloggy-love.

    Interesting how everyone wants to ask you about static-to-dynamic as a result of this challenge.

  12. Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    @ Katie Baird:

    Your trackbacks used to work, but I find no trackbacks now. There are trackback tests you can run to check your WordPress trackbacks. You can also edit the post and put a link directly to the post in the post, such as the first link in that article when you talk about this post. That should work, if trackbacks are working.

    Make sure trackbacks are enabled by default as well as per post. And if that doesn’t work, try it again with the default Theme enabled (theme problem), or by disabling your Plugins one by one and testing again with one of the trackback testers. If it continues, check with the WordPress Support Forum and have someone do a check on your site. Good luck!

  13. Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    @ Max:

    I know Kym represents many of us who moved from static to dynamic, but the challenge before you one that addresses ALL the software you use, not just WordPress. If you only use WordPress, then lucky WordPress. 😀 We’re looking further afield with this challenge.

    My first computer games, for example, were text adventure, space invaders, and pong, the latter so lovingly recreated recently in the movie, Wall-E. Today I play highly graphic games along the Myst Theme – My husband and I have to admit that some of our best shared computer experiences are with the Myst series of games and text adventure games that we continue to play today – a mix of embracing the new state-of-the-art CGI and games from 30 years ago. A little of both worlds.

  14. Posted July 13, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. ALL the software? It would take me all day to remember.

    I’m not much of a gamer, but two games that stick out in my memory: Starflight (the old DOS game, played on a PC with an amber/black monitor and a game display about the size of a 5×8 postcard). The other is an old D&D game, Curse of the Azure Bonds or something, played on the same monochromatic display, but full screen at least. My wife and I had some fun with the Wii system recently, but that’s a different topic.

    I once had a job with Cisco rewriting their internal Help web pages to conform to a single format. The saddest part of that job was having to tear down one Help page that had been lovingly, and very confusingly, configured to resemble a Myst screen. Few people had the patience to figure out how to actually get any help from that page, so it had to go, but it really was a thing of beauty.

    Never used any blogging software before besides one frustrating experience with I detest Haloscan, so all of the platforms that use that are out. I like Scoop, but don’t have the computing oomph to put that to use.

    Most of my non-blog time these days is spent in programs like HomeSite (old warhorse of an HTML editor), EditPad (lots of content for the site I work for), and, well, that’s about it unless you count mah jongg and other programs that get occasionally used such as PhotoFiltre.

  15. Posted July 15, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Some what of an odd Traceback was posted for my site, but I enjoyed posting about some of my history with web development. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with the Blogging Challenges. 🙂

  16. Posted July 16, 2008 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    @ Justin Carmony:

    It’s not odd. It’s the content around the trackback link. 😀

    I noticed that you specifically targeted web development and not specifically software. I’d be interested in hearing how software has evolved for you over the years.

  17. Posted July 16, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, I know you love cutting links in my comments :), but for the sake of clarity please don’t do it now! In this case my links are a really valuable part, – extension, – of what I’m trying to say.

  18. Posted July 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    @ Beloy (Mini-News):

    I understand your feelings, but again, they don’t add to the conversation. Rework them so they aren’t so soliciting, and I’d love to have you join the conversation. For example, long before you came up with your much touted program, what was the long haul like on the way there. That is more interesting than the end result.

  19. Posted July 18, 2008 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    If I wanted to sell something to you, I would say:

    “Lorelle, I’ve just created Absolutely Unique (Free) web service, – much BETTER than the famous your blogs are advertised on!
    You are one of the first on the planet to whom I’m telling about it, – that is true!
    Advantage of WordPress comparing to other top blogging platforms is that it allows users creating supporting files on server, – the key requirement for my mini technology.
    Please be the FIRST on my with Your REALLY BRILLIANT CONTENT! Please be the FIRST in the emerging successful industry, – Ads-FREE Web!”

    Instead, I was trying to describe my experience of dealing with software (the main topic of your post) during last ten years, from my own tools to products of Bill Gates. I thought it could be interesting.. Sorry …

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] with blogging is relatively accurate. Therefore, I’ve decided to use this entry as a reply to Lorelle’s current challenge, rather than writing a whole new one with most of the same […]

  2. […] This post is my response to Lorelle, kickin’ my bloggin’ ass. […]

  3. Web Development 10-Years Ago …

    We have had a great staff there and I’ve been lucky to work with such great people (Anthony, Nick, and the rest of the CH gang!)

    …We’ve had to do a lot of optimizations over time and we’ve done 4 different version of the site in 3 years. …

  4. […] Lorelle, over at, put up a blogging challenge that I was quite keen to respond to. I’ve been blogging, on and off, since 2002. I’ve STILL got most of my old public archives (that I recently kicked to freinds only) at livejournal. […]

  5. […] response to Lorelle’s Challenge, I would like to take the time out to talk about my blogging software; then and now. But quite […]

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