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Old 28-08-2010, 08:37   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: On board eastern US and beyond
Boat: 1999 Jeanneau Newco Lagoon 410 Catamaran - Luna Sea
Posts: 46
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Compare Blog Hosts w/ Location Map: Blogger w/Google Latitude and Sailblogs

Our friends requested that our blog reveal our position on a satellite map so they could follow us visually. Makes sense. We considered changing our existing blog host from Blogger (Blogspot) to Sailblogs. But fortunately, another solution using our WiFi and a tool called Google Latitude Public Location Badge, released around June 2009 put an end to our switch over concern.

On our blog now is a border defined, zoomed to continent image of google earth's satellite view with our boat picture tagged in it's current location. We haven't moved since we added this feature but it should be fun to see the satellite perspective change as our cruising continues. Our global position will update automatically so it wouldn't be feasible if we were privacy seekers. The public badge can be turned off, but it will not keep your location on the blog. If you're considering using this, please read the Google privacy warnings carefully. Google Latitude can also track location history but we can't say yet how well it will work on cruising voyages. We'll post a feedback update.

If we were starting new we would consider Sailblogs. Two features we like are available with their free membership. Sailblogs Overview lets us see where members are based on their last updated or outdated location, and Local Waters where we manually enter our coordinates to see who's near by. We actually sailed by them once . An upgraded account ($35/year for basic with manual coordinate entry or $95/year for premium GPS integrated coordinate updating and professional web tools (over my head tech stuff)) offers the cool XPlot integrated tracking and blog posting element.

"The XPlot Manager is used to manage all your saved positions and tracks. It is a comprehensive tool that not only provides latitude & longitude information to maps, but is used to also geotag your blog posts and media, import and export GPS data, store extended position data (like course and speed) and take input from automated tracking devices.

By default, the XPlot Manager feeds this information to 2 maps, the lightweight and fast SailBlogs overview maps (view sample) , and as a Google Earth KML file."

Both host sites enable blog updates via email (handy when we're offshore without WiFi and want to continue updating the blog), and Facebook direct feeds to keep everybody's relatives, coworkers and high school buddies in the know (we prefer not to).

... But our cards were already printed and the blogger site was already running, Luna Sea already had a Gmail account and our pictures were already uploaded on Google Picasa so we stayed with Blogger.

It's worth noting that Google's extensive family of web tools are designed for account access overlap and easy cross integration. Google web tools can be limiting in some factors but play well together overall, allowing for greater flexibility and custom designing. An example: Google Blogger didn't provide a "gadget" for emailing so we added this code we found on the web. On Blogger you have to do some homework but it's holistic integration capability is a useful tool. A proprietary specialized blog site wouldn't overlook an email java script code or other specialized networking tools.

If you want out of the box, loaded with features and ease of blogging perhaps Sailblog is your ticket. But if you like integrated tools and design flexibility, then Blogger is worth considering. For blogging with a dynamic satellite view of your location Blogger is free, Sailblogs is not. These are only the only 2 blog hosting sites we compared. Other suggestions are welcome.
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