New Blogging Year , New Blogging Ways
New Year is always a good time to review what you do and how you do it. One thing I often do is review how I'm using Outlook as that is probably the one tool I use most during the day (even more than WinDBG! – the world gasps in shock J).
I'm still getting to grips with Outlook 2007 and one of the features I like is the integration of RSS feeds. I've tried using various RSS Readers up until now but the key problem for me that it was always yet-another-application-I-needed-to-remember-to-run-and-look-at-from-time-to-time.
With Outlook 2007 you just go to Tools->Account Settings. Then just pick the RSS Feeds tab and add your feed. The nice thing is you can choose the folder a particular feed is delivered to, so you can have your favourite blogs delivered to your Inbox and other blogs delivered to another folder of your choosing (if you are an Outlook folder freak like me). You could have multiple feeds going into a particular folder or have a special folder for a particular feed.
The other thing I decided to differently was try to broaden my blog reading horizons a bit. I usually just read a few other blogs but the other day I went to the home page for MSDN Blogs - http://blogs.msdn.com/ and added the feed there to Outlook so that I now have a folder that gets all the MSDN blog posts delivered daily. The fascinating thing about this is that you get to scan some really interesting blog posts and find out about stuff that you just would not normally come across. There are about 3000 MSDN blogs all told the last time I counted (sad I know). A lot of them have just one post – great plans that fell by the way side – and many that only post infrequently. That's not necessarily a bad thing of course, some people don't open their mouth often but when they do it is worth listening.
After a couple of days I would say there are around 120 or 130 posts a day. That sounds like a lot, but when you have them all together in one Outlook folder it is surprisingly quick to go through them. You can quickly delete the non-English ones if you are shamefully poor at languages like me, you can rapidly cull the ones that really don't interest you and you can then savour the more interesting ones. Having them in Outlook also means you can use Outlook's search features. I've also just seen that the Rules and Alerts dialogue has a "Enable rules on all RSS feeds" so you could also set up rules to process the incoming feed for keywords that interest you. I've not tried that yet but that should be handy.
I'm also experimenting with Word 2007 as my blog tool having been using Windows Live Writer beta before. The blog posting feature was added to Word 2007 quite late I believe but has support for posting to Community Server which is what hosts the MSDN blogs. What I've not figured out yet is how to configure the pictures feature of Word blog posting to use the CS picture gallery. So if anyone has any ideas on that I'd love to know!
What would be great would be blog posting integration within Outlook as well as Word. For me, Outlook is my main tool for communication and blogging is a form of communication. If I am reading blogs with it I would I would like to publish blog posts with it too rather than firing up another application.
PS. I just noticed that "blogs" and "blog" is not in the Word 2007 UK English dictionary! Shame on you Word J