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About Member Blogs

First of all, what is a blog?

Blog is a contraction of "Web Log", blogs are used for a multitude of purposes; for example they can be an open diary, an educational forum, an outlet to publish your work, or pretty much anything else you might think of. Anyone who has access to the internet can create a blog at a huge number of web sites. In creating the SSA member blog feature for our website I hoped, above all, that it would be a tool to facilitate communication between members about their passion for the sport of soaring. Every member of the SSA now has their own blog accessed through their own home page at http://www.ssa.org/myhome.asp, this includes individual members, business members, chapter members, etc.

Just to give you a flavor of what you could use blogs for, here are a couple of links to member blog items.

So how to go about creating your own soaring blog?

First to create and edit your blog you must be logged into the SSA website. If you've never done this before then start at www.ssa.org (the SSA homepage) and enter your member number and your default password. Click on login help on the SSA homepage to get information on the default passord and how to set up your browser so that the SSA website remembers you each time you return to it.

Next you need to set up a couple of configurations items to control who has access to your blog and how it is displayed. Click on the "My Homepage" link under the navigation menu on the SSA homepage or just click here. This will take you to your own homepage. On the right side of your homepage click on "profile" under the configuration section. Under "Blog Configuration" choose a title for your blog (e.g. "My Soaring Adventures"), choose who can access your blog (member only or public), choose how to display your blog entries (full or teaser, teaser is useful if you become a prolific blogger!). Then click on update.

Now click on "New Blog Entry" in the configure section. This will open a new browser window with a simple editor that allows you to type content, cut&paste content, insert images and links, etc. In addtion, at the top of the window are a couple of areas where you can enter the title for your new blog item, choose where on your homepage to locate the item, and control whether other members can attach comments to your blog item. The choices available under blog location include "Blog Body, By Date", "Blog Body, Fixed", and "My Menu". Each of these deserve a little explanation before I go on with the description of how to create your blog entry.

  • Blog Body, By Date: This is the default choice. Newer blog items will be displayed first, older below. Only blog items from the past 90 days will be displayed initially. Older items are always available for viewing in your blog archive.

  • Blog Body, Fixed: By selecting this choice the blog item is fixed at the top of your blog home page. You can have as many fixed items as you wish. If you create any fixed items your main home page navigation menu in the top right sidebar will contain a 'Home' (fixed items only) link in addition to a 'My Blog' (items entered by date only) link. A fixed item can be useful for displaying a welcome message. Fixed items do not appear in the blog archive.

  • My menu: Items saved with this display choice will have their title linked into the top right menu bar starting above the "My Blog" entry. This choice is useful for a page of favorite links or a bio of yourself. These items will not appear in the blog archive.

Now that you've set up the basics all you have to do is type your content and once your done click on the "add/update" button.

Adding images and links to your blog

Of course there is a whole lot more that you can do. One of the most common ways to make your blog more interesting is to intersperse some images within the text. Unfortunately it's not as simple as dragging and dropping an image as you might do in a word doc. What you first have to do is to upload your images to the web server, to do this choose "upload photo" from the configure section on your home page. Then to insert an image into your text place your cursor where you want the image and click on the "insert/edit image" icon in the blog editor menu bar, the insert image dialogue box appears. To insert an image that you just uploaded select it from the image list (shows images uploaded with the most recent at the top), set the alignment (usually left or right), add some horizontal and/or vertical space between the image and the adjacent text (usually 2-5 pixels is plenty), and set the dimensions. The dimension box initially shows the actual dimensions of the image that you uploaded, this is often too big for the available space in your blog and so you will have to reduce both the X and Y dimensions by about the same ratio. For example if you're looking for a final X dimesion of 200pixels (a little less that half the final width of your blog text) and the initial image size is 640x480, then set the dimensions of your image to 200x150. After you click on insert and you see how the image looks in your text you can always go back and re-adjust the dimensions, alignment and spacing.

Hyperlinks are one of the most usefull ways to add additional information into your text. Any word can be turned into a link simply by highlighting it with your mouse and then clicking on the chain link symbol in the blog editor menu bar. This brings up a dialogue box where you can type in the url (web address) of the page that you want to link to. You can also link to files that you upload, for example if you have a powerpoint presentation you can upload it to the SSA server (choose upload file, thereafter the process is very like uploading a photo) then go through the same steps as you would to turn a word into a link, this time however in the link dialogue box choose from your files in the link list instead of typing in a url.

Want more information? Be sure to click on the faq link in the blog editor, or just click here.

Questions about member blogs? Contact webmaster@ssa.org

Posted: 4/24/2007

E-Communications Committee 

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The SSA policy on member posting is located here