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Six new blogging platforms that have debuted in 2013

It is hard to keep up with all the new blogging platforms emerging this year after years of being stagnant, but here are six that are worth consideration.

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Blogging platforms are getting interesting

It seems like a new blogging platform is released everything month, but what sets one apart from another? Here is a look at a few of the most popular new releases and what makes one different from another. The overall theme of these new platforms: back to basics. They have stripped away all the overly intrusive features that keep you from doing what you need to do quickly and efficiently: write. Here are six of the most popular, new blogging platforms:

1. SETT

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SETT is a blogging platform centered on community, enabling new users to fin the right audience immediately and long-time bloggers can interact with higher quality commenters and contributors. SETT’s design is a bit fancier, a bit less basic, and a bit like WordPress. It has a top bar where you can track comments and private messages from other community members. From the first day you sign up with SETT, they begin referring readers to your site. It also has a word-matching system that will compare one post to another, so that if a particular reader likes one of your posts, it can recommend similar ones to them to keep them interested. Their site states, “blogs average 98% more comments after switching to SETT.” If your biggest obstacle in blogging is gaining an audience, or you just want to connect with other bloggers, SETT might be a good fit. There are four pricing levels for SETT, from free to $99/month. To see the features of each price level, click here.

2. Postagon

postagon

However, if you are looking for a simpler way to blog, getting back to basics, if you will, the next five selections are perfect. Postagon boasts you can “blog simpler” with essential features, no fluff, and no worries. Postagon appears clean on all devices and offers fast and reliable posting with no app required. You can join in forty seconds and it is free. For $4.99 a month you receive no promoted content and the ability to run multiple blogs, but in all other aspects, the free version will get you all of the features Postagon has to offer. There is a visual and markdown editor, Google Analytics, RSS feeds, social sharing, and Retina display support. You can also add your own cover photos to personalize, or brand, your blogging environment. You can share your posts via email, Facebook. Tumblr,  Twitter, Google, and Kindle. Postagon is very similar to Roon, in both layout and function.

3. Roon

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Roon’s difference is in its interface. You have a blank canvas that fades away when you start to write. There are a few options for styling at the bottom, but for the most part, it is pretty simplistic. You will need to download the app, however, if you plan to use it on your mobile devices. Roon allows your blog to be content focused; while you can link to some social media sites, it is still your writing that takes center stage. For example, you can share a post, but you cannot comment directly. You can only comment via Twitter. It also uses Google Analytics, likes, a few more simple features. It is free, but there will be paid upgrades soon. Currently, there is no plan to show advertisements on your blog, which is incredibly nice, as you well know, if you blog. Settings however, are a bit limited. But this goes along with the getting back to basics theme. You can add a short bio, one link, and your Twitter username (for commenting) and that is pretty much it. Sign up is simple: enter your name, email, along with a chosen username and password and you are ready to start blogging.

4. Postach.io

postachio

Postach.io is “the easiest blog ever.” You can publish any thoughts you have already captured with Evernote. No need to know CMS, simply select a notebook, add a domain name, and then tag notes as published to share your content. If you are not currently using Evernote, you can sign up for an account through Postach.io. The best part is, you stay in control of your data. Since your content stays in your Evernote account, no migration to a haven is necessary. Themes were inspired by Tumblr and are as easy as creating a single HTML page with inline CSS, however, this does mean you will need to know a little something about CSS or you will not be able to customize your Postach.io account. They offer you a little bit of help doing this here. They also offer Google Analytics, disqus commenting, and share buttons. And it is free as well. But, if you do not want to use/learn CSS, you may be better off trying another platform, although, once you try it, it is not too hard to learn.

5. Ghost

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And perhaps the simplest of all: Ghost. Ghost is built by John O’Nolan, who worked for two years as the deputy head of WordPress’ interface team, but wanting to bring blogging back to basics, Ghost was created. You may remember Marti Trewe at AG Beat, bringing you the story about Ghost in May. Ghost is simply a blogging platform with a beautiful dashboard that shows you everything about your blog, in one place. It has a split screen writing function where Markdown is on the left and active preview is on the right. You can also drag and drop images to your post and they will appear exactly where you dropped it in your final post. Adding tags is simple and easy, just click at the bottom and add what you need. It is optimized for all mobile devices. as well. Ghost is based on three principles: Ghost is built for users; Ghost is completely free, no restrictions on content, plugins, or conferencing ability); and Ghost is being made for love and not profit. The last principle is especially important because it impacted how the software was designed. O’Nolan states, “do we want to make millions and sell to Facebook, or do we want to make something that’s genuinely good and serves its users, not investors and shareholders.” They opted with the latter, as Ghost will be set up as a not-for-profit organization. This platform gives writers the tools they need to push blogging and journalism into the next level with a level of simplicity that allows you to simply write, with nothing in between you and your words. Ghost has yet to launch, their site says it will be launched at the end of the Summer,  but if it is anything like what they have planned, it could prove to be quite the contender in the blogging platform arena.

6. Posthaven

posthaven

AG Beat told you how to back up your data when Posterous was acquired by Twitter after being touted as a simple blogging platform. One of its signature features was that it let you post to your blog from any email account or mobile device, so prolific bloggers could add new content all the time, quickly and easily. And this is what current blogging platforms are seeking to recapture in one way or another. Basic, quick, easy publication of your content. If you really miss Posterous, Posthaven, made by Posterous co-founder, Garry Tan, is available for $5/month. But, Tan has promised this site will never shut down, although I believe Twitter made the same promise when they acquired Posterous.

Since WordPress has made a move towards web sites and content management, it is refreshing to see there are new platforms emerging to offer some competition and avenues to get back to the basics of just blogging without a plethora of bells and whistles.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kashyap Joshi

    October 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Hello Jennifer,
    These all 6 sites are new for me. I love to join them. Thanks for sharing cool info. 🙂

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Tech News

Want to know how your passwords could get hacked?

(TECH NEWS) While we all know that passwords can be hacked, it is rare that we know how they’re hacked.

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Ever wonder how passwords get stolen? I like to imagine a team of hackers like The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files, all crowded in some hideout conducting illegal computer business based on tips from rogue FBI Agents.

Turns out there’s a little more to hacking than waiting for Fox Mulder to show up with hints.

Most of the common tactics involve guessing passwords utilizing online and offline techniques to acquire entry. One of the main methods is a dictionary attack.

This method automatically tries everything listed in a small file, the “dictionary,” which is populated with common passwords, like 123456 or qwerty. If your password is something tragically simple, you’re out of luck in a dictionary attack.

To protect yourself, use strong single-use passwords for each individual account. You can keep track of these with a password manager, because no one is expecting you to remember a string of nonsensical numbers, letters, and characters that make up a strong password.

Of course, there are still ways for hackers to figure out even complex passwords.

In a brute force attack, every possible character combination is tried. For example, if the password is required to have at least one uppercase letter and one number, a brute force attack will meet these specifications when generating potential passwords.

Brute force attacks also include the most commonly used alphanumeric combinations, like a dictionary attack. Your best bet against this type of attack is using extra symbols like & or $ if the password allows, or including a variety of variables whenever possible.

Spidering is another online method similar to a dictionary attack. Hackers may target a specific business, and try a series of passwords related to the company. This usually involves using a search “spider” to collate a series of related terms into a custom word list.

While spidering can be devastating if successful, this kind of attack is diverted with strong network security and single-use passwords that don’t tie in easily searchable personal information.

Malware opens up some more fun options for hackers, especially if it features a keylogger, which monitors and records everything you type. With a keylogger, all your accounts could potentially be hacked, leaving you SOL. There are thousands of malware variants, and they can go undetected for a while.

Fortunately, malware is relatively easy to avoid by regularly updating your antivirus and antimalware software. Oh, and don’t click on sketchy links or installation packages containing bundleware. You can also use script blocking tools.

The delightfully named (but in actuality awful) rainbow table method is typically an offline attack where hackers acquire an encrypted list of passwords. The passwords will be hashed, meaning it looks completely different from what you would type to log in.

However, attackers can run plaintext passwords through a hashtag algorithm and compare the results to their file with encrypted passwords. To save time, hackers can use or purchase a “rainbow table”, which is a set of precomputed algorithms with specific values and potential combinations.

The downside here is rainbow tables take up a lot of space, and hackers are limited to the values listed in the table. Although rainbow tables open up a nightmare storm of hacking potential, you can protect yourself by avoiding sites that limit you to very short passwords, or use SHA1 or MD5 as their password algorithms.

There’s also phishing, which isn’t technically hacking, but is one of the more common ways passwords are stolen. In a phishing attempt, a spoof email requiring immediate attention links to a fake login landing page, where users are prompted to input their login credentials.

The credentials are then stolen, sold, used for shady purposes, or an unfortunate combination of all the above. Although spam distribution has greatly increased over the past year, you can protect yourself with spam filters, link checkers, and generally not trusting anything requesting a ton of personal information tied to a threat of your account being shut down.

Last but certainly not least, there’s social engineering. This is a masterpiece of human manipulation, and involves an attacker posing as someone who needs login, or password, building access information. For example, posing as a plumbing company needing access to a secure building, or a tech support team requiring passwords.

This con is avoidable with education and awareness of security protocol company wide. And also you know, not providing sensitive information to anyone who asks. Even if they seem like a very trustworthy electrician, or promise they definitely aren’t Count Olaf.

Moral of the story? Your passwords will never be completely safe, but you can take steps to prevent some avoidable hacking methods.

Always have a single-use password for each account, use a password manager to store complex passwords, update malware, keep your eye out for phishing attempts, and don’t you dare make your password “passoword.”

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Should social networks fear Jumbo, the new privacy app?

(TECHNOLOGY) Although iOS only (for now), Jumbo has launched and could put a dent in some of the nefariousness of social media networks…

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Like virtually every other online outlet, we’ve both talked about web and app privacy and complained bitterly about the invariable fall of online rights. However, while we’ve been talking the talk, a company called Jumbo has been cyber-walking the cybersecurity walk.

Jumbo – an iPhone app focused on keeping your online trails as private as possible – has a simple premise: allowing social media users to manage their online privacy with a few taps rather than having to navigate each individual service’s infuriatingly complex labyrinth of privacy settings. Instead of having to visit each individual app you want to clean up, you can simply open Jumbo, select your preferences, and wait for the magic to happen.

Jumbo’s features range from cleaning up social media timelines and old posts to erasing entire searches or resetting privacy information; while it currently varies depending on the social media service in question, Jumbo’s one commonality is its simplicity.

The star of Jumbo’s presentation is its aptly-named Cleaning Mode—a feature which allows users to wipe anything from tweets to old Google searches. Jumbo’s developers also assure users that the ability to remove things like Facebook photos is in the works, making Jumbo’s efforts to clean up your digital life that much more ubiquitous.

It is worth noting that some users have encountered limitations on the number of tweets they can delete, so you may have to batch-remove information until this bug is resolved.

When using Jumbo, you’ll also find an encrypted back-up feature that allows you to download—or use cloud storage for—old photos and files. It isn’t as dramatic as Jumbo’s primary functions, but anyone looking to make a dent in purging their online footprints will surely benefit from being able to encrypt and save their information for a rainy day through one interface.

At the time of this writing, Jumbo is prepared to assist with privacy options related to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon Alexa, but the app’s developers intend to incorporate support for platforms such as Tinder and Instagram in the future.

While Jumbo is currently restricted to iPhones, Jumbo’s maker Pierre Valade has mentioned that an Android version is “on [their] list”. In the meantime, iPhone users should strongly consider taking Jumbo for a spin.

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How to opt out of Google’s robots calling your business phone

(TECH) Google’s robots now call businesses to set appointments, but not all companies are okay with talking to an artificial intelligence tool like a person. Here’s how to opt out.

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You know what’s not hard? Calling a restaurant and making a reservation. You know what’s even easier? Making that reservation though OpenTable. You know what we really don’t need, but it’s here so we have to deal with it? Google Duplex.

Falling under “just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it,” Duplex, Google’s eerily human-sounding AI chat agent that can arrange appointments for Pixel users via Google Assistant has rolled out in several cities including New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco which now means you can have a robot do menial tasks for you.

There’s even a demo video of someone using Google Duplex to find an area restaurant and make a reservation and in the time it took him to tell the robot what to do, he could’ve called and booked a reservation himself.

Aside from booking the reservation for you, Duplex can also offer you updates on your reservation or even cancel it. Big whoop. What’s difficult to understand is the need or even demand for Duplex. If you’re already asking Google Assistant to make the reservation, what’s stopping you from making it yourself? And the most unsettling thing about Duplex? It’s too human.

It’s unethical to imply human interaction. We should feel squeamish about a robo-middleman making our calls and setting our appointments when we’re perfectly capable of doing these things.

However, there is hope. Google Duplex is here, but you don’t have to get used to it.

Your company can opt out of accepting calls by changing the setting in your Google My Business accounts. If robots are already calling restaurants and businesses in your city, give your staff a heads-up. While they may receive reservations via Duplex, at least they’ll be prepared to talk to a robot.

And if you plan on not opting out, at least train your staff on what to do when the Google robots call.

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