Blogging: Tools Of The Trade — Hardware and Software That Can Help Bloggers

It has been a good long while since I wrote a how-to article about blogging, but I thought it might be worthwhile to write a quick post about a seldom covered topic: what programs would be helpful for a blogger to have?

Now, the point of this isn’t to cover content management systems or statistics trackers (although I use Movabletype, Extreme tracking, Sitemeter, and Onestat respectively), it’s to go over some of the other programs that I use that can be useful for other bloggers.

Video & Graphics Related

CapWiz: This is the program (and external hardware) I actually use to pull video from TiVo. Technically, TiVo has a way to do it, but I was never able to figure out how to use the video in my projects when I pulled it over to my computer. I also do some editing with it. Cost: About $100

CinemaForgeLite: This is the program I use to download videos from YouTube to my computer. I find it to be a little flaky and other than on YouTube, I find that it doesn’t tend to work. It also sometimes has weird audio problems in some formats. However, it’s the best thing I have been able to find so far. Cost: free

Cyberlink PowerDirector 6: This is the program I use to make videos and I find it to be a very impressive, feature rich, easy to use program. It’s an upgrade from PowerDirector 4. Cost: About $70.

HP Photosmart 435, 3.1 megapixels, Digital Camera: To tell you the honest truth, I’m not a real big fan of this camera. The next one I get will probably be something from Cannon in the $200 to $300 dollar range. Cost: I think it was around $150?

Photoimpact 11: This is the program I use to make graphics. It was an upgrade and I don’t remember exactly what it cost. However, I am estimating $100.

Plantronics Headset: This is what I use to do audio for my videos. I bought this one because I walked into an Office Depot, grabbed an expensive headset and talked to their sound guy. He pointed me to a $25 Plantronics headset and said it was just as good as the $60 headset that I had. Although I don’t really have the knowledge to evaluate these things, it seems like it does a decent job. Cost: About $25.

TiVo: This service comes in handy if you need to capture programs on TV so that they can be downloaded or watched later. Initial cost: about $100 and then $14.95 per month.

Misc Hardware

Brother MFC 210C All In One Printer/Fax/Scanner: On the upside, it does a decent job of printing things and the print cartridges are cheap, but on the downside, it’s a little buggy and I think the scanner is subpar. Cost: About $120 on sale.

HP Pavillion a736n computer: This has 512 MB memory, 160 GB, 128 MB card, and an AMD Athlon chip equivalent to 2.2 GHz. At the time I bought it, the hardware actually seemed almost overpowering, but I have already bought a game that it’s too weak to work with (Fear) and it couldn’t handle Vista (which, from what I have seen, is fast but has lots of compatibility problems). I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a newer computer, but I am not that anxious to deal with Vista, so I probably will wait until my current computer breaks down or at least until Microsoft improves Vista a bit more. Cost: Don’t remember exactly. I want to say, maybe, $700?

ProView 22 Inch LCD Monitor: Maybe I shouldn’t include the monitor, but I’m not sure I would have ever ponied up the money and bought one this nice if I wasn’t on the computer so much blogging. However, I have been happy with it. This one was an upgrade from a 19 inch regular monitor I bought on sale for $120. ProView cost: $220.

Other

Filezilla: This is the FTP I’ve just started using. Cost: free.

Google Talk: If I get the pro-version of Trillian, I could also check my Google Talk instant messenger through Trillian, too. However, I like the format as is and like checking my Google email account with a separate utility, so I use Google Talk instead of Trillian Pro. Cost: Free.

NoteTad Pro: This is the program I use to write and save my posts. It’s not WYSIWYG, but it’s nice because it has a handy code library that allows you add simple HTML with the click of a mouse. It also has spellcheck and a few other basic features. Cost: About $20, although I don’t have the newest version.

ScreenPrint32: This is the program I use to capture screen shots. Cost: Free.

Trillian: Instant messenger is a must to stay in touch with other bloggers and sources. My accounts on AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, and MSN are checked through Trillian. I use it to check my email. Cost: Free.

PS: I’m toying with the idea of buying a Digital camcorder. Got any suggestions?

PS #2: If you have any suggestions for upgrades or other products that I need (the cheaper the better), add them in the comments section.

PS #3: On the one hand, if you look at the expenses here as startup costs for a new business (along with DSL), it’s pretty cheap. On the other hand, if you’re a new blogger and this looks like a lot of money, just remember, it took me years to acquire all this stuff and most of the things that cost money, deal with video. So, if you’re not making videos, which 99 bloggers out of 100 aren’t, there’s little expense involved beyond your basic system (computer, monitor, etc.).

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