Working through template updates this weekend to add the Google Earth plugin to map pages for those that are XJSail members. If you don't see the plugin right away, be patient - all the templates should be updated by the end of sunday, 1/11.
In the Blog Manager is a tab for Categories. Categories allows you (and your visitors) to see all the posts of a certain subject together, which can help you keep the blog organized.
For example, someone might find your blog because you have the same boat type. A category like "boat repairs" could help that visitor see if there are common problems between your boats, and perhaps help them in their own repairs.
Or you might create categories for different parts of your journey, i.e. "Caribbean", "Panama Canal", "Mexico", "Pacific", etc. would help visitors jump to specific sections of the blog that pertain to that part of your adventure.
Below your blog post, the visitor will see the category you have selected as a link. Clicking the link with show only the blog posts with that category. Some templates will also show the categories as 'Favorites' in the side bar of your blog pages.
To add a category to a post, first create the category in the Category Manager. Once a category is created, it will be available in the drop down menu of the blog post form. You can go back to older posts and update them with new categories, too.
To remove a category tag from a post, edit that post and select 'None' from the category drop down.
Some of you will notice that your blog has a new link in the side bar that reads "Current Position (Map)". Here is why its there, how it works, and how to turn this off if you'd like.
All members have the ability to load a current latitude and longitude pair into their profile (for XJSail members, this is over-ridden by your personal mapping). If you are not an XJSail member, this position is used in a number of places, most notably in the Member Map and in the "Local Waters" block on your quick news feed in the admin.
What we have done is upgraded the Member Map to use the Google Earth browser plugin (very cool, be sure to load it - just follow the instructions in your browser). When a visitor clicks the new link in your sidebar, they will be taken to the main Member Map, but unlike the old Google Map of the world, the new member map will center and zoom to your specified location.
We wanted to make it easy for all members to show their current position as this is a great feature for your visitors. So if you've not added your position, try this out - just update your profile info with a lat/long pair. If you have added a position, make sure you keep it up to date so your friends and relatives can keep up with your travels.
If you have loaded a lat/long into your profile, this link will appear automatically. If you do not want this link on your blog, there is a checkbox in the Theme Settings (Blog Manager->Theme & Colors Tab->Theme Settings), uncheck the "Show Link To Member Map" box to remove the link.
And XJSail members: don't worry, there will be more Google Earth goodness for you in the near future as well.
Happy New Year from SailBlogs!
Back in 2006, SailBlogs was the first blog system to integrate support for Google Earth and the KML/KMZ file format. It was such a natural extension to SailBlogs that it was a though Google wrote it specifically for us. Since then, it has become a very integral part of offering the best mapping capabilities to our members. Moving forward we will continue to be focused on using this world-class platform within SailBlogs. To that end, look for some exciting new developments in XPlot, our map tracking system, in 2009.
In early summer, the Google Earth web plug in moved out of beta and into full release for Windows platforms. At that point, we began testing with it for possible integration into SailBlogs. The plug in application allows visitors to have a Google Earth experience right in the browser window, without having to fully load the whole Google Earth application. What this means for SailBlogs members is the ability to have the richest, most detailed and dynamic map right on their blog page.
In early December, the plug in because available for Macintosh as well, and moved fully into wide availability to all web users. With this update from Google, SailBlogs will now be working to add this feature into the tracking system in early 2009.
To see how this might look and feel, check out Pete Goss' current Spirit of Mystery adventure, currently nearing South Africa. Pete's tracking not only includes his boat's position, but also the route he is tracing and a real-time global cloud map. We have been working with Pete for a few months testing this system with live data from the Spirit of Mystery.
Look for this and other additions to the XPlot mapping system coming in the next year!
Thanks and Happy Holidays from SailBlogs!
One of the most often requested features of SailBlogs has been for the ability to link to, or easily bookmark other SailBlogs members. As SailBlogs grows and continues to add members, those members are often meeting and getting to know one another in marinas, anchorages, boat yards and through other web sites. SailBlogs wants to help those friends keep in touch as boats travel on in separate directions. To this end, SailBlogs now has the ability for members to become "Friends" with each other through the system.
When you become friends with another member, some of their activity will automatically appear in your "quick news" column when you log into the SailBlogs administration. Things like recent blog posts, additions to their galleries and joining groups will appear in your Quick News which will help you keep up with their travels and new items in their blog.
This friends system is the foundation for an on-going expansion of SailBlogs. Soon you'll be able to automatically show links to your SailBlogs friends in a sidebar block, see a map with all your friend's current positions, suggest new friends to people you know and invite them to join groups.
To become friends with another member, first log into the main SailBlogs admin, then do a search for members you know by entering boat name or crew member into the new search field. From the list of results, find the boats your recognize and select "Add to Friends". Doing this sends that person an email message, and provides a notice of your friend request the next time they log in. Once the confirm your request, you'll be linked together in the system. You will then see your quick news updated with their confirmation as well as receive an email notification.
The Quick News column will also show successful remote posts (so when you're sending by remote you can also see the confirmations here), system feature additions, system maintenance notices and other items that relate to your account. Other quick news items will show activity for groups, and (if you have a current position loaded) other members who are near you.
This is an important step forward for SailBlogs, and we hope that members find this a useful and enjoyable tool for keep in touch with sailing friends as well as friends in the "real world".
**UPDATE** The hardware changes are complete. Please report any issues with anything via the comments form.
We'll be bringing up our new hardware this weekend, starting Saturday morning Dec 6 at 00:00UT (7pm Eastern Friday evening), and should be completed within about 2-4 hours. During this time, the admin will be off line because this involves the database. The blogs and galleries will remain available to visitors, however.
This should be the last outage for this system upgrade.