Friday, May 28, 2010

Help for Readers

I recently asked a parishioner to read a post I made here and was asked the question, “What is a blog?” That question caught me off-guard. It is likely, however, that even parishioners who are regular users of the Internet are not regular readers of blogs. Thus, I want to offer a few words of advice to help everyone take full advantage of St. Paul’s’ Epistle.

For openers, you may want to read the introduction I wrote for this blog on April 12, 2010. You can do so here. General information about blogs—“blog” is a contraction of “Web log”—can be found on Wikipedia. St. Paul’s’ Epistle is a fairly typical blog, an expanding collection of personal essays on a single topic arranged in reverse chronological order and allowing for interaction among readers and between readers and author. Personal is important here. I am one parishioner at St. Paul’s and probably not a typical one. I will write about what seems interesting or important to me. If you find my musings entertaining or useful, do become a regular reader. If not, don’t.


If you are familiar with reading blogs, you can probably skip this section.

To get to the home page of St. Paul’s’ Epistle, use your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) to go to You can leave off “http://” or the “www.” or the slash at the end and still be taken to the same page. I generally type in just “” (Remember the address as “St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, dot org.”)

At the left on the home page, recent posts—each essay or entry is called a post—are displayed, with the most recent one on top. Above each essay is the date it was added to the blog and its title. On the home page itself, only posts are listed. Comments left by readers are not shown. To see a post on a page by itself that includes comments and links to pages that link to the post, click on the title of the post.

At the right of each page are links to the most recent post being viewed and to a handful of earlier posts. Farther down the right side of the page are links to the Blog Archive. Here, you can select links to view particular posts or posts for an entire month or entire year. (Click on the triangles at the left or on particular entries to see just how the archive list works.) If you are not on the home page of St. Paul’s’ Epistle, you can click on “St. Paul’s’ Epistle” in the banner at the top of the page to go to the home page.

Depending upon the context in which you are displaying a post, you may see below the post:
  1. The poster (usually me)
  2. The time of day the post was made (Click on this to see the post on a page by itself, along with comments and links to it.)
  3. The number of comments that have been left (Click on this to see comments on a separate page, along with a form to leave your own comment.)
  4. An envelope icon (Click on the icon to send a link to the post to a friend. If you reference a post, be sure to use a link to the post, not simply to the blog home page, which may, at a later time, display different posts.)
  5. A link labeled “Links to this post” (Click on this link to see the post, comments, and links to the post. This link, unlike the link described in (2) takes you to the bottom, rather than to the top of the page containing the post.)
  6. A list of labels (Each post contains one or more labels intended to classify the content of the post. Labels include “worship” and “Vision 15,” for example. Clicking on one of these labels displays all posts tagged with that label.)
Labels provide a means to find a particular post or posts on a given subject. Each page also has a toolbar at the very top that includes, among other things, a search box, which provides another way to search the blog.

To leave a comment about a post, click on the link showing the number of comments or on the link labeled “Post a Comment.” Note that you must be registered to leave a comment. That registration can be in the form of a Google account or one of several other accounts, such as one from AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). If you have no such account, I suggest that you sign up for a Google account.

There are few rules for comments, though I would ask that any comments be civil. Comments are limited to about 4,000 characters. Certain HTML constructs can be included in comments to create links, display words in italics, etc. If you don’t know HTML, don’t worry about it.

There are some other items of interest at the right. There is some information about me and, under “My Blog List,” a display of blogs I generally follow, along with information on the most recent posts on those blogs. You can click on a blog name or the title of a post to go to that blog or post.

Finally, there is the matter of keeping up with current posts on this or any other blog. You can, of course, periodically type in the address (URL) of the blog in the address bar of your browser. Better still is to bookmark the home page (i.e., or add it to your Favorites. (Firefox has bookmarks; Internet Explorer has favorites. They are the same thing, links to pages you want to find easily.) The help file of your browser can give you more information about bookmarks.

An even better way of keeping current with blog posts is to use a syndication reader. Reader software uses so-called syndication feeds and lists posts of blogs you want to follow. The posts can be read in the reader or on the blog itself, linked from the reader. I use (and recommend) Google Reader, which you can access at Explaining Google Reader or similar software is beyond the task I want to undertake here, but, if you read a lot of blogs, it is worth learning how to use it. Internet Explorer has a built-in reader, by the way.

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