Journal-ism
by Judd Spitzer © 2002 For the Lockheed Martin Macintosh Guild
Aug 22, 2002



Journal-ism

In case you haven't got the memo, Journals are the hottest app to hit the desktop in well, a long time. So hot that Apple has chosen to recently feature MacJournal as an award winning piece of Journal software.

First let me start off by defining Journal. A journal is nothing more than a place to put your coherent and incoherent thoughts as they come to you through out your day. With all that being said, you may ask, how can anyone beat just using something simple like Microsoft Word for example. Well, that's easy, most of the Journal programs are either Freeware or very inexpensive shareware. They make use of Mac OS X's interfaces, such as built-in text editing, (quite similar to TextEdit), and give a good polished look. Yet at the same time gaining an audience that continues to help the evolution of updates along.

Types of Journals

There are two types of Journal programs: on-line and off-line. Online journals allow the user to post their journal to a website where it can be stored and other people can interact with it, leaving you messages about your postings. The offline journal is designed more for the individual who is keeping mental notes that he or she would like to keep private, and not open to the world.

Before I get into the review of the software that I've used that is out there, you should be aware of the uses of this sort of software.

You've heard right, journals (aka, diaries) aren't just for 13 year old girls to write about their latest crush. Journals, as they are being referred to, could also be Logs. The benefits to communities, such as engineering and sciences, are great. Additionally, this new communication tool fits somewhere between a newsgroup and email. You will also see, with the online journal, how apparent this benefit is.

Online Journals

Let's start with the Online Journal since it is the most comprehensive to understand.

To begin our story we need to visit a site called
http://www.livejournal.com/. Here you will find the location for storing an online journal, and you can set up an account if someone sponsors you with a passcode, or use paypal and purchase a passcode. The fee is nominal and basically pays for webspace, and gives the user access to a few more features.

The website itself allows the user to customize the look and feel of their journal. You can add a thumbnail picture of yourself, or whatever you like, in a variety of formats, as long as the image is constrained to 100x100 and is less then 40k. Within the website you can set up a profile that contains information about yourself, such as your interests. Another item in your profile are friends. Anyone that you chose to be a friend will be added to your list, and you can easily access all your friends' current postings on one easy-to-read page generated just for you.

Great, you may think, I can create and customize some "cheesy" little website with some text on it. Heck, any Geocities user has been able to do that for years! Or you could even create a profile in Yahoo! This, however, is where it gets different. Read on...

The Clients

The most efficient way to update and maintain your journal is the use of a client. Just as you would use a client for email, journals work the same way. Currently there are a few different journal clients for the Mac, and in this article I will be reviewing Mac OS X based Journals only, but Classic apps work the same way. The first three are Online journals, and the last one is an Offline journal.

iJournal

This Freeware App can be found at http://www.os10.org/.

Simple and elegant describe this program to a Tee. This program gives you the ability to post journal entries, with individual subject headings. You can place HTML code within the body of your message that will be read by a browser when viewed. You can insert hyperlinks and check your spelling as you type. You can also go to different webpages that you may frequently use, such as your friends pages and userinfo pages. Other features include notification if a friend posts to their journal, and two very customizable fields, Music and Mood (you are not restrained to the titles, as you could put anything in these fields you want). One other thing - you can choose to make your postings public or private, or only share them with a group of your friends. You can add any of your preloaded images to individual postings as well, and the benefit may just be to express your mood at the time you wrote in your journal. Finally, you can post to a variety of journals, with just the drop of a pulldown menu. You must have an existing livejournal account to use this program.

Phoenix

This Freeware App can be found at http://homepage.mac.com/thorshammer/.

This program offers much of the same features as iJournal, but also has built-in HTML functions to allow you to easily create bold, underline, and italicized text as well as change the size. No font feature though.

YaxJournal

Another fine Freeware App found at http://www.aegidian.org/yaxjournal/.

This program is very similar to iJournal, but this program will allow you to download your entire journal to your desktop, including the images. Very handy if you ever want to archive what you've written.

These journal programs allow an individual to participate in communities while having their own personal space to be creative. While this won't take the place of email or chat, it does allow people to continue to post information to the net without having to use a browser or a newsgroup. Imagine that a number of people all over the country are working on a project, this would be the perfect way to share information in a realtime setting, such as monitoring an eclipse or meteor shower.


MacJournal

Another Freeware App at http://homepage.mac.com/dschimpf/.

MacJournal is an offline journal program that has much of the form and features that the Mail program has. Other handy features are those similar to TextEdit. This software allows users to create multiple journals and additionally encrypt the entries to keep them safe from prying eyes. Reviewing the journal is easy just by opening the entries drawer, but there are a plethora of features that makes this program even more powerful.


This program has the Mac OS X look and feel down right, and is a pleasure to use.

Summary


Journal software is coming, and you can now replace that clunky old notepad desk accessory with software that is designed to help you collect your thoughts. Whether you choose to belong to a community and share your journals with the world, or just store your recipes to create that great old american pie, this software will do it well. Above all, this software may just inspire you to write, and that, in itself, is a great exercise of the mind.

Judd Spitzer
(321) 536-9520

Toastmaster, Notary, Electronic Frontiers



by Judd Spitzer © 2002 For the Lockheed Martin Macintosh Guild