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Essential Tools – Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei Style

By Char

Essential ToolsToday’s Essential Tools post features a blogging Superwoman of sorts, Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei (pron. shen-shen). Hsien is a channel editor for b5media, writes at b5 blogs Genetics and Health, A Hearty Life, and Play Library, as well as her personal blog, Cottontimer.

The following are Hsien’s essential tools for managing four blogs at once:

  • Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird – A web browser and email client are often taken for granted so Hsien wants to give props to Mozilla for creating a kickass browser and email client. While many people use Firefox already – fewer use Thunderbird, preferring to use Gmail instead. Hsien has found that she still likes the traditional ways of sorting mail and there are threaded functions within Thunderbird that simulate the “conversation” type of organization of Gmail. She was also burned once because Gmail went down for almost a day and was unable to retrieve any emails. She figured getting email straight from the source with an email client was the safest solution, especially since they’d all be downloaded onto her computer as well instead of being locked up under Google control. (I am totally with you on this one Hsien!) Did you also know you can select a Firefox theme? Hsien uses the Red Cats (green flavor) Firefox theme.
  • BlogDesk – Hsien switched from Performancing (now Scribefire) for Firefox a few months ago after much promotion from b5media Project Manager Christina Jones and it’s the classic case of why didn’t she do it sooner?! Blogdesk provides an excellent WYSIWYG interface that can be switched to source view if desired. More importantly, Blogdesk makes it super easy to edit photos, insert them into posts, and upload them together. For people who write more than one blog and for those who are blogging professionally, BlogDesk is a MUST.
  • Flickr and the Amazon plugin for WordPress – Hsien primarily uses these two sources for images on her blogs. She often post pictures she takes herself but if she doesn’t have anything suitable, she looks to see if Amazon has a product image that would illustrate the point or goes to Flickr images that are marked creative commons.
  • Skype – Because all her work is done online, it’s imperative that she has a reliable way of contacting people either via voice or IM. Hsien chose Skype because b5media relies on it a great deal and she uses it for its cheap calling charges. Best of all, Skype has the most adorable emoticons! Here’s a list of all of them including the secret ones. (Ooh, thanks Hsien – didn’t know about those)
  • Google Desktop – There are loads of fun widgets available for for Google Desktop but the two Hsien uses most frequently are the calendar and the to-do list.

How many blogs do you manage and what are your tips for keeping it all straight?

Previously featured: Daivid Airey (Creative Design), Wendy Piersall (eMomsAtHome), Randa Clay, Ingo Scheusse (stixster), Jason Kaneshiro (Webomatica), Ben Yoskovitz (Instigator Blog), Phil Gerbyshak (Make It Great), Jason Alba (Jibber Jobber), Tony Clark (Success from the Nest), Gayla McCord (MomGadget), Mike Sansone (Converstations), Jennifer Hadorn (Bloggertunity), Robyn Tippins (Practical Blogging), Liz Strauss (Successful Blog) – you could be next – just drop me a line at charlene [at] keystrokes [dot] net!



Yeah, her secrets revealed. Though I’m sure this isn’t all of her tools, she is the one person who gets around the net faster then anyone I know. I swear she’s going to find the end of the Internet one of these days!

Great post Char.


Gayla – I’m sure Hsien has more up her sleeve, too. I wonder what color her Superhero cape is?


I have to say i am 110% diehard firefox fan however thunderbird I hate it! It has given me nothing be problems! I just said forget it and used outlook 2007 I like it a lot better and its up front with me I should say. I can figure out the problem in outlook on Thunderbird.. Everything is configured right and it still hates me.


Gayla and Char: You guys are nuts. I’m going to bed early nowadays and it’s a good thing!

Amanda: I used to have problems with the earlier versions of Thunderbird but lately (knock on wood), it’s been good albeit still a bit slow. I tried to configure Outlook as well but didn’t have enough time to set it up properly. With these things a lot of times it’s a matter of getting so used to something, it’s hard to switch.


Thanks again Hsien for giving us some insight into your world.

Amanda – I happen to love the latest version of Thunderbird, but it really is a matter of preference.


Ok, two posts completed with BlogDesk and I AM SO hooked. This is like crack for bloggers!

Thanks for the tip :)


Gayla – you are too funny! I will have to test drive it today.


I’m going to have to try BlogDesk. If Gayla of a Zillion Blogs is hooked, then it must be good!


Oh she’ll love that – Gayla of a Zillion Blogs!


LOL too funny! My NEW signature line :)

I swear I am SO hooked on BlogDesk now. I only wish it worked with blogger though :( Anyway, I have 8 wordpress blogs on there so that will do for now :)

Seriously, let me know what you think when you try it!


I love BlogDesk too! I tried it yesterday and have installed it now on both my upstairs and my downstairs computer. I have only used it for one post, but it was enough. I especially like the image options.

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