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Great if you use Firefox!
Member Name: bamamo
Date: 29/09/08, updated on 29/09/08 (91 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to search past entries, good layout and autosave function
Disadvantages: Only works properly in Firefox at the moment
I am always writing for one reason or another - drafting up reviews, OU work, working on creative writing, journaling, etc and while I used to write everything up as a draft in my Gmail, I came across Penzu recently and thought I would try it out for things which I want to keep without clogging up my email.
Penzu.com is a site where you can sign up, for free, to get your own private journal - no blogging even if you wanted to, for your eyes only - although you can share by email if you wish. It is fairly new and as such there are a few glitches which need to be ironed out. Still, it shows promise and is perfect for what I need it for - when it works.
Signing up is easy - you log in using your email address and a password - but if you are impatient you can get started writing straight away. The front page of the Penzu website allows you to begin to write ("try it out") and sign up or log in when you come to save. I like this as I can capture my ideas or thoughts before they leave my head!
Whilst writing once logged in Penzu will autosave. You can title your entries or else they will be saved under the date and time, with recent entries appearing as tabs on the side of whatever you are working on, so you can switch between them seamlessly to add or alter your work. You can look for for past entries by clicking the "my entries tab" and viewing their titles or searching. If you wanted to, for example, find any entry that involved the word "school", you could just search it to get a list of titles.
The writing pad itself, and I call it a pad because it is designed to look like a sheet of lined paper, is straightforward enough and there is not much in the way of customisation - you cant change fonts, sizes or colours - but it is easy on the eye and for me comfortable to use and the lines strangely enough make you feel like you are writing on a piece of paper.
Sounds good so far, right? Well..here's the drawback. At the moment Penzu claim that they are fully compatible only with Firefox. At home I solely use this browser, however I like Penzu because I can access my writing from anywhere - especially at work where I often have time to work on it - and the machines there use Internet Explorer. I mean, if I wanted to write only at home I could just save it to my home computer without needing such a site. I have just tried using the site with IE on my laptop at home and it worked fine, but in the past I have more often than not encountered troubles logging in, saving and and opening entries. A lot of times I was able to log in by refreshing a few times, but this isn't much good when you come to save a piece, and I did grow frustrated at losing work so stopped trying to access the site at all from work.
Penzu claim to be working on compatability for other browsers. Until then, I will stick to Gmail and the ever-increasing number of drafts clogging up my mailbox. It's a shame because Penzu has a lot of promise, and works just great from Firefox. I will update if and when they get everything up and running with Internet Explorer!
Summary: A nice site but not useful for me until it is able to be accessed from any machine.