Wally Wonders Why

No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

Technical

Live Writer and WordPress

livewriter I’ve been using the WordPress platform for over a year now and am totally impressed with it’s reliability and versatility, especially considering it is free. I also love that it is open source, so there are always more industrious people than I, building more functionality into it.

For a guy still on dial-up, WordPress has an awful Achilles heal. You must be online to write and edit blog posts. And if your connection drops, then say goodbye to your last few sentences, assuming you have autosave turned on. In the past I have addressed this Achilles heal by writing in Notepad++ and then going online to format and add images. Later, and up through a few weeks ago I was using Blogdesk. Blogdesk is reliable and does a pretty good job of managing offline drafts. It also feels like the Blogdesk editor is slightly better than even the upgraded WordPress editors.

But this is where Microsoft enters the picture with Live Writer. It is part of Microsoft’s Live Spaces, which I haven’t really explored much yet, and it’s only been released for a month or so. I did install just the Live Writer editor software which is free and I didn’t have to sign into any Microsoft sites, nor register with a hotmail/passport account to do the install. Also the install and configuration was about as painless as I thought possible. I launched Live Writer, it prompted me for information about where my blog was, what type it was dealing with, and username & password. It then went off to retrieved settings and formatting from my site. I then had the most powerful blog editor that I’ve seen open in front of me.

I’ve been using this editor for only a little while now, but if a blogger ever had a reason to bow down before Bill Gates, this would be it. The editor is as powerful and easy to use as you would expect from Microsoft and it incorporates all the WordPress editing features I use and a few more that weren’t available.

  • Editor views – Normal, WYSIWYG Web Layout, Web preview, HTML
  • Check boxes for your post categories
  • WordPress Tags are entered as “keywords”
  • Good management of draft posts, also while online, you can pull back, edit and republish posts
  • While editing offline, image insertion is easy, fast and with way more options.
  • video upload & embed which I have yet to try
  • A real working as you go spell checker
  • Also while online, buttons take you directly to Dashboard & Comment management.
  • Has worked seamlessly with FireFox as my default browser

And if that list weren’t enough, how about an editing undo button! If you haven’t gotten it by now, I’m impressed with Live Writer.

What should you be doing right now?

midday.jpgObviously you’re reading this site, but is there something else you should be doing right now? Cleaning, paying bills, going to church, helping your kids with homework, or heaven forbid…should you be working right now? Are you on your employers dime? I would bet that relatively few careers require reading blogs. So where does that leave the mid-day blog reader? Are they predominantly retired or perhaps unemployed? Are they predominantly slackers who should be working? Are they all night shift workers who would rather blog than sleep during the day?

Last week I read Sam Taylor’s Record page views day post at the Herald blog. Quite coincidentally this was the very same day that Sam partially regurgitated one of my posts into their blog as Wally: Left-leaners pulling Jedi mind trick with district-only voting issue. The big attention grabber came a day later when I checked the Herald’s comment RSS. Sure, there were a lot of comments on the Wally: Left leaner thing but the wow! came from seeing the overall number of comments that were written while I was working to support my family.

On 12/4 there were about 72 comments during the roughly normal 8:00am-6:00pm working time and on 12/5 there were another 50 or so during the same time period. Herald staff, mostly Sam, were responsible for 10ish comments each day leaving the other 40-60 comments coming from people who should have been doing….perhaps something other than commenting.

And those who actually commented are only the flea on the tip of the iceberg. How many people are reading blogs instead of doing…something else that they should be doing. It makes one wonder about the demographics of the midday blogging audience as a whole. Are they a bunch of slacker and deadbeats? No, that would be presumptuous of me to say that. I’m sure they are just like you and me, except they don’t work during the day.

Does this all mean that the blogosphere is destined to be ruled by deadbeats, slackers, professional bloggers and the retired? Where is the working mans blog! I’m going to talk to the democrats about taking some of your money for a focus group. This must violate a constitutional liberty. We need blogging justice now!

Website maintenance

stat.jpgI’ve done a bit of maintenance and rearranging over the past few days.  Not an easy feat on 26.4 dial up, but it needed to be done.  It needed to be done for several reasons: I have ADD when it comes to the look of the website, I’m adding pages for Dino Rossi and probably Fred Thompson, and my stats package took up more server space than my 600+ posts.   The last item was the biggest reason.  I like looking at the stats every once and a while for things like people looking for Joe Elenbaas and such, but it wasn’t worth the time, space and the slowness it was causing just for a curiosity.   So Slimstat is gone, the look has changed, and at least the Rossi page is up.

WiFlyer

wiflyer.jpgThere are very few internet performance upgrades for those of us who live out in the county and are too frugal to pay for satellite internet. We always seem to find a need for that $100+ per month. So I operate on all the dialup performance one would expect for service routed through Custer. This means regular connection speeds of 16.8k – 24k. I can brew a 12-cup pot of coffee faster than the Herald loads. My wife and I also have laptops so this means that who ever has the honor of using the internet also has the honor of dragging around a 50 foot phone cord. It’s not really and honor, but it does make it easier to find each other. I knew I couldn’t be the only one with this problem.

Enter the WDB20B WiFlyer. PC Magazine did a review in Feb ’05 so it’s been around awhile. It’s a niche market item and had been going for $150 so I might have just blocked it out. It’s now only $100.

This amazing little paper back size piece of hardware really perked up our internet within about 5 minutes of opening the box. It is a dialup modem and a wireless router all in one. I plugged a short phone cord and a power cord into it, then set it on the piano. And just like the too good to be true marketing stuff said, my laptop found the signal and went right to a setup screen. I entered a dialup number, username, password and was connected. Done. No more setup and no more 50 foot phone cord.

We also got the fastest connection speed we have ever experienced; 28.8k.

We are in wireless hog heaven!

Recovering Blogger

I now am a recovering blogger. I have recovered 502 posts from my last backup. That backup was however 6/13/07 so it’s like the last 5 weeks never happened. It has a cathartic feel to it. But not as cathartic as when I thought I had lost everything.

I have managed to fill in a few posts from the last few days, but I still have about a 4 week hole between mid-June and now.

Update – As of this evening I think I have found and replaced most of the lost posts, but if you arrived here from a search then you might have to use the “Search Posts” box on the right to find what you came for until the search engines catch up.

Safari for Windows

I am a huge fan of the FireFox web browser and not a huge fan of Internet Explorer. FireFox is smaller, simpler to understand and faster than IE. I am on dialup so performance is a huge factor. A slow browser can make my 24kbps connection seem like it is only 19.2kbps.

So along comes Apple Safari with claims of being 2x faster than IE and 1.6x faster than FireFox. So what? I don’t own a Mac. But then the word Windows catches my eye. This version with wild performance claims will work with my Windows machine! The download is at http://www.apple.com/safari/

So now I’ve been using it for 2 days and here is a quick list of what I have found so far:

  • It does seem faster. Some of it may be an illusion as it loads in more of a wait for it, wait for it, pow it’s there, manner rather than slowly filling a page.
  • There are less buttons and more screen real estate. But there isn’t a stop button for when I want to quit loading graphics and read the page. There is a hotkey combination though.
  • The text had an initial fuzzy look to it that I think I have adjusted to, but a quick trip back to the crisp FireFox browser makes me believe Apple will fix this quickly.
  • RSS feeds setup quickly with no extra reader.
  • And lastly if you are a WordPress bloggers; I’ve lost my WYSIWYG in the Write section. I am entering everything in the code window. And a few other admin plugins don’t seem to be working.
  • It generally feels like FireFox.

Safari 3 is a public beta, so I’ll keep trying it a bit longer and see if some of the bugs get worked out of it without losing the speed.

Added today at lunchtime:

I have read some on the WordPress issue and I guess that the latest version 2.2 is supposed to be more compatible with Safari, but I’m not ready to spend the time to upgrade from 2.1. There always seems to be a snag somewhere.

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