Bleezer blogging client

Trying the free blog editing client app Bleezer – it’s a cross-platform java app. A little rough around the edges, but has a pretty decent UI (but categories are provided in a popup, so you can select only one category for a post).

The editor is not WYSIWYG, but toggles to preview mode easily. It doesn’t grok the convention of skipping p and br, so the preview is spaced oddly. The app provides an interface for direct FTP uploads of images etc. as well.

This one’s close, but still isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. Back to the WordPress web UI…

So far, Performancing and Flock are the closest thing I’ve seen to an ideal blog management client app, but even that doesn’t make me hate using the WP web UI…

Performancing 1.1

The Performancing extension for Firefox was just updated, and they added some great new stuff. It’s now tied into del.icio.us, and adds a “Page Tools” view that looks up the current web page in Technorati (handy, but no handier than a bookmarklet).

Firefox is still not quite as nice as Safari, so I don’t think I’ll be using it full time (page scrolling performance in Firefox is terrible on my ‘book, and text rendering isn’t quite as nice as in Safari). Maybe I’ll try it for a few days to see how it works out.

The beauty of keeping all bookmarks in del.icio.us is that it completely commoditizes the browser. My bookmarks are completely portable. The only links/tools that get left behind are the bookmarklets I keep in a browser’s bookmark toolbar, and those are easily replaced.

Two things that they could add to make Performancing rock harder would be:

  1. Sorting categories. 285 categories and counting, and it’s hard to find specific categories for a post (where did “performancing” go in this unsorted mess?)
  2. Category search. Even with sorting, it would be handy to be able to search/filter categories. Maybe it’s a tool that only shows up if a blog has more than 20 categories or something… It took me longer to find the categories for this post than to write it.

One thing that strikes me is just how much faster/easier/more flexible adding categories is through the WordPress web UI, when combined with the Cat2Tag plugin – it is a simple text entry field, similar to del.icio.us or Flickr, with autocompletion of existing categories and seamless creation of new ones as needed. It even provides a sorted and weighted tag cloud view of existing categories if desired. No idea if adding categories is even possible via the posting API, but it keeps me coming back to the WordPress posting UI…

Update: Disabling Firefox’s “live scrolling” makes it feel about 6 bajillion times faster. It’s totally usable now. I’ll try it for a week or so (again)…

Playing with Ecto

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve played with Ecto. I used the previous incarnation (KungLog) before it changed to become Ecto, and lost touch with it since then. I’ve been using the browser-based WordPress posting interface almost exclusively, with occasional dabbles into the worlds of Firefox+Performancing and Flock.

Gotta say, I’m less impressed with Ecto’s write-and-preview flow (and by default, it’s not even a live preview, and the “automatic” preview isn’t quite “live”). If an app is going to provide an interface like this, it really should go the extra mile and use a full-out WYSIWYG interface (with the option to revert to source editing mode). And the controls for entering/editing hyperlinks are, well, bizarre and non-intuitive. A mini-toolbar at the bottom of the editing window is pretty un-Maclike, and odd when considering all other controls are in an almost-conventional toolbar above the editing pane…

I do like the management features, but they’re not radically different/better than Performancing’s offering. Actually, what would really rock would be a version of Performancing for Safari. I know it’s probably just a XUL app, so this could be a non-trivial task, but most Mac users are using Safari, and it would be nice to have this stuff brought to it…

Oh, and Performancing should sort Categories. Ecto does this (well, any sane app should) and it really helps if you have, say 285 categories…

When all’s said and done, I don’t see myself ponying up for an Ecto license. It’s a cool app, but other apps are coming along and nicely eating its breakfast.

Update: Ecto published this post after the < ! --more--> block, which tells WordPress to show the post content only on the single post display page. The text entry fields weren’t labeled, so I thought I was doing it the other way around… It also threw an error dialog up saying the post couldn’t be published, when it was published just fine. This is app is supposed to increase blog posting productivity hownow?

Presentations list now online

It was pointed out that I’d neglected to have a “presentations” page, so there was no easy way to grab stuff from any of the presentations that I’ve had the chance to be involved with.

I just added a new “Presentations” section, listing (I think) every presentation I’ve done since I started here at the Learning Commons. There may be a couple that I’ve missed, but at least the “big” ones are there. I’ll keep it up to date as new ones come online.

I was going to create a “Presentations” page directly in WordPress so it would be easy to maintain, but it appears to not like sharing with the /presentations directory of the website. So, for now, it’s a hand-rolled static .html file until I figure out a better way to make WordPress and Apache share stuff on the same path…

M

This post is the 1,000th post I’ve made to my blog (not counting the ones that made up the early months of the blog, which have been lost forever). As I’ve been publishing more stuff to it, writing more, ranting more, it’s interesting (and curious) to see the fluctuations in traffic to the blog. As of right now, there have been 168,031 actual human visitors since stats started being monitored (on 5/25/2003).

Anyway, not a profound post for M, but I still find it interesting (and surprising) that I’m still blogging after all these years. More surprised that anyone else is sharing my outboard brain – and the scale of this boggles my mind. Bizarre. Here’s to another M…

Read/Write Web presentation (slides and more)

I was able to put together a version of the presentation as an “enhanced podcast” using a borrowed copy of Garage Band ’06. It worked very well for the task, with one glaring issue – apparently GB can’t handle audio longer than 65 minutes, so the last couple of minutes of the presentation audio is truncated. No big loss, as it’s mostly just wrapup (and there is an 11-minute section of awesome Q and A around the 30 minute mark – at the “Wiki Discussion” chapter).

Here’s the Enhanced Podcast version, as well as an interactive Flash version (maybe that will work well if your mp3 player is playing the full audio at the same time), a .pdf version, and a .zip of all slide images (but that loses the build effects used in the Flash version). Also, the source Keynote file is available.

The whole shooting match is released under a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commercial, share-alike), so have at’er if you have the Mad Skillz to produce a better version (or make the audio suck less), or want to remix it into something else.

20 Years after Challenger

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff on January 28, 1986. I can still remember seeing that horrific column of smoke and fire from the still-burning boosters. Damned frozen O-rings and dysfunctional communication in NASA.

Christa McAuliffe was to be the first schoolteacher in space, sent up as a payload specialist. She’s the one most remembered, but all seven crewmembers were lost in that tragic accident. I still shudder thinking of the ride they must have had, trapped in the cockpit as it fell to the water…

20 years later, and an additional Shuttle lost, and we’re now paralyzed by the need for safe access to space. The atmosphere of pioneering exploration has been replaced by an apparent desire to have a space program operate more like a commercial airline. Mankind would have never made it to space without being willing to take risks.

Read/Write Web presentation (audio)

I’d planned on releasing a full presentation+audio version of the presentation, but it’s going to take me weeks to sync up the 105 slides to the 1-hour audio track.

So, in the meantime, here’s the audio-only portion of the presentation (27.2MB MP3). Not sure how well it stands on its own, but it might come in handy for someone.

The only editing I’ve done to the audio was to remove the 6 minute preamble and embarrassing intro (as Mr. Expert Guy – gack – which is why you hear me mention it at the beginning of the audio). Sorry for the audio quality – it was recorded directly to my iPod via Belkin TuneTalk at an incredible 8KHz, and tweaked in Audacity to make it suck less.

I’ve been told that some schwanky new G5 systems (quad, no less) are in transit to the Learning Commons. When I get mine, I’ll give GarageBand ’06 a shot at making the “video” version with slides from the presentation. It’s just going to take too much time to manually do it in iMovie. I’d give Breeze a shot, but converting the Keynote to .ppt format would so totally destroy the transparencies used on many slides…