Yes I know that I said I don't like using Microsoft products any more. But nobody at Firefox Performancing answered my question about FTP overnight on the Forums, so I was pissed off. When I saw that Windows Live Writer had just been launched and that uploading images was included, I thought I had better have a go. Some reviews I had read, said it was hard to edit posts made with Performancing. I guess this is true as the generated html or CSS (I'm not techie enough to tell the difference) does make it harder to read what you wrote.
The installation was easy. As you might expect, Microsoft tried to make me install all sorts of other things, toolbars, automatic updates etc, so it was hard to stop it, but I think I succeeded. It didn't seem to care that I was running Firefox. Except it tried to install some toolbars which clearly only work with IE. I haven't got the bit of Firefox for running IE yet, so can't try that.
It really is. When I told it which blog to post to, it picked up the themes and stylesheets from the blog and here I am writing in green on my beige background with instant orange headlines. That's nice! Makes the rubbish I write look better.
I tried to make Windows Live tile over the bottom half of the screen like Performancing does, which is really convenient for blogging from webpages. There is no Windows drop down menu on either Firefox or Windows Live to do that. I know Firefox has tabs but what do you do when you have several windows open?
There seems to be some bug on the window display of WL, because you can't see the bottom of the frame to drag it around. There is some tray thing labelled properties and trackbacks.
MS haven't erased all traces of the Onfolio product it bought and relabelled, as the icon in the system tray says Onfolio, and so does the program labelled Onfolio add-in (note the different jargon!?) for Windows Live Tool Bar, which got installed somehow.
There is an undo item on the Edit Menu but it's only a single undo.
There's a sort of stylesheet, with "paragraph" and "heading 1" to "heading 6". Does anyone do blog posts with six levels of headings. I only ever use 3 levels even in very long reports. Solutions looking for problems there, I think.
These have been nicely imported, but not sorted like happens in Performancing.
There are 3 choices: Not to upload (? when you've already included it in the post?); to upload to the weblog; or to upload to the FTP server, with no help on the settings. At least help is offered but it goes off to the blackhole of the Toolbar which I didn't install.
There are 4 views: normal (black and white), web layout, (where I'm writing now, with as near WYSIWYG as I can tell, down to the borders on the blog template), web preview (when the post so far appears in your blog as if already posted, but you can't edit any more) and html code view (which only has the bits of html you have added in the post, presumably everything else is in a stylesheet somewhere).
Let's try the one I used yesterday.
It appears where you left the cursor but it is easy to drag around. And instant import as you are not writing online.
In case you are wondering about the photo, this is a man making filo type pastry in Peja, Kosovo. He stretches it over the roller, then bounces it to stretch it some more on the white table in front, which is actually not a table but a frame with some canvas (?) stretched over it like a drum, with a liberal coating of flour. The photo was taken on my mobile phone, so excuse the bad quality and lack of border when I posted it. We didn't get to see what he turned it into. We couldn't speak Albanian to find out, and unusually, there was no one passing by, who spoke a bit of English, who could answer our questions.
This seems the point to use the offered Windows Map, which is a free offering, to explain where Kosovo is. But unfortunately, the world according to Microsoft does not include Europe. Maybe the fines are beginning to hurt. It seems a bit of an afterthought. There's no taskbar button and it's just stuck on the end of the insert menu.
On the preferences, you can make sure you spellcheck before you post. I don't think I tried the spellchecker, if there was one, on Performancing. True to form, the first spelling error it found in this post was "Firefox", not in the dictionary! It also didn't recognise countries or common blogging terms. Strangely, if you ignore them, then they seem to be ignored next time, as if they were already in the dictionary. Even more irritating is that it insists on American spelling. OK it's only beta.
There are preferences for Writer (spelling and publishing) Blog this (some things not at all clear to me, instantly, but look like they are intended as a bookmarker like del.icio.us or diigo) a Plug In option (with an error page when you go to look for them) Web proxy server (for those who blog at work?) and a ping server (which you have to fill in yourself).
Microsoft has decided tags are called key words, which took me a bit to realise, but no reminder to include them before posting which would be helpful. But then Typepad doesn't either.
Comments and trackbacks
There is a window at the bottom which opens to set these individually or with a default. It's not clear what the default is, or where you set it.
I didn't experience any problems the first time, but the second time I got an error message about the categories and it just didn't post. The third time, I removed the categories and it still didn't post. The error was Server Error 500 Occurred
Invalid entry ID '12179008' setPostCategories
As an offline blogging tool, it seems to work. It's really nice to be able to blog with the right layout, style and colours. The help is non-existent but that maybe because I didn't install the toolbar, but I didn't really need it except for the fiddly bits.
On the other hand, that's all you can say. There are some things missing, and nothing special on offer. It's just a wordprocessor for blogs after all. And you don't expect much innovation from Microsoft.
But in the end if it doesn't post properly first time, what use is it to anyone? I had to cut and paste this into Typepad to post it.
Every now and then I decide it's time for the old dog to learn some new tricks. When I got my new laptop I decided to say good bye to Microsoft as much as I could, and so I have been busy exploring Firefox as a web browser, amongst other things (like the flag visitor counter). I have to say that everything I have tried has worked more or less first time (always allowing for the usual human stupidity). The (new for me) tab feature is great apart from it being too easy to close a tab by mistake.
So far I have added Talkback (though perhaps that was automatic, as it sends back message to Firefox about crashes), Diigo (one of those bookmarking programs) Furl, (another bookmarker), Spurl (another bookmarker) Greasemonkey, (so I could load some scripts to work with Flickr) Session Manager (worth it just for the "undo close tab") and now I am trying Performancing, a blog editor to write this. Later on I'll write something about all these bookmarking and social networking, when I have something intelligent to say.
Of course there is not much wrong with the Typepad editor for blogging, but why not experiment?
So now I find I can easily write in colour. All the usual formatting buttons are there, except undo, which would have been useful.
The editing window opens sitting across the bottom half of the screen, which was a bit weird at first. However it means you can have Firefox open in the top half with as many tabs as you need, which made cutting and pasting the links for the paragraph above very easy. So that means it's easy to blog about something without having to fiddle with the windows so you can see everything all at once. You can also have a tab open with your blog in, which I found useful for checking colours.
It was a doddle to configure it to find my blog, import my categories and set them up for this post. No opening separate windows and holding down control for multiple categories, like in Typepad.
There are 3 windows for looking at your post: the one for editing, the one for previewing and the one for viewing and fixing the html.
Just tried to upload an image and found I needed to put in some FTP settings data. Can't find any help on screen to sort it out. I've had to leave a message on the forum to find out what to do.
Apart from that, everything seems very easy. Seems like it bypasses some of the Typepad pings unless you put them in under the custom button.
And it does allow you to forget to put in a category, which is not so clever.
Sloph complained that my recent spurt of blogging was unnerving, no sooner had she read one post than another one appeared via RSS. Clearly I don't have a real life, but posting more often has increased the number of visitors, which is in itself encouragement to do more posting.
In deference to Sloph and her holiday somewhere in Hungary, I am delaying some of the posts, so I can have a day off, if the weather in the UK ever improves. Otherwise blogging will have to fit in with packing and moving house, since more trips to Kiev have been put off probably till September.
Petite anglaise asks the question: "Sometimes I wonder whether I am living my life, or whether this blog is living it for me". Sometimes I wonder about her too. Does having a blog change you, make you more introspective? Are virtual friends who comment regularly better than real friends who don't want to sit in front of a computer to talk to you? Or does it just give you a wider range of people to communicate with, if you are stuck somewhere inaccessible?
I started writing stuff during the breakup with a partner. It was a way of working out things in my head.
I once started reading a book about "how do I know what I think till I hear what I say". It was about how the brain works, and how language works. The implication was that the brain learns by listening to spoken messages, so to learn, you have to say things out loud so you can hear them again and then understand them. I found for me it was different. More like "how do I know what I think till I see what I write". That way I could reject a lot of what I thought I thought. On paper it seemed so ridiculous.
However, I'm not good at blogging what I feel. It needs days or even months of digestion before I can write about it. At least that's partly why I couldn't blog about going back to Kiev in February or Vilnius in June.
I started blogging because I wanted to improve my writing. It gives me a chance to write impromptu "essays", rather than work out personal feelings. However, even that is not working out well, as I just blog whatever comes into my head. Sometimes it's interesting and sometimes not. I guess it depends who reads it and who can relate to it.
TypePad recently reorganised its password protection system (without telling me at least).
I just implemented a new blog which will be password protected for the moment, and found that now I need completely different and separate usernames and password for:
1. entry into the site
2. entry to each blog
3. entry to each and every photo album
But Typepad haven't implemented any hints or ways to retrieve user names or passwords.
When asked, they confirmed this:
At the moment, you would need to assign different usernames to your weblogs and photo albums to prevent this error message. Please let us know if you have any other questions.
The only practical way to implement this, especially for photo albums is to have a series of usernames and passwords with numbers. Or of course to move the photo albums to Flickr, where no such nonsense applies.
I have two questions:
how do they think this helps the user?
does "at the moment" mean they are already thinking of changing this?
I'm not against password protection, or even the possibility to have different password protection for different objects. But surely you ought to be able to nominate the same one for use in more than one place (as it was before), even if it is a greater risk, (that you are aware of).