Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

If I could force myself to make the time to update this blog, this poor blog wouldn’t look as neglected. I can rattle of excuses – work, family, need to sleep, the holidays – but it all comes down to not making time to write.

But I have kept busy.  I’ve read like crazy, continuing on my 2013  presidential quest.  I’ve read through to the presidents of my lifetime, and am reading a biography of Ronald Reagan.  Considering the last review was of   Thomas Jefferson, that demonstrates how far my reading is ahead of my blogging about it.  I’ve also been busy with taking courses through Coursera, a fantastic e-learning resource.  At work, I am thrilled to be in my new office – just a cubicle, mind you – in a building overlooking the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in lovely downtown Durham.  Or Durm, as the natives pronounce it, with monosyllabic gusto.

So what inspired me to finally come out of my shell and write something?  After years of the public ignoring my load of drivel, Don Charisma (don’t you love that name?) became a follower of my blog.  I doubt it is his real name, but even so, hats off to a great name.  Recently, I read an article about Dalton Conley’s book Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Science of Raising Children But Were Too Exhausted to Asksuggesting that unusual names can lead to fame and notoriety.  Conley named his daughter “E”, just the letter, and his son Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles.  If Conley is right, those kids are going places, just like Don Charisma, to whom I owe a sincere thank you for encouraging me to write this little blog post.


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Revamping the List-o-Books, Part One

English: One of Rube Goldberg's inventions

One of Rube Goldberg’s inventions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet is a house of cards, a Rube Goldberg contraption held together with baling wire and duct tape.  Once you get used to things working one way, someone “enhances” something and you are back to square one.   I woke up to that fact when I tried to update my blog with an updated List-o-Books™ for 2012.

When I started putting together the first List-o-Books, I wanted to have the books I’ve read listed with titles, authors, and a link to Amazon, where an interested viewer could purchase the book.  The first time I did this, after a laborious effort hand coding HTML , and then a few nights killed writing a Perl script to generate the HTML based on a list of ISBN codes, titles, and authors, I managed to produce a semi-useful version of what I had envisioned.

The task became simpler when I got Windows Live Writer and the Amazon Book Linker plugin written by Brian Di Croce, two elegant little tools.  I could search for books easily and compile the list without knowing an ISBN from an ash can, and compose the output as a nicely formatted WordPress page, complete with cover images of the books.   LiveWriter is impressive, and I have raved about it in this blog.  But I really used Live Writer mostly to create these lists, not needing an offline editor.

Read on…

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Score One for Microsoft

I use a lot of Microsoft products, usually because I am compelled to at work.  But, particularly with Microsoft Office software, I usually have a lot of complaints.  It is not bugs, particularly, but the overwhelming feature sets built into their products that always surprise me, especially since there isn’t usually an easy way to work in “simple-mode” where unnecessary distractions like footnote tools and grammar checking as you type are disabled. 

Practically the last tool category I expected Microsoft to excel in was offline blog editing software.  So, I tried BlogDesk, and Zoundry Raven, two products that others had raved about.  But neither of them were very compelling.  Both had a few nice features, but for some tasks, like editing a table, I found it as easy to just edit online in WordPress.com, my target blog software.  If an offline editor isn’t better than the online editor, then why bother?

Then I tried Microsoft’s Live Writer, and was pleasantly surprised at how much the programmers at Microsoft got right.  The interface is simple and uncluttered, the UI utilizes the online CSS styles for colors, and there is a relatively broad set of community supported plug-ins to extend the capabilities of Live Writer.

It still doesn’t quite do everything I want.  I’d like to see more awareness of online CSS, for example. But hats off to the Redmond programmers, they got it right this time.

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