An Index Of Blogging Clients

July 2009 Update: added BlogDesk. So far I’ve not been able to find anything apart from Windows Live Writer that works with WordPress page for Windows. (Ecto’s latest release apparently does support it.) 

Blogging clients allow you to prepare posts and then upload them directly. Useful for

  • composing drafts of posts offline
  • easier editing of HTML
  • easier inserting and handling of photos
  • easier editing of existing posts

Here’s a list of the ones I know of. Any additions welcome.

  • Qumana include easy text formatting and image insertion, simple Technorati tagging, and advertising insertion with Q Ads. Make money from your blog content by inserting the ads of your choice with the built-in Q Ads tool. (free: XP/Mac)
  • ecto a feature-rich desktop blogging client for MacOSX and Windows, supporting a wide range of weblog systems, such as Blogger, Blojsom, Drupal, MovableType, Nucleus, TypePad, WordPress, and more. (free; thanks Joost)
  • w.bloggar  The tireless Marcelo Cabral who runs it constantly updates the software to work with new blogging sites. It’s free, but he welcomes donations.
  • Post2Blog handy blog editor with live spell-checking support for pro-bloggers. ($40, Windows only)
  • SharpMT good for MovableType and TypePad. Windows only; free.
  • Windows Live Writer “makes it easier to compose compelling blog posts using Windows Live Spaces or your current blog service.” Free, XP only
  • Zempt Offers a lot of useful features, including assigning more than one category to a post. Zempt is also free but would be happy to get donations. Works with all Movable Type compatible sites. (Windows, Linux, Mac.)
  • BlogJet a new version, 2.0, is out that supports YouTube and Flickr. I used to use this all the time, and plan to try this one. $40, though, is still $40. Windows only
  • BlogWizard allows you to create, edit and publish your blog entries to the server where your weBlog is located. BlogWizard works with all major weBlog services that support the Blogger xml-rpc engine. BlogWizard has an easy to use WysiWyg interface, in which you can manipulate the text anyway you want, make it bold, bigger, smaller, insert images and hyperlinks. Costs: $23
  • Blogger for Word Blogger toolbar will be added to Word allowing you to publish to your blog, save drafts and edit posts (Free; XP and Word required)
  • MacJournal lets you publish your work as a blog to any of the popular blogging services, including your .mac account. Also possible to keep your journal at your fingertips, even when you’re on the road. (Macs only; $35)
  • BlogDesk BlogdDesk BlogDesk is free, works with WordPress, MovableType, Drupal, Serendipity and ExpressionEngine.
  • MarsEdit: Mac only, but very capable, according to Mike Rohde (thanks, Mike)

Also note that Microsoft Office 2007 lets you post to a blog, and include some pretty cool features.  So does Flock. There are also some Firefox extensions:

  • Performancing Heavy duty extension with all the bells and whistles
  • Deepest Sender instead of having to go to the Update page on LiveJournal/WordPress/Blogger/whatever, or loading up a separate client program, all you have to do is hit Ctrl+, or click the button in your toolbar, and you can start posting.

Links

WordPress has a list of blogging clients here. No mention of support for pages.

Another good list here.

ten mov.es

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The Loose Wire empire groweth, with the soft launch this week of another blog, a sister site to tenminut.es called ten mov.es.

The idea behind it is simple: how to do stuff in ten moves or less.

The idea behind it grew from frustration that I couldn’t easily find instructions about how to do things, from simple things like using RSS, to very specific things to adding someone’s online photo to an Outlook contact. When users asked me how to do something like this, or I figured how to do something once and then promptly forgot how, I figured it may as well be a website in its own right.

I’ve tried to make the moves as easy as possible, and to accompany them with screenshots where I can. If you’ve got suggestions of your own I’d love to hear them. I added two new items today: sending SMS messages from your computer and sending files quickly from one place to another in XP.

Subscribers to the Loose Wire Service, Loose Wire’s weekly column for print publications, may use any of the items, and the screenshots, from tenmov.es and tenminut.es as part of their quota. Please let me know which items you’d like to use.

Keys to the Kingdom

In this week’s Loose Wire Service column (which runs in print publications, more here), I write about those unsung heroes of productivity: programs that store globs of text for you so you don’t have to keep typing the same thing.

Last time I talked about how the keyboard is often a quicker way to launch programs and open files than the mouse. It’s just a question of knowing how. This time around I’d like to take the idea a step further: using the keyboard to cut down your usage of the keyboard.

A lot of what we type is the same: Our name. Our address. Thank you letters to Aunt Gertrude. Disclaimers. These are all tasks we could outsource. But to whom?

Well, it depends a bit on what you’re doing. If you’re working in something like Microsoft Word, you’ll find that there are features that let you insert chunks of text just by hitting a couple of keys. While this used to be straightforward enough in earlier versions of Word but it’s gotten more complicated in the latest version.

In fact, the feature is not included; you need to add it to the toolbar at the top of the Microsoft Word window (the program’s help will tell you how.) Once that’s done, though, it’s straightforward enough. Just select the text (and any graphics) you want to reproduce, and then hit the autotext button. Give the selection a name, and next time you want to insert it, just click on the autotext button and then the name of the saved text.

Microsoft, however, clearly don’t consider this an important feature, since they’ve dropped the best bit: being able to recall — i.e., insert — the text by not leaving the keyboard. This used to be done by assigning the block of text a keystroke code — dc, for example, to insert a standard disclaimer text — and then typing it and hitting Enter. Word 2007 won’t let you do that. (OpenOffice’s free office suite will, but the feature is not particularly easy to figure out, so I wouldn’t recommend it.)

The problem with doing this is that any text you save can only be retrieved inside the program itself. Which makes it less of a time-saver and more of a time-waster. So if you’re writing an email, for example, you can’t access the text you stored in Microsoft Word. A better solution is to use a program that will insert text wherever you are.

This is where I’d recommend something called Texter, a free program created by the website Lifehacker (itself well worth a visit). Once installed, the software sits in your system tray (the bottom right hand corner of the screen) until you either double click or right click on the icon.

Adding text is straightforward: Just select the text you want to save, add a “hotstring” the keystrokes you want to use to recall it (dc, for example), and then the “trigger” — the key you hit after the hotstring to insert the text (you have the choice of Enter, Tab, Space or, none — meaning your saved text will be inserted straightaway.

Texter works well — and has lots of extra features you can explore. It won’t handle large blocks of text, however: It’s best for small bits of oft-typed text, like a note to typesetters to convert text to italics, or a sign-off (Best regards, Humphrey”).

A more powerful, and commercially minded, alternative is something called ActiveWords ($50), which allows you to do a lot more. (Think of it as developing macros for the less techy of us. Macros are scripts which automate oft-repeated functions or series of functions, like opening an email and replying to it, or selecting a word and then having your browser automatically look up the word on Google.)

ActiveWords also lets you do what I was talking about in my last column — assigning shortcuts to launching programs or opening files. It’s a wonderful piece of software and, if used well, removes the need to ever force your fingers to leave the keyboard. But it’s not worth getting unless you plan to make major changes to the way you work.

I use it for loading files buried in distant folders and for template text I sent to PR companies (though never readers; you get only my full un-scripted attention. Promise.), for inserting phone numbers (I can never remember my phone numbers for some reason) and addresses, as well as for more ambitious tasks like moving text from one program to another.

I’d suggest you start out with Texter and start building a list of the words, sentences or other text that you find yourself typing a lot. If you’re really getting into it a tryout of ActiveWords might be on the cards (the trial is for 60 days, rather than the usual 30; a smart move, since it might take you that long to really appreciate its power.)

A word of warning: Don’t put anything sacred or secret in one of your text strings in any of these programs. It’s tempting to store passwords and bank account numbers and other hard-to-remember and sensitive data.

If you’re looking for something that does that, you might want to check out RoboForm ($30) that can memorize passwords, fill in registration forms quickly and will encrypt your data. RoboForm will work in Internet Explorer and Firefox (Opera, another browser I must have recommended in the past because my wife uses it religiously, isn’t mentioned.)

The trick with these programs is not to dedicate a day to inserting lots of text strings you may never use, but to look over your own shoulder as you work and notice what text you type a lot of. Then get into the habit of saving that in whichever program you decide to use, and assigning a keystroke combination that makes sense to you and will be easy to remember. I guarantee you’ll save yourself time. You may even write more letters to Aunt Gertrude. I know she’d like that.

The Jakarta Post – The Journal of Indonesia Today

Breaking Down Resistance

Here’s a piece i missed from the International Herald Tribune by Phyllis Korkki that does a great job of looking at the problems that people increasingly face: technology. Not everyone likes it or understands it, and it’s not easy for them to find out how to do what they need to do. Here are a couple of snippets I particularly liked:

If you are uncomfortable around new technology, you may be learning at a “keystroke level” instead of a conceptual level, said Deborah Compeau, associate professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. 

Fearful learners “want to have a piece of paper that tells them what buttons to push in what order,” she said. This leaves them unprepared for errors and impasses, which are inevitable.

This is true; I’ve been working on these kind of crib sheets for some time now, and I’m not sure they are always the best way for people to learn. It’s like a map through a maze that doesn’t contain any paths beyond the route you’re supposed to take: no use you if you take a wrong turn and get lost.

Talking of which, Compeau points to what I think is the best approach in getting ideas across:

A good teacher creates analogies that make it easier for nontechnical thinkers to understand how a system works; for example, by comparing a hard drive to a filing cabinet, and directories to the drawers of the cabinet, she said.

This is what I’ve tried to do in my WSJ.com column (which comes to an end at the end of this month, sadly.) It’s not always easy to find the right analogy, and they don’t always work, but I suspect it’s the best approach.

Have a good holiday.

Tips for the tech-averse – Print Version – International Herald Tribune

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Leaky Laptop

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My friend has brown gunk leaking out of the bottom of her laptop. I’m not able to see it in person, but the above is what it looks like. She says that nothing has spilled on her laptop, but that’s the only explanation I can think of. Could it be something else?

Grynx has a couple of interesting posts on this kind of thing: One post describes rain getting in to a router:

It didn’t look that bad from the outside, but gee it really looked bad on the inside. The brown gook is what was left after the water dried. It seems like the water wasn’t that clean and that it contained a lot of minerals which has rusted.

He points out that the problem is not the water:

The water in itself is not your enemy but what is contained inside the water is. Especially the minerals which will be left after the water evaporates and in this case it went really bad as the minerals decided to corrugate.

I can only assume this is what has happened to my friend’s laptop. Over time the water has gone but left behind the minerals which have corroded the circuitry inside. What can be done about it? Well, the best thing would be to take it in for servicing, but if you wanted to try to resolve the problem itself, there are some interesting solutions among the responses to the post, and in this post on cleaning a laptop that has suffered from a wine or soft drink spill.

Among the tips:

  • Clean the laptop as soon as you’ve spilled something. Don’t just dry it out and think the problem’s gone.
  • As soon as you have done the spill, turn the laptop off and disconnect the power. Remove the battery.
  • The key is washing off the residues. Suggestions: compressed air, rubbing alcohol (which contains Isopropyl alcohol), contact cleaner, WD-40, distilled/deionized water.
  • When you dry it out, leave it for several days. Use a hairdryer and/or compressed air as well.

There’s another video here on cleaning up a spillage from eHow.com.

All these stories, however, have the computer/device not functioning. My friend’s does. But with that kind of gunk coming through, I can’t help feeling its days are numbered.

Update: Apparently, it’s not a liquid spill but a partial melt of the rubber seal around the hard drive, a problem not uncommon in the model (a Toshiba Portege R100.) It explains why the machine is still functioning, for now. Sounds like a design fault they need to fix.

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Flying Cheapskates

A few weeks back I wrote in WSJ.com about Bezurk.com, a great travel website that’s on a par, if not better, than Kayak, Sidestep, Zuji and Yahoo! FareChase.

Here’s what I wrote:

What I like about Bezurk’s site is that it follows what I think are the best unwritten rules of Web 2.0, the new, more social and interactive generation of Internet services: It’s simple, intuitive and does its best not to bother you. It doesn’t require lots of hitting the refresh or back buttons. It doesn’t include deals that aren’t available or seats that are already sold.

Bezurk also doesn’t require you to click on page after page of “refining” questions — “Do you require a vegetarian menu? Would you consider flying from an airport that is actually on the other side of the country?” — before coming back with the predictable punchline, “No results found.” I also like the fact that the price including tax is also given, where possible, below the quoted price: In many cases this adds 50% to the fare.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work particularly well with flights in North Asia, and with those out of the U.S. and Europe. For now. They promise improvements on this, and I think they’re going to be quite soon. They also miss out on one or two budget airlines, for which I’d suggest AirNinja.com which won’t give you all the flight details, but will at least tell you which budget airlines fly the route you’re looking to take, and link you to the website.

Says Seattle-based John Hostetler, who runs the site:

AirNinja shows flights that aren’t found on the major travel sites and fills in the gaps left by major carriers. I’ve traveled extensively throughout Europe and booked flights for slightly more than the cost of taxes and found direct flights that I couldn’t find elsewhere. This is present in Asia as well.

Worth trying out.

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How to Convert Word 2007 Docs for Macs

A few readers have asked how to convert Word documents created in the new Microsoft Open Office XML Format with the docx extension so they can read them on a Mac. The answer: awkwardly.

Windows users have a converter they can download.

The Microsoft Mac team promised something similar back in December and yet haven’t, as far as I can see, delivered.

Into the gap have stepped some third party developers:

  • Docx Converter will convert a Microsoft Office .docx file into a simple html file. (It strips out some of the formatting, but now supports bold, italic, and underlined text. Left, right, center, and justified alignment etc.) A Mac widget is also available.
  • docx2doc allows you to upload a docx document It was free, but apparently seems to be in such high demand it now costs either $1 or $2 per document converted. Payment is via PayPal; upon payment you’ll receive a download link via email.  
  • Panergy’s docXconverter sounds more straightforward, but will cost you: $20 or $30 for two years of maintenance and upgrades. We should hope Microsoft won’t be that long to come out with their own converter.

None of these is perfect; we shouldn’t have to hand over money just to read a document. Of course the best solution is to save documents in the old doc format if you’re going to share them with other people.

Thanks to these sites, and the comments on them, for pointers: CreativeIQ, APC Mag an Lifehacker.

Getting Your Treo in Sync via USB

Here’s another one of those public service announcements for a very specific problem. Skip it if you haven’t had problems not being able to synchronize your Treo with a PC. In some cases an error message will appear “USB device not recognized” or somesuch. Here’s what worked for my Treo 650, after lots of messing about with more complicated solutions that didn’t (thanks to Palm for some of these, as well as some forums here and here):

  • First off, try removing the USB cable and sticking it back in again.
  • Try sticking the cable in a different port.
  • Try a different cable. The cable that comes with the Treo is notoriously unreliable.
  • Soft reset the Treo and try again. (Worked for me.)
  • Take battery out of Treo and leave for a few minutes.
  • Try synchronizing via Infrared. If this works, at least you’ve got a backup and you know the problem  is not terminal.
  • Reboot your PC and try again.
  • Try cleaning the connector on your Treo. This can get dirty. Be careful. Use an eraser or a soft cloth. Or lick it.
  • Reinstall your Palm Deskop (rebooting after uninstalling before reinstalling.)
  • Hard reset the Treo.

My rule of thumb with fixing things like this. Try the simplest first. Don’t follow radical advice of people on forums (reinstalling Windows XP, drivers for your motherboard, replacing parents) unless you’ve tried every possible simpler solution first. Remember the simplest answer is probably the right one.

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Podcast: How To Find Your Way Around

Here’s

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I recorded for the BBC World Service Business Daily show on StumbleUpon, a service that allows you to wander the Internet via signposts left by others. Email me if you’d like the transcript

If you want to subscribe to an RSS feed of this podcast you can do so here, or it can be found on iTunes. My Loose Wire column for The Wall Street Journal Asia and WSJ.com, can be found here (subscription only; sorry.)

Thanks for listening, and comments, as ever, welcome.

To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.
Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741
East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132.

My pieces usually appear on Wednesdays.