Blogging tools

This post is not a list of tools to use to make your blogging life easier.

Recently I’ve switched my primary laptop from a Lenovo to a Mac. This in turn brought with it a need to change (almost) all of the software I used, including my blogging client. I use a desktop blogging client because I still have times when I’m not online, because I appreciate the responsiveness and the feature bloat of a desktop text editor.

On Windows I used Windows Live Writer, which, contrary to most MS products, is a good one. It worked like a charm, taking me through some blog changes and merging without glitches. However, it doesn’t work on the Mac, so I had to find something else. After fiddling with the idea of using a simple text editor and a custom script to post, I ended up using the trial version of Ecto. So far it seems an OK editor, though with less (apparent) features than WLW. I say apparent because I haven’t used for long enough to get to all of the hidden features, but unless I do in the 13 days of trial left I may even consider running WLW in a virtual machine.

Oh well, the price we pay for being lazy.

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Preview handlers

I’m using Office 2007 for some time now and the ability to preview the content of some files without actually opening them in the dedicated editor is quite nice. It’s a pity that the number of supported file types is so small. A good thing is that they everyone can create such a preview handler, because the API is publicly available and documented on MSDN. So I looked around the net today for some handlers that would allow me to preview zip archives and some other common file types – like .as or .mxml. One of the interesting resources I’ve stumbled onto is a blog post that links to a msdn article and also to download the handlers demoed. Get at it here. Another pack of handlers for some of the programming language files is here.

Oh, and these handlers work for Windows Vista too, so if you have the preview pane opened, it will load a quick preview of the file in there.

Setting up subversion on Windows

svn logoToday I had something to test that required a svn repository. Since my home repository wasn’t answering my calls (well, pings actually) I decided to do a quick install of the svn server on my Windows XP box. From what I remembered it should have been simple enough.

After restarting all the process at one point, because I hadn’t paid attention to the warning about Apache 2.2, I found my Apache 2.0 refused to load the dav_svn module and couldn’t figure out why. A quick search on Google revealed the cause, but it still was annoying. Continue reading

My GTD

Sometime last year I read the Getting Things Done book by David Allen, of which all productivity blogs / sites / news was all about. And I liked it, and it made sense. Then I tried to apply it, religiously. And I failed. Several times actually:

The first time I failed because I tried looking for a tool that would fir the GTD philosophy completely and would integrate perfectly with what I use to do my work. After trying tons of software (I stay by a PC 90% of my time, so it was the logical choice) I ended up spending more time testing and customizing than actually using the system. And it was bad. Instead of helping me gtd, it was the exact opposite – I lost time, thus things I could have done.

Second time I failed because I tried to adapt my environment to fit the full GTD philosophy – e.g. tuning my Outlook and text files and batch files to match everything in GTD : contexts, processes, etc.

This was last year. As the year was ending and the new one starting, and I had more spare time, I gave good thought on why it sounded so good, but didn’t work for me. I also read some more material on this subject, and the one that touched me most was "How I GTD". And the answer was simple: I must adapt the process and the thinking to my own life style. I am not a manager nor do I have tons of contexts; I don’t have teams to manage nor a physical inbox. And my life is still not so complicated.

So I did it. I gave up trying to fit everything into clear contexts and projects.Well, actually I gave up contexts entirely, since most things went into the @computer category. I started using Chandler to create lists of to-do tasks, add events into the calendar and integrate it with my e-mail system. This way I don’t have to care if my GTD app is with me all the time or not – I can just send me an e-mail and figure out what to do with it later. I only have one inbox : my e-mail inbox. I’ve digitized most of the things in my life, so paper-based material is close to nil.

And so far, it’s working, so I’m a happy, clear-minded worker again.