Not only will I be writing on my own blog (this here one), but this season I will also be writing for “the official un-official fan blog of the NLL” at nllblog.tumblr.com. I will be one of at least four writers on that site; the other three are based out of Edmonton but we hope to cover the entire league, not just the Rock and Rush. This is a new site, so I’m not sure what kind of readership we will have but regardless, it’ll be fun. I will likely post any new lacrosse articles I write both here and there.
I recently upgraded my MSN Messenger to the latest version, and Microsoft was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to install a bunch of other
crap applications with it! Well, it was kind of them to ask; not every company does (lookin’ at you, Real Player). Anyway, one of the apps it asked about (and the only one I installed) was Windows Live Writer, which is essentially a WYSIWYG editor for blog postings. It has all your standard Word-like buttons for formatting text and adding images, lists (numbered and bullet), hyperlinks, tables, etc. as well as undo/redo. It also allows you to keep drafts, preview what the posting will look like when published, spell-check the article, and even add categories. It knows about the blog software you use so it can (presumably) tailor itself to what you’re using. If you’re using WordPress rather than Blogger (which I use), some WordPress-specific options may show up while Blogger-specific options would not be shown. Once you’re done, you can even publish your article directly from Live Writer – just click a button, enter your password (if you haven’t saved it), and you’re done.
One of the coolest features is the preview pane. Live Writer will download your blog’s template, and use it to generate the preview so that while you’re writing your posting, you can see exactly what it will look like once published. Blogger has a preview option as well, but it sucks. I mean it really sucks. Really. It’s just hopelessly broken. It does basic HTML formatting so that italics shows up as italics, but the font it uses is different from the one that the blog uses, tables and images aren’t formatted the same way, the width of the text area is different, it just looks nothing like the final product. Google (which owns blogger) doesn’t get much wrong with their software, but this is one area where they’ve really dropped the ball. Live Writer, on the other hand, shows the preview exactly as it will show up on the blog, complete with the sidebar, previous posts, dates, labels, links, the blog title, everything. I’m very impressed.
Before using Live Writer, I would write my blog entries in emacs using markdown format, then run it through a perl script I wrote that called markdown and did some other formatting and wrote the output to an html file. I could then preview the html file in the browser for formatting and when it was done, copy-and-paste the contents of the html file into the blogger “Create Post” page. Going from the text I was editing to the html was a two-step process – I would switch from emacs to a command shell and run fix and then start .html which would launch Firefox. From then on, I would save my edits, then go to the command shell and run fix again, then switch to Firefox and hit CTRL-R to refresh the page. This was not that big a deal, but the WYSIWYG thing is much easier and I love the accurate preview window.
I’ve used it so far to write a few blog entries (including this one) and I’m really starting to like it. The preview thing is awesome, it does spell-checking which neither emacs nor markdown do (after pasting the html on the blogger page, Firefox will do it, though I’d have to remember to actually check it before publishing), and there are plug-ins you can get to add other capabilities. For example, if you post lots of pictures or video to your blog, there are plug-ins to make those easier. One thing I don’t particularly like is font support. If you choose a different font, it uses the html tag to specify it. I don’t like the font tag – I prefer using CSS – but I rarely change fonts anyway.
Interesting note: Over the past week, I have found a couple of interesting spelling suggestions for technical words from the spell checker:
- “Unix” for “unix”
- “Xbox” for “XBox”
- “VMware” for “VMWare”
- “Perl” for “perl”
- It doesn’t know what “emacs” is (suggested “maces”)
Anyway, if you have a blog, and you use Windows (I kind of doubt that there will be Linux or Mac versions anytime soon), you may want to check this out. And by the way, in case you think this is a paid endorsement or that I’m posting this because I have friends at Microsoft or something, it’s not and I don’t. I did work at Microsoft for a four-month work term over seventeen years ago (holy crap, I’m old), and I know the guy who created Xbox Live (though he doesn’t work for Microsoft anymore), and I listen to Scott Hanselman’s podcast, but that’s about the extent of my association with Microsoft. But if anyone at Microsoft wanted to pay me after the fact for writing such a glowing review, I’d gladly take an Xbox 360. Feel free to contact me for my address.
Some actual searches that reached my blog in the last month:
- Google Search: circumcise waterpark
- Google Search: is clay buchholz uncircumcised
- Yahoo Search: “other words for penis”
- Google Search: is charlie sheen circumcised?
- Google Search: is wayne gretzky circumcised
Geez… I wrote one article on circumcision, and searches are still hitting it over two years later. It is also the current cutthechatter.com record-holder for comments, with twelve. I guess it was on the cutting edge (har).
As a comparison, an article on the circus that I wrote the same month has zero comments, and I’ve never seen a single search hit that one. I guess penises are big on the internet! Wait, that’s not what I meant…
When I changed my blog over to the new URL, I started thinking about hosting the blog myself, rather than going through blogger. My first thought was “How am I going to move the existing articles over?” I have since decided not to do this, at least for now, but while thinking about it, I realized that I had no backup of my blog entries anywhere. I thought this might be a good idea, so I looked for an export function in blogger, but there isn’t one. After a bit of searching, I found a couple of complicated methods of exporting all of your blog entries. One of these involved replacing your template with a different one, which would change the actual blog itself so that you could basically cut and paste the entire thing and then replace the template afterwards. This seemed like overkill, but then I found a comment that said something like “I just created a wordpress account and imported everything”.
I looked at wordpress and found that not only did it have an import feature that would automatically import all blog entries and comments from an existing blogger blog, but it also had an export feature which would to export your entire blog (including comments) to a single XML file. This seemed like exactly what I wanted, so I created a wordpress blog, imported everything from my blogger blog, then exported it to an XML file. The whole process took maybe 5 minutes, and I now have a 1.4 MB file containing every entry and comment on my blog from the beginning of time (also known as April 9, 2005) until January 26, 2008. I then changed my blogger setup so that it will automatically email every entry I post to my gmail account, and I’ll set up a filter there so that entries automatically get tagged as blog entries and archived so I’ll have a record of those as well.
Truth be told, I actually prefer the look of the wordpress blog to that of my blogger one. The export feature is a very nice thing that blogger doesn’t have, and I was considering switching over to use wordpress permanently, until I saw this at the bottom of wordpress’s features page:
To support the service we may occasionally show Google text ads on your blog, however we do this very rarely. In the future you’ll be able to purchase an upgrade to either turn the ads off or show your own ads and make money from your blog.
I seem to have this implicit dislike of online advertising (though I use (and love) gmail which does have ads, and I appreciate that this is how these services can be offered for free), so no thanks. If I had hundreds or thousands of readers, I could maybe see putting some ads on there for a little extra income (though having said what I said about online advertising, I might feel like I sold out to The Man). However, the way my readership numbers look now, I’d likely make nothing — the odds that either of my readers would click on anything are pretty low. Isn’t it ironic that one of the reasons that I don’t want to switch is because WordPress might show Google ads, while blogger (which is owned by Google) does not?
Another problem is that if I wanted to use http://www.cutthechatter.com (rather than cutthechatter.wordpress.com), I’d have to pay $10 / year, whereas it’s free with blogger. (Well, I have to pay for the domain itself, but I’d have to pay for that either way.) So I think that for the foreseeable future, I’ll be sticking with blogger.
I do think I will have to play around with my blogger template to make it prettier, possibly using the WordPress one as a guide.
Happy National Delurking Week! For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, “lurking” is what you do when you read a blog but never post any comments. This week, you are encouraged to post a comment, just to let me know that you’re out there.
I’ve registered the domain cutthechatter.com for my blog. The blogspot URL will redirect to http://www.cutthechatter.com, so there’s no immediate need to change any bookmarks or anything. Right now, you need to specify the www. prefix, but I’m trying to fix that. Update: This is done now, so just cutthechatter.com should redirect you to the blog as well.
The hosting is still done through blogger for now, and I have no immediate plans to change that, but someday I might.
I use mybloglog.com, which gives me stats on how people find my blog, i.e. of all the people who find my blog, where do they come from? Some of the searches that people have done to lead here are kind of interesting:
Google Search: eric lindros uncircumcised
Google Search: weird thing about linkin park
http://search.sweetim.com/search.asp?ln=en&q=OLD FILM TALKS ABOUT TWO PERSONS HAVE CANCER ONE OF THEM PLAY SKI
Google Search: which arm did anakin lose to darth tyrannus
Google Search: there is a song i heard on q107 making fun out of bryan mccabe who sings that song 2007
Google Search: 2 player can 7up vs diet coke football game
I’m frightened to ask why someone cares whether Eric Lindros is circumcised.
Incidentally, the vast majority are from Google searches. I see the occasional Yahoo search and other searches (sweetim.com I’ve never heard of), but easily 95% are from Google.