Ecto - Desktop blogging software

March 07, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

ecto-logo.png I'm still in the process of deciding what software to use on my machine since my transition back to using a Mac. Today, I installed "ecto", a desktop/offline blog editor. If you blog and you haven't tried this type of software, you really should. As nice as the browser editors in blogging software has gotten, the desktop experience for creating blog posts is a even better.

A few of the high points:

  • You don't have to be online.
    Posts are created and edited "locally" on your computer with no need for an internet connection. While you could do this type of offline editing with a word processor that would mean having to jump through additional hoops later. With software like ecto, you simply hit a "Publish" button when you have a connection and are ready to send the post to your blog.
  • Software on your computer move faster.
    Browser based editors are decently fast but they have to communicate with a remote server which causes latency. These delays are usually minimal, but compared to software that is running directly on your computer it's a dramatic difference.
  • Software on your computer behaves better.
    The online edit pages for blogs try their best to prevent you from doing stupid things, but they are limited by the the functionality that's built into the browser they are running in. It's all too easy to select and delete text that you can't get back via "Undo" or to navigate away from a page and loose an entire post. The safeguards protecting you from yourself from this kind of behavior are more robust when using local software. They can't entirely prevent you from doing something stupid and loosing a bunch of work, but they are better at preventing it.

While there are other advantages, those are the main ones I've in the short time I've been using desktop blogging software.


Ecto is the second piece of desktop blogging software I'm trying out. The first one was "Mars Edit". The biggest difference right off the back is that ecto has a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get edit window. Mars Edit is a basically an HTML editor. While I'm a geek and can easily move around in code, when I'm making blog posts I much prefer a W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. editor.

Writing and thinking about code are two different mental modes. Even if you are really good at both, having to switch gears imposes a state change cost on your mental processing. It's a great way to break concentration and kill a thought before you get it out.

Both Ecto and Mars Edit are commercial pieces of software which cost $19.95 and $29.95, respectively. While I'm a huge fan of Free and Open Source Software, I've got no problem paying a reasonable price for good software. Especially when there isn't a viable Open Source alternative. Just based on the W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G editor in ecto, I'm probably going to purchase it after the trail expires. It's well worth $20 to gain the benefits of as desktop blog editor.


New Music: Happy Up Here by Royksopp

February 27, 2009

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I really like the video. The song is groovy, and I like it too. I probably would have liked the song on its own, but it got a nice bump from the video. The visuals are so good they definitely influenced my first opinion.

Happy Up Here from Röyksopp on Vimeo.


Clips of content

February 26, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

There has been an increasing trend of video used for posts on the web recently. Often, this is taking the "embed" code and putting a video from youTube or a youTube clone on another site. This easy clipping of content continues to filter out as more and more people see clips they like and copy them over. For the most part, these don't require any work. It's just a simple copy and paste job. Then, there's folks who talk the source video and clip and reassemble themselves to create a new peice of content. Call it Remix, Mashup or whatever, this type of clipping can also provide some very entertaining results. Two examples are below. In case you haven't seen The Sopranos and don't get the meaning of uncensored, you now have fair warning that there is a lot of dialog that's not safe for the office. In fact, damn near all of it is considering the clip is billed as every curse word from every episode of the show. the sopranos, uncensored. from victor solomon on Vimeo What from Lost

Kudos to the folks who put these together for taking the time to do it. They have much more patients than I.


Sony's Latest Electronic Gaget (from The Onion)

February 25, 2009

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NSFW Language, but well worth it if your ears aren't too sensitive. embed src="http://www.theonion.com/content/themes/common/assets/onn_embed/embedded_player.swf"type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" wmode="transparent" width="480" height="430"flashvars="image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theonion.com%2Fcontent%2Ffiles%2Fimages%2FSONY_FUCK_article3_0.jpg&videoid=93143&title=Sony%20Releases%20New%20Stupid%20Piece%20Of%20Shit%20That%20Doesn%27t%20Fucking%20Work">


Roxanne thru Songsmith

February 17, 2009

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If you haven't already heard about Microsoft's Songsmith, you can check out the the official Microsoft Research Songsmith page for a quick video about it. Basically, you feed it vocals and it comes up with music for you. I thought it was a joke when I first saw it, but it's real. Several folks around the net have taken to feeding it the vocal tracks from popular songs and seeing what it comes up with. Everyone I have heard has been universally bad. Some have been at least entertaining, but a few actually like Running with the Devil actually hurt my brain a little. Another example that isn't quite as bad is this version of The Police's "Roxanne": While it doesn't cause physical pain, it seems to go on forever. Normally, Roxanne isn't that long a song. With the Robo-Latin beat produced by Songsmith, Microsoft has managed to find a way to slow time.


We should all carry wedges

February 05, 2009

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wobble-wedge.jpgSaw these Wobble Wedges on Cool Tools. These things could make great promotional tchotchkes that would actually serve a practical purpose. Print a logo, web site and a slogan like "Stability brought to you by ACME Computer Systems" on them and pass them out. I'd be happy to keep a handful in my bag and leave them stuck under tables where ever they are needed. In coffee shops and restaurants tables get jostled around enough that you can be confident they would get bumped out of place from time to time and have to be put back in place. The brand message would get seen on a regular basis and associated with a "well isn't that thoughtful" idea.


Fixing Perl's CPAN on Mac OS X Leopard

February 04, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

perl-camel.pngOne of the main languages I use for programming quick fixes is called "Perl". One thing that makes it so powerful is that there exists a huge number of modules for helping you do things that Perl doesn't do itself right out of the box. The easiest way to install the additional modules is with a core module called CPAN. Basically, you just tell the CPAN module what you want to install and it goes out to the web to find what you want, downloads it and then installs it. While it's not difficult to do all that stuff yourself, it's much faster to let CPAN handle all the steps for you automatically. At least, as long as it works.


While trying to add a new module today at work, CPAN couldn't manage to get to the outside world. Every time it tried to get a file, it would take so long CPAN timing out and give up. I was browsing the net and could actually get to the files CPAN was looking for directly with my browser. So, I knew it wasn't an issue with the connection, but had to be something to do with CPAN itself. This is a classic example of how hunting for one little computer issue can take a huge amount of time. I spent over two hours tracking down what was going on. It turns out that one of Perl's configuration files was set so that FTP processes wouldn't be in "Passive Mode". The fix was to open the file "/System/Library/Perl/5.8.8/Net/Config.pm" and change the line: ftp_int_passive => 0, to: ftp_int_passive => 1,


After changing that setting, CPAN is working like a champ. The two parts of this that boggle the mind: 1) that a single digit makes such a big difference and 2) that it's actually possible to figure that out the issue with that one digit and what to do about it thanks to the net. (Note: the main reason for this post is to hopefully help other people who have the same problem find the answer in less than two hours. This fix is for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard when CPAN times out trying to load files like "01mailrc.txt.gz".)


New Music: I Saved an Airplane by Cat Scientist

January 29, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

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I Saved An Airplane - Cat Scientist Found via the SXSW Music sampler. (After digging around a little for more info on the band, sadly it looks like they are no longer together.)


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