Category: Software

Escape From WordPress Post Editor Prison With Windows Live Writer

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I Love You WordPress, But We Gotta Talk

WordPress is a phenomenal web-publishing platform, and I love using it. Mostly. There’s one thing I seriously dislike about it though – writing posts within the WordPress dashboard. If I had a dime for every time I’ve walked away from my computer feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by this issue, there’d be an alarming shortage of dimes circulating the U.S.

First off, when I try to write something in the WordPress post editor, I feel thoroughly confined; like trying to breakdance inside a cardboard box. Not that I’ve done much breakdancing, and certainly never inside a box, but I assume it would be a rather unpleasant experience (if you happen to be a cardboard-box-breakdancer, feel free to debunk my assumption).

The other problem for me is distraction. It’s usually a challenge for me to write under the best of circumstances, but when my visual field is bombarded by the dizzying array of links, buttons, checkboxes and empty fields available in the WP dashboard, it’s like … fuhgeddaboudit.

Yes, I’ve tried some of the common tricks to overcome these problems. First, for example, I increased the height of the post box from the default 10 lines to 20 lines. You can do this in your WP dashboard under Settings >> Writing. It was a good start, but still far from optimal; just breakdancing in a slightly bigger box.

Then I tried using fullscreen mode when writing posts. This function is available only when writing in Visual mode (rather than HTML mode). It’s activated via the little, blue button on the toolbar next to the spellcheck button. With fullscreen mode, your enlarge the post editor box to cover the entire area of your screen.

That was a better approach, but it went too far in the other direction. I can’t stand to see text spread across the full width of my screen. The other problem with fullscreen mode is you have to switch back to normal editing mode whenever you want to save your draft, which I do a lot.

Windows Live Writer to the Rescue

In my effort to find a better way, I asked almighty Google to give me a solution, and of course she did (with a memory like that, Google has to be a woman). Of all the reviews and tutorials I found on the subject of “desktop blog editors, Windows Live Writer, again and again, was pronounced the cream of the crop. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. It’s free.
  2. Easy to install and set-up.
  3. Allows you to manage multiple blogs on multiple platforms (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc).
  4. Clean, uncluttered interface.
  5. Complete WYSIWYG editing functionality.
  6. Excellent image editing functionality.
  7. Several cool, little extras like word count and spell check.

That’s a short list, and I also decided to do a brief screencast below to show you a bit more about it. Once you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d suggest you run right over, download Windows Love Live Writer, and start using it. I’m sure it’ll give you a new lease on your blogging life. It has for me.

Use Your Landline Phone for Skype Calls (Review of D-Link USB Adapter)

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Ever since I began using Skype a couple years ago, I’ve been looking for the best way to use it without being tethered to my PC by a pair of headphones. I tried the Bluetooth route, but the sound quality was less than adequate, and I could never get used to those little Bluetooth ear pieces hanging over my ear. What I really wanted was just to use my regular landline headset for Skype and regular landline calls (it’s all about integration with me).

This weekend, during a trip to BestBuy, I found a solution. It’s called the D-Link DPH-50U Skype USB Phone Adapter.

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Practically Eliminate Spam With Gmail … Even if You Have Your Own Domain

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If you’re sick of spam email and everything it takes to control it, it’s time you signed up for a Gmail account. I’ve been using Gmail for a little over a year, and it’s practically eliminated spam email for me. Sure, a few sneak through now and again, but nothing like the hundreds of bizop, porn, SEO and other spam messages I used to receive DAILY. It got to a point where I couldn’t let my daughter use the computer until I first had a chance to sanitize my Outlook Express inbox.

Anti-Spam Software Stinks

I had tried a few different spam filters, like Vanquish, but none of them really eliminated the spam problem. Yes, they “controlled” the problem, but they also gave me an additional task of checking the emails they filtered out to make sure none of them were messages I really wanted, which happened more often than I liked. I was still a victim to spam. Plus, there was the annual subscription fee. Not much, mind you – Vanquish is about 25.00 per year – but in a small business, why spend money when you don’t have to?

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46 Best Ever Free Software Utilities

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If you’re not into paying for software (like me), here’s a great list of free stuff from Gizmo Richard.

“Listed below are 46 different freeware categories with my selection of the best products in each category. The list is ordered by program function rather than merit so you’ll get the most out of it by browsing it at leisure. The pathologically impatient can consult the index.”

We will, however, forgive him in advance for choosing Internet Explorer over Firefox.

Create a Video Blog Without a Blog

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Using del.icio.us and Feedster, Derek provides a neat little trick for creating a video blog without actually having a blog.

“That gave me the idea, I don’t really need a blog, I just need an RSS feed. Del.icio.us does that. Which is even better, cause I don’t have to deal with the files. When I find an interesting video I can just tag the video url with del.icio.us and I’m done. Feedster looks at del.icio.us’ RSS feed, finds the video, puts it in the proper enclosure so it shows up in iTunes. No posting, no uploading, no cost.

To use your own video you just need to add a place to store the video file into that mix. Ourmedia.org is one of many sites that will host your content for free. Just upload your video then tag the file’s url with del.icio.us.”

The Best PDF Converter I’ve Been Able to Find

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When I created my Podsnapper Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting, I looked high and low for the perfect PDF Converter. Much to my surprise, I discovered and tried a bunch of ‘em; like maybe 20. Ultimately, I settled on a program called deskPDF Professional (link below). Continue Reading

How to Combine Bluetooth With Skype (VoIP) for Wireless Skype Calls

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As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy using Skype, the popular VoIP application that allows you to make free phone calls anywhere in the world using your computer. One drawback to using Skype – as well as any other VoIP application – is that you’re chained to your computer via your headset. And who hasn’t wanted to get up and go to the bathroom or refill your coffee cup during one of those longer conversations with your friend from Malaysia? Yes, you can ask the other party to wait as you remove your headset and go do your thing, but sometimes that’s just not practical. So, I searched high and low for a sinple and inexpensive solution that would allow me to use Skype without my mobility being limited by the length of the cord on my headset.

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