Trying out Windows Live Writer

Scott Hanselman has been trumpeting Windows Live Writer for some time now.  I’ve been hesitant to try it out because I’m a control freak and I was convinced that Live Writer wouldn’t do things correctly.  Well, he blogged about it again today so I’m giving it a try (with this post).  It was the comments on his post that swayed me.

Live Writer has improved quite a bit since last time I tried it.  It actually pulled down my WordPress theme in order to provide a themed preview, which isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to get an idea.  Adding categories and tags is really simple, with type-ahead suggestions from previous posts.  It looks like it has some powerful picture, video and map embedding tools, which I will try eventually.

The thing I’m most curious about is embedding code snippets.  It looks like all of the syntax highlighting plugins are 2+ years old.  Update: I tried a couple of them and they both resulted in an awful looking table.

What I’m Working On

Here’s what I’m working on What I worked on.  Right now it’s just a basic display of feeds from some of my social networks.  I’d like to fancy it up a bit at some point, perhaps with some nice jQuery tooltips.  I’m using the SimplePie PHP library to fetch the feeds (each one asynchronously).  The design is borrowed from Popurls.  I know it’s not that interesting, but it’s fun for me.

Welcome to blog.cleverswine.net

This will be the new home of my “blog”.  I have moved it here for several reasons.  Mainly, the novelty of personal blogging has worn out and I’d really like to try out some cool new stuff on my base domain (www.cleverswine.net).  That’s not to say I’ll never write anything again.  I’ll continue to update this blog on occasion.  It’s just that I’ll be shifting focus to some other experimental things, like aggregating my web activity for display, showing photo albums, etc.  For the next couple of weeks, my base domain will be more of a development sandbox while I create random things and throw them on there.

Meanwhile, be sure to update your bookmarks and feed readers with this address.

I Know…

…this web site is way out of date. I’m working on a replacement that is less of a blog and more of an aggregator. It’s slow going due to my lack of free time lately, but it will be here one day. Meanwhile, try the links in the header for more up to date Kevin data.

What’s going on? We’re attempting to sell our house and move closer in to Portland. At the moment, we’re making some minor updates and interviewing realtors. We have not found a house to buy, and we haven’t even narrowed down a specific location yet. Right now it’s all about selling.

New Look

I found the Aeros wordpress theme, downloaded it, made some modifications, added my photos/movies/music widget, and here it is! I’ve only tested in Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 7. The font looks a bit strange in IE7… Anyway, I’ll be fiddling with it some more over time. Let me know if something doesn’t look right in your browser.

I know the sidebar isn’t very elegant (especially the photos/movies/music links). I am soooo bad at design. Fooling around with those 3 links took longer than anything else I’ve done with this update. Every time I tried to get fancy, the layout would go to hell. I have grand ideas – really.

BitNami WordPress Stack

I’ve just installed the BitNami WordPress Stack on my laptop and it was so easy, and so cool! After the install, I had a fully functioning WordPress up and running locally – complete with Apache, MySql, and PHP. After installation, I exported all of the data from cleverswine.net and imported it locally – again, super easy. As a result, I have a copy of my web site running locally that I can play around with. Sure, I could have installed Linux and set up everything that way, but I’ve had a hell of a time getting Linux to work on my laptop (I tried bleeding edge Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint). Anyway, I happen to be very pleased with Vista.

Thinking About Another Redesign

I’ve been pretty happy with the current state of cleverswine.net, but I think it’s time for a redesign. I would like to de-emphasize the blogging portion of the site and instead create something more like a portal. I use quite a few web sites that provide activity feeds (Facebook, Delicious, Amazon, Netflix, Last.fm, and Flickr to name a few). Since I rarely blog anything of interest, I’m thinking that the main content on cleverswine.net should be a summary of my online activity (a la FriendFeed). That way, it’s constantly being updated and it gives more insight into me than my shallow blog entries. To take it even further, I’d like to be able to annotate my activity (I may be able to utilize FriendFeed for that). I still want to have a traditional blog, it just wouldn’t be the main focus.

Some other things I’d like to incorporate:
*An image gallery, rather than just linking to Flickr.
*A better “Project” page, where I can more easily showcase code and projects.
*A better “Music” page, where I can post songs with annotations.
*Be able to tag different elements on the site (not just blogs) and have a nice tag cloud.

So many ideas… None of this will happen in the near future, as I have enough on plate at the moment, but I will be doing some research on the matter. I’d like to stick with WordPress, and I think that will work out.