Tag Archives: blogging

Pixelpumper – a Windows Live Writer / Marsedit alternative offline WordPress editor for Mac

I’ve been loath to invest in Marsedit when my blogging is so intermittent and patch but have been enjoying my attempts with Pixelpumper – a super clean, super simple offline blog editor for OSX. It has a clean, modern UI and thus far seems fairly idiot proof.

It is pretty light on options in its free mode (it has a ‘nerd mode’ for the keen, for premium purchase), but thus far is doing a reasonable job at helping me get back into it. It is annoying that ‘CMD-K’ does strikethrough instead of hyperlink, though, will need to figure that one out.

Dealing with negative commenters

One of the consequences of the BBC’s redirecting a large swathe of the discussion around its television shows to bloggers writing about them is that instead of the BBC having to manage the comments and discussion around the shows, people like me do. Unlike the BBC, I don’t have a massively evolved comments policy – before I wrote about Outcasts, I’d had a total of 500 comments on my blog in 8 years, most of them from me, replying to the occasional comment from someone random.

Then my blog posts about Outcasts and its cancellation and the Apprentice came and I tripled the number of comments on my blog in a few months. And it wasn’t a problem, as for the most part people were quite  nice – venting mutually in their upset over the Outcasts cancellation or offering an opinion on Lord Sugar’s judgments, mostly ignoring what I’d written, often tacitly thinking or hoping the BBC would read their comment here (no evidence of this as yet) or whatever. Again, no issues.

But now I’ve written about Torchwood, a show that’s upset some people because of a number of (not particularly graphic) scenes of gay sex, arguably slow pacing and a distinct lack of a single dramatic monster-shaped climax each week (I’ll write a defense of the show soon, because I think its better than people are giving it credit for, but want to see it play out first).

But the comments situation has me scratching my head… a significant number of the comments are prefaced with "I’m not a homophobe, but…," a few are straight out "gay sex is wrong my kids can’t watch that" (despite Torchwood being a post-watershed adult-targeted programme). Do I let these comments through? Do I bin them? After all, even if some of these people are narrow-minded (IMHO) conservatives, they have a right to an opinion, don’t they? Then part of me thinks "this is my site, and I can control it all however I like. Bwahahahaha…"

Truth be told, I don’t have enough time to moderate these comments carefully enough, and the nuances of what constitutes hate speech are probably beyond the spare minute or two I have to go back through the comments and delete stuff. But for those uncertain, I’d like Currybet’s rule for news website commenting to apply here. The golden rule: “don’t be a dick.” This is a nice place, for nice people to have reasoned discussion. Follow Mr Bet’s helpful flowchart to check if you are being a dick, in case you’re not sure. A minority of you on the Torchwood posts? You’re definitely being dicks.

The heartening thing in all of this is that there are a number of stalwart defenders of the show and the choices its made calling people out for being narrow-minded et al. Hoorah for you, good people*. You’ve helped me maintain my faith in the Interwebs.

The ease of anonymity and the impersonal nature of website commenting still makes it too easy for people to Troll or vent in unpleasant ways they wouldn’t do in real life. I’m open to suggestions on how to make this harder on here… Facebook comments/true name policy only/non disposable identities only?

* I should flag: I am very happy for people to take any of my opinions and the show (or anything else I write about) to task; that’s why I enable comments. The world is made of differing opinions. But I don’t have time or the emotional energy to deal with people being dicks, so please abide by that rule if you can.

Smartphone blogging at Coolsmartphone.com

CoolsmartphonePNGIt was around nine years ago that I bought my first ever smartphone – an Orange SPV, built for the French mobile company by the fledgling High Tech Corporation (spot today’s more famous acronym in there), running Microsoft Smartphone 2002 software. In the absence of a great deal of information about the new platform, I turned to a new website run by a fellow SPV fan that covered all things Microsoft Smartphone – which eventually became the popular smartphone blog Coolsmartphone.com.

Today, having abandoned the Microsoft smartphone platform in favour of the Apple beast, I’m joining a group of other enthusiasts to contribute iPhone and iPad reviews to Coolsmartphone.com. I’m grateful to Leigh Geary, the site owner – for the opportunity, and thrilled to have an outlet for my smartphone ramblings other than division6 – I suspect most faithful readers will be rather pleased that some of the smartphone updates, at least, will go elsewhere.

I’ll let you know when I get started but if there’s any app you’d like my thoughts on, let me know and I’ll look into it. I’ll mostly be looking for the charity of PRs promoting apps to send me download vouchers and/or interesting pitches to new apps (and won’t be covering any of my agency’s, Brands2Life, clients’ apps in the interests of avoiding conflicts anywhere). You can reach me on my shiny new mailbox for that – armand [at] coolsmartphone.com!

How to be a prolific blogger

People have asked me how I’m being so prolific on the blog. Well, other than the fact I have 2 hours on a train most days and have the time to tap out thoughts, here’s what I’m doing – three broadly practical and three psychological things:

  1. Making quick notes on Evernote every time a post idea occurs – on a PC, Mac or iPhone
  2. Capturing and clipping links in both Evernote and Google Reader
  3. Blogging in plain text in Evernote (on a Mac), then publishing using Windows Live Writer, pulling shareable images from Flickr or elsewhere to illustrate the stories and adding additional links


  1. Being more curious in conversations with colleagues, friends and strangers
  2. Picking and choosing which posts I want to build out and research in full as I go
  3. Forcing myself to write as often as I can so I don’t build up any kind of weird blogging self-consciousness

The readership of the blog has gone up substantially since last December – averaging just over 200 visits a day – and I’m enjoying the occasional interaction in the comments as well as the increased store of knowledge I’m getting on all things. Tony Buzan was right – adults aren’t curious enough – but having a blog to write seems to fuel that thirst for knowledge, and maybe I’ll be able to keep up with my daughter…

Novel writing and word counts

wordcountOver the course of my sabbatical, despite initial enthusiasm and mind-map fun, I lost steam for the longstanding dream of writing a novel. The process seemed too complex and beyond the time and word count capabilities of a working dad with too many other hobbies.

However, as my obsessive blogging over the last couple of months has demonstrated, I’m capable of churning out a few words on the commute, on blog-friendly topics, AND research them, link to them, tweet about them etc. Out of curiosity as to exactly how prolific I had been, I installed a word count plugin, which revealed that, of the 210,000 words or so I’ve produced in the last 8 or so years of blogging, an astonishing 38,000 were produced in the last four months – 22,000 of which in the month and a half after I returned from sabbatical.

Which was a bit higher than I expected.

I might think about opening a new Evernote with story ideas and see if I can build up a head of steam blogging simple short stories… and if those go nowhere, finally write off [sic] the idea… I might even wheel out the writer’s block….

On the greatness of Kenji Alt-Lopez, food blogger supremo

NYC: Meatopia - J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Kenji’s posts on all things food continue to be nothing less than inspired. I still use some of his tips for making the perfect french fries for my roast potatoes (add vinegar to let you par-boil for longer without losing structural integrity), his posts on pizza, burgers and general knife and other skills inform an increasing number of aspects of my cooking. Let this post serve as the beginnings of a tribute.

The posts that inspired this one were two fold; first, Kenji’s efforts at improving the Big Mac – genius! The scientific method here – rather than the letter of the process that our friends Messrs Blumenthal and Myrhvold espouse, provides a wonderful, iterative, Macgyvery feel to the way he reverse engineers a food classic.

Secondly – Pizzagna. So wrong, and yet so right. Almost something that should appear on Epic Meal Time – but because it comes from Kenji I actually kind of want to eat it.

Be assured, however, the majority of his posts are on more everyday helpful things, including avocado knife skills and general basic cooking principles, so he’s a resource for the world, not just fast food aficionados.

Anyway, if you’re interested in food you should follow Kenji’s work across the Serious Eats blogs. Despite the moderately US-centric nature of it, a lot of the content is fascinating and useful wherever you are – and he seems a pretty global-outlook-kind-of-guy, so there’s some International content too.

Coming soon: a dictionary to help interpret American food names for Brits. And vice-versa.

Crowdsourced and 100% delicious.

Commute blogging

The increased volume of blogging despite the fact I’m back to work is down to the MacBook Air and 3G card. I rattle off a few posts into Evernote, then refine and publish when time allows, adding links and correcting stuff. It works brilliantly when I get a seat (and don’t have more pressing work bits to contend with).

Hope you’re enjoying it. Any requests or feedback appreciated.


Windows Live Writer for Mac? Blogging clients for Macs

I’m learning a few things about Macs these days, and one of them is that free blogging clients are not quite as easy to find as they are for Windows. Marsedit, one of the major options available through the App Store, costs the best part of 30 pounds!

Thanks to the WordPress Codex, though, I’ve found Qumana. Nowhere nearly as powerful as Windows Live Writer and I need to work out the keyboard shortcuts… but its a start, and free!


Jetpack.me & WordPress support

Given the ludicrous traffic levels I’ve had over the last few weeks I’ve been a bit more than usually interested in my traffic stats, and check both Google Analytics and WordPress.com stats (enabled via a plugin) to get a sense of what people are reading. A bug disabled the WordPress stats and a forum post suggested I email WordPress support – which I duly did, received prompt, polite, accurate responses from a few admins there, and was pointed in the direction of a new plugin set – Jetpack.me – which adds an HTML5 stats dashboard (checkable on iPhone/iPad) and a bunch of other features to a WordPress self-installed edition, powered by the cloud – including URL shortening, sharing tools, embed tools and more.

Good on ya, WordPress folk – thanks! And if you run a WP self-install, you should check out Jetpack – a very useful package!