Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Copy Editors Matter

Over the years, I’ve worked on a number of publications (training courses, books, etc) that have had copy editors as part of the process. Most were pretty good, and I personally learned a lot about how to write better (my blog could probably use one too!). I’ve always had, as an objective, to give the CE nothing to comment on – but this rarely happened. The Washington Post has a great article, On Copy Editing that  explains why copy editors are so valuable. Makes interesting  reading.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Live Writer “Blog This” add-on still not working in FireFox v3 – but there is a solution!

Some time ago, I blogged about the neat “blog this” addition to FireFox not working in FireFox 3. You can see information from Microsoft about this add-on here. Well, it’s a couple of months later, and the add-on still seems to not be working. The add-on installs fine, but when you look at the add-ons dialog (tools/add-ons), it states this add-on is not compatible with FireFox 3.0.1 in my case).

Looking at the reviews on the MS Live Writer web site, I’m not the only person with difficulties using this add-on (although you will have to select ‘all reviews to see the ones critical of this not working with FireFox 3). Please MS – fix this???

Having said that, there is a work around is supposed to enable the add-on.

  1. Download the Blog This installer from the MS site.
  2. Close FireFox 3.
  3. Run the Blog This installer.
  4. Without starting FireFox, open the following file in Notepad: C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Writer\BlogThis\Mozilla Firefox\install.rdf
  5. Change <em:maxVersion>3.0</em:maxVersion> to <em:maxVersion>3.0+</em:maxVersion>.
  6. Start Firefox.
  7. If you still don’t see the new icon, click on View>Toolbars>Customize. from the "Customize Toolbars window, drag Blog-This icon out to to the menu bar in FireFox. Hey Presto.

Note that in step 4, the location is in the X86 branch since my workstation is a tricked-out Windows Server 2008 X64 and I’m running the Life Writer Technical Preview. You may need to look in different folders for install.rdf if you are running on a different platform. Sadly this work around is broken too and does not work on either my x86 or x64 boxes.

Please MS – fix this!!!

Some good news - there’s another 3rd party add-on, Live WriterFox that DOES work and I’ve installed it on all my systems. Get it from

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on PowerShell Plus

I wrote about PowerShell Plus on Monday on my personal blog, and have been using it this week to create additional MSDN samples. I have to say that it’s a seriously good product. Like all betas, there are some minor niggles, but the product itself is very much on the right side of very good!

Some features I particularly like:

  • Debugging support – in the script editor, you can set break points easily and intuitively. When at a breakpoint you can get/set variables, etc.
  • Code Signing support – this is nice. You easily select a code signing cert (or generate a self signed cert!) and apply it. PowerShell Plus then signs the script whenever you save.
  • Learning Centre – there is some great info here.
  • History is ‘smart’. You can view history and click on individual lines in the history and have them executed.
  • Intellisense – this is something I find very useful in Visual Studio and it’s equally valuable here!

I first got PowerShell Plus working on my XP Laptop, and today have set it up on my main X64 Windows Server 2008 workstation. It’s not so good on XP, as there are some missing APIs, but on Server 2008 it rocks. I suppose it works well under Vista (i.e. better than on XP), but I do not use Vista here so can’t comment.

All in all, this is an excellent product. When I first saw it and started playing with it, I wasn’t so convinced of the price point. But at US$79.00 (the price for beta testers) I think this is about right.

One niggle over price, it’s actually US$79 plus a US$15.8 “maintenance” charge. Personally, I’d prefer to see a single price (i.e. US$79) and a free update policy for each version. That is, version 2.1, 2.2 upgrades from 2.0 being free, but when Idera bring out a Version 3, then there’s an upgrade cost. They probably make the same amount over time, but it feels a bit dirty to ask for maintenance up front. And if they do need to bundle that extra charge, then why not just charge US$95 for the package and bundle the maintenance for ‘free’.

This is a good product, whether it’s US$79 or US$95! I will probably end up getting the RTM version!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Idera – PowerShellPlus Professional in Beta

Idera has just released a beta of their latest version of PowerShell Plus, which you can download  now from
PS+ is a scripting GUI aimed to help both admins and developers make the best of PowerShell. PS+ has an interactive console, an advanced script editor and a comprehensive learning centre. For those that know it, PowerShellPlus Professional Edition is built on the backbone of PowerShell IDE.
The beta edition is currently free but the final version will be commercial. Idera are offering a good discount on the final version to beta testers. This looks to be a nice product (and I’m using it already!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Windows-based Format Utility for HP USB Stick

Some years ago, HP created a neat utility to format USB sticks – including formatting them using NTFS (something that XP/Server 2003 does not do). I first wrote  about this utility in May 2005, and again in late 2006. Originally released by HP for their USB  memory sticks, the utility appears to have been removed from the HP site. The name of the utility is: HPUSBFW.EXE, and a quick Google search yields several places you can download it from. I got the utility some years back from the HP site and it’s still working fine (just formatted a 2gb memory stick this morning to NTFS). No idea what the legalities of obtaining this HP utility form other non-HP sites, so tread carefully.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Using Google Docs

This is ‘article weekend” – the time I spend each month penning articles. This is a busy weekend as I have an article for my Windows column due for ESM as well as a shorter  “Pro Virtulisation” piece also for ESM. The article is about Microsoft Optimisation and is due tomorrow.

For fun, I used Google Docs to write the article. In short, consider me underwhelmed. It was an interesting experiment, but Microsoft has not lost another Office customer – I had to use Word to clean up the article ready for publication.

My first gripe with the word processing bit of Google Docs is that there’s no styles or style sheet. My articles have a very simple set of styles (around 6-7 in all). Nothing very fancy – most of the real work is done by the publisher, but my style sheet is important. I rely on those few styles – but with Google Docs there are none. So before sending the doc off, I had to spend 15 minutes to tidy it up.

I also found it quite slow – I’d start typing and it could take 2-3 seconds before the text would start to appear on the page. This was somewhat disconcerting as I’m used to seeing things immediately when using smart clients like Word and Live Writer.

Google Docs also doesn’t play well with FireFox 3’s built in spelling checker. When editing a typo in a bullet list, the sell check is not active. Given my appalling spelling and typing, this is not a good thing.

And one very uncomfortable thing – several times, when saving, I got an error saying the document could not be saved. While lack of features is a problem, unreliability is a serious issue. If I can’t be confident of my data’s security, then cloud computing is not an option.

What I DID Like about it was the ability to access the document everywhere. I was able to use a PC in a classroom to add some content I found while searching at Lunch time. Previously, I’d have had to either remember of mail myself the link. The always available nature is compelling.

In summary, while there were some good things, I don’t think I’ll be using Google Docs to do the main writing. What I will probably do is to outline the document in Google Docs, then download what I’ve created in to Word to do the actual writing.

Another Ping.FM test

Last one failed, will this one work?