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Showing posts from 2017

Blogger... It Stinks, But It Works (Well Enough)

Blogger was amazing when I first began blogging in 2004. That’s right, there are posts on my blogs dating to the year Google relaunched the platform. Today, Blogger isn’t so great. It feels old and out-dated.

But it works and I have hundreds of posts on five Blogger-hosted blogs (1334 as of tonight). The idea of exporting and importing 13 years of posts into WordPress or Medium scares me. Should I migrate? I do not know. I’m preparing to start podcasting in 2018 and it would much easier to create podcast feeds and links within WordPress.

Blogger themes? They stink, and customizing or creating your own is a pain. I don’t like the choices, yet I don’t have the time to tweak the themes as much as I want. Even the tweaks I have made are lost too often - and that annoys me.

Blogger’s editor? It stinks. So does the formatting of posts with line breaks in place of paragraphs. Google could surely make Blogger an HTML5-compliant platform or at least use something more like TinyMCE for editing.

MarsEdit Part 2

MarsEdit and Blogger are not cooperating, and I’m uncertain if I will use MarsEdit past the trail period. Currently, what the application offers me is a way to compose drafts outside of Apple Mail, but it isn’t offering me much more than that because I use Google’s blogging platform.

Annoyances that require using a menu choice, instead of the Option pane:

Date should be included with “Post Status” for scheduling purposes.Enclosure settings should be within the editor window, along with Title.Bullet lists should be a default formatting choice, as they are common. More serious annoyances:
Paragraphs require two blank lines, even in Rich Text mode, or you must clean the code within Blogger.Images do not function properly, no matter how many experiments I have tried.  I’m not saving much time if I still need to carefully format a post in Blogger and insert images from within Google’s interface.

MarsEdit prefers WordPress, without a doubt. For Blogger, MarsEdit confusingly uses Categories as…

MarsEdit and Blogging

MarsEdit (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mailing posts to blogs, a practice I adopted in 2005, allows a blogger like me to store copies of draft posts within email. If Blogger, WordPress, or the blogging platform of the moment crashes or for some other reason eats my posts, at least I have the original drafts of most entries. I find having such a nicely organized archive convenient — much easier than remembering to archive posts from Blogger or WordPress to my computer.

With this post, I am testing MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software based on recent reviews, including an overview on 9to5Mac.

Composing posts an email offers a fast way to prepare draft blogs, but the email does not always work well if you want to include basic formatting, images, and links to online resources. Submitting to Blogger via Apple Mail often produced complex HTML with unnecessary font and paragraph formatting styles. Problems with rich text led me to convert blog entries to plaintext in Apple Mail and then format th…

What I Studied in Graduate School

Lower case ‘a’ from Adobe Caslon Pro, superposed onto some guides. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Asked to summarize my research projects...

Curiously, beyond the theses and dissertation, all my work is in economics of media and narrative. I ask what works and why when offering stories to audiences. What connects with an audience and can we model what audiences want from narratives? (Yes, you can model data on narratives and what "sells" and what wins awards and what nobody wants.)

Yet, my degree research projects all relate to design of writing spaces, as knowing what works is also key to knowing what could be "sold" to users.

MA: How poor LMS UI/UX design creates online spaces that hinder the writing process and teacher mentoring of students.

Also: The cost of LMS design and compliance with legal mandates for usability.

Ph.D: The experiences of special needs students in online settings, from commercial spaces to games to learning spaces and which spaces are best desig…

Software That Feels Wrong

Original 1984 Macintosh desktop (Photo credit: Wikipedia) You look at the screen. You wonder what is wrong. The program or app does what it should do, but for some reason you don't like to use the software.

Something feels wrong with the application. 
I have been trying WriterDuet (https://writerduet.com) and for the longest time I couldn't pin down why I didn't like the application compared to Final Draft or Screenwriter. Technically, the program does what it should and has some excellent collaboration features. But I don't enjoy using it. 
I used to love Screenwriter (http://www.screenplay.com) and eagerly await version 6.5 for the Macintosh. Version 6.x has felt like a partial port (it is) to OS X and macOS for some time. I know the problem is that the "widgets" used for the user interface are not Apple's widgets for the current operating systems. It's slightly annoying, but I still like Screenwriter. In my ideal world, 6.5 is so great that I go ba…

Comic Sans Is (Generally) Lousy: Letters and Reading Challenges

Specimen of the typeface Comic Sans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Personally, I support everyone being able to type and read in whatever typefaces individuals prefer. If you like Comic Sans, then change the font while you type or read online content. If you like Helvetica, use that.

The digital world is not print. You can change typefaces. You can change their sizes. You can change colors. There is no reason to argue over what you use to type or to read as long as I can use typefaces that I like.

Now, as a design researcher? I'll tell you that type matters a lot to both the biological act of reading and the psychological act of constructing meaning. Statistically, there are "better" and "worse" type for conveying messages. There are also typefaces that are more legible and more readable. Sometimes, legibility does not help readability, either, as a type with overly distinct letters (legibility) can hinder word shapes and decoding (readability).

One of the co…

Typography Bibliography

I love typography. For my contribution to an upcoming collection on the rhetoric of type, I consulted the following texts:

Bennett, Paul A., & Bruce Rogers. (1963). Books and printing : a treasury for typophiles (1st Forum Ed. ed.). Cleveland: World Pub. Co.

Berry, John D. (2006). dot-font : talking about fonts (1st ed.). New York: Mark Batty Publisher.

Bringhurst, Robert. (2004). The elements of typographic style (3rd ed.). Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks, Publishers.

Carter, Sebastian. (1995). Twentieth century type designers (New ed ed.). London: Lund Humphries Publishers.

Clair, Kate. (1999). A typographic workbook : a primer to history, techniques, and artistry. New York: Wiley.

Coles, Stephen. (2012). The anatomy of type : a graphic guide to 100 typefaces. New York: Harper Design.

Davis, Graham. (2007). The designer’s toolkit : 500 grids and style sheets. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Dodd, Robin. (2006). From Gutenberg to opentype : an illustrated history of type f…

Slowly Rebooting in 286 Mode

The lumbar radiculopathy, which sounds too much like "ridiculously" for me, hasn't faded completely. My left leg still cramps, tingles, and hurts with sharp pains. My mind remains cloudy, too, even as I stop taking painkillers for the back pain and a recent surgery.

Efforts to reboot and get back on track intellectually, physically, and emotionally are off to a slow, grinding start. It reminds me of an old 80286 PC, the infamously confused Intel CPU that wasn't sure what it was meant to be. And this was before the "SX" fiascos, which wedded 32-bit CPU cores with 16-bit connections. The 80286 was supposed to be able to multitask, but design flaws resulted in a first-generation that was useless to operating system vendors.

My back, my knees, my ankles are each making noises like those old computers.

If I haven't already lost you as a reader, the basic problem is that my mind cannot focus on one task for long without exhaustion and multitasking seems…

Screenwriting Applications

Screenplay sample, showing dialogue and action descriptions. "O.S."=off screen. Written in Final Draft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A lot of students and aspiring writers ask me if you "must" use Final Draft or Screenwriter to write a screenplay. No. Absolutely not, unless you are working on a production. In which case, they own or your earn enough for Final Draft or Screenwriter and whatever budget/scheduling apps the production team uses.

I have to say, after trying WriterDuet I would use it in a heartbeat for a small production company and definitely for any non-profit, educational projects. No question. The only reason not to use it is that you must have the exclusive rights to a script... and I don't have those in my work.

WriterDuet is probably best free or low-cost option I have tested. It is very interesting. Blows away Celtx. The Pro version with off-line editing is cheaper than Final Draft or Screenwriter.

The Pro edition is a standalone, offline versio…