Windows Live Writer: useful to blog without a connection

Sometimes, you just can’t write directly to your blog. Maybe you are at a conference and the Wifi is overcrowded and service is patchy. Maybe you have not enough battery to last through the session if you leave Wifi on. Whatever the cause, you’d like to blog off line and put the information on line after the fact.

A text processor would be fine of course. But a dedicated tool is better because it avoids a lot of issues with formats, copy/paste and the like. Especially since it handles images locally as well.

That’s where Windows Live Writer comes into play. As a blog editor, you just have to configure the URL of the blog (self hosted WordPress works!), a login and a password.

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Then, just type and save as a local draft. When ready, upload to the site.

A little tool that can come in handy!

Upgrading to SSD on a Dell D430: What to Expect?

I spend a good chunk of my day upgrading my Dell D430 to SSD. What was the expected outcome that led me to do this? Basically, I was fed up with the general slowness of the HDD, a 80GB 4800 RPM disk. Also, I suspect that since I have got this laptop for more than 4 years, the HDD would fail sooner or later and I didn't wanted that to happen to me, even if I do take backups regularly. The key factor was to be able to get rid of those pauses when looking deep inside my start menu program, speed up my Find and Run Robot (FARR) launcher, and all application launches. Just swapping the HDD for the SDD and be done with that. Not so fast! Indeed, not so fast. It all went okay at the end but it took longer than expected and there were several bumps on the road, namely:
  • The SDD wasn't recognized when I hooked it up to the system with the USB connector: this one was easily fixed, I hadn't pushed the ZIF cable far enough into the disk. But this was easy to fix.
  • I used the Acronis disk clone feature to get the HDD cloned to the SDD. Looks like easy enough to do it but... nothing was cloned at the end of the process. I had to redo the moves and then, bam, magic! And it took a hell of a lot of time to clone everything.
  • The HDD inside the machine was enclosed into a rubberized enclosure to protect it from shocks. I had to remove the enclosure of the HDD to disconnect it from the ZIF connector. Then the SDD wasn't fitting the space. So, SDD back into the rubberized enclosure and quite a while to get the whole thing to fit tightly into the space available. So, time to boot.
Getting to boot Booting the system was easy. Everything turned out working fine. But some things took longer than I tought. So, the SSD is no magic. The whole system feels a lot fasters. And is. But web browsing give me some hiccups. Pauses. I found a great utility to help, named Flashfire. This solved some issues. I am running XP SP3. This wasn't too great for SSD disks. So, I had to disable prefetching, boot time optimization and other funny registry settings. Well, this is done now and brought several good things with it. I got to know the fsutil command for disabling features of NTFS. Now, pauses are gone. I saw that Windows 7 would be better to SSDs. But not much more than what I do have now. HDTune gives me the speced speed. Which is around 90MB/sec. Which isn't what SSD should give on SATA machines, but this is a PATA UDMA Mode 5 chipset here and there is no way it is going any faster. I have rebooted quite a number of times to get everything in good shape and the battery wasn't drained as it was usual with the HDD. So, a good point here. How does it feels now? Well, pretty good actually. This SSD isn't delivering its full performance, being somewhat limited by the chipset of the Dell D430 but there are really great benefits that were worth the upgrade. Here is my list:
  • no more HDD noise: a great feeling, no more grinning of platters
  • more space since this is a 128GB SSD and I was moving off a 80GB HDD
  • much much snappier menus
I declare this to be a success. It is extending the life span of this little solid machine (even if it is not a superspeedy and superpowerful box, I can in fact achieve a lot with it. And that because the keyboard is very well built and has a decent size without a numeric pad shifting my typing to the left. And a 12” form factor is just what I need when moving around. It is just a bit larger than my iPad2. Any special things to mention? Yep, sure. First of all, my Nusphere's PHPEd editor is starting amazingly fast now. As a contrast, Sparx System's Enterprise Architect is only marginally faster. Go figure. So, an SSD isn't going to cut all times in 10 on this box. But the advantages are good enough to justify my investment in the RunCore SSD 128GB 1.8” ZIF PATA. Which was about $219. You can almost get a new laptop for that price but not as sturdy as this little Dell Latitude D430.
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#Sparx Systems named in top 100 software companies for 2011

SD Times judges recognize the top innovators, leaders and influencers in the software development industry. They base their decisions on the offering, reputation and leadership of vendors in the industry. The best of the best! Recognized for its contribution to the software development industry, Sparx Systems has won its third consecutive SD Times 100 Award! The award underpins Sparx Systems' ongoing commitment to model-driven development excellence. www.sparxsystems.com/press/articles/2011sdtimes100.html   I've been busy recommending Enterprise Architect since version 3.6 and it never ceased to amaze me how the product reached new heights version after version. As an official VAR, trainer, you name it for helping you reach new heights as well with confidence, check my services related to that matter.

The Apple user experience is superior to the rest

This may sound like a fanboi-style comment. But it is not. I am used to Windows since Windows 2.0 (yep, I am that old). Coded for it, used it, ran my business on it. I do have a bunch of boxes running Linux as well (started that strain with Yggdrasil Linux on a 486DX66 and 16Megs of RAM - this was version 0.x with patchlevels). And then a while ago, a year or something, I got myself a Macbook Pro with Mac OSX Snow Leopard, iWork, iLife, and Final Cut Express. Some additional software was thrown in for good measure and today I must say that its user experience is superior to other plaforms. Why is it so for me? One big reason: it brought back the fun of using a computer to produce great results. Be it podcasts, movies, writing, and generally hacking this makes me feel reenergized. Windows hasn't that anymore. The only cool thing Microsoft does these days is the XBox360. I am currently working on several Windows boxes, some are for administrative tasks like accounting, proposal writing and so on. Others are for coding, scanning, even some gaming. But there is one desk that sees me more than the others, and this is the desk with the damn Mac. And I am not spending my time aimlessly surfing the web, but actually producing stuff. This evening I had a great session with Keynote. Once I got the grasp of that beast, I got results much more easily than with Powerpoint and with a much higher degree of quality. I can now understand first hand while Apple is topping the capitalizaton charts (today it moved past Microsoft and Intel combined.). They now rule the customer experience and with the iPad2, there are really becoming game changers. In 1996 I was looking inside a NeXT cube. It is now 2011 and NeXTStep is reborn with renewed colors. Since Objective-C is Smalltalk in disguise, I can forget about a lot of crap and jump back into my stream of choice: a powerful language with no fuss and a platform that rocks and is immensely popular! From the user side down to Xcode, life is great!

The DIP

The Digital Innovation Platform We need to change the mindset towards innovation: make it cool, make it accessible. Enable open social networks about that. But talk is cheap. Let's get real. With real products. Think-Do-change Think=share resources Do=talk about it-pitch ideas So that peers can give feedback and make the idea grow. Change=build Through closed workspaces. On the web. Get in touch with mentors. And with ... Money! Good but today, this is not live yet. (and from what I saw just a Ning.com community) The community is wired with twitter, fb, and linked in. The next European innovation 2.0 tool. There is a need for a lot of feedback.

Philippe Back Interviews Bernd Lohmeyer on User Centered Approaches and Usability

I had the good fortune to interview Bernd Lohmeyer. Bernd is big on usability and specifiying winning solutions that customers love to use. For the record, he was somewhat running the show when it comes to the StarOffice productivity suite. He was program manager.   Listen to the podcast episode:  

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