Tag: <span>Movable Type</span>

Matt Haughey is, amongst bloggers, pretty well known and respected. He recently wrote up his thoughts on weblog applications and, as they mirror some of my thinking, I thought I’d expand on this theme here.

The title of the post, Bottom line, all weblog apps suck in some way, was borne of frustration and outlines a few points which, reading between the lines, boil down to the same kind of thing.

Few web applications are at the point they could be considered a product.

Matt talks specifically about weblog applications, one of which I use to power this site (WordPress). I do a little web design in my spare time (there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one) and have a similar working pattern as Matt; create template then drop in the code required by the weblog application, then tweak, tweak, tweak. I share his bemusement at the way Movable Type is configured, and I definitely agree with him when he says:

My ideal blog engine company would hire some seasoned blogger and technical writer to be a documentation czar, keeping docs up to date when new versions are launched, produce screencasts for introductory users, and provide complete documentation at a stable URL that applies to every version of the product. If an outside site does a better job of collecting and offering templates, a documentation leader should recognize that and link to them in highly visible places. There doesn’t seem to be anyone internal at these companies fighting for the users to make sure they can keep being informed about how to best use the product.

All of my knowledge of WordPress, Blogger and Movable Type (three of the biggest weblog applications) comes from tinkering about in the code, trial and error, and random Google searches. Sometimes those searches will take me to the website of the application, but more often than not they take me elsewhere to someone who has solved my problem already, or has a good solution that could be adapted to meet my requirements.

The information is a far more important to me than the weblog application, particularly as most of those meet my requirements and, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this website, the supporting information becomes the differentiator which will sway me one way or the other.

Let me repeat what I said previously:

Quite simply, products include documentation, support and training, and tell a cohesive story to a potential user. A story that says, yes this product will do X, Y and Z, and if it breaks we’ll do our best to help fix it, and we’ll support you as you learn to use it throughout the lifetime of your relationship with the product (and, therefore, the company).

The really good thing about this situation is that there is an opening here, a wide gaping hole into which a willing technical writer could leap. Most of the weblog applications are open source and would welcome you with open arms. The role Matt outlines is a huge one, but is perfectly within the reach of most technical writers. You know, if I had any spare time I might just try to get involved…

Work

Without wanting to harp on about it, but hey, it’s my blog so I’m gonna… as covered the other day, and as the Belbin tests confirmed, I’m the guy who likes starting new things but soon gets bored.

I wish I could argue against this but it’s true. I do. I love the planning and design stages, but the rest of the work is drudgery to me. However, as my mother always said “sometimes you have to do things you don’t like”. Admittedly this was usually uttered shortly before I stomped upstairs and slammed my bedroom door in response, and it was more than likely after I questioned WHY I had to .. wash the kitchen windows, tidy my room, etc etc.

But, as mothers are wont to be, she was right. Oh god, have I just admitted that in public??

And so I turn to my latest ‘project’, something which has been in the back of my head for a couple of years but that has long since been filed in the “one day” pile. Just to clarify, that’s not “can be done in one day” but “one day I’ll get around to it” (also known as the “roontuit” pile).

We’ve had a scanner for a couple of years, but by and large it hasn’t really been used, and just sat there gathering dust. Since getting the new PC I’ve been pondering whether to bother hooking it up at all or whether is should be relegated to the cupboard.

I was in mid-ponder the other night when Louise interrupted me to ask if the scanner was hooked up yet..

Putting aside the fact that you should never EVER bother a pondering McLean (we have a tendency to fart quite viciously when startled), I confirmed that no it wasn’t and asked why she was wanting it done. Apparently she wasn’t to “scan something, duh”, which was the obvious answer to a rather obvious question

So I spent an hour or so downloading updated drivers, figuring out where to plug it in, and getting the scanner up and running. Ohh and on that topic, a big thanks to HP, it was really kind of you to wrap the drivers for the scanner within a 245MB software pack. Muppets.

Anyway, now that it’s hooked up and working my thoughts drift to the not inconsiderable amount of “old-fashioned” printed photos that are lying in a box in our loft. I’ve got plenty of room on this PC and we ARE in a digital age after all, so surely the obvious thing is to start scanning them all in. To be super-extra productive, whilst I’m doing that I can continue the ongoing “rip all the CDs and get them boxed and into the loft” project, all whilst hacking away at the “getting Movable Type to work with XAMPP” project.

Of course, by now, you’ll have realised that I’ll get partway through box one of the photos and my attention will be diverted. I really must stop doing that and develop some willpower… more on that.. tomorrow.

Personal Musings

I know a few of you use Movable Type. If so, how do you build a test system? For WordPress work I use XAMPP on my PC, it’s an absolute doddle.

There are Perl add-ons for XAMPP, and I found a guide to installing Movable Type in a XAMPP system but the buggering thing won’t work. I’ve checked and double-checked paths, filenames and all that gubbins but still get errors. There MUST be an easier way.. or is that why people switch to WordPress (or something else?).

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At the risk of illiciting “told you so” style comments… I’m having hassles with iTunes. For some reason it just stops working. I was working at home yesterday and listening to music quite happily. I restarted my PC at one point after having installed some new software and iTunes refused to start!

A couple of un-installs later and some not inconsiderable time spent browsing the iTunes support forums found me uninstalling QuickTime only, repairing the install and it works. So far. I’ve not yet had to reboot and try it again so I’m reserving judgement. From what I can tell, once again, it seems like Apple haven’t tested their software properly, and the forums suggest that’s true as well as there are many people having issues with the fact they have different logins on their Windows boxes and iTunes is ‘losing’ preference files, then crashing when it can’t find them. Not elegant and pretty basic if you ask me.

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My other blog has stalled. Mainly because I want to tweak the design a little before I publish. I have a few articles written up but can’t find the enthusiasm to get it going. What happened? Less than a month ago I was raring to go, fired up and… ohh what. That’s what one of the articles is about. As a quick aside, has anyone taken the Belbin team role tests? If so, what ‘team role’ are you? And can you guess which one I am??

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Anyone know of a flat, vertical, wall-mountable, radio alarm clock? Thinner the better, must have digital clock and radio alarm and be wall-mountable. In case you didn’t get all that the first time…

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And yes, I’m still “twittering”.

Tech Work

(Completely the wrong quote in the title (above) but I’ll damn well abuse my site anyway I see fit…)

Why your Movable Type blog must die

Excellent. I love this kind of ranting nonsense. Somewhere in there he is making some kind of sense. However the urge to reach over and slap him is almost overwhelming.

Worth a gander if only for the comments. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is social interaction internet style!

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