17 December 2009
Windows Live Writer is free desktop software for writing blogs, created by Microsoft. It's a much quicker way to write, preview and publish blogs than using Blogger's web interface, and it's compatible with a wide range of blog publishing systems (including Wordpress). I was impressed at how it imported my blog template to provide a fast and realistic preview.
But, and this is a big but, it cannot handle the pound sign. If you type it in from the keyboard, it gets converted into typographic junk on the published blog. If you add the correct HTML entity in the HTML mode, it is converted back into the pound character (which does not publish correctly) if you preview or use the visual edit mode. Basically, to fix pound signs, you'll probably have to log in to Blogger (or Wordpress perhaps, if this fault applies there too) to fix it.
It might seem like a minor flaw, but if I'm going to use a tool for blogging, I'd rather use one tool and know it works. I don't want to find I can't write about the currency of my country and many others without engaging in ridiculous workarounds.
A good piece of software has been spoiled by poor testing and internationalisation.
The Evening Standard carried out an auction of unique experiences in aid of a children's charity, with the winning bids reported in yesterday's paper. What surprised me is how much people are willing to bid to have a taste of work as a writer, photographer or other media professional. Below are the media-related bids (in bold), together with a selection of other bids to give you an idea of how they compare.
- £14,600 - Dinner for 12 cooked by Gordon Ramsay (highest bid for any lot)
- £14,000 - A day with Richard Branson
- £8,100 - Two tickets for the 2010 final of Strictly Come Dancing
- £7,153 - A week on the Evening Standard's "fast-paced, hectic" newsdesk
- £5,600 - Tea with Elton John
- £5,450 - A two-week internship at Island Records, mentored by Duncan Beese who signed Amy Winehouse
- £5,300 - Dinner with the Evening Standard's editor at his favourite Notting Hill restaurant
- £3,958 - A two-hour art class with Tracey Emin
- £3,600 - Dance lesson with Anton du Beke
- £3,115 - Afternoon tea with TV and radio presenter Claudia Winkleman
- £3,100 - Artworks by Gilbert and George
- £2,801 - Take part in a Vogue fashion photo shoot (not clear whether this is as a model or helping to shoot it)
- £2,550 - A week's work experience on ES magazine
- £2,550 - Mentoring with James Caan from Dragon's Den
- £2,070 - Join BBC Five Live in the media centre at Lord's for the Test against Bangladesh
- £1,982 - Caroline Michel, boss of literary agency PFD, will critique your manuscript and give you guidance on publishing
- £1,470 - Two guests have "unprecedented access" to the Match of the Day studio
- £1,200 - A springtime stroll around the park with Bob Geldof
- £1,100 - Four people chauffeured to work by Rowan Atkinson in a Rolls Royce
Is it becoming that difficult to break into media that people are willing to pay £1,430 per day to work on the Evening Standard's news desk? Is it so hard to get the attention of an agent that somebody would rather pay £1,982 than go the long way around? Will work experience in the media deliver a better return on investment than artworks by Gilbert & George?
Of course, people don't really think like that. If they want something, they bid what they can afford to try to win it. They don't compare the lots. But I'm surprised that mentoring from James Caan (which I can see really helping a lot of businesses to reinvent themselves) is considered less valuable than a week's work experience on the ES Magazine. I'm surprised that dinner with a newspaper editor is more highly prized than time with Bob Geldof, Sebastian Coe, Jonathan Ross, Sophie Dahl, the Duchess of York, Stephen Fry and the QI team, footballer Harry Redknapp, director Guy Ritchie, Graham Norton and artist Anish Kapoor (who all featured in lower ranking bids).