Monday, December 18, 2006

Testing windows live writer

So this is just a test.  I want to see if it works :)

Edit: I decided to download ' Windows Live Writer' after reading about it on Lifehacker.   I thought I'd want a decent little app that I could run in the background so I could add posts to the blog without having to navigate (and forget!) my Blogger password.

Anyway, I finally downloaded it today, and installed it, and my first impressions are quite good! 

Installation & running for the first time

After I had finally found where to download ' Windows Live Writer' (WLW), the installation was pretty painless.   

Running WLW for the first time, it asks you for some details about your blog.  As I'm a "blogger beta", I didn't opt for the 'Spaces' sign up (this is for those who don't have a blog, but want one on Windows Live Spaces).  After entering my details (wrongly), i finally got into WLW and was confronted by a blue-ish word-like application. 


To be quite honest, i hate the blue appearance of WLW, and would really like to de-clutter the interface.  You have the normal "File | Edit..." menu which you get on most apps. 

Below that, you have the WLW menu.  Create a new post, edit a post, save drafts etc.  You also have  a "layout button.  This is cool, purely because the main editing window reflects what your blog looks like, with all the same styles, fonts & layout! You can change this, just incase you don't like it!

You also get the standard formatting tool bar (bold, italics  etc).  And then, cluttering up the right hand part of the app, you get 2 boxes. One allows you to open or create posts (identical to the top tool-bar), and the 2nd box allows you to insert links, pictures, tags or maps.  But these are pretty much covered in the formatting toolbar, so it duplicates itself.  D' oh!


Using WLW is very easy.  Once you've set up your blogs, it's a case of creating a new post.  Spell-checking (how handy), and then clicking 'publish'.  It really is as simple as that.  Obviously, it can get more technical depending on your blog!


Well I've used WLW for about half hour, had a quick flick through the menu's and options, and it does seem like a very handy tool!  Especially for setting our your layouts.  I really like the way it let's you see how your post will look like as it uses the same styles as your blog.

This is just my first impressions.  Ill post a more in-depth look at a later date.


EDIT: I've just realised that WLW doesn't allow for 'Blogger Beta' Labels, so for the time being, i'll stick with the browser based posting.  Meh!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tesco Value ear phones! Cheap-tastic or Cheap-plastic?

Tesco Value headphones
For months now, I've been after a proper set of earphones for my Creative Zen. I've never been a fan of headphones, the ones with the plastic strap over the head, and the painful bits of plastic on the ears. I much prefer the buds that go IN your ears.

The best pair i ever had were the ones that came with my Mp3 player, but they died a death about 6 months ago. I guess I never treated them properly. I only used them whilst i was at work, and even then, it was just one ear bud, so i had half an idea on what was going on around me.

Anyway, slowly, one deteriorated, and then 3 weeks later, the other bud died. Since then, I've tried several pairs. The best ones i tried were Panasonic, but the cable was only about 12 inches long, which is noooo good.

At the moment, I'm using a Skype ear bud (and microphone) which I was given free at a London train station 9 months ago.

Anywho, I digress, I've been on the market for a good pair of headphones. a month ago now, I was walking around Tesco's with my girlfriend, when I spotted the Tesco Value headphones for 97p! How much?!

So I bought them! I figured that i cant really go wrong for 97p!


Well, for 97p, your not going to get much for your money are you!? the packaging was your standard plastic wrapped around a bit of card which housed the headphones.


Well the ear buds actually feel quite comfortable in my ears. There's no fabric covering to give grip, but they don't really feel loose so it's not needed in my opinion. The cord feels rather cheap, and quite flimsy. So much so that if it got bent or twisted too much, it could easily break the internals.

The Actual bud's look cheap. They're black, with silver touches. I guess this is to boost the look of them, make them look a bit special! Doesn't work really. Oh, and they are branded "Technika" I assume this is a Tesco's brand.


Well, this is the most important part, and to be honest, they do sound rubbish. The actual sound quality is low, and listening to music with them does sound like your listening to music under-water.

The sound is rather flat & sounds empty. Bass is non-existent, although you do get a few low notes, it's nothing substantial. Treble is existent, but the mid-range is really what let's the sound down.


In all honesty, i was hoping to find a good bargain. Earphones at 97p which had good sound quality. In actual-fact though, the headphones are of poor quality. They look cheap, and feel it too. The sound isn't good at all, and since i bought them, I've used them twice. Once to see what the sound was like, and secondly, to write this review.

These might be good if they are for some younger kids, who are more interested in hearing anything that listening to music. But if your after some good quality sound, then these aren't for you!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Clicky web-stats. Perfect!

ClickyAs I've posted before, I've been getting back into web-development recently, working on my new skills in CSS & (x)html mark-up. One of the things i used to enjoy looking at when I developed websites years ago was the web-stats, hits, stuff like that.

In my recent development however, I've not been able to find a good free web-stat service. Somewhere i can log onto and view the hits, the search terms, the referrers for my sites.

That was until this week when i happened across 'Clicky', the perfect solution.

I Found 'Clicky' to be a decent web-stat app. It shows me what i want to know in a clear & precise way.

Setting up was easy as pie. You register on the website, and it then asks you to set up your website. You enter the URL, and then any other re-directs you have going, other URL's and such forth. Once you've entered this data, and submitted it to Clicky, it gives you the script that you must enter on your website. And it's not much of a script either. It's only 2 lines of javascript, and seems to work a whole host of magic!

I've got Clicky measuring stats for 2 of my websites at the moment, and it's giving me an average hit count (based over a the previous few days), current unique hits for the day, and it also gives you the amount of click's each user has done!

It goes into further detail too! It'll even tell you what browser the user is using, and the operating system they are running. For example, for, the last 20 people to visit were running Windows, 18 of which were running Internet Explorer, and 2 (only 2?!) were running Firefox.

This can be pretty handy when producing websites, but that's another story!

'Clicky' will also tell you what pages have been visited and by whom. Every user has their IP address, and this is how Clicky can tell which pages have been visited by which user. This enables you to see what users are looking for, and obviously allows you to tailor your site to suit. It even tells you how long each user was on the website for!

On the flip side though, as much as i like 'Clicky' (and I've only been using it 3 days), it is missing a couple of features which I'd like to see, screen resolution for example! I'd like to see how many users are running at 800x600 compared to how many are running 1600x1200.

The other problem I found (and i have spoken to the guy's at Clicky about it) is the fact that when you have multiple sites in the Clicky database, it strips all sub-directories from the name.

Now the 2 websites i have on their currently are hosted on the same server, but under different sub directories. So now when i log-in and use the drop down box to choose which site I'd like to see stats for, all i see is the domain name. I'd like to be able to specify and call each site by a certain name. But I've been assured that they are working on this, so it's all good!

I'd definitely recommend Clicky for an on-line, quick & easy web statistics tool. It's helped me out massively, and it will help me tweak my sites further for the better! If you run a website, and your looking for a stat tool, i think this is the one!

Check it out, 'Clicky'

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

making the switch

Well, in a previous post, i mentioned that i had come back to Blogspot, and redesigned the blog, only to realise that it wouldn't work with 'Blogger Beta'... But now i've done it!

That's right, i've fully switched over to 'blogger beta' now, so i can take full advantage of the new features, which include some nifty little hacks and some good layout options!

It also includes for the use of Widgets, which is always handy!

Anywho, there's some good bits to the new blogger, like labels & catagories which i like, and also the widgets down the side of the page is always handy. There's loads of stuff there that can be played with (read: hacked) and i've got a couple of ideas up my sleeve!

Only problem with the new blogger is the actual templates themselves. It's REALLY hard to see what's going on as google have added tons of new custom tag's to the mix and it's really confusing. But saying that, i managed to get the site looking almost identical to it's previous counter-part. The only difference being the date, which is now above the title, rather than below! Gawd know's how you change it! (If you do know, please post a comment!)

Right, Back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

24ways is back! Hoorah!

24 Ways is back for another year (or 24 days!) of nifty little web-design tricks to impress! Check it out!