Easier editing with MarsEdit?

RedSweaterLogo.png This is going to be an interesting test of whether I prefer creating my blog entries online in the WordPress interface or in the latest version of Red Sweater’s MarsEdit application. I have to admit I’ve got used to the WordPress interface since I’ve been blogging, and the fact that you can arrange text around your images so that it all looks seamless is a real plus point for me. Also, as I currently only blog from a Mac Pro, then I’m always online, so access to the WordPress interface is easy.

So what’s the interest in MarsEdit? Well I plan on buying a MacBook (some day) and I’d like to be able to travel about and perhaps update my blog as and when I feel like it, without an internet connection in sight – sort of roaming reporter style. Given that I’ve got rid of my car and will be relying on either my bicycle or public transport to get around, it’ll be nice to be able to create content for my blog while sitting on the train for example.

I have pitched right in and am writing this entry directly in MarsEdit so we’ll see Preview of “Easier editing with MarsEdit?”.pnghow it pans out. First up, it’s rich text I’m after. I want to make the words Red Sweater bold in the first paragraph. In WordPress you get a WYSIWYG editor, so it’s simply a case of highlighting the text and clicking on the ‘B’ icon. Here it’s much the same, just highlight the text, go to the Markup dropdown and choose bold from the list. Ok, MarsEdit isn’t WYSIWYG with the default setting of BBEdit as the editor, so instead of seeing the word change to bold type in the editor, you just see the HTML tags around the word. Having said that, with the Preview window open, you get to see the results straightaway – I can live with that, in fact I might even prefer it. You can choose from a selection of other editors like WriteRoom etc., so there’s flexibility in there.

The second thing I wanted to try out is adding an image. I’ll start out with Red Sweater’s logo, aligning it to the top left of my post and letting text flow around it to the right. Here goes… place the cursor where I want the image to go, click on the Media button, drag the logo image into the Media Manager window, choose the alignment and click Upload & Insert. There, what could be easier? Ok, I’m missing the padding that the WordPress editor puts around an image, so the ‘r’ or Sweater rides up against the text of the article, but hey it’s not bad for a first attempt. I dare say as long as I know what the HTML tags are for doing it I’ll be able to sort that out. Actually that’s a good point – using MarsEdit may take a little extra effort initially but I expect the plus side of having all these HTML tags floating before your eyes is that you can tweak it quite easily if you have the know how.

Right, the next test will be a little trickier. I want to add a screen grab around about the third paragraph, have it aligned over to the right, and make it a bit smaller than real life. Here goes…. Ok, first reaction is yikes! My preview window is showing a huge image bisecting my post. However, I can see a width=904 tag and a height=681 tag, so my initial thoughts are that if I reduce those values to 25% of what they are, I’ll get an image reduced in size accordingly. Ok, so change 904 to 226 and 681 to 170 and… yep, that did it. Ok, in the WordPress editor you can choose from four preset sizes and you can resize dynamically with a drag ‘handle’, but this still seems perfectly workable.

Right, I have two tests left. First is to add a hyperlink to the word MarsEdit in the first paragraph, so you can jump to the product page easily (aren’t I good to you). Second test will be to publish this little effort. Ok, I’ve already copied the link to the clipboard, so let’s go and highlight the word and see what the Markup menu has to offer… ah, Paste Link did exactly what I wanted, turning the word MarsEdit into a clickable link. I’m almost there, just have to choose a few categories and publish it. Picking the categories is just a case of ticking the ones you want seeing as MarsEdit has already downloaded my ones from WordPress – ok that’s done. Finally, the Send to Weblog icon looks like just what I’m after, so in a few minutes this little effort will be visible to the whole world.

I have to say my first experience of MarsEdit has been a positive one. Everything seems inuitive, and while I may not have been as creative with this post as I have been with others, well it’s a start. When I do finally get my MacBook I think I’ll be buying a copy of MarsEdit to use as an offline editor. The learning curve may be a bit steeper that the WYSIWYG editor WordPress now gives you, but the freedom of creating blog content on the go is quite appealing – just need to save for the MacBook first!

Click to enlarge...

Click to enlarge...

Addendum – I’m editing this post in the WordPress editor now as I’ve got one observation to make. The screengrab I added above and reduced to 25% of its size doesn’t have a link to the full sized version of the image, which is what you get by default when using the WordPress editor (see the example at the start of this paragraph). This may be as simpe a finding some setting or option in MarsEdit so I’ll have a look. Still, not bad for a first attempt eh?

Snow Leopard – Got the disk, but still waiting

Please wait...

Please wait...

Yes I’ve upgraded my Mac Mini to Snow Leopard, and yes I’ve done a test install of it on the Mac Pro using a spare disk, and it looks great. However, much as I’m keen to upgrade to the latest and greatest OS on my Mac Pro… I can’t.

There are a few key applications that are holding me back.

Logitech Control Centre 3.0 – having a Logitech MX Revolution mouse and a Logitech diNovo Keyboard for Mac, the LCC software is pretty much essential. The current version of LCC (version 3.0) won’t even install under Snow Leopard, and although there are some workarounds to get it installed and to get some of the functionality back, it’s not elegant. Logitech are apparently working on a Snow Leopard compatible version of LCC that should be released “any day now”.

Evernote 1.4.8 – I use Evernote all the time for creating and syncing notes between my two Macs and my Windows (work) laptop. While Evernote 1.4.8 will install and run under Snow Leopard, there are certain things that are broken. There is a Snow Leopard compatible version (1.4.9) in the works, but it’s not out yet. As I write this, Evernote 1.4.9 has appeared on MacUpdate!

VMware Fusion 2.0.5 – another of my core apps, I run my work (Windows) desktop under VMware when I’m working from home. Fusion 2.0.5 won’t even load up under Snow Leopard in 64-bit mode, so best to wait for a fix. No timescales on that one…

1Password 2.9.31 – again, this is something I use every day for storing website logins, secure notes, license details, etc. It will work under Snow Leopard with  some caveats, e.g. it only supports Safari in 32-bit mode. For proper supported S/L functionality it seems I should wait for 1Password 3.0 to make it out of beta. As a registered user I can access the latest beta 3.0 version, but given how critical the data is that I store in 1Password, I’d rather wait for the release version to be on the safe side.

Adobe Lightroom 2.4 – home for all my photos and version 2.4 is reported to have issues under Snow Leopard. Another wait…

DropBox 0.6.556 – great for syncing files between my various machines, but it seems a few bits of this version are broken under Snow Leopard. There’s a version 0.6.557 on MacUpdate but it doesn’t mention S/L compatibility. There’s an experimental build 0.7.12 available, but again, I don’t want to trust my data to something experimental.

EyeTV 3.1.2 – apparently it works but there are problems with the sound.

goSecure 1.2 – the developer hasn’t yet confirmed this is Snow Leopard compatible, although I tried it out on my Mac Mini and it seems to work OK.

MailTags 2.3 – the developer has stated that 2.3 isn’t Snow Leopard compatible and that a new version is on the way.

…and there are a few more.

Wake me up when it’s Christmas.

Snow Leopard thaws my Logitech webcam mike!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

Speak up... I CAN hear you!

While I’ve upgraded my Mac Mini to Snow Leopard 10.6, I haven’t yet taken the plunge on my 2008 Mac Pro. This is mainly because I am bug testing some iPhoto software for someone and it would be unfair to change the underlying OS half way through as it would most likely just confuse matters. However, I do now have my Western Digital Caviar ‘Black’ 1Tb drive and so with an hour or so to spare I removed the existing 4 drives and popped it in, just to see how a fresh install of Snow Leopard would run on a Mac Pro.

The installation recognized my Logitech MX Revolution Mouse and Logitech diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition (both plugged in using a Logitech wireless USB dongle), so it was simply a matter of answering a few questions and waiting. Once installed, a Software Update for Remote Screen installed itself, then I was left to play for a while. The Logitech Control Centre v3.0 software refused to install (there is a workaround), so I was unable to use any of the extended features of my keyboard or mouse, however there was some good news about another of my Logitech peripherals.

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro

My Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro now works with Snow Leopard’s built-in speech recognition!! Under Leopard 10.5.x, the microphone in this webcam simply refused to work with the Mac’s built-in speech recognition software. It would work fine with other apps like Skype, iChat, etc., and your voice would even register in the OS X speech recognition window, but getting the Mac to recognize anything was impossible and it was a widely reported problem. However, under Snow Leopard I decided to give it another go and what do you know – it worked! Off I went, quoting the phrases on the calibration panel… What time is it? Quit this application. Open a document… and so on. Each one registered first time and I was then able to use speech recognition as I’d always wanted. I am now wondering if the mike will work with MacSpeech Dictate under Snow Leopard? Who knows.

Eventually the time came to stop experimenting and put the Mac Pro back to Leopard 10.5.8. Naturally once I’d put all the original drives back I tried out speech recognition with the webcam and it steadfastly refused to play ball. I am wondering if I upgraded from 10.5.8 to 10.6 rather than doing a fresh install, whether or not the webcam mike would still work with the Mac’s speech recognition? Maybe that’s an experiment for next week…

Quickbitz – Mac Mini Snow Leopard Upgrade

The Mini hits a snag...

The Mini hits a snag...

So I have seen lots of reports saying that the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard is the smoothest thing ever, and having gone out and bought a copy of Snow Leopard because the Royal Mail can’t decide if they want to ever deliver my Family Pack, I plumped for upgrading my Mac Mini.

Well it wasn’t an upgrade as it turns out. As there was no data that I needed to keep on the Mini, I decided to do a fresh install. This meant popping the Snow Leopard disk in and then wiping the Mini’s 80Gb internal drive before installing. The installation took about 45 minutes at which point it hung. I didn’t associate the Mini with a MobileMe account, I simply defined a user id and it then got to it’s “Talking with Apple” stage. My router is set up to provide DHCP and I was using a cable to connect the mini, so that wasn’t the issue. My internet connection was fine and I was able to browse the Apple web site from my Mac Pro, but the Snow Leopard install still just sat there… for two and a half hours.



Tired of waiting I switched the Mac Mini off then back on again. Sure enough, this time it booted up (very quickly) and then told me that it didn’t recognize my Apple Wireless Keyboard, prompting me to press the key to the right of the Shift key so it could figure it out. Nothing. The prompt wouldn’t go away, however I opened Text Editor and the keyboard was working fine so I simply killed off the prompt. After installing a small update for Remote Screen or something, that was it my Mac Mini had been 10.6’d.

Was it as smooth and painless for me? Not quite.

Is it quicker? Yes, but then I had installed Norton Antivirus for Mac (as an experiment) on the Mac Mini and I reckon just not having that installed any more makes it much quicker.

Next is the 2008 Mac Pro which is my main work machine. Again, I think I shall do a fresh install so that I can get rid of six months accumulated junk. In the meantime, I think I’ll start using the Mac Mini s an application test bed to see if some of those question marks on the Compatibility List are ticks or crosses.

Snow Leopard Application Compatibility

This got me thinking...

This got me thinking...

I ordered Snow Leopard via the Apple Store, and despite being told it was dispatched on August 27th it still hasn’t arrived. I did hear there was (yet another) strike at Royal Mail so all I can hope for is that I get it some time before Christmas.

Anyway, it has given me a bit more time to look at things like application compatibility. Apple themselves have posted a short note on a few applications that have issues, but if you’re looking for a much more extensive and detailed list then head on over to WikiDot and the Snow Leopard Compatibility page here. It’s been put together by the Mac community and contains a lot of useful info if you haven’t already taken the plunge. If you have taken the plunge, then … you luck whatsit!

That’s probably all I’ll say about Snow Leopard for now. The web is awash with reviews, etc., so you’re probably suffering from overload like me. However, the graphic I added to this post got me thinking. Apple obviously see the Snow Leopard as symbolizing their latest OS, so the question is – if Windows 7 was an animal (bird, fish, whatever), what would it be? Have fun in the comments!