What to choose: Browser plugin, web interface, desktop application?

Nowadays I have a hard time deciding on what type of application to use. Only a few years back I would use desktop applications for most things, but with the growing amount of decent web 2.0 “applications” I notice that I have slowly moved towards doing more and more online.

Let me use this blog as an example. It is based on WordPress, which now offers a good and efficient web interface. However, it just doesn’t feel as snappy as a desktop application. A few years back I used MarsEdit for all my blog writing, but for some reason (I can’t remember exactly when) I decided to use the WordPress web interface for blog writing instead.

Last year I discovered ScribeFire, a browser plugin available for FireFox, Chrome and Safari. I have been quite happy with ScribeFire, as it is readily available in the browser. The fact that it also allows for editing the static pages, as well as handling image uploads makes it into a really powerful solution.

However, today I opened my old version of MarsEdit by accident, and I actually realized that I have missed having a decent blog editor for the last couple of years. Even though the WordPress web interface, and the ScribeFire plugins both behave well and do (almost) all I want, they still can’t compete with a native desktop application when it comes to snappiness and functionality. So now I am back to MarsEdit, and happy to see that it finally has support for rich text editing in the latest version. I will probably use the other alternatives to, but I realize that desktop applications still have their mission.

Boot problems Ubuntu 10.04

Just as I started to believe that Ubuntu had matured to become a super-stable and grandma-friendly OS, I got an unexpected black screen on boot of Ubuntu 10.04 on a Dell Latitude D400. After some googling I have found a solution that works:

On boot, hit the `e’ button when the grub menu shows up. Then add the following after “quiet splash”: i915.modeset=1

If this works and you get into the system, you can do this procedure to change the grub loader permanently:

  • sudo gedit /etc/default/grub
  • Find this line: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash” and replace with: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash i915.modeset=1”
  • Finally do a sudo update-grub to re-generate the grub menu

I hope this can help save an hour or two for other people encountering the same problem.

Plugins, plugins, plugins

The world is becoming a huge collection of plugins. I hadn’t tried Google Chrome in a while, and just realized that not only has it become much more stable since the last time I battled with it, but I also find more or less all my favourite Firefox extensions being ported. This blog post is a test to see how ScribeFire behaves under Chrome. 

While am at it, I also installed the WPtouch extension to my WordPress install to see if that could help making my web page more accesible on mobile devices. The plugin is extremely easy to set up (just download and install), and the display is very clear (only the latest blog posts), but also very limited (only the latest blog posts). Not entirely sure how successful this approach is, but I will try it for a little while. 

Tags and categories

I have been remodelling my web page today, installing the latest version of WordPress, and testing out a new theme and organisational structure. I have been using categories for a while in my blog, but have not used the tags feature because I didn’t really understand the difference before I read this:

Categories can be tags, sure, but not all categories are tags, and not all tags should be categories. I think of categories as a table of contents and tags as the index page of a book. If I’m searching for a broad topic, unsure of exactly what I need to find or the keywords, then I will hit the table of contents (categories). If I know the exact word I need in order to find the information I want, then I will hit the index page (tags).

This seems reasonable, and I will start to use tags and categories differently from now on.