Why I Paid $774.00 for Windows Live Writer

Windows Live Writer is Microsoft’s flagship application.  Whether they know it or not.  There are companies being built on plugging the one remaining Mac hole.


When I capitulated to Mac, I wanted to go all-in.  I really did not want to install Parallels.  The only Windows program that either (a) I haven’t realized I don’t need, or (b) I haven’t found a (generally superior) Mac substitute for, is Windows Live Writer.

How crazy is that?  I don’t need Windows 7.  I don’t need Office for Windows.  I don’t need any of that stuff.

But I do need one little free program that writes blog posts.  Because it is infinitely better than the WordPress native editor.  And infinity times infinity better than any of the crappy Mac blog editors.

Which means that I had to buy Parallels 7, which so far is really elegant, and runs perfectly under Lion.  And I had to keep a Windows 7 license.  The latter being no problem since my TechNet subscription is still in effect.

But if it weren’t, I would have eventually forked over a $120 or so, just for the OS that will allow me to install Live Writer on my Mac.

And there’s more.  Knowing that I’d probably have to do this, I bought extra RAM when I bought my iMac.  16 GB, when I would have otherwise settled for 8.

Let’s recap.

Just to install Live Writer, I bought:

Parallels Upgrade $54
Windows 7 $120***
8 GB RAM $600.

$774.00.  Just for Live Writer.  Sounds crazy, I know.  But after suffering through the alternatives for a couple of weeks, it seems like a great deal.

*** I didn’t have to pay any extra because I have a TechNet account, but I would have had it come to that.

I’m not the only Mac user who has installed Windows 7 primarily to use Live Writer.  All of this tells me that some smart developer could create a really good Mac blog editor, sell it for $50 or so, and make a fortune.

Live Writer Beta + WordPress 3.0 = Jumbled Mess (for Now)

NOTE: This blog post is going to be all jumbled up.  I am trying to show the Live Writer developers a problem that exists with the current beta and WordPress 3.o

I love Live Writer.  I’m even willing to learn to live with the Ribbon in the beta version.  I love WordPress, and find 3.0 to be a nice advance of the platform.

But, at least for now, the Live Writer beta and WordPress 3.0 do not play well together.  The problem is that the photo or other graphic layout (location, placement, etc.) created in Live Writer does not make the trip through WordPress 3.0 and onto the applicable blog page.

Here are some examples, using some random screen caps.


There’s a screen cap of my Facebook profile.  I am a Go Dog Go-ocrat, because I think just about every single problem we face in society originates from the moment the first person decided it was really important to differentiate himself from all the other people.  In other words, once dogs start driving cars, it’s all over.  More importantly for purposes of this post, that graphic is supposed to be above this paragraph.

Here’s a picture of a book I just read.  I liked it.  That graphic is supposed to be below this paragraph.


For some reason, the alignment and other information is getting lost between placement in live writer and publishing to a WordPress 3.0 blog.  When I look at the published and jumbled post under the WordPress dashboard, the graphics appear to have no placement information associated with them.  By that I mean nothing is shown under the graphic, not even “None.”  That graphic is supposed to be under this paragraph.  None of these images should have words beside them.


I suspect that this problem has to do with the photo setting “Inherit from Blog” in Live Writer.  It may be that you need to specifically set the information for each photo or graphic to “None” by double clicking on the image and selecting the second choice under Picture Tools.  Let’s see if that helps.


Nope.  It’s still a mess.

Live Writer and WordPress are two of the three applications (along with Google Reader) that I use the most.  I’m sure this will get fixed.

I’m just doing my part to try and help.

Shooting the Bird: More on the Blog Publishing Problem

I’m working with some good folks at Microsoft to resolve the photo publishing problem I wrote about the other day.

This is a test post from another computer, but over the same internet connection.


There is (or is not) my little test photo.

Initially the photo would post to the Blogger photo server (which I don’t generally use), but not to my server.  I got this error:

(Publishing Error) A publishing error occurred: 200 Type okay.
227 Entering Passive Mode (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
150 Data connection accepted from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; transfer starting.

So I tried to post on my laptop, using an ATT wireless card.

It worked (there is the long awaited photo).

Which means the problem is caused by my network.  Hmmm.  Let’s see if it’s my computer or my internet connection. . .

Here’s another photo- this time I’m posting on my desktop, but using the ATT wireless card.


This also worked, which means that the problem resides in my internet connection, not on my computer, not in Live Writer and not on my web server.

I’ve narrowed it down, but I’m not sure where to go from here.  I guess I need to look at the router settings.

When I disable my router’s firewall, the photos publish correctly.  But I obviously don’t want to permanently disable my firewall, so I need to configure my router to allow Live Writer to publish these pictures.  It’s odd that Live Writer can publish the text of the post (via Blogger) but not photos.  It’s also odd that I can publish photos via an FTP client, but not via Live Writer.

Frustrating Live Writer – Blogger FTP Problem

All of the sudden, when I publish a blog post with pictures in it, Live Writer is unable to transfer the pictures to my server via FTP.  When I try to do so, I get the following error.  I have a screen cap below, but Live Writer replaced the picture with the word “ftperror,” which is the name of the picture I am trying unsuccessfully to post.

      I had to upload this picture to Photobucket
and then link to it. What a pain in the ass.

I can tell by looking on my server that Live Writer is creating a directory on my server the way it is supposed to, and there is an appropriately named file in the directory, but the size of the file is 0 bytes.  I used a jpeg for the screen cap below to confirm that it’s not a png problem.  It’s not, as Live Writer replaced that screen cap with its name too.

Here lies the symptom, but what is the problem?

Sometimes the 0 Filesize is a permissions problem, so I tried changing the permissions in the target folder on my server.  No dice.  So I restored the permissions to their previous levels.

For some reason, I’m starting to think this may have something to do with the way Live Writer names the image files.

I was able to upload the files via FileZilla, my FTP application, without a problem.  This indicates that the problem resides within Live Writer.  I tried to test that theory by uploading some pictures to my Photobucket account via Live Writer.  No dice.  Same error message, but I couldn’t get any FTP client to display the proper directory on Photobucket- the connection times out when trying to retrieve the directory listing.  So I don’t know for sure.

Here’s my test picture, so I can keep trying until I figure out how to fix this nightmare.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I think Live Writer is the most useful and feature perfect application out there.  I have become very reliant on it, so I need to fix this problem.

If you can see this image,
I have fixed the problem.

The mysterious thing is that I didn’t change any settings prior to the problem arising.  On the one hand, it’s strange that Live Writer can post blog posts, but not pictures.  But my blog posts are published to my server via Blogger, whereas the pictures are set up to post directly to my server via FTP.  I deleted all the FTP information in the Live Writer blog account settings a couple of times and reentered it.  Live Writer was able to access the directories on my server at that point.  Somehow, when it tries to transfer the picture file, something goes wrong.

This makes the formerly simple process of publishing a blog post very difficult.  It requires me to separately upload the pictures and then link to them.  It was much easier to upload the pictures at the same time I publish the blog post.  Little pain in the ass problems like this that suddenly spring up for no apparent reason drive me crazy.

But my devotion to Live Writer requires that I continue looking for a solution.  Time for a Twitter SOS.

Solving the 401 Error: Windows Live Writer & Remotely Hosted Blogger Blogs

I finally figured out why I couldn’t get Windows Live Writer to recognize my blog.

If your blog is remotely hosted (meaning on your server), you have to add this in the head area of your template:

<meta content=”blogger” name=”generator”/>

After that it works like a charm.

Too bad it took me about two hours to figure that out…


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Windows Live Writer Annoyance

Beta or not, I simply cannot understand why there is a need to add a post (which I have found no easy way to delete) on your blog every time you install Live Writer.

I just installed it on my laptop and, presto, there’s another “temporary” post I can’t get rid of.

This needs to be seems to have been fixed.

Update: When I posted using Live Writer, the temporary post seems to have disappeared.


Steve Newson on Writely vs Live Writer

Steve has a post on the merits of Writely and Live Writer as blogging tools.  This is an interesting topic that I hope he will pursue.

As he points out, Writely is more than just a blogging tool, and it is web based, which allows you to access your documents from anywhere, while Live Writer is more targeted and, at this point, the better platform for blogging.

Wouldn’t it be cool if somehow Live Writer allowed you to synchronize your drafts and settings across multiple computers.  Google has its browser synch, which I uninstalled after it caused me to inadvertently lose all of my bookmarks, so it’s not out of the question that the ever-competitive Microsoft would create a competing application.

In fact, part of the technology is already here, with Microsoft’s FolderShare– an application that I love, but that Microsoft must not, because it doesn’t seem to be marketing it very actively.  I have suggested other ways to use FolderShare, but so far Microsoft hasn’t jumped on my great ideas.  If anyone at Microsoft was awake, they’d be accurately touting FolderShare as the application that makes Writely unnecessary.

What do you say, J.J?  Is cross computer functionality a possibility for Live Writer?

And by the way, my Bloglines update work around seem to be working.

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A Few Tweaks for Live Writer

I’ve been using Live Writer to write my posts for the last several days.  I still like it a lot, but I have now used it enough to suggest a few new features it needs.

1. An option to send pings only on the initial publication of the post.  I don’t want to re-ping when I edit to fix the invariable typo.

2. A way to save templates.  All of us have repetitive posts that contain a lot of the same elements.  Give us a way to save and pull up multiple templates.  Sure you can do it now by creating drafts, but that doesn’t work nearly as well as a separate template menu would work.  For one thing, the naming convention doesn’t lend itself to doing it that way.

3. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there is a keyboard command for publishing that I have accidentally hit 4 times in 4 days.  This is an unnecessary caps-lock sort of annoyance.  Give us the ability to customize- or delete entirely- keyboard commands.

4. While I enjoy the WYSIWYG interface, the resulting html is jumbled beyond recognition.  Can’t we clean it up a little with spaces between the paragraphs, etc.? Blogger’s editing application does this pretty well, so it shouldn’t be hard to implement.

And one new plugin I want…

5. One that will allow me to input the Amazon ISBN or ASIN number and generate a link with my Amazon Associates information included.

And one problem I have noticed…

6. For some reason, my new posts are not showing up as new in Bloglines.  When you click my feed, they are there, but my blog is not showing up in bold with the number of new posts in parenthesis like it used to and like it is supposed to.  Has anyone else noticed this?

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3 Nifty Live Writer Plugins

The hopeful stream of plugins for Live Writer has begun to flow, with three so far (that I have found).

The first is called Flickr4Writer, and as its name implies, it helps you insert Flickr photos into your post.

Clouds at Sunset

It allows you to search by user name (i.e., your own, to browse your photos) or by tag. Inserting this photo was quick and simple.

The second is called Tag4Writer, and it is the answer to my request last night for a Technorati tag maker. It has presets for Technorati, Delicious, Flickr, IceRocket Buzznet, 43 Things and LiveJournal, plus a Custom setting where you can customize a tag or make a preset for another service. I made the tag below with it. Very easy, though I wish the + did not appear in the text.

The third is called Currently Listening, and inserts the name of the song you are listening to in your post. Because it only supports Windows Media Player and iTunes and I use the massively under-appreciated J. River Media Center, I have not tried it yet. As soon as it supports Media Center (or perhaps Last.fm‘s Audioscrobbler, which would also work), I’ll give it a whirl. Even if I can’t use it yet, it is a neat idea.

24 hours later, Live Writer is significantly better than it was when released. As more and more plugins get developed, I predict it will become the standard for blog editing and management.