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.

birds42
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.

For Tunes the Bell Tolls?

The other day, after generally praising both MixTape.me and Blip.fm, I closed with a hope that both could stay in business, notwithstanding the RIAA’s assault on streaming music sites.  As it turns out, my concerns may have been even more immediate than I realized.

Marshall Kirkpatrick reports today that Seeqpod, the search engine used by MixTape.me and other sites, will soon start charging developers for access to its data.  This does not bode well for music discovery sites, some of which are really fun to use.  In fact, after looking further at MixTape.me, I had decided to do mix tape posts as a semi-regular feature at Newsome.Org.  If the loss of free access to Seeqpod’s data puts these sites out of business, I won’t get that chance.

Which is bad for listeners, and bad for the musicians whose music would have featured.  Both MixTape.me and Blip.fm have Amazon associate links beside each song, which is probably the best business plan in Web 2.0.  Rather than toss random ads for stuff we don’t want on the page and cross their fingers, these sites present the immediate opportunity to buy something that, by definition, the user is interested it.  This is targeted advertising done the right way, as opposed to the intrusive approach favored by Google.

And let’s be serious for a moment.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to use these song mixes as an alternative to a fully accessible music library- that can be taken with them on CD-Rs, iPods, etc.  And anyone who is going to go to epic trouble to record these streams could do the same thing at any number of “approved” music sites.  Or they could do it old school off the radio.

It hurts the artists.

When friends come to my house, it is very common for me to play a few of my favorite songs for them.  Often, one or more of them will then buy the record for themselves.  Heck, I bet I’ve sold 20 copies of Avett Brothers records this way.  Any right thinking musician would be happy that people are playing his or her music for friends, generating a buzz and record sales.  I see very little industry downside here, and no downside for the artists.

But in typical fashion, the empty bag obsessed RIAA is going to continue to lob bombs at these sites, in the hope that one day the cat will miraculously jump back into the bag.  It ain’t going to happen.

Rather that try to turn the music off, the music industry should issue a list of best (e.g., required) practices, to encourage these sites to hide the song location to prevent downloads, etc., and let the music play.

In honor of that, and because who knows if I’ll have another chance, I wanted to make a little mix for your listening pleasure, but it was very hard to access MixTape.me, and when I got there, few of the songs I found were available.  I wonder if that’s a beta problem or a bigger problem?

In any event, enjoy.

Why Sharing is Holding Back Application Development

I still love my iPhone.  I especially love the fact that I can read my iPhone reading list and browse the App Store for new applications that promise to make my life easier and more efficient.  The iPhone/App Store combination has been one of the biggest productivity advances I have ever experienced.  Heck, Apple may be taking over my tech life- I bought an AppleTV box today.  It’s another elegant device and, by far, the best device I have found for serving home movies.

But it could be better.

hatesharingEvery developer, every application and every blogger is obsessed with sharing, collaboration, yada, yada.  Today I read that the developers of my most useful app, Evernote, may be moving their focus away from their excellent iPhone app to focus on, you guessed it, sharing and collaboration.  Does anyone actually use the collaboration features crammed into all these apps for anything truly useful?  Most people I know are more interested in keeping people away from their data than putting it out there for the world to see.  Even if we wanted to collaborate with our partners, clients, etc., no corporate IT department in the world would let us.  And even if they did, there are enterprise platforms that permit collaboration while maintaining the big business-mandated level of security.

The iPhone has crossed over from the realm of the geek to the larger and much more profitable realm of the mainstream user.  I have numerous real world friends who can barely send an email, but who use and love their iPhones.  These people and thousands if not millions like them represent a gold mine for application developers.  And most of them couldn’t care less about the ability to share their documents with others.

The reason why the Apple Store was packed today, why I am morphing into an Apple lover after years of resistance, why so many of my real world friends have the Apple sticker in the windows of their cars, is simple.  This stuff works.  It’s easy to set up and use.  And most importantly, it makes tasks that lots and lots of people do every day more efficient and more fun.  Tasks like email, texting, information storage and retrieval, taking and emailing photos, finding a good nearby restaurant, playing Uno with your kids, etc.

The Evernote team, and just about every other app developer, would be better served and would more easily tap into that gold mine, if they forgot about sharing and focused on making their application more useful to non-geek users on an individual basis.  For example, while the Evernote iPhone app is intuitive and easy to use, the web application needs a lot of work.  That’s where the focus ought to be.

I think a lot of developers are electing to fish in a small pond, while the fish in the big pond swim around hungrily.

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Great Desktop XM Radio Player

The XM Sirius merger has rekindled my interest in listening to satellite radio over the internet.  5 of the 6 pre-sets in my truck are former Sirius stations: Outlaw Country (12), the Led Zeppelin Channel (39), 1st Wave (44), Classic Vinyl (46) and the Grateful Dead Channel (57).  Deep Tracks (40) is the only former XM channel to keep its place.

Until today, the main obstacle to listening to XM over the net was the burdensome login and navigation process at XM’s steaming site.  I want- no, I demand- a simple one or two touch process to get the music started.  The Pandora desktop application is the best example of this so far.  One click and I’m listening to my excellent Pandora station.

Pandora’s my baby, but sometimes I want to drill down into a specific genre or a mix other than the great alt. country genome I have mapped at Pandora.

Now, thanks to the free Lenware XM Radio Player Desktop Edition (here’s the developer’s site, for donations and support), I can easily crank up my XM stations and navigate to and between my favorite stations.

The first time you launch the player, it asks for your XM credentials.  After that, the player remembers your name and password.  I’ve been flicking back and forth between the Grateful Dead Channel and 1st Wave while typing this.

The Lenware player lets you easily navigate between genres via the tabs at the top, and within genres via the list in the main window.  You can add your favorite stations to the Favorites list with the click of a mouse.  The player is snappy, with almost no delay when changing stations.  You can see what’s playing on other channels as well, so you can song surf if you want.

This is a fine piece of software.  I highly recommend it.

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The Non-iTuners Manifesto

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We have previously rejected iPods, because we refuse to capitulate to iTunes, both the application and the format, as the toll road to our musical destinations.

We hereby reject iTunes movie rentals because we refuse to capitulate to idiotic viewing limitations:

[T]he convenience of downloading and watching a movie immediately isn’t that great that you should lose the former rental flexibility, and so harshly.

Amen. Just because you can download something, doesn’t mean you should.

Long live Netflix.

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The Greatest Firefox Extension Ever

nosquint-logoUntil today, I have unsuccessfully waged my own private war against tiny text size on the internet.  Some sites use a default text size that renders microscopically on larger monitors at higher resolutions.  Changing the default text size at the browser level isn’t a solution, because then the text size on many sites is way too big.  It has been extremely frustrating.

Occasionally I google around in search of a solution.  Today I found one.  And based on 30 minutes of surfing around and actually being able to read the words on pages, I proclaim it the greatest Firefox extension ever.

NoSquint is the long awaited answer to the text size problem.

It allows you to set a default zoom level for all pages within Firefox (the suggested 120% works well for me).  The best part is that you can also set individual zoom levels on a per site basis.  This allows me to automatically increase the absurdly small Netvibes text to 140% and the almost as absurdly small My Yahoo text to 130%.

This may be the most significant advance in my internet experience since broadband.

I am very happy, though I can’t resist firing one last shot across the bow of the young and eagle-eyed developers who ignore text size issues: why does it take an extension to do what the sites themselves should already offer via the personalization settings?

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