Monday, February 11, 2008

Larry Luvs Toys

Larry luvs toys. Internet toys. Or what are currently being called Web2.0 toys. That means applications that run entirely on the Internet. Storage on the net. Working on the net. Bookmarks on the net. Networking on the net. Uploading. Sharing. Writing.

In fact, Larry's using an Internet toy to write this very post. It's called Windows Live Writer. And here's a screenshot to prove it:

Live Writer 021108

Larry's not sure, but he thinks you can click on the screenshot to make it bigger. There, if that works, you will see an exact duplicate of what he's just written.

So now Larry has demonstrated two toys. Windows Live Writer and another program called Screenshot Studio.

Now, first, Live Writer. This is perhaps not strictly a Web2.0 device, since you have to download some kind of software, which installs easily. Then you can configure it to publish automatically to your blog.

Essentially, Live Writer is a WYSIWYG text editor, or word processor. But it goes somewhat beyond basic word processing. In fact, it has all the tools that the Blogger editing page has, plus a couple others. You can download plug-ins that expand the capabilities of Live Writer, such as "Insert SnagIt Screen Capture," which Larry guesses is a function similar to the Studio Screenshot application. (And here Larry has to say, he hasn't been able to get this plug-in to work, even though the program says it's enabled and he's downloaded it about 3 times and installed it just as many times, but when he tries to use it, a box comes up saying it's not installed. Conclusion: there are still bugs to be worked out.) One thing you can do with Live Writer that you can't on the Blogger page is to insert a table. Not the four-legged kind, but the tabular kind. Like this:

Live Writer Four-Legged Table

You can also insert events, maps, pictures, videos, hyperlinks, and tags (which this blog is not currently using, but could be.)

There are several of these Word-type applications available on the net now, including many of the Google applications like Google Docs, ThinkFree and Zoho. These latter two are in fact much more than mere word processors. They qualify as genuine office applications. And what does that mean? It means you don't necessarily have to spend the $700 that Larry spent on Microsoft Office. These apps are free! Did Larry say free? Yes, free! As in free. And speaking of free, if you want an office suite on your computer that's maybe not quite as powerful or flashy as Microsoft Office, but has the advantage of being free, check out Open Office.Org. Larry uses this all the time rather than Microsoft Office (which he paid $700 for...) This is not to say he doesn't use Office. He does. Just not for everything. Like, for example, creating pdf files, which you can do with Open Office!

These online applications have one big advantage. As long as you remember your login name and password, you can access them from any computer at all that has an Internet connection. All of them allow you to upload documents as well, and to share them. So, for example, you could do a collaborative writing project by establishing a group who all know the password, then edit the document online, save the versions and (in the case of Google, Larry believes) even publish it online. (And for this purpose, though there wouldn't be any money involved in the publishing, there is another site called Scribd, specifically for uploading documents which can be shared to a wide audience.

There is also one big disadvantage to these programs, however. Because they're online, and they're free, there is always the danger that the companies sponsoring these sites will one day go out of business. And then you're SOL, unless you've backed up your files. (Of course, you can always back them up on some other free online site!)

And speaking of backup. How about your bookmarks? Ever lost your bookmarks? Larry has lost his bookmarks. Suzy Homemaker has lost hers too. Larry has since learned how to back these up on his own computer, but he has also invested time (but no money cuz it's free) in an online bookmark service called StartAid. This is a cool bookmarking service, that loads into your browser as well as being accessible on a separate webpage. (Once again, accessible from any computer at all.)

Yes, Larry luvs toys. Actually, the one he loves most is his Firefox browser. If you are still using any browser other than Firefox, you are missing a whole world of functionality. Larry doesn't even know where to begin. So he won't. There are so many people working on add-ons and little improvements, pimping it up as they say, that it makes your head spin. All in the name of productivity, or functionality, or efficiency, or just plain fun and the sheer joy of surfing. Seriously, forget about Internet Explorer. Forget Safari. (Larry uses this too, but it just doesn't compete.) Forget Opera. (Larry just started experimenting with it, but it doesn't look like it quite makes it either...) Get Firefox. Do it now!

Larry luvs his toys. And he's now going to use his Windows Live Writer toy to post this on Dove Tale Writer. (Hope to hell it works...)


Larry Keiler said...

So Larry gets to see the results...

The table did not come out as expected, mainly cuz Larry only filled in the first four fields (out of sixteen). The grid which was visible in Live Writer is not visible in the posting. But the table did work.

Xena said...

Okay, now you're scaring me, Larry. Like, do you sleep anymore???? And given that, when do you find time to meditate????

A quick question - with free software, is there advertising attached, like say, when one uses yahoo? I'm pretty good at not seeing those dancing ads...

Actually Larry, I'm pretty impressed with your understanding of all these toys. But I tell ya, I feel a helluva lot safer with my stories right there inside my hard drive... with various copies in other places, like, say, printed up on PAPER, and then on my jump drive - which reminds me, I haven't backed up my novel in a long while!

My website - since I don't actually administer it myself - has disappeared before - now that was scary... But even scarier, was when my URL became an ad for a Christian bookstore....

I've never had my bookmarks disappear though have misplaced a few books in life....

And now completely off-topic, congratulations to your other half (Gary and not Penny) for his contribution to the Juno nomination.

A final note: Sounds to me that what you've really entered with all these toys is the ability to be your own publisher, or to be in complete control of what you put on the screen "page".