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Open Live Writer

December 9th, 2015 (11:02 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Download Open Live WriterWhen I first started blogging, I used LiveJournal’s own facilities to edit my posts, but for many years now, I’ve used Windows Live Writer instead – a program created by Microsoft as part of their Live Essentials suite that just makes editing blog posts much easier, and allows me to save drafts offline before posting, as I tend to be a slow, careful writer. The single most useful thing it does is make posting pictures easy, but there are quite a number of things it just makes easier in greater or lesser ways.

However, it hasn’t been updated since 2012, when Microsoft indicated they weren’t going to develop it any further. That’s kind of OK – as a free app, it wasn’t directly making Microsoft any money so it’s difficult to complain if they decide it’s no longer worth it.

It was really disappointing, though, to think that some day I might not be able to use such a useful program because it just got left behind.

I wasn’t alone in thinking that, and people both inside and outside Microsoft campaigned to have it open-sourced, so that its development and maintenance could be picked up by enthusiasts.

Today Scott Hanselman announced that Live Writer has been open sourced, and you can download Open Live Writer immediately. It’s currently a little less capable than the old version, mainly because of third-party licensing reasons, but I expect replacement functionality will be on its way (some is definitely already planned), and that in time Open Live Writer will be an even better solution than Windows Live Writer has already been.

If you’re a blogger on Windows and don’t use it already, I’d recommend checking it out. If you’re already a Windows Live Writer user, it’s good to know there’s a new future for the application.

If you’re a developer and want to contribute, you can subscribe to the mailing list and explore it on GitHub. Scott Hanselman’s article is a good introduction.

Postscript: of course, having said that the single most useful thing it does is make posting pictures easy, Open Live Writer failed to do so for this post. Still, the original Windows Live Writer still works, I’ve filed a bug, and I’m sure it’ll get sorted out in due course.


Post-postscript: as a result of my bug report, it's already been found and fixed in development in a little over an hour, so shouldn't be too long before it's fixed in an actual release.

Dad’s Army Too

November 11th, 2015 (12:06 am)
Tags: , ,

current location: KY16 8SX

For anyone who missed it, the trailer for the forthcoming Dad’s Army movie was released a couple of weeks ago. It's due in cinemas in February.

I'm a bit cautious about the prospect of a movie, because the one with the original cast back in the 1970s was an absolute turkey. Why did so many perfectly good sitcoms of the period wind up as terrible, terrible movies? However, on the admittedly dubious grounds of a trailer it looks like this might be quite good.

Dad’s Army

November 10th, 2015 (11:54 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

I’ve taken a bit of an interest in Dad’s Army ever since I ran a short-lived roleplaying game in the 1990s in which the player characters were members of the Home Guard, dealing with mysterious happenings which turned out to be due to a burrow of Wombles rather than fifth-columnists – although one of the Wombles was blessed with the name Berlin…

This evening I went to the Byre Theatre to watch the St Andrews Play Club present their rendition of Dad’s Army. This was the opening night, and if you’re one of the local readers of this blog and fancy catching it, it’s on until Saturday. It has a running time of two hours, including the interval.

The St Andrews Play Club have put on a previous production of Dad’s Army in 2011, but I was unaware of it at the time. That consisted of a couple of TV episodes, “Mum’s Army” and “The Deadly Detachment”. The second episode there is the one you probably expect, with the U-boat crew as prisoners of war, and the oft-repeated line referring to Private Pike which I won’t spoil here just in case there’s anyone in the universe who hasn’t heard it.

So it sounds like this evening’s production was more ambitious, stretching to two TV episodes (“The Godiva Affair” and “The Deadly Attachment” again), an “episode” which was only ever performed on stage by the original cast (“The Floral Dance”) and an original piece to close by one of the society members, called “All Together Now”.

Alan Tricker as Captain Mainwaring (in the 2011 production)

The main characters were all recognisable, despite the rather odd experience of watching an unmistakably Scottish Sergeant Wilson. They were probably spoilt for choice for people to play Fraser! Captain Mainwaring and Lance Corporal Jones are probably the most demanding roles to play, as they involve not just acting but a lot of comic timing, and I’m pleased to say they carried it off admirably. Alan Tricker as Captain Mainwaring wasn’t a new Arthur Lowe, but that would be a tall order (for a short man); he didn’t have quite the level of frustrated self-importance of the original but nevertheless did a good job in the role. David Lee as Lance Corporal Jones did a great job – it was almost like watching Clive Dunn in action.

There’s a warm comfort to be had from watching something so familiar yet slightly new. The TV episodes were very familiar, of course – so much so that I was completely unfazed when rather endearingly in a moment of meta-character “”Pike” fluffed the punch line to “The Godiva Affair”, naming Mrs Fox instead of Mrs Mainwaring. For anyone previously unfamiliar with the story, I think the business probably sold what was actually meant to have been said. “The Deadly Detachment” strayed somewhat from the original in having an all-female U-boat crew, but that was cool (and played completely straight). Apart from that line, it’s not actually a favourite of mine, but I enjoyed seeing it on stage.

The two sections I was unfamiliar with both had a musical bent. “The Floral Dance” saw the platoon and other residents of Walmington-on-Sea, engaged in choir practice before an event in aid of wounded soldiers, and building up to a performance of the song named. Despite having a slightly different pedigree, it felt right. If you’re not able to see it in St. Andrews, and want an idea of what it was like, YouTube comes to the rescue – here’s audio of the original cast performing it on stage:

The final section, “All Together Now”, was a celebration of the end of the war (probably VE-day, but that wasn’t quite clear and I didn’t recognise the clip of Churchill on the radio announcement). Featuring a selection of songs culminating in White Cliffs of Dover and a tableau in which the cast were starkly lit and sprinkled with poppies. I didn’t feel it quite gelled as the scripts by Jimmy Perry and David Croft did, but again that’s a tall order, and apparently it was written at quite short notice, so good on the script writer all the same. It was more sentimental than amusing, but that’s OK – one of the strengths of Dad’s Army was that it would occasionally make it clear that, for all their ridiculousness, the characters were utterly sincere and serious about being prepared to lay down their lives to make the smallest of differences.

Worth checking out, if you can.

<I°_°I> and other tales

November 8th, 2015 (01:01 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Electro swing is perhaps a bit misnamed – it’s a combination of 20s or 30s-style trad jazz (rather than the slightly later and smoother swing) with more modern instruments and  styles including hip hop and electronic dance music. The UK’s 2015 Eurovision entry, "Still In Love With You" by Electro Velvet was an example, though a kind of disappointing one. I was pleased it was a bit different and wanted to like it, but couldn’t convince myself and ultimately it didn’t do too well. We scored a majestic 5 points, only 360 behind the ultimate winners, Sweden.

Happily, the French do it better and msinvisfem pointed me in their direction. Caravan Palace formed about ten years ago, and have just released their third album, <I°_°I>. All three are fun and listenable, and I’d recommend checking them out. Here are their official videos, and it’s also worth skipping to the end where there’s a couple of live performance videos, including a full concert. If you like what you see, they’re currently touring and will be in the UK in December, including a date in Glasgow.

Why <I°_°I>? Watch the earlier videos to find out! But if they’re not quite your cup of tea, try <I°_°I> too, as I think the blend of old and new shifts a bit in the third album.

Caravan Palace – 2008

Suzy

Jolie Coquine

Panic – 2012

Rock It For Me

Dramophone

<I°_°I> – 2015

Comics

Mighty

Live Performances

Clash

Full Concert: Karlstor Bahnhof Heidelberg, 2009

This Town Ain’t Big Enough…

November 4th, 2015 (11:36 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

On Friday we were encouraged to come to work appropriately dressed for a Cowboy vs. Aliens Nerf battle.

Me as a cowboy with a belt-fed Nerf machine gun

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