Goodbye Zoundry Raven…hello ???

It’s with great sadness…ummm…ok, frustration…that I say goodbye to our blogging client of the last few years: Zoundry Raven.  I’ve searched MANY times for free and paid blogging clients for Windows and never found a reason to replace it.  I only searched back then when I found something perhaps missing or not fully developed yet in Raven.  Now, however, I’ve had to resume the search and this time…I think it’s for keeps.

Why?

Well, it stopped working!  I’ve had Windows 7 Pro x64 for almost a year now and Raven was working fine for most of that time.  About 2 months ago, it started having a problem.  I don’t blog that often so I can be sure just what changed.  In recommencing my search for blog clients, I was very disappointed in what I found so I thought I’d take a look at perhaps trying “fix” Raven.  Raven went “open source” a little while ago and unfortunately, it’s not gathered a development community, so development basically stopped at the version that stopped working for me.  I’ve never coded in Python but it looked interesting (still does) and I’d love to learn it.  One must be realistic from time to time however, and diving into a complex piece of software like Raven and trying to find the “bug” when you don’t know the language at all…well, let’s just say that I had my tiny pen knife and I was out to kill the elephant and eat it in one big bite…not gonna happen!

Each month we write newsletters that we post on our site using WordPress and send out as emails using phplist.  So, even if I don’t blog that often, each month comes around and I fire up the blog client and write something.  Well, it’s that time again and I’ve got to figure out how to make something work.  I’ve got an old XP laptop on its last legs where Raven is still working, but for me, I concede defeat.  I’ve got to make a change now.  So, yesterday I went looking again and was both semi-encouraged and frustrated.

First of all, I was, for the first time, open to the idea of buying a piece of software.  For most things, I’m really a freeware/open source (can we say cheap!) kind of guy so this was somewhat of a departure!  Anyway, after having looked over the options out there, I think I can safely say that paid blog clients are NOT any better than free ones!  Freeware can often come with a “price”: you get what you pay for.  Not in this case.  What I think I can say is that each blog client caters to a different type of usage and the paid ones are no different.  That’s why I liked Raven so much…it catered to what I do when I write blog posts and newsletters…at least it did so more than other clients.  I’ll admit that I’m pretty particular and there are features that are important to me that simply are not to others.

I’m also a “feature-hound” in general.  I’d much rather have “too much” functionality than “not enough.”

So, I’m down to three choices now:

I may have to pick more than one depending on what I’m doing.  Obviously Windows Live Writer is getting more and more capable all the time, building a good user base and will probably not be let go any time soon.  Post2Blog is already declared “unsupported” by its creators.  It’s got good potential functionality but definite buggy-ness that, of course, is not going to go away with time.  BlogDesk look really promising, but looking at their forums, I wonder how much more will be put into it.

I’ll try the newsletter today and see how it works for me in these three clients.  I’ll post a follow-up to this to state my choice(s) and why.

Mp3Merge

Mp3Merge

Mp3Merge.png

Function:

Mp3Merge is a free application (source code included) which invokes the DOS copy command to concatenate mp3 files which have the same bitrate together without the need to re-encode the files. Its purpose is to facilitate this task for lots of mp3 files that need to be concatenated together.

Background:

I needed a tool to help me re-join many different sermons and other lectures that I had acquired that were broken up into 5-minute segments. I preferred not to do re-encoding because it takes too much time and processing power and I’m always concerned that re-encoding will significantly change the file size or recording quality.

I looked for freeware options but couldn’t find much. Mp3 File Merger seemed promising, but I wasn’t too sure if it was actually doing something. My further digging revealed that it simply created a DOS .bat file of copy statements with the /b (binary) switch. That made me say, “hey, I could write something that does that”. So I didn’t spend any time on the actual “copy” functionality, but worked on making the process quick, easy, seemless, etc…. for me. We’ll, I’ve done that. I like it. So why not let others use it too? So, I tried to clean it up a bit and throw together a basic help file and install process. Hopefully it will work for you too. For a fuller version of how it works, take a look at the html help online.

Modification:

I don’t have much time or desire to mess with it very much so I can’t promise that it will evolve much. But feel free to contact me if you have questions, feature requests or bug reports…we’ll see what happens! 😉 You can use the contact form on the right here, or better yet leave a comment below.

Translations:

I’ve created a non-elegant French translation of the interface (included…language is changable via an .ini file parameter) and I’d welcome corrections to that and a translation of the help file. I’d, of course welcome translations of any other language and will include them here if they come.

System Requirements:

I can’t say that I know all the real technical requirements, but it’s a Windows 32-bit application written in the AutoIt3 scripting language. I’ve tested it on Win XP Pro, Win 7 and Win 10. I would expect that it would function in at least Win 2000 or better. I can’t say for 98/ME. Feel free to try it, and let me know what it has worked on.

Thanks go to:

AutoIt3 scripting language

MediaInfo .dll

HelpMaker

Inno Setup

Download Version 1.0:

Change log:

2009-06-06 – version 1.0 – initial released version

RegEx Nirvana?

My technology path has covered a fairly large swath of operating systems and user environments. I’ve gotten quite familiar with different line-command, GUI and full-screen text (3270) environments. I typically customize any environment I work with.

Currently as part of our missionary work, I’m a systems/network administrator in a small private school in France. I’m the only fish in the pond so I get to do everything. It also means I have to do everything. I don’t have the luxury, therefore, to get good at every technology that I work with. If I don’t know it, I have to teach myself, etc. No training budget here.

My background in programming in various environments and database administration in various environments serves me well in many situations. On thing continues to give me fits, however, regular expressions. These beasts are anything but regular! One thing they are, however, is ubiquitous! As a “mostly Windows guy”, I could get by without them, but even there, more and more pieces of software are adding regex capabilities into their find/replace functions. Add to that the fact that I maintain Linux servers (a self-taught area that has caused me no small amount of head-scratching!) and I absolutely cannot escape regular expressions.

As stated earlier, I don’t have the time to learn every good piece of technology that’s out there, nor a training budget…which translates to no tool budget either. So, I need a good piece of freeware/open source that “holds my hand” in the occasional, but deep, regular expression activity. There’s lots of freeware out there, but 90% of it is simply testing regex…not really helping you understand how to write them. I would search, in vain, occasionally for something that could help me.

Well, I finally found something!!!!

Regulazy (and its big brother Regulator) are written by Roy Osherove and can be found here: https://weblogs.asp.net/rosherove/pages/tools-and-frameworks-by-roy-osherove.aspx I highly recommend them as ideal tools to help you build and test regex’s.

I resent the name Regulazy, but I love its facility to write for you the regex by stepping through a complex string and suggesting appropriate matching expressions for each part of it.

Anyway, thanks Roy for those great tools!!!! You’re helping busy sysadmins the world over!