Writing for the web…

RukEdit ThumbnailAnyone who writes for the web — writing like this site, where there’s new material most every day — knows how uncomfortable it is to write inside the barren confines of a plain text <TEXTAREA>.  It feels like you’re scratching out words on a stone tablet.

Columnist Jerry Pournelle, who I’ve been reading in BYTE magazine since I was 12 years old, has written thousands of words on this very subject over the years: he started writing using a program called Electric Pencil and has never really been satisfied since.

Last night, in another fit of procrastination, and feeling like I didn’t want to write anything here because I just couldn’t bear to scratch out another word in the stone, I decided to do something about it.  The result is what you see a little thumbnail of to the right.  It’s not perfect, and it only works, at least so far, in Internet Explorer version 5 or higher.  But boy does it ever make writing for the web more pleasant.

RukEdit SnapshotWhat I did is to take something called the Rich Edit Component, released for free by a bunch called WebFX, and built a little custom text editor around it.  The result — call it RukEdit for now — lets me type into a web page in a WYSIWYG style. I’ve been able to create a nice clean interface that suites me perfectly.  It makes writing very, very pleasant.

I was partly prompted to do this by Edward Greenspan, of all people.  Book Television is showing highlights of last years’s ideaCity conference in Toronto and during his session he showed pictures of the depressing suburban court houses in Toronto where he spends a lot of his courtroom time.  His thesis was that ugly courthouses resulted in poorer, or at least different justice.  It’s all about your surroundings, he held.

And I agree.

If you’ve got your own tool for web writing, and don’t mind a Microsoft lock-in browser-wise, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the Rich Edit Component to see what it can do for you.  I know that “real web people code in raw HTML,” but when you’re hands are starting to give out, and your brain is sick of looking at greater than and less than signs, it’s nice to retreat to the simplicity of a nice clean editor.

No more stuff for sale…

Well that was fast.  Last night I posted a page on the site that listed a bunch of stuff that I wanted to get rid of in a big spring cleaning effort.  Less that 12 hours later it’s all been sold.

Aliant Tea Leaves

I’ve been reading the tea leaves, and I’m betting that we’ll see the end of Island Tel (err Island Telecom, or whatever) as a brand in the next 3 to 6 months, being replaced entirely by Aliant.

The signs: friends have been called by pollsters on issue, the recorded operator message you get when you call 411 or make a calling card call says, at least some of the time, “Thank you for using Aliant Telecom” (it used to say “MT&T and Island Tel”), and the font size of “An Aliant Company” relative to the legacy company logos has been growing.

Best wishes to Bruce Garrity

I’ve been working with Bruce Garrity of Tourism PEI in one way or another for 8 or 9 years now.  Most recently Bruce was the host of the the Vacancy Information Service we created TIAPEI.  Under Bruce’s guidance, the Service has grown by leaps and bounds.

Bruce is the kind of guy who always has a story.  Often three or four.  He’s the kind of public servant that you never mind meeting with because you know that there will be just as much talk about how they install telephones in New York City, or about why Blue Herons fly upside down, as there will be about whatever it is you’re meeting about.

Bruce sent ‘round an email this week telling everyone he’s taking “the package” and retiring from the provincial public service.  He will be missed.


Rush isn’t as obvious on the airwaves as they used to be (maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been locked into a lite-rock, oldies and country prison for a decade here on the Island).  I’m streaming Radio Free Tiny Pineapple right now and they’re playing Rush’s The Spirit of Radio.  What a wonderful song.

Interesting related find: Geddy Lee’s website is a set of interactive discussion boards.

Interesting depressing find: a Google search for Rush sticks you behind innumerable Rush Limbaugh sites, obscuring a bona fide Rush website (if there actually is one).

Invisible airwaves crackle with life.