All the small things: a little writing app that makes a big difference

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In the old days, writing for magazines was easy: you’d write a piece, send it as a Word doc or a text file, and that was it. Now, though, everything’s online and in a CMS. Creating content for that is often a pain in the backside, especially if you use apps designed for print rather than pixels.

Hurrah, then, for Ulysses. It’s a genuinely great app that’s already saving me stacks of time – not just in terms of creating copy I don’t then need to tweak, but in terms of the massive time savings that come from the way it does things. At £31.99 it’ll pay for itself in no time.

Here’s the obligatory video.

If you need to write words of any kind, it’s a great app. There’s a free demo too.

Don’t upgrade to Apple’s Pages 5.0…

…until you’ve checked that features you depend upon haven’t been removed.

Apple’s done its software thing again: it’s released what’s supposed to be a brand new version of an existing program, but really it’s a brand new program using a familiar name. As this support discussion shows, upgrading to Pages 5.0 means losing a lot of features. And by “a lot”, I mean A LOT.

The ones I’ve noticed so far are the removal of the ability to see a character count including spaces (something I need when I write for MacFormat), the removal of the status bar and its persistent word count (something I need in almost every document I do), the removal of the ability to change the default zoom level (again, something I need on each document), the ability to select non-contiguous blocks of text. It doesn’t remember if you close the formatting panel, the Autocorrect preferences are gone, the two-page view is gone, the… you get the idea.

Scared of losing your Facebook pics or your Twitter tweets?

I’ve written a few times about the downside of uploading to online services: sometimes it can be hard to get your stuff back out again if you want to move to a different service or just want a backup. As a result of my moaning I’ve been emailed by the people behind SocialSafe, and they reckon they have the answer: it’s a Mac and PC app that can download your content and connections from the main social networks.

I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for whether it’s any cop or not, but it certainly looks clever enough. There’s a free trial if you fancy a go.

Nokia. Connecting (Microsoft) people

I wrote about Nokia’s fading fortunes a few months ago and got into trouble for suggesting Nokia should embrace another OS – Android, say, or Windows Phone 7. Today, Nokia announced that Windows Phone 7 would be the central plank of its smartphone strategy. Naturally I think that’s a great idea, and I explain why over on Techradar.

Nothing in tech is certain, of course, and the whole partnership could end in disaster. But I’m really excited about this. Nokia makes stunning hardware, and Windows Phone 7 is a really nice mobile OS.

Bye bye Microsoft Word

I’ve been using Word on the Mac for a long time, but since Office 2008 I’ve encountered an extremely annoying problem: documents get corrupted. It doesn’t happen very often, and it appears to be connected to the Send File button: when I send a file by email, Word does something to the document that means it can’t be opened: it’s not a valid file any more. It won’t work in Word for the Mac, Word on PC, any Office clones or anything else. It’s a dead file.

It’s annoying, but it’s not the end of the world: I can retrieve the emailed copy from my Sent email folder and resurrect it.

Still, it’s annoying enough that I was ready to buy the New! Improved! Microsoft Office for Mac to stop it happening again.

Unfortunately the problem hasn’t gone away in the new version; it’s got worse. Yesterday I was working across eight Word documents. Nothing fancy, just plain text. Several thousand words in all. And Word corrupted six of them beyond repair (I don’t have Time Machine running at the moment so I couldn’t roll back time, unfortunately). The files couldn’t be moved, or copied, or emailed, or anything. They were completely and utterly screwed.

It’s a known problem, it seems, and it *may* have something to do with unusual characters in filenames or folder paths. However, my documents didn’t have unusual characters in filenames or folder paths, and no other program on my Mac does this. Just Word.

I like Word, but I can’t have the electronic equivalent of a family dog that mauls the kids. So it’s off to Pages I go.

Google, Apple and Microsoft. It’s war!

A fun wee piece I wrote for PC Plus has ventured online:

Back in the good old days, Microsoft did desktops, Google stuck to search and Apple made toys for people in polo necks. No more.

The superpowers of the technology world are at war, and like real wars, the battle is happening on several fronts. They’re fighting on the desktop, they’re fighting on mobile phones, they’re fighting in the browser and they’re fighting in your front room.

Who will prevail, and who will end up in a bunker?

Windows 7: can you trust the reviews?

It’s the best Windows yet, we’re told, but the reviewers said the same thing about Vista. Can we trust them? What’s different about Windows 7?

…unfair or not, people did criticise Microsoft – again and again and again and again, until the man on the street believed that Vista was as desirable as a six-month submarine trip with Fred “Farty” Finnegan and a kitchen stocked only with Guinness and sprouts.

So are the experts right this time? Will Windows 7 fare better? We think it will.

The “it’s just Vista done right” slur isn’t a slur to these eyes, because it’s largely true

iPhone 3.0 hands-on

Is the upgrade enough to make the 3GS upgrade unnecessary? I think so…

Until third party developers really start to take advantage of the new APIs it’s evolution rather than revolution, but it does keep your phone current without forcing you to shell out any more cash.