Topstyle5 – a great editor

Topstyle 5

Topstyle, the HTML, CSS and PHP text editor has been out now for some months in version 5 and it is the best editor of its type that I have used in nearly 20 years of developing web sites. I don’t say that lightly – I’m fussy as I sit on a keyboard 9 hours a day.

I was an early user of HotDog, an HTML editor that appeared around 1995. It was such an improvement on Notepad that I bought the next two versions without hesitation. Then I discovered Homesite around 1998 and stuck with it through its sale to Macromedia and then Adobe until the latter abandoned it.

Read More»

Pin a tail on it and call it weasel words

United Nations Development Programme

One of the things that struck me as a reporter in my previous life was that defensive explanations are often  inversely credible to the number of words that they contain.

The best I ever read were years ago in Newsweek’s letter to the editor column. Someone would complain about a story’s slant or conclusion and Newsweek, in bold, would print: Newsweek stands by its story (on those occasion in which they did). I always admired them for it.

Take the other extreme. The UN Development Programme is supposed to alleviate world poverty. Our former Prime Minister, Helen Clark leads it. It has been rebuked by a damning internal investigation by its own board, which found that many of its actions had “only remote connections with poverty, if at all”.  Pretty strong stuff.

Taking Newsweek’s cue, the agency’s response could have been: “We stand by our actions”.

But, instead, in a little under 8 thousand words (8 thousand!), the agency trots out enough weasel words to make Don Watson maintain an erection for a long weekend.

Read More»

Assaults on English

What is it about English that bureaucrats and middle managers feel that they can destroy it by reassembling the 26 letters that they have available into gobbledygook and nonsense?

At random, today, here are two examples of junk writing that should never have passed muster.

Read More»

Samsung Kies software sucks

Kies software from Samsung is very poorly written - avoid it

Generally speaking, Samsung makes polished products. Its mobile phones, in particular, impress me and I enjoy electronic gadgets and have bought them since the early eighties. Samsung’s mobile phones are so good that they easily outsell the Apple iPhone worldwide. That’s why it’s a pity that Samsung can’t write software to save itself.

Samsung has the advantage of a range of mobiles that cover small to large screens. I am currently using a Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N70000 mobile, with a screen size of more than 5-inches. It makes the cramped iPhone screen look comical.

Having said that, Samsung does cripple its phones’ usefulness with software called Kies, a poorly written piece of software that should let Samsung Android mobile owners synchronise their Outlook contacts and calendars with the phone. Apple’s equivalent is the much-cursed (at least on Windows) iTunes. But iTunes works!

Kies breaks computers and is to be avoided at all costs. It has been bad for years and it continues, with each update, to stay bad. Kies should be rewritten from the ground up or written off.

Read More»

When reporters become stenographers

When reporters become stenographers

Some bloggers call mainstream journalists ‘repeaters’ rather than reporters, because, they say, they plunder other people’s words, without attribution, and call them their own.

I thought it was just a little hyperbole, having spent the best part of thirty years reporting and writing for the main stream media.

A case in point is press releases. I didn’t, and no reporter that I ever worked with would, on point of honour, ever use the same words as a press release in their own copy unless they were quoting the issuer verbatim to illustrate what he or she had placed on the record.

The releases, you see, are written by flash Johnnie PR people and you just don’t use their words. Rather, you try to craft the rewrite in a news, rather than marketing fashion. Even better, you read the release, throw it aside and try to find out what they didn’t include in the release because that’s usually where the better story lies.

Oh dear. I’m too old to feel crushed but some really slack work by both TVNZ news and the Waikato Times has diminished my faith in modern newsrooms to the point where they have become a parody of themselves and truly are ‘repeaters’.

Read More»

Plain English: death by a thousand public servants

This must take whichever cake is on offer for the dopiest rearrangement of the alphabet this year. Ag Research did quite well fiddling with cows’ udders to produce a high-protein milk that reduces allergic reactions in people otherwise allergic to cow’s milk.

But their writing… If they researched cows’ milk the same way as they destroy English, they would wipe out New Zealand’s dairy industry within a year. The following seems to be pasted into each job description for prospective employees.

Read More»

Trademe’s big fail

Trademe has turned into a bully and it’s only taken 13 years.

When Trademe started in the late nineties, it was an underdog. Ebay largely ignored New Zealand and so the chance was there for someone to step in. It has taken only a few years for a keen young company to turn into an Internet bully.

Trademe is flexing its muscles as its (hapless) competitors line up for a crack at its lead.  Sam Morgan let his mask slip when labelled one competitor’s efforts a “joke”. Yes he retracted, probably on wiser counsel and added some mitigating weasel words, but his attitude is clear.

Read More»
© Copyright 2012 Netco - Theme by Pexeto