Zero-Grief Policy

So I traveled the world only to return home again. I've been looking for a faster, more convenient way to write and post to this blog. I've been struck by several ideas I'd like to comment on but the lack of a lightweight, non-fussy app to do this has vexed me. I tried ScribeFire, but it didn't really do it for me. I've looked at a few others; I like the flexibility and speed of a desktop app, like w.bloggar, but I like the convenience of a web-based app as it allows me to write, revise, and publish posts whenever I'm online, whether at work or home or school.

The other reason not to have a dedicated app is that I can't install it on my work PC; also, when I'm home, I'm usually busy with real work, and blogging is put to the side. So this has to be a tool I can use anywhere in the interstices of my day.

I tried last night to implement the WordPress Blog-by-Email instructions, but the instructions were not clear to me and my experiments didn't work. Using my Gmail account to blog seemed ideal, but it appears that all the formatting would get stripped out in the process, meaning I could draft the post in email but would have to heavily edit it in WordPress, which struck me as an extra step I didn't want to take.

I was about to download and evaluate some new apps when I thought, "What's the simplest thing that could possibly work?" And then I thought, "Adopt a zero-grief policy."

I ran across that phrase a few years ago when evaluating help-authoring toolkits for a client. None of these packages are easy, but some of them are hyuuuuge, way bigger than my client needed for occasional use. On a HAT mailing list, some guy talked about his method for testing out software, and it was essentially a zero-grief policy: at the first sign of trouble, he tossed it.

That was a pretty liberating thought that saved me a lot of time. I could instantly dismiss some HAT packages simply by starting them and seeing how fearsome their interfaces looked. If they intimidated me, they'd for sure intimidate my client. How many steps did it take to update a topic and re-gen the help file? Too many non-intuitive steps and out it went.

So I looked again at Google Docs, which I remembered allowed me to publish a document to my old Blogger blog. Lo and behold, you can use Google Docs to publish to lots of blog platforms, including WordPress using the Movable Type API. For me, a very simple, zero-grief solution to an annoying problem.

Update: I've posted two things tonight from Google Docs and it worked pretty flawlessly. I do still have to access the WordPress control panel to tick the categories and add a title, but by and large, this is the quick and easy solution I was after.