Vivaldi, and browser options

I installed Vivaldi the other day to give it a whirl. I was a little sceptical of their claims that it was a browser “for developers”

Then I went into the options. My jaw literally dropped. Literally.


Look at all those options!

Vivaldi has options that other browsers don’t provide by default. You can change the theme at a specific time of day, set up mouse gestures, move tabs to the sides or bottom, set a time-limit on your browsing history, change your default fonts (as in, when a web page says “sans serif” you get to pick what that means)

Firefox, Chrome, and Opera (my favourite, up to now at least) have plugins to cater for all of these things, but vivaldi does them out of the box. I thought that would make the whole thing feel bloated, but it’s buttery smooth. It seems to load pages faster than any other browser, though I suspect that’s down to the progress bar, which shows how many bytes have loaded (mesmerising).

I’m going to set Vivaldi as my default from today on, with Opera to fall back on if needed

wordcount is in the store

I’ve released a new app on the windows store, a universal / UWP app for counting words. It sounds silly, but I needed a way to count words on my phone, and there were no options.

At time of writing there are three other wordcount apps on the windows store. One is full of horrific full page ads, one doesn’t work (on wp10 at least), and one is a paid app.

It seemed to me that there was a gap in the market there for something that worked, didn’t cost anything and didn’t try to sell you some random crap. It takes some balls to charge someone for an app that counts words. As for the ads guy, don’t get me started.

Here’s a link to wordcount in the store, which is free, has no ads, no in-app purchases, and works on windows 10 and windows phone 10.

wordcount for windows 10


Found this nice little in-browser editor through HN:

– Your thoughts are backed up directly to Chrome: no account or syncing.
– Here are some handy shortcuts for you. Take notes ⌘B, ⌘I, ⌘U, ⇧⌘S
– Choose Day 🌤 or Night 🌕 mode
– Count the number of characters 🔢
– You can print your note

It has most of the things that Poe currently does, and a few that it will have in the next version. It doesn’t save your work, so you must export it to keep anything you write. This is a fairly big hole in functionality, something that could be easily fixed by leveraging localStorage.

It’s pretty though, and I like how simple it is. Simple is good.

wordpress from the command line

Decided to see if I could find a way to post to wordpress from the command line today. Promptly found wp-cli, which seemed to be the business. Promptly spent an hour trying to get it to install on Windows 10. I had to install php & composer first, only to find that method did not work. Then I had to download a .phar file and write a batch to install it. I also had to go fiddling with system path variables.

Would it be quicker if I knew what I was doing? Sure.
Would it take less than 2 minutes if I used Linux/OSX? Probably.

But neither of those conditions held true. I’m not au-fait with composer (though I should be I’m sure) and I don’t run Linux because I develop I use Visual Studio for work. More than that, all the many times I’ve tried various flavours of Linux over the years, they just haven’t floated my boat. They always feel unfinished.

Maybe soon I’ll try again, and maybe I’ll like it, but that’s for another post.

So I finally got wp-cli installed, and wasted about another 30 minutes trying to connect to wordpress. It seems that it wants me to install WP to a root folder, and then it can do command line stuff to that install. So basically, I have to run it on the server on which I have WP installed.

And I’m out.

Aside from taking hours to get up and running, and finding it doesn’t do what I want, the complexity is crazy, for a simple command line tool. The wp-cli folder installed has a brain numbing 2,635 files, and clocks in at 10mb. WordPress itself isn’t that complex, with just over 1,500 files and taking 50mb of my SSD. How can the simple command line tool to post to wordpress need 1,000 more files than wordpress itself? Granted this is a cloned git project, so a lot of that is probably not strictly necessary to the compiled app, but still it boggles the mind.

I abandoned wp-cli, and found a node.js library called “wordpress” which is ‘only’ 500 files (though these are hidden away in my node_modules folder). I can write a single node script that will do most of what I need to my remote wordpress install. If I’d only done this to begin with, those 90+ minutes would have been better spent.

Instantly play any song on the web, without even knowing its name!


This little app is pretty neat. Finds songs by name or by lyrics, plays them in the browser. It sources them from youtube. Only ever had an issue with one so far – The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil, which was set not to be embeddable.

Try it!

UPDATE on Monday, February 1, 2016: seems to have been taken down, presumably it angered the gods of music law. However, the source is still available on github if anyone is interested.

Edge can’t do bookmarklets…

I wanted to use the “PressThis” button to post about something else quickly today (filesprout – awesome, check it out) but instead I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of trying to set up bookmarklets in Microsoft’s new Edge browser. There are lots of search results on this, but all ultimately point to the same article  on how to hack this together. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me. When I alter the content of a URL link in favourites it just disappears from the browser.

I wanted to give Edge a real try, but this issue is a deal breaker for me. I use bookmarklets daily and I don’t want to have to change that.

Must have tools for developers and power users

Every Windows developer should give this list a once over when setting up a new PC:

Scott Hanselman’s 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows

There aren’t many I can add to that list – Scott has pretty much covered everything.

Here are a few things I would also suggest:

  1. FFMPEG – if you do any work with video at all, FFMPEG converts things by command-line so you don’t have to install some dodgy app just to turn a mov file in an mp4 or whatever. It is complex to learn, but its easy to find and adapt command examples on superuser or the web in general
  2. SQLiteAdmin – strangely absent from Scott’s list are any SQLite tools. SQLite admin lets you poke around in SQLite databases and perform queries.
  3. SQLYog Community Edition – SQL Management Studio for MySQL

I don’t even install these, I just keep them in a dropbox folder synced between all PC’s.

Poe: New version, new website

I’ve not had a lot of time to work on any side projects lately, been very busy with work and family stuff. But I have just this past month scraped together enough time to put out an new version of my writing app for windows 8, Poe

Poe is a simple distraction-free writing app with lots of neat little features to help authors knuckle down and focus on the writing. I won’t go into all the details here – that’s what I built the poe site for.

Up next: Focussing on posting more regularly on this here blog.