I’m trying out new blog tools this week. I started yesterday with the ecto blog editor, just to see if it works better for me then the editing component of NetNewsWire. For what it’s worth, I’m still undecided. It has a few really cool features (including automatically using your blog’s CSS in its internal preview), and it seems to be a bit more robust then NNW’s editor (it can actually download all of my categories, a feat which has continually stumped NNW), but I don’t know that it’s worth the extra bit of cash.

I’m also trying out the Markdown and SmartyPants plugins for MovableType. Markdown is a smart text-to-HTML converter—with it, you can type:

_this should be in italics_

instead of:

<em>this should be in italics</em>

Personally, the incessant < and > have been irritating me a lot recently. I can do HTML, but I’d rather not have to prove it every time I write something here. Markdown can do more then just italics:

With [Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown), 
it's easy to do things like lists
  * of
  * stuff
  * like
  * this

With Markdown, it’s easy to do things like lists * of * stuff * like * this

The SmartyPanty plugin is less complex. All it does is convert simple ASCIIisms like quotes and dashes into correctly-typeset quotes and en- and em-dashes.

“Bob,” said Tom, “‘you can nest quotes’ was all she said to me–I didn’t believe her, though.”

I’ll probably also try out the Shrook RSS reader, thanks to Cory Doctrow’s recommendation on Boing Boing this morning. I like NetNewsWire, but it’s really slow on my PowerBook G4/550, so I’m open to looking a new tools.

Update (Mar 25, 2004): Shrook just didn’t cut it for me. It was interesting, but I like NetNewsWire’s Combined View way better. The “smart playlist” bits in Shrook look promising, but it felt like could skim through stuff in NNW 2–3 times faster then in Shrook. So I deleted it. Its an interesting program, but it doesn’t seem compatible with the way I want to read RSS feeds. So I’ll stick with NNW for now, but I’m planning on looking into Gush when it’s available for OS X.