Live Sync

Using Live Writer on Multiple Computers

I’ve really come to like Live Writer for writing blog posts since I started using it a few months ago.  I’ve been especially happy since upgrading to the beta release of Live Writer 2011.  Not only does Live Writer support a much larger set of formatting capabilities than the WordPress editor but it also allows editing posts using the blog’s theme giving a fairly accurate preview when composing new posts.  I have a few minor gripes about how it handles adding categories and the limited selection of HTML styles but so far it’s my favorite blog editor.

The real problem I have is that I have a tendency to jump between three computers.  I have a personal laptop I travel with and use for some development work and light photo processing.  I have a desktop PC I use for development, gaming, heavier photo processing, and some video processing.  Finally, I have a work laptop that I use for well, work.  There are plenty of times that I start a post on one computer and would like to continue it on another.

Ideally Live Writer would make better use of the blog system for saving and retrieving drafts and provide an option for working offline but instead it stores everything locally.  There is a “Post draft to blog” option and Live Writer can pull down the drafts from the blog but saving it as a draft again creates a new post rather than replacing the earlier one.  Using this technique for switching computers really just creates more work.  I don’t want to jump through hoops to write a blog post, I just want to write.

Luckily there’s a workaround.  Live Writer stores its post data in %userprofile%\My Documents\My Weblog Posts.  I decided to use another tool from Live EssentialsLive Sync (or Live Mesh, or whatever it’s called this week) to synchronize this folder across each of my computers.  Once I included the folder in Live Sync and selected the target devices I was able to switch to a different computer and pick up right where I left off.

I used Live Sync because I already had it installed and configured but I’m sure other synchronization packages would work equally well.  Hopefully a future release of Live Writer will eliminate the need for manual synchronization but for now this seems to be a workable solution.

Moving to Live Sync

While I was at my in-law’s house over the weekend I wanted to do some work on the PC I just upgraded.  I’ve been using Live Mesh for quite a while and have been happy with it overall.  When I went to the Live Mesh site I saw a note telling me that Live Mesh was being replaced by Live Sync.  Great, time to migrate…

Tonight I downloaded the installer package for Windows Live to install on my two primary systems.  On both systems I deselected most of the options since I really only wanted Live Writer and Live Sync.  When the installer reached the Live Sync portion it notified me that Live Mesh would be removed.  The install continued without error and Live Sync started without a problem.  I activated remote access for both systems then tried to establish a connection.  That’s where the problems started.

Every time I tried to establish a connection it would fail.  I found nothing in the event logs and disabling the firewall didn’t help either.  After a bit of hunting I ran across a forum post (sorry, I lost the link doing the reboot shuffle) that indicated that Live Mesh might not have actually been uninstalled.  I dug around in Program Files (x86) a bit and sure enough, the Live Mesh folder was still there as were all of its contents.

I uninstalled Live Sync from both systems and reinstalled Live Mesh since there was no longer an uninstall option in the Programs and Features Control Panel.  On one system I had to go so far as to disable UAC to reinstall Live Mesh due to an error stating “Product does not support running under an elevated account”  Once Live Mesh was “reinstalled” I was able to uninstall through the Control Panel.  A sanity check of Program Files (x86) showed that Live Mesh had actually been removed this time.

With Live Mesh finally gone I reinstalled Live Sync on both systems and enabled remote access.  I tried testing the remote desktop connection again and it worked like a charm.  I only have one more system to do this on but the lesson has been learned: remove Live Mesh first!