Breaking Your Vowels

Aiieee! You just filled your rack with every vowel in the bag. Or so it seems. You are sick of playing two-letter words and you don’t have the guts to play ILEA. Before you decide to trade in those tiles, read on!


Praise the Cat and Pass the Fish

Learn these variant spellings for hallelujah and meow:

  3. MEOU
  4. MIAOU
  5. MIAOW
  6. MIAUL

A well-fed cat is a happy cat. Derek McKenzie has 101 fish in Flash Vocabulary #4. Here are a dozen you can use to dump your vowels, with a bit of help from the board:


To Have and to Hold

Swapping tiles is not always desirable. If you need ammuniton—even if you have to fire blanks—check out You’ll discover 274 words, from AA to URAEI.

Quiz: Vowel Play Suspected

Without using the blank, can you come up with the best way to use the most tiles, yet score the least amount of points?

Old MacDOnald Had a Farm

See you next Sunday!

Find the Best Play: EELRSTV

Welcome to another edition of Scrabble Sunday! This is a straight-up quiz:

What is the best play you can find for this rack?

Hint: you will be able to use all seven tiles.


See you next Sunday!

Bingo Long Words Travel Far (Sometimes!)

The premise of games like Scrabble and Words With Friends is mastering anagrams. The ultimate anagram, of course, is the Bingo, using all of your tiles in one turn. In most games, that means using seven tiles to create words of seven or more letters. Before rushing off to play your next Bingo, here are a few points to consider. Ha-ha, I said “points”. I’ll probably do that at least once more – it’s in my blood.

Opening up Pandora’s Box

The allure of playing all seven tiles must be tempered by the understanding of the consequences. Your score is pointless if you provide your opponent with the keys to the board! Be wary of placing high-value tiles in the path of a triple-word square. Your vocabulary just might get a rude shock when that safe-looking Q, J or V gets connected with a word bomb. Heh, you’ll probably utter your own F-bomb, if that happens!


In Scrabble, the bonus is 70 points added to your score. In Words With Friends, it’s only 35. In my opinion, it’s generally not worth playing a Bingo in Words With Friends just for the points. Always add up your potential score, and then look for better plays! The time you spend trying to place a lousy Bingo like RESTART might be better spent shoe-horning some tiles into a more lucrative crossword formation.

Naturally, this is less of an issue early in the game. In fact, it appears that Words With Friends challenges you to find seven-letter words from your very first rack! If you can get started with three or four Bingos early on, you’ll build up a formidable lead that’s tough for your opponent to overcome.

Strength of Opponent

If you like a challenge, you should play opponents who are really good. They will help you become a better player, strategically. If you have a habit of “setting up” your opponents, by ignoring the advice about Pandora’s Box, for example, they will literally beat it out of you – unless you are a glutton for punishment.

On the other hand, if you are the stronger player, don’t hesitate to deliver that same punishment to your opponents. They might be F-bombing you as you Bingo them into oblivion but, eventually, they should improve. Or they’ll abandon the game. Either way, the survivors will be stronger. This is how super bacteria do their work, you know…

Sneaky Setups

This is not something to do with stronger players. A sneaky setup is a play that allows for a monster play on your next turn, assuming your opponent doesn’t mess it up. First of all, you almost always need a little help from the “bag” of tiles. If you don’t get the right tile or tiles, the setup won’t work. Here is an example:

Sharon vs. Mitch

Suppose I wanted to set up that juicy triple-word square on the right edge. I could use IT to play FIT and hope for any of the following:

  • draw AR and play GAROTTED
  • draw EH and play DOGTEETH
  • draw a high-value tile that goes on the triple letter square below FIT

First of all, Sharon is not likely to leave that option open for my next turn – she started the game with PULLETS! Look at her last play, too. She is a strong player with the lead and I know better than to open Pandora’s Box against her. I opted for a less tantalizing play:

Sharon vs. Mitch

As it turns out, Sharon had a monster Bingo, waiting in the wings:

Sharon vs. Mitch

Let’s Play Bingo

Each of the racks needs two letters to make a bingo. Three racks have only one solution, while the rest have at least three answers. For an additional challenge, try to craft three coherent sentences—four words to a sentence—reading in order from top to bottom. (The sentences are not related to each other.)


Find the Best Play: MOKV_ ZE

Welcome to Scrabble Sunday! This is a straight-up quiz:

What is the best play you can find for this rack?

Hint: you will not be able to use all seven.


See you next Sunday!



Want to see what seller frustration looks like? Just check out the reaction to a recent change instituted by

When Sellers have received low ratings for their recently delivered work, they will be getting a warning email and if in the next reviews they fail to increase their average feedback rating over a minimum quality standard, then their selling privileges on PeoplePerHour will be suspended.

In the blog post announcing this change, the author claims that it will increase the quality of services provided by the sellers. Many sellers had something to say:

Sellers speak out against new policy

My personal view on the matter is that freelance websites should rely on the buyers’ feedback to provide guidance to other buyers. Let the market decide which freelancers are worth hiring.

I decided to cut my losses on I had two positive experiences and one bad experience. I reinvested all of my earnings back into marketing my profile. I left on a positive note; one of my projects was the inspiration for a product that is now in development.

Super Shortcuts Using Everything and Quick Cliq

Super Shortcuts Using Everything and Quick Cliq

Since I have been using Everything.exe as a portal into my daily files, I was slow to realize that I was missing an opportunity. Quick Cliq saves a few steps over continually hunting for a document. I don’t always think of using shortcuts to launch documents, even though that is a fundamental aspect of Graphical User Interfaces!

Another fundamental feature is the use of keyboard shortcuts. By combining these two obvious productivity enhancers with Quick Cliq, I now have handy super shortcuts for my active documents.

This is not ground-breaking at all. In fact, it is the first shortcut type defined in the Quick Cliq Help File! Nevertheless, if some variation of the following has not occurred to you, you can set it up in about five minutes. (Click the image for the full size.)

Super Shortcut
Click to see all of the steps

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to use Everything.exe. Anytime you can right-click a document and get the Quick Cliq context menu, you can add that document to your super shortcut menu. However, if you have been relying on Everything.exe to find daily files, this should get you thinking about ways to save time and repetition.

Retrieving the Blog Content for Your eBook

Retrieving the Blog Content for Your eBook

After extracting your blog posts and pages from the WordPress database, you have a file that uses XML formatting to describe every element exported. Needless to say, you need to convert this file to a simple text format, so that you can copy and paste desired chapters or sections into your working draft.

XML Editors

If you are technically proficient—or infinitely patient—you can use a general-purpose XML editor to view and retrieve your blog content. For Windows users, XML Notepad 2007 provides a familiar view of your blog content: a tree structure consisting of nodes and sub-nodes. Working with this editor directly, you can retrieve each post that you want to add to your eBook. Linux users can probably find support for XML editing with the Emacs editor. Here is one(very technical) example: How to Use Emacs for XML Editing.

If you take the time to create a special stylesheet, you can create a nice, readable list of posts, complete with links and images. For a great example of this, check out the efforts of Sacha Chua, a who created an XSL Stylesheet to build one version of her blog posts from 2008. Do note, however, that she had to create a second stylesheet for the main list of posts.


You can simplify the retrieval process by using a specialized program called Blogmogrifier. It’s a Windows-based desktop application, so your computer will need to be running Windows Vista, 7 or 8.

Here is a walk-through that shows you how to import one of your downloaded XML files, select categories and tags and output a text file with matching posts and pages. The file shown in the steps is from Sharon Hurley Hall‘s Get Paid to Write Online blog.

Step One: Download Blogmogrifier

To avoid confusion, please remember the following:

  • Blogmogrifier is just one tool inside of a larger program called Retrievem
  • Retrievem is just one of the many programs developed using a framework called ParserMonster
  • For simplicity, all ParserMonster programs display the ParserMonster shield logo, but use their own names
  • This means that you will be downloading and launching Retrievem.exe to get to Blogmogrifier

This version is currently in beta. It is a free download. You must run it on a Windows PC that uses XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Click to Download Blogmogrifier
Click image to download Blogmogrifier

The link takes you to, where you can simply click the Save button to bring up the dialog box shown below:

The Blogmogrifier Download Page
Be sure to click download it to your computer!

Click download it to your computer. The downloaded file is named Retrievem 3.exe. Put that file into a folder of your choice, as long as it is writable. Windows 7 and 8 do not allow applications to write into the \Programs (x86) folder. However, your \Documents folders is acceptable.

Blogmogrifier is inside Retrievem.exe
Blogmogrifier is inside of Retrievem.exe

Step Two: Start Blogmogrifier

Double-click the Retrievem 3.exe icon. Retrievem is a portable application that does not require installation. You should see a splash screen for a few seconds before the Retrievem Dashboard appears.

Retrievem Dashboard
The Retrievem dashboard

In the task list window, you’ll see two or more task icons. Click the one that looks like a purple ray gun, marked 1. This will select Blogmogrifier as the active task.

You have two ways to “prep” Blogmogrifier. The first way is to use the dashboard to specify where the XML files are located. The second way is to do that after clicking the Run Task button. The choice is yours; however, the first method has the advantage of remembering your settings the next time you run the application. So, let’s set things up from the dashboard. (I’ll briefly mention how to accomplish the same thing without using the dashboard.)

Step Three: Drag and drop XML Folder onto Dashboard

Using Windows Explorer, locate the folder where the WordPress XML files are located. Drag the entire folder onto the box marked 2. It is important that you drag folders only. Files will not be detected if dropped directly, even though they appear on the dashboard.

If the folder has any files, they will be listed in the box marked 3. In addition, a list of file types appears in the small box marked 4. Make sure these areas show the file(s) you want to import.

If you dragged the wrong folder, just click the red “X” to the right of the Paste Clipboard button and try again.

Step Four: Drag Output Folder onto Dashboard

By default, tasks send their output to the same folder where Retrievem.exe is stored. If you want to use a different folder, drag it onto the long, narrow box marked 5. Alternatively, you can use the Browse … button. However, the file dialog’s default behavior won’t let you choose a folder above your \Documents folder.

Step Four: Run the Blogmogrifier Task

Click the Run Task button, marked 6. This saves your folder choices and displays the Blogmogrifier form.

Blogmogrifier XML List
Blogmogrifier XML list

If you selected a valid folder in Step Three, this is the screen you will see when you first open Blogmogrifier. Click on the file you wish to import into Blogmogrifier. Then click the Import tab.

If you skipped Step Three or didn’t pick a valid folder, you’ll be forced to use drag and drop to select a single file (not folders!), as shown below:

Blogmogrifier Drag and Drop
Drag and drop a single file

In this case, after you drop a file with the .XML extension, Blogmogrifier automatically switches to the Import tab. By the way, the Drag and Drop tab is not smart enough to tell the difference between a WordPress XML file or any other XML file. It merely examines the file type and either switches the tabs or displays an error if an XML file was not dropped.

Step Five: Import File

On the Import tab, you will see what, if anything, was imported successfully. Click on the different options to view how many of each post type were imported. (In Sharon’s case, she chose to export only posts from her blog.)

Blogmogrifier Import
Successful import

The hyperlinks don’t work inside the Import tab. If you wish to review a link, select it like you would do in a text editor, copy it using CTRL-C and paste it into your web browser with CTRL-V.

Once you are satisfied that the content has been imported, click the Export tab.

The Import tab will be blank with greyed out controls if you attempted to import a non-WordPress XML file. A terse message alerts you to the problem:

Blogmogrifier Import Error
Blogmogrifier import error

Step Six: Include Categories and Tags

If your XML file contains information about categories and tags, they will be displayed on the Export tab. You can click either or both of the green Include All buttons to toggle the selection of keywords. Whenever you do this, the button will change to red and display Include None, as shown in the image below:

Blogmogrifier Categories and Tags
Blogmogrifier categories and tags

These two buttons and the four possible choices are handy for when you want all or most of the keywords in a list. Otherwise, you can just click on the desired checkboxes, like this example:

Best Category
Let’s get the “Best of GPTWO!”

Step Seven: Export Content to Text File!

Click the Export Text button. The bottom of the form displays the path to the output file. This is a plain .TXT file, so you can open it in your favorite editor. The screen shots below show the first few lines of the output, where you can see helpful information such as a list of the keywords. You will see that the source file is actually a temporary copy of your XML file. These are safe to delete.

Sharon's eBook (Raw Content)
Sharon’s eBook (Raw Content)

Sharon's Best Category
A couple more of Sharon’s posts

Close Blogmogrifier

Click the End Task tab to close the Blogmogrifier form and return to the Retrievem dashboard.

Tips and Limitations

If you select all categories and / or all tags, every single keyword will be included in the output’s header.

Be sure to rename your output files if you intend to export different sections separately.

The Help tab has an explanation for each tab, as well as a few links back to this blog.

Version 3.12 of Retrievem offers Blogmogrifier as a very basic tool for retrieving your content from the WordPress XML file. A few enhancements, tweaks and new tools are planned. These changes may occur rapidly, depending on your feedback.

Each version of Retrievem has an expiration date. This limits the number of outdated copies in operation. Version 3.12 does not have a simple way for you get the next version. The next version should address that. You’ll be able to get that by visiting this post after March 31, 2015 and clicking any of the download links, including this one.

In order to keep the tutorial as concise as possible, I’ve ignored much of the dashboard. I’m building an online resource to explain ParserMonster in general. Learn more about the dashboard and the rest of The ParserMonster Project.


Original Method: WordPress Backup Files

Convert WordPress Blog to e-Book
Backup WordPress Posts
Extracting Posts from WordPress Backup Files
Working with Extracted WordPress Blog Posts
Accessing the WordPress Database Posts Table
(While writing the last post in this list, I discovered a better way...)


Getting Started

Preparing Your Blog to eBook Categories
Extract All Content From Your Blog

New Method: WordPress Export Tool

Using the WordPress Exporter

Retrieve Selected Posts

Retrieving the Blog Content for Your eBook

Raw Content Retrieval

Extracting Your Blog

How to Extract All Content From Your Blog

Unless you have a massive blog or multiple contributors, the easiest path from blog to eBook starts with exporting all of your content and using a separate tool for retrieving your desired post.

This short tutorial will show you how to do that. If you want to know about the other features of the WordPress Export Tool, please read Using the WordPress Exporter.

Step One: Select Export Tool

WordPress Tools Menu
WordPress Tools Menu

Step Two: Choose All Content and Export!

Export All Content
Select All content then click the Download button

Step Three: Verify Downloaded File

Verify Download
Verify downloaded file

WordPress XML File
All done!


Your downloaded file should be easy to identify, because WordPress thoughtfully names each file after your blog. Since the timestamp only shows the day, you must rename this file if you will be doing multiple exports.


Original Method: WordPress Backup Files

Convert WordPress Blog to e-Book
Backup WordPress Posts
Extracting Posts from WordPress Backup Files
Working with Extracted WordPress Blog Posts
Accessing the WordPress Database Posts Table
(While writing the last post in this list, I discovered a better way...)


Getting Started

Preparing Your Blog to eBook Categories
Extract All Content From Your Blog

New Method: WordPress Export Tool

Using the WordPress Exporter

Retrieve Selected Posts

Retrieving the Blog Content for Your eBook

Raw Content Retrieval

Extracting Your Blog

Head in the Clouds

featured alt-text

One phrase in nearly every cloud storage provider’s copy goes something like this: treat the sync folder like any other folder on your hard drive.

I’ve taken them at their word…and the result is a constantly evolving file ecosystem. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Move Over, My Documents!
Folders With Benefits


The story before the story: I lost a week’s worth of police work back in the day. Luckily, it was not any official mainframe data, just some case files on our Unit’s personal computer. Still, we had come to rely on that computer and the loss taught me a valuable lesson about backing up data.

The lesson was this: more frequent, more data, more places. We went from weekly to daily backups and I made sure to include more files to enable us to recover work in progress (not just completed reports.) Finally, I went crazy with writable CDs, going from what I had thought was a sufficient three-disk rotation (Grandfather-Father-Son) to a monster eight-disk rotation based on the Tower of Hanoi Puzzle.


When I began freelancing, I adapted the Hanoi scheme to backup client websites. I was using a lot of CDs and often worried about their physical security. I had read about online file backups and checked them out.

Back then, Mozy was the only viable cloud service and I didn’t care for it. Once Dropbox came along, I finally jumped onboard the cloud bandwagon. Now, my only concern was whether unauthorized access to the files would breach client confidentiality. I solved that with TrueCrypt, a program that let me store all files inside an encrypted container.

Actually, I found out later that TrueCrypt was defeating the best features of Dropbox. Apparently, normal files only change slightly. Dropbox uploads just those changed bits, making the whole upload much faster. With a TrueCrypt file, the whole thing changed! So Dropbox always had to upload the whole file.

Take Responsibility For Security

Naturally, I was not pleased with this news. I hunted around until I found CryptSync, a nifty open-source utility that syncs two folders in such a way that one of those folders is always encrypted. During my research, the main use cases involved placing the encrypted half of this pair into Dropbox!

That was great. In fact, the developer recognized the need for multiple such folder pairs and designed CryptSync so that any number of pairs could be synchronized. I duplicated my Dropbox model onto each new service that I’ve joined.

1,281.38 GB: Now What?

In keeping with the lesson learned from the Police Department Fiasco, I finally embraced the “more places” philosophy. Take a look at my System Tray:

Head in the Clouds
The Immortal Brain?

In addition to the visible folders shown at the beginning of this post, my main backup schedule is managed by a program called Duplicati. Though not strictly file storage, services like RoboForm and Evernote (not shown) are part of my overall cloud strategy. In fact, I use RoboForm to save the passwords to the desktop apps that connect to their respective cloud servers.

I have several, often competing, ideas on how to make use of these services. Here’s a brief description of each:

  • Virtual Raid: Like the hardware version of disk striping, I think about spreading multiple copies of files over two or more services. It’s too much work to keep track of files, so this is just in the idea stage.
  • Big Files on Big Servers: I have some ISO image files that would choke the smaller account limits. By moving them, videos and MP3s to MediaFire, I’ll have plenty of room for the smaller files.
  • Task Oriented: this is being pushed aside as irrelevant. I used to reserve for archived client folders. The trouble with this strategy is that I have more space than clients! What a waste, right?

Some services are strictly optimized for backups. Duplicati is one. I think it is fine for what it does, but I really prefer to use folders on a day-to-day basis. It’s hard to describe what I mean but, I basically do not want to think about Folder A as a working folder, with its backup being sliced, diced and scattered in some hard-to-recover scheme. If these services remain robust, then all I need to know is that if my copy of Folder A disappears from my laptop, I can log onto service X and pull it back down.

Having said that, I suppose I will still appreciate Duplicati if my machine ever melted down. I’m just not sure how much work would be involved. Sadly, I treat the testing phase of file recovery like I treat those legal things one has to click before getting to the good stuff. I’m always optimistic that I can upgrade my computer on my own terms. Until then, I just enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having my data backed up on other people’s hardware.

Extracting Your Blog

Blogs and eBooks are two completely different beasts that just happen to live in the same digital jungle. One of the things exposed by converting between the two formats is that blog content, in its browser layout form, looks horrible in a PDF.

By design, most blog content is bite-sized, both visually and conceptually. While eBooks can emulate that, they also have the freedom to be dense tomes. Conventional wisdom claims that blogs generally cannot keep visitors’ attention with dense layout. (Look at this blog, for example. I’ve attempted to buck the norm with a denser layout and fewer visual breaks.)

Lorelle VanFossen on WordPress
Lorelle VanFossen from Lorelle on WordPress

Therefore, if you want total control over the eBook creation process, you are going to have to get comfortable with the idea of editing and cleaning things up, as Lorelle advised. If you have not read Preparing Your Blog to eBook Categories, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Let’s get your blog content out in raw format, with no restrictions on the layout. There is no reason to compromise your vision with inflexible software. With the right mix of general-purpose software and specialized tools, you can automate the drudgery, yet ably manage the task of converting your content to an eBook that you’ll love.

The general-purpose software includes a Word Processor and Spreadsheet. The specialized tool I will use is my own Windows desktop application called Retrievem. It has a built-in task, unimaginatively titled blog2ebook. You run that task, set up a few rules and in a few seconds, you’ll have a text file that contains your desired content. From there, you could import that file into a spreadsheet in order to keep track of which posts should be grouped together.

Originally, I was going to send the text file to a CSV file (comma separated values). Then, I was going to set up the columns that I used for my own project. However, that goes in the wrong direction; I wouldn’t want to impose my structure on your content. Besides, you may not feel like bothering with the spreadsheet approach.

Instead, just look at the text file. You will see the sections easily enough to cherry-pick what you you need. If you are proficient with your word processor, you may prefer to paste the whole file into that software before editing.

The next post will actually step you through the process of extracting your content.


Original Method: WordPress Backup Files

Convert WordPress Blog to e-Book
Backup WordPress Posts
Extracting Posts from WordPress Backup Files
Working with Extracted WordPress Blog Posts
Accessing the WordPress Database Posts Table
(While writing the last post in this list, I discovered a better way...)


Getting Started

Preparing Your Blog to eBook Categories
Extract All Content From Your Blog

New Method: WordPress Export Tool

Using the WordPress Exporter

Retrieve Selected Posts

Retrieving the Blog Content for Your eBook

Raw Content Retrieval

Extracting Your Blog