My Dana Alphasmart software is now in open Beta!

October 26, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about my Dana programs other than that vague notion of ‘Gee, I said I was going to do an open release on those before Nano started this year, huh?’ Well, this morning I’m finally doing something about it.

I’ve written two programs for the Alphasmart Dana portable word processor, that have been very helpful to me, especially during Nano or similar challenges, so I’ve done my best to pretty them up, write some useful manuals and basic freeware licences for them. If you have a Dana device and are interested in trying them out, please feel free to download, redistribute to other Dana people, (but please keep the packaged files together!) and let me know if you’re having problems or can think of more improvements.

Multicounter: This is my on-the-go word count tool for Dana. It works in conjunction with Alphaword or any other word processor program that will give you an overall word count for a file – most PalmOS programs running on a Dana device don’t support word count for selected text, because it’s hard to select long ranges of text anyway. So Multicounter lets you type in the starting and ending word count for a writing session and does the math to tell you how much you wrote – it’ll also total up multiple writing sessions on a single scratchpad, (along with the date, chapter, and comment for each session,) supports daily quota targets, (50,000 words in 30 days, anybody?), 8 different scratchpads, and export to .CSV format on SD cards. If you’re doing Nanowrimo with a Dana, I really believe that this is the tool you need to keep track of your word count progress. Click here to download Multicounter.

Alphafiles: This program might not fit everybody’s writing process on a Dana; I started writing it because I wanted to move my Alphaword files back and forth on SD flash cards, and found that neither the Alphaword ‘open from card/save to card’ or the various generic file managers were convenient for letting me do this quickly. Alphafiles uses a ‘back and forth listboxes’ interface to show the Alphaword files on your Dana and the .pdb files in a single SD card folder, to easily copy or move them around. You can switch to a different card or different folder, rename, copy, or delete your files. It works really great in conjunction with the WSCONV utility on your laptop or desktop computer, so that you can quickly transfer your writing from the Dana to Windows without needing to hotsync or send – or transfer a file the other way without hotsync. Click here to download Alphafiles.

On a sadder note, my own Alphasmart Dana is having battery problems. I haven’t used it in a while, and I think that I’ll probably have to be careful to plug it in every night if I want to be using it the next day for Nano, as opposed to letting it run for weeks between charges. Maybe I should look into replacing the rechargeable battery pack or switching it out for alkalines soon. But I don’t think I’m going to futz with that before November.

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C is for Celtx

April 3, 2012

The Script Frenzy A-Z challenge so far…

Different people use different software for Script Frenzy, including MS Word and Final Draft, but no script writing program has quite become a part of Script Frenzy culture, in my opinion, like Celtx. It’s the only program that has a forum devoted to it on the Script Frenzy message board.

There are lots of good reasons that Celtx gets plenty of love with Frenziers. It’s dedicated to scripts and other media projects, yet versatile enough to do reasonably well at lots of different kind of scripts. It can be used collaboratively, in browsers, or with a single computer offline. And, possibly the biggest factor in its favor is that you can use Celtx for most things without having to pay for it. 🙂

I started using Celtx for Script Frenzy… let’s see, it was probably my third year, 2009. What motivated me was the fact that it could be run on my newest toy, the eeePC netbook. In fact, they had a special eeePC version as well as the vanilla linux version at that point. So ever since then, I’ve got a lot of mileage out of using Celtx both on the road and at home, copying my screnzy.celtx file to whichever computer I’m going to use next.

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Roughdraft, the word processor.

August 13, 2011

Well, I’ve talked about writing gadgets on this blog, but never really thought to blog about writing software until today. (This changed when I was suddenly inspired by a Storywonk podcast.) So, I’ll tell you about my favorite word processor for writing new material.

Now, when I’m actually writing, the key for me has to be speed. I’ve never really found something like MS Word or Works to be good for keeping up with me when I’m coming up with new stuff, and on windows, OpenOffice writer didn’t seem to cut it either. (I find OpenOffice.org much speedier on the linux eeePC, which is good, since abiWord sucks and they’re apparently the only two options in Ubuntu town if you want to work with RTF files. But anyway…)

The thing is, I don’t want to write in a program that’s bloated down with a lot of features that I’m not going to use for writing. Each feature takes up RAM, it occupies space on the menu or the toolbar, and it’s a potential distraction. Of course, once the initial writing is done and I’m doing revision or formatting a manuscript, something like MS word is clearly the better choice.

For a long time, I was writing my stuff in WordPad and then copying to a more feature-rich word processor when I needed to – like to check on my word count. This became very frustrating once I was participating in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriYe and began to live or die by my word count.

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My project tracking programs

March 10, 2011

I enjoy finding writing software to do things that are relatively personal – organizing my music or video libraries, for instance, or to help me move writing files back and forth on my Alphasmart. The first time I participated in NaNoEdMo I spent a lot of editing time on my little Tungsten Palm PDA, so that I could work on the bus, because this was before netbooks came out. And so I wrote my first version of ProjectTracker for that little PDA, with NS Basic for Palm.

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Why I don’t like the ereader.com beta software for Linux

February 24, 2011

I’ve been a fan of the ereader.com book reader software since way back when they were ‘Peanut Press Palm Reader’, which came bundled with my first true PDA, a monochrome Palm m125

It seemed like a revolutionary idea, that all kinds of great books, (well, a mediocre selection of great books and more good books,) could be bought for cheap and carried around in my pocket.

I’ve used ereader software on dozens of different devices now, and I do think that the platform has a lot to recommend it. The interfaces are usually good, especially with the intuitive ‘click to turn the page’ options, and it’s easy to copy your books from place to place, with the only digital-rights nonsense being a prompt to enter your name and your credit card number as an unlock code. The logic there, is that unlike arbitrary password, you’re unlikely to include the credit card number when sharing your book files on a peer to peer network, or to friends of friends on a CD.

I even managed to get ereader pro running on my Linux eeePC netbook, though they didn’t officially support Linux, through something that’s called ‘the wine compatibility layer’, which allows a lot of windows programs to run under Linux. In December, I upgraded the eeePC to the Maverick Meerkat Xubuntu version, and in the course of re-installing all my software, went over to the ereader.com site to download the windows installer.

And I got totally distracted when I saw that they had an entry labeled ‘Ereader beta for Linux Ubuntu’. Quickly downloaded this and installed it on the eeePC.

Unfortunately, this beta version is among the worse pieces of software that I’ve seen. Not the worst, because there’s some truly wretched stuff out there, but bad enough that I was really disappointed that it came from ereader.com

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