April 28, 2011

X is for…

Well, this is the point at which I geek out, it seems.

I’ve been using Xubuntu of one sort or another on my eeePC netbook for a few years now, I guess. When I wanted to move on from the hokey Xandros OS that came with the eeePC, there were a bunch of eeePC specific linux OS installers around, and I picked eeeXubuntu because it seemed to have a reasonably good support community at eeeuser, where I was already familiar with the wiki and forums.

But I quickly came to appreciate Xubuntu’s mix of power and user-friendliness, with the Thunar file explorer (reassuringly like Windows XP’s in a lot of important ways,) the down and dirty mousepad text editor, and the global keyboard shortcuts that let me give all my favorite programs an easy to remember shift-key combination, so that I don’t need to worry about how to add anything to the start menu. (Good thing too, because the Xubuntu start menu, on the other hand, is ARCANE! I still don’t really know the details of where and how I’d need to construct a shortcut file to get Celtx on my eeePC start menu.)

And behind the Xfce desktop environment, of course, is all the power of the Ubuntu operating system core, with the Synaptic package manager to make it easy to find new software packages to install, like OpenOffice, Gambas programming tool, Unison to sync my work with a flash drive, and so on.

I wanted to update the Ubuntu version on the eeePC over the winter, and I tried the ‘Ubuntu netbook remix’ version first. But I wasn’t impressed with that interface – it seemed to have its own ideas about what people should be using netbook computers for, and customizing it to the purposes I wanted seemed like too much of a pain. So I went back to Xubuntu, Maverick Meerkat version, which has worked well ever since.

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Unedited and Unsettled.

April 25, 2011

U stands for…

I wasn’t quite sure what to do for U – didn’t want to geek out about Ubuntu, or write another angry rant about Umbrellas, so I decided that I’d look for spotlights, and there are two great blogs who can share this spot on the calendar.

Unedited from Jen Daiker is one of the home blogs of the A-Z challenge, along with Tossing It Out, Alex Cavanaugh and Talli Roland. It looks like she’s been doing some great stuff for A-Z all month, so go over there and check it out if you’re not already avidly following her.

Regina Linton, with Unsettled, isn’t doing the A-Z challenge, but she’s a Crusader, in group 10 with the rest of the paranormal crowd. She’s also got some interesting posts up about how to improve your relationship with your muse.

So, that’s it until tomorrow. This week looks like it’s going to have some tough slogging at the end of the alphabet, but I’ll figure out something!

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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I’m feeling so very off-topic tonight…

December 16, 2010

So let’s see what I can come up with to tell you about. I ran some more recent projects through ‘I write like’, just for the fun of it:

“Dragon’s Prey”, a Roswell/Dragonriders of Pern crossover that I started back in June I think, is written like: Arthur Clarke

The new draft of “Landing”: William Gibson

“The Onus of Grace”, the challenge story that I turned into my Nano novel for this year: Jack London

The new draft of “The Wolves of Wyoming”: Annie Rice!  I think that this is supposed to be Anne Rice and they mistyped it into their database. Even the Amazon sales box is confused, offering a mix of Anne Rice, Annie Tremmel, Annie Johnston, and Annie Russel.

The ‘Father Ismay’ Blogisodes: Ursula K. Le Guin

The first writing exercise that I did for the Brian Henry ‘Writing with Style’ workshop in September: David Foster Wallace

Style exercise 2: Neil Gaiman
When I submit both style exercises together, David Foster Wallace wins.

The latest episode of the Roswell/Doctor Who crossover that I was working on in JulNoWriMo, Children of the Molecule 23: J. K. Rowling! (The JulNoWriMo chapters came out as Dan Brown.)

The Angel’s Charlie, my Nanowrimo novel: Dan Brown

Harry and Mars: Arthur Clarke (I think that seems to be the default reply for anything science fiction.)

Alien in Metropolis chapter 3 (the Roswell/Smallville crossover): Stephen King

The Artifact: Arthur Clarke

The start of the ‘Conspiracy’ Nano idea: William Gibson

The two Sunday ‘Star Patrol’ Blogisodes so far: Arthur Clarke

What else? I’ve been playing around with a few little things regarding technology and writing – one is an MSword VBA macro that I’ve worked out to convert a kind of a rough ‘markup language’ into Microsoft Word comments. I really like them as a way of sending back feedback to other authors, but sometimes I’d like to read or make notes on a device that doesn’t have MSword available – including the eeePC netbook. OpenOffice is great at many things, but its ‘add comment’ feature doesn’t compare to Word’s – particularly because you can’t tie a comment back to a word or a phrase, only to a point between two characters. So, with this new macro, I could start with something like:

Jack fell down and broke his <<by which we mean, his head||crown>>,

and get:

It’s working pretty well, although there’s one thing about the MSoffice VBA that confuses me – after I’ve finished making one substitution, which involved using a ‘find’ command twice, (once for the comment text and once for the body text to anchor it to,) the ‘find’ command stops working. When I enter the code to reset the range and start a new find command, that works perfectly, although I think it might be slower for really long documents full of these custom comments. Guess I’ll have to see how that goes.

The other technology item is one that I haven’t really started on yet, but I’m considering upgrading the eeePC’s Ubuntu version over the Christmas holidays. It’s been on Hardy Heron eeeXubuntu for about two years now, and that’s been fairly good, by the Heron is getting towards the end of its Ubuntu lifespan, and apparently the Lucid Lynx is a really great upgrade, and it’ll let me install some great software that isn’t available for the Heron. So wish me luck there – or if you’ve had horrible experiences with Lucid Lynx and want to tell me I’d be making a horrible mistake: just comment! Thanks.

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