DRM and Calibre

I recently really really wanted a book but the only place I could find it was on Amazon.com. I can’t stand buying books from them. But I really really wanted this one. So I bought it. Problem is it wasn’t downloadable but only available through their “cloud”. I had to use their app or use a Kindle. I didn’t want either one. I wanted the book I paid money for. I tried several methods of getting the book onto my PC but, when that failed, I requested a refund.

Then someone on Facebook found it for me over on the Kobo website and I bought it there. Now the problem was although it was in the epub format, it had the Adobe DRM on it. This is what I did to remove that so I could read it where ever I wanted. Since, ya know, I paid for it.

So, go buy an ebook from Kobo. Go through the purchase process. They’ll send you a confirmation email. But you can also just go back to the page of the book and click the “View in My Books” link to the left. This will take you to a list of the books you’ve bought there. Right click the three dots to the right of the book. Select “download”.

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Cookies!

If you haven’t seen it yet, Thought Patterns (this blog) has a “privacy policy” now. Yay?

You can view that page here: Privacy Policy page. It has links explaining why on Earth I have a privacy policy. Not going to repeat it all here.

But I did some more research. See Linkages below.

I logged out of the admin panel then went into my browser’s privacy settings, found cookies, and deleted all of them from paulaoffutt.com. There were a lot because of the two sites within the same domain. Anyway, I removed them all, cleared the browser’s cache, and went to the website (paulaoffutt.com/blog). I then right clicked a blank spot and selected “Inspect Element” (this was Firefox but each browser should have the same “inspect” option). After that, click the “Storage” tab at top and “Cookies” from the lift on the left.

Doing so showed me two things:

First, visiting the site and accepting the privacy policy gives you two cookies. These are ironically from the new plugin I have to assist with keeping track of this GDPR thing. Go figure.

Second, if you leave a comment, and only if you leave a comment, you will get two (if you don’t enter a website) or three (if you do). See screenshot below. Click it for larger version.

Since I do not allow anyone to register and I don’t make anyone sign in via Facebook or Google and I don’t have any ads, that’s it as far as cookies go.

Linkages:
WordPress Cookies by commenters
Wikipedia article about Cookies
GDPR WP – the WordPress plugin I am using

Mindmapping

I was going to write another article of mindmapping resources but meh, too much work. But here’s the short of it:

I’ve demoed a LOT of mindmap programs and some are super simple to the point of being painful and others are super shiny to the point of being ghastly expensive. I’ll put linkages at the bottom of this. Currently, I have a subscription for Novamind (which I will cancel) and I have a paid version of SimpleMind (which I will keep). But what I am falling in love with and wish I could justify the cost of is TheBrain. So very, very shiny.

I’ve cleaned up my Writing Brain and will share the link to it. The software syncs between the desktop, the app, and the web version. You can mark the entire brain as ‘private’ which means no one but you and whoever you choose has access to it. You can mark the entire brain as ‘public’ which means anyone with the URL can access it. And you can mark certain parts of the brain as private and other parts public. Which is what I have done with my Writing Brain.

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Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

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Resources for Writers

I mentioned in the last post that I use WordWeb for my thesaurus. I like it for its simplicity and for the ability to access other sources. I have found over the years that there are good resources and there are not so good ones.

Some may not like Wikipedia due to its open edit vulnerability. And I say if you are going to depend on one resource for your research, then you are doing it wrong. Wikipedia is a vast resource and the ideal place to start. Their links at the bottom (see also, references, further reading, and/or external links), are the next step. Wikipedia is just one part of a wonderful organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. From images to quotes to even a species directory, Wikimedia Foundation provides a vast resource of information to get lost in.

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Writing Software and Stuff

If you read the previous post, you’ll know I just switched from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. Still loving it! And I was reminded I’d not done a “software I use” post in a while. So here goes.

Hardware:
– a built computer running Win 10. It is dying so I’m in the process of saving up for a replacement. Hopefully it will survive until then!
– a 17″ HP laptop. I use this when I travel or go out to write. It is running Win 10 as well.
– I don’t have a tablet anymore since Lorna broke my Note 10.1. I had been trying to accidentally kill it so I can get a new one. Should have saved myself time by just letting L use it! It won’t charge anymore. The tablet I would love to replace it with costs almost as much as the PC I want to build, though, so yeah, I’ll wait.
– keyboard is a Kinesis Freestyle Blue. It is a true split keyboard. I used a Kinesis Freestyle for a long time and love it. Then the N key stopped working. Sigh. This one is a Bluetooth which I like since it is one less cord. Plus I can easily toss it in the bag and go. It can connect to 3 devices (one at a time of course) so I have it hooked to my PC, laptop, and did it have it with the tablet but I may have re-worked it to be on the phone.
Logitech M570 trackball. You can get it from BestBuy for half the cost on the Logitech site, though. They have a new trackball out I’m interested in if this one dies. Trackballs are hard to find and Logitech and Kensington are the only two still making them. And the Kensington one is stupid.
Samsung Note 8 phone. I like using a stylus and I like a big screen. Sure I can get a rubber tipped stylus anywhere but where do I keep it? I’m not happy that the battery is not removable.

Ergonomics is a top priority with me which is why I am so picky about what sits on my desk or goes in my bag. Yeah, I have to pay more but it is worth it.

Software:
LibreOffice is my word processing as well as spreadsheet software. Love. It. (opensource/free/donations/community driven)
SyncBack Pro – I use it to sync/backup/mirror stuff from my PC to my DreamObjects cloud service, my laptop, L’s desktop, and a memory key. There is a free version. I’ve used this for, wow, a long time. They have an app to sync with a phone: SyncBack Touch. I like using it to keep my WiP folder updated to my Note 8. (free/paid)
CyberDuck – this is what I use to access DreamObjects cloud. I tried their MountainDuck but since it is dependent on the speed of your computer and uses Windows’ file system thing, it was too slow for me. Maybe with the next PC! (opensource/free/donate)
FileZilla – this is what I use as an FTP client. And another software I’ve used forever. I was trying out MountainDuck because it can do both cloud services and FTP. Actually, CyberDuck can do FTP, too, but I like the UI of FileZilla more. Anyway, using Filezilla, I can upload to a folder on my website where it is easily accessible. (opensource/free/community driven)
Clementine – okay, so this one isn’t really writing related. But I use it a lot as I write. It is a music player so I can use my headset vs playing over my phone. This keeps me “in the zone”. It can also stream music from various services but I don’t use any. It has an app (Android only) I can use to skip songs or change the playlist accessing it on my screen. (opensource/free/community drive)
WordWeb – Good golly, I love this program! Thesaurus, dictionary, resources all rolled into one. Love. It. Free version available. (free/paid)
TeamViewer – I used to use Ammyy to do remote access of my PC or laptop but it seems to be lacking in support and updating. So I made the switch to TeamViewer. It is free for personal use. It uses passwords although you can set it so X computer can always connect to the Y one. I used it a lot while I was up Nawth so I could access files and download email on my desktop. I really like it. (free/paid)
Fl.ux – This is a program I forget I am using. Until I turn it off. Wow, what a difference! It changes the color of the screen slightly to adjust to the time of day. It is great for my eyes at night since I am such a night owl. It has app versions but for Android, it requires root. (free/donations)
SimpleMind Pro – I am not using this as much as I used to. It is a mind mapping / brain storming software. I like it a lot though and when I use it, I ask “Why don’t I do this more???”

I reckon that’s all for the PC. I use a lot more programs, of course, but I am just listing those for writing or while writing. As you can tell, I am a fan of opensource. I donate a LOT to those I like and participate if/when I can.

Here’s some other, non-writing related programs I recommend:
Everything – search software (free/donate)
VLC – video player (free/donate)
Calibre – ebook organizer and upload-to-devices-er (free/donations)
Irfanview – image software (love this!) (free/donate)

Okay, enough of that. What do I use on my phone for writing? I have found I don’t like editing on my phone or tablet so most of it is for reference or reading over a draft or whatever. The phone is useless for actual writing. I use it for note taking while away from my desk. I did use the tablet for writing, though.

Android Apps:
(not going to provide links since it all goes to the Play Store anyway. Look ’em up yerse’f)
WordWeb – same as above
Squid – I’ve used a lot of stylus handwriting note taking apps over the years. And I love Squid. Love the name, too! The main thing is I can set it to where it ignores finger touching except for dragging down the page (two fingers I think). You can organize into notebooks, have multiple pages or just one looooong page.
OfficeSuite – this views pdf, doc, and txt files. Meh, it’s okay.
LibreOffice Viewer – just started using this so not sure about it yet. It is a better viewer than it is editor but it does have that capability.
AndrOpenOffice – bleh. It tries to emulate the PC screen of OpenOffice onto a phone or tablet. It twitches a lot.
Chambers Dictionary and Thesaurus – expensive, huge, but worth it.
Keep – I use this for easy to get to notes that I want to type. Or make real fast.
SimpleMind – app version of SimpleMind PC
SyncBack Touch – see SyncBack Pro above
AirDroid – meh, it’s okay. If I used it for what it was really for, I’d be constantly distracted. It is a cool app, though. I use it to transfer files semi-clickly. Just one or two files like images or whatever.

I reckon that’s it. No apologies to Mac or iOS users for having nothin’ for you. (grin)

OpenOffice vs LibreOffice

Long time no post! Life has been…intense.

Anyway, I was doing something with OpenOffice, wanted to see if an extension would help, but the extension page wouldn’t load. And other information pages were showing years old stuff. Then I remembered someone on Facebook had said something about it being bought out or something. So I went investigating. And about cried. Apache OpenOffice was officially discontinued in 2011.

OpenOffice has gone by a lot of names and transitions. It’s a good example of open source, licensing, proprietary, forking, and business politics. Kinda like a geek soap opera. Well, here, check out this image.

At any rate, OpenOffice is, essentially, dead. Which is sad, because it had a HUGE amount of users. Huge. And was beginning to make MS Office sweat.

Which brings me to a replacement for those of us who hate MS Office (the bulk, the embedding, the cost, the crap, the seemingly constant file extension changes, and more!) and those of us who are uncomfortable using OpenOffice with no security updates forthcoming. Enter LibreOffice (LO). LO has its own history (see the link to the image above) and could be (and should be) considered a better version of OpenOffice. LO is maintained by The Document Foundation (TDF) and is flourishing. Most of its programmers (and others) are from when Oracle donated OO to Apache Software. They didn’t like the direction it was going and left, got the source code (it’s all about the licensing when it comes to alleged open source), and made their own playground. Basically. Which means if you switch from OO to LO, there’s not going to be much of a learning curve since they are essentially the same. There’s subtle differences.

I’ve been using LO for a while now (few weeks I guess) and am liking it. First off, I like the landing page. Because of it, I was able to remove a line of shortcuts from my desktop. I kept a shortcut for each manuscript I was actively working on so I could choose whichever one I felt like working on that day. But I can now open LO and see a pictorial representation of my recent documents. I can clear the list or just remove individual ones by clicking an X.


Second, I didn’t like the standard icon set that appeared on LibreOffice. The standard OpenOffice icons are cleaner. I had to dig around and find the themes (something I never used in OO). I am a creature of habit and didn’t like pausing so long to figure out where the italic icon was. Ya know? (in image below, my OO toolbar, the default LO, and the one I chose)



I never used the QuickStarter for OpenOffice because I’ve never had enough PC memory to handle it. LibreOffice takes a little longer to load a document but not so much I worry it has hung itself. I turned the QuickStarter on for both and checked the memory use. LibreOffice uses a lot more memory, even without the QuickStarter running. BUT, I also have more of it installed, as you can tell by the fourth image below.

Both programs open with similar sized documents (odt format).

Both programs with just the QuickStarter going.

Both programs with similar sized documents and the QuickStarter going.

Options under the QuickStarter of both

There aren’t as many extensions for LibreOffice. But the good thing is it doesn’t need them. For example, in OpenOffice I had to put in a footer with the word count field, go to Tools>Word Count, or use an extension. LibreOffice has this standard AND shows the character count. And I heart it muchly. It’s the little things that make or break a relationship. I’m still exploring the extensions and will do another post about them later.

Things are hard to find on the LibreOffice website. Like, when I first starting using it, I tried to use the Help. It wasn’t there and it sent me online, telling me I needed to download it. But it didn’t tell me where it was. And I couldn’t find it. I finally got frustrated with that and just started digging (it is kinda hidden in the box where you download it and is called “offline help”). It is a hard to navigate site. The Document Foundation (LO’s handler) does not offer support. You have to either pay for it or go to the extremely simplistic “forum”.

I had an issue in the beginning that I had to go to the forum for help. I couldn’t use custom dictionaries. But I came up with the answer myself.

There’s two things about LO that has me very happy. When you save a file, it saves a backup. I could never get OpenOffice to do it. Yes, that’s double the data but I can clean that folder out every once in a while, getting rid of saves I don’t need. The other thing it does is save to or open from a remote server. Meaning FTP/SSH, WebDAV, Windows Share, Google Drive, and/or a CMIS server. I love that. I can do a quick upload to my ftp site and access it from my phone or laptop. Now, if only it could save to other cloud services, too.

LibreOffice backup

Remote File capabilities

If you are using OpenOffice, consider switching to LibreOffice. If you are using MS Office, consider switching to LibreOffice.

Linkages:
StarOffice Wikipedia article
OpenOffice Wikipedia article
LibreOffice Wikipedia article
The Document Foundation Wikipedia article
LibreOffice
Ask.LibreOffice (the help forum)