File Sharing Software

My brother was here visiting back in early August. One day we were talking about computers and the like and I mentioned the difficulties I’d been having with network file sharing. I used to use a decent program called Network Magic by Cisco/Linksys. It allowed file sharing, maintained the network, and did it well. Except it was flaky at times and then they stopped supporting it with no warning at all. It did great in keeping intruders out of the network but the file sharing was non-functional. When I got the laptop just prior to the GCLS con, I tried one more time to get it to work but gave up. I had been using MS Win 7 “homegroup” thing but it would, at seemingly random moments, kick everyone off the homegroup and I’d have to start over again. Plus the “share this folder” didn’t always share everything in it. And the homegroup only worked when you were, you know, home.

He said he uses a free program called Ammyy and some other program I have since forgotten the name of. VNS? VNDS? Something like that. That one he had used for a while but it was not reliable. He had just recently started using Ammyy and loved it. While on field trips, he can access files on any of the work computers that have it. Or grab a file on a computer in another part of the building without having to go to it and move it via a memory key. As long as the computer you are using and the remote computer have internet access, it connects. The only problem he has had (and I do as well) is it keeps forgetting the “contact book”. You can export the .bin file then just import it back when it has a brain fart.

No software is actually installed. There’s the initial file to download but it doesn’t install, it just runs the .exe file. Open it, run it, and it finds your IP and gives you an access code unique to that computer. You then go to Computer #2, do the same thing. Once it is “installed” and running on both computers, you access them via the unique code. He said it was a pain at first because you need both computers in the same room/building or someone at the one you aren’t. The program needs permission on the remote computer at the time of contact.

Then….done. You can view the entire computer. Open files, transfer files, run programs, everything. The only that that does not show up is the background image. No matter what the setting is, it changes the remote computer to the Windows 7 Basic color scheme. As soon as you disconnect, it goes back to whatever you had it on before.

I installed it that night on all 3 computers. Worked like a charm. (except when I got the codes mixed up and opened a connection to the computer I was on. It opened the window then had the image in the image in the image….cascade effect. Like a mirror aimed at a mirror.) The next day, I went to their cabin and could access my desktop (via the Internet) at home. Cool. I moved files, opened files, even played a game. If you click the X on the connect box, it closes it completely. If you click the minimize, it goes to the tray. It will not wake one up (like laptops that go to sleep) but it will work if the remote computer is in screen saver mode. The program has to be running on both computers before it will work. Since it isn’t installed, you have to open it again if you turn off the computer. For this desktop, that’s not a problem since I rarely turn the poor thing off.

One problem I’ve had (besides the contact book issue) is it is very sluggish. Even opening an OpenOffice file, it was moving slow. I don’t think I could actively work on a document that is on another computer because it would drive me nuts after just a few minutes. And I doubt you could play a graphic intense game (like WoW).

You have to be careful which keys you use, though. The Ctrl and the Alt keys on your keyboard won’t always work on the remote computer. There’s icons at the top to use instead.

You can’t drag and drop a file from one computer to the other. You have to use the ‘File Manager’ which works a lot like a FTP program. Easy to do.

I’ve used it a lot since I installed it. If I leave the house and know I’ll have the chance to work, I copy the latest files from the desktop to the laptop and off I go. Then, when I get home, I copy them back. You can sort the File Manager by date which makes it quick to compare time stamps. It also helps me in keeping backups of files on both computers. If I need another file that I didn’t update, and if I am somewhere that has Internet access, I can get them. Way. Cool.

http://www.ammyy.com/en/

Contact book

File manager

Main screen options

New Software Trial

I’m trying out a new (to me) software called F.lux. What it does is adjust the output of your monitor depending on the time of day. Daylight it has the full “sunlight” and night time has a “warm” tone. I tried to take screenshots but since it is the monitor, it doesn’t show up.

It is an odd program and it took me a while to figure it out. When it installs, it goes to the task menu section and is already on. You right click the icon in the tray and access the options from there. Clicking the program name in the start menu does nothing. I almost uninstalled it, thinking I had screwed it up.

Accessing the menu:

The Change Location allows you to put in your zip code, city, or GPS coords. and it will know your sunrise/sunset times.

The Change Lighting is the fun part. But it is also where I got lost again.

See the greyish dots at the daytime and nighttime? Those slide to change the settings. When you first look at it, that area is kinda further greyed out and it gave me the impression it was unavailable or already set.

The next fun part is the Preview.

You select it and it it will do a speedy time lapse and your monitor will change as the “sun” goes along the line.

There’s also the disable option like if you are doing photos at night or whatever.

Like I said, screenshots won’t work and I tried to take a photo and it really didn’t show up then, either. My screen is kinda beige-ish to orange-ish. When I click the ‘disable’ option, it slowly fades back to regular then, when I uncheck it, it slowly fades to the nighttime. It will take some getting used to. I am interested in how it does with eye strain.

One potential issue is with games. I was playing a full screen game when it dimmed. I thought we’d had a power surge or something until I remembered the software. It was sundown! Some games will be too dark and I’ll have to exit F.lux then remember to turn it back on.

I do like how it softens the white screen of OpenOffice. I used to have a ‘migraine’ color schemed I’d set up for myself but no longer use it. I think this will be better maybe.

The software is free and my download was bug free. For now, I have the firewall set to ask me whenever F.lux wants to access the internet. Their F.A.Q. page has some good information, including how to use it (duh, should’ve looked there first).

I’ll use it for a week or so then let y’all know how it goes. If any of you try it, let ME know!

Fonts

I have migraines that are mostly related to neck position. As in if I move it, I get a headache. Fun and joy all around. Some of the things I do to lessen the pain is I have my monitor’s brightness turned down, I have background colors in the word processor (although not at the moment), and something new I kinda like.

It is a new font. It is called Lexia and was developed to assist those with dyslexia. I find it real easy on my old, tired eyes and I find it especially nice when a headache is on.

screenshot of Lexia font. click for larger version

It is considered an alternative to Comic Sans.

screenshot of comic sans font

Personally, I find Comic Sans kinda hard to read and tend to make it larger (the above examples are both in 12pt). Before Lexia, I used Verdana which is a bigger font anyway.

Lexia is free and doing a Google search, I found it in a lot of places. But font sites tend to be malware sites so, as always, check it before opening. I got it from K-Type which is where several dyslexia sites suggested.

As long as I am just writing, I’ll use the Lexia. But when I am in the final edits, I’ll have to switch to whatever the publisher prefers, that way I see the layout correctly. Never ever submit anything in a bizarre font. Always always read their guidelines to see what they prefer. Some like Courier, others like Times New Roman.

Keyboard Revisited

So I’ve had this keyboard for a while now, the Kinesis Freestyle (I wrote about it a while back). I’ve almost gotten used to it and can now give a decent review of it.

For one, the keys being separated is weird. It truly feels as if each hand is doing its own thing. I mean, they’re doing the same thing if they’d been on a single keyboard piece but for some reason, it feels really weird. It took longer to get used to than I thought. I have slowly been putting them further apart, trying to find that placement as well, but the further I go, the more I have to relocate my hands on the keys. Weird.

Instead of resting on the keyboard like usual, my hands kinda float over them. I really really hate the placement of the backspace and delete key. I’ve slowly gotten used to the backspace location but I have to stop and look to find the delete key. The home and end buttons are odd too but I don’t use them that much. I do miss having a keypad. I’d just started to enjoy it now that I am using a desktop and now it is more like using a laptop again. Sigh. I am a touch typist and have realized, with this keyboard, that I am having to relocate my hands to the proper place. I have gotten into the habit of twitching my index fingers to make sure they are on the F and J keys (the ones with the bumps) whenever I stop to think or first start typing. It is almost like learning to touch type all over again. I am constantly hitting the / key when I want the . one. Which is probably why I know the backspace key location so well!

I’ve also been surprised at the horizontal angle my hands feel the most comfortable with. The left is not much different than before, straight on. A little turn (top toward the right) but not by much. The right one, though, wow, what a tilt. The top is really angled toward the left. That shoulder is my loosest and tends to splay outward so that is probably why. But it is strange to see it revealed this way. The right one is also more forward and the left is closer to my body.

I’ve tried the different ‘tenting’ angles. I don’t like the full one so far but I’ve not used it that much. I switch between the lowest and the mid one. (can’t recall the actual degrees). The left hand likes the midrange tilt. The highest one makes the hand hot faster. And that’s the other thing. My left hand gets very warm the more I type. No clue why. I need to ask my PT friend if she knows. The right one may eventually like the highest tilt but, like I said, I’ve not used it much. I am finally starting to type more lately and will do another review later.

In some ways, the keyboard seems solidly made. But in other ways, it feels cheap. Could just be the keys themselves and how they react to pressure.

I keep the mouse between the two pieces. It fits nicely, even when the pieces are fairly close together.

Overall, I like the keyboard. I like that my hand placement can be nearly anywhere, depending on how I am feeling and how I am using it. Ergonomic? Yes, definitely. Worth the money? Yes, definitely again. Recommend it to others? Only if you touch type. If you use the ‘hunt and peck’ method, you will hate hate hate this keyboard. But then, if you hunt/peck, you don’t need it.

New Toy – Keyboard At Last

Several years ago (2005) I wrote an article on alternative keyboards. In that article, I briefly talk about a lot of different keyboards and the various options available. I also say that I will get the Kinesis Evolution with the desk mount option. Sadly, that particular keyboard was discontinued a short time later. However, Kinesis has several other very ergodynamic keyboards now.

First there’s the tried and true Contoured. Very similar to the Maltron ($825), the Countoured ($399) keyboards are very popular. But without being able to try one, I wasn’t willing to spend that amount of money.

I revisited the Kinesis website and was pleased to see that their Freestyle and Maxim were still being produced. I wandered over to The Human Solution website and did some more research. I was stuck between the Freestyle (true split keyboard) vs the Maxim/Goldtouch (split but attached to a base). I found an article about just that sort of decision and, based on that and in discussions with Elena, I decided to buy the Freestyle with the V3 riser thingy and the 20″ extension.

And it came today!

I have the riser thing on and I’m not quite sure if I like it. I didn’t go with the other kit, the VIP, because I knew that plastic on my wrists was going to kill me this summer. I have it on the 2nd setting (10 deg). My right shoulder is pitching a fit lately so I’m not sure which is to blame for the uncomfortable-ness. It will take a while to get used to it. I am a touch typist which helps I’m sure! Hunt/peck method with the keyboard split apart would be a major pain in the ass.

I just switched to the highest incline (15 degrees) and while my left arm is still quite comfortable, my right is not. I am fairly certain it is the shoulder and not the keyboard.

Anyway, there’s a few different things (besides the fact it is in 2 pcs on purpose?) about this keyboard.

It has some built-in macros. For example, it has cut, paste, and copy buttons on the left side. But I’ve used the right click and the Ctrl C/V/X for so long, I doubt I will easily switch to a button format.

It doesn’t have a keypad. It has a function key to access a keypad like setup (just like most laptops). Twice now I have hit that Fn key instead of the Ctrl key. Kinesis sells a “low force” keypad. But the price ($54) is outrageous compared to the $19.99 one I can pick up at BestBuy.

The Delete key (a writer’s most used key, second only to the Backspace) is oddly located. It is way up on the top row, well out of easy reach. That’s going to take some getting used to. On the left, with the copy and paste bound keys, is another Delete key. The Escape key is way up there as well but everyone is used to that.

I’ll use it for a few days then let y’all know what I think. And let me know if you want more or different photos of it.

(click image for larger version)

How To Be A Writer

During NaNoWriMo, I followed a comic strip written/drawn by the cool and groovy Debbie Ohi. In addition to the comics, she’s also a writer. Or perhaps she is a writer who also draws comics. Pick one.

Anyway, she signed off on the NaNo comic and said that her other one, Will Write For Chocolate, will restart soon. I went to check it out since it has been a looooong time since I last read it. WWFC is part comic strip, part advice column. I found the archive listing and am going through them in order. Yeah, procrastination from editing/rewrites has already begun.

Freelance writers typically write magazine articles and since the pay for them is low, to survive as one you need to write a lot of articles. Writing a novel is a long process but magazine articles are short, to the point, and you move on to the next one immediately. As I am going through the archives, I came across a post about avoiding distractions. The first suggestion is from someone who says she has a business plan. And that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it is a great idea.

A business plan, for those who don’t know, is a formal document (or set of documents) that lay out how you are going to do your business. It contains long and short range goals, financial plans, possible alternatives, methods to follow, etc. It can be either hugely complicated or it can be simplistic. Typically, a business plan is required any time a business wants to acquire funding such as a grant or business loan. When I was a potter, I had one. I had to come up with one for the business class I was taking as part of the Production Craft program at Haywood Community College. (Excellent program, by the way. Clay, wood, metal (jewelry), and cloth) We had to write it then present it to a funding source. I never made it that far due to various stuff*. The business plan I had to figure out a budget, supplies, prices for wares, where I hoped to be in 5 – 10 yrs, etc. It was the hardest thing I had to do (and that includes the drawing classes!).

Should I do one for my writing? Probably. If I were truly needing the income, I don’t see how I could earn without one. A business plan for a writer would have to be much more than “will write two novels a year”. It would have to include marketing plans (what, where, cost), projected income/outgo (outside editor, software, royalties, shipping), goals (write free articles to get name out vs do freelance while writing Big Novel), and so much more.

But since I write novels and the occasional article, I don’t think I will do a formal business plan. The variables of my physical and mental health would make it nearly impossible to come up with one that wouldn’t require constant adjusting or to have one so vague it would feel it was a joke.

If you, however, are a serious writer with a family (human or canine) to support, you may want to do some research into writing one. You may find out some harsh realities or you may find out your goals are quite reachable.

Linkages:
Write Your Own Reality
Building a Writer’s Business Plan
Plan Your Writing Success With a Business Plan


* With only a few months left to go in the Production Crafts program and during the time I was buying equipment and setting up a studio at home, I was in an accident. I was rear ended on my way to class one morning. My body was already not right but my teacher and I had come up with ways that I could still be productive while not hurting myself further. For example, I worked the wheel standing up. Anyway, the accident screwed up my neck, shoulder, and back really bad. The many doctors I saw never officially documented (although I thought they were since they were saying it aloud to me) that I could not do pottery nor work until I healed. By the time I realized this, it was too late. I lost many months of classes, lost my job, lost my truck. The other insurance company got away with only paying for my medical bills and the truck (a beat up ’72 Toyota). My future as a potter was gone because some idiot wasn’t watching where he was going.

Apps for Writers – Reviews

Today I finally got a new router and finally got the laptop to working through it. I said some words, banged my head several times, plugged, unplugged, replugged, reset, called my brother twice, said some more words…you get the idea.

So now the laptop is attached to the net via wireless. Cool. Once I was certain I had that down and everything was working, I then went to work on getting the iPod Touch to also be on the wireless network. This wasn’t as painful but there’s a lot of info out there (better than I could find for the router) on how to do it. As soon as it was connected, I got to work on figuring out how Quickword and DocsToGo can be synced with the laptop.

Quickword was so easy. I opted to “mount as a drive”. At the bottom of the opening page is a URL (http://192.168.1.103:4242). You then go to the Network section of your computer and make the Touch a part of the network using that URL. It is easy and I did it the first time. Once that was set up, it is a simple matter of dragging and dropping documents in and out of its network folder. The other way, and is even more simple, is to enter in that URL into your web browser. Quickword can only read .doc (and I think .txt) so I had to open and save a document from .odt (openoffice format) to .doc. Then drag the folder into the other and boom, there it was on the Touch. However, and you knew there had to be, the Quickword app has to be open before it will transfer.

And I found out why. That URL? That’s for Quickword only. DocsToGo has a different port it uses so the URL ending is different. So unless Quickword is open, the network won’t see it, just like if a computer on the network was turned off.

DocsToGo wasn’t quite as easy. First, I had to download another software for the desktop. Then I had to add the device. Then I had to enter a code into the device. DocsToGo has a URL, too, although I’m not sure what it is for. The other software is simple enough, although I can’t seem to get the document on the Touch to transfer to the computer. I’m trying again right now and the transfer, if that is what’s happening, is taking a very long time.

The third app I tried, and may have actually liked, is called Notebooks. But it has a major flaw, in my opinion, and that is in editing. Here’s an example. I write this sentence: “Sitting in the waiting room, doing nothing but wait, is a pianful experience.” With DocsToGo and Quickword, I can put the cursor directly in the middle of the misspelled word and correct it. With Notebooks, just like the built in Notes, you can’t select the middle of a word. I can only select the end of the word and hit backspace. Rather annoying. I kind of liked its ability to stack a “book” within “books”. Meaning I could have a “book” named WorldBuild and inside it have books called characters, geography, archery, etc. But that annoying edit bit will drive me nuts far too soon. And I’ve tried software like that before and grew to dislike the dozens or more folders with bits of the novel scattered throughout.

As much as it pains me, I will (probably) be using Quickword. The syncing of documents is the easiest and requires no additional software. Now that I can sync, I will be using it to do actual editing in the form of writing bits as it comes to me then pasting it into a document either on the computer or on the device.