Pass this to everyone you know!!1!!

Seriously, do.

Here is something you need to do at least every few months or so. Go to this website:
https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Enter in your email address and click the PWND button. The search result will let you know if your email address was involved in any of the hacks, breaches, breaks, whatever from any of the online sites that report it.

If you get results, then go to the site(s) listed and change your password.

I now view all my email on my phone and online. I no longer download it. I was checking the spam folder of one of my accounts and saw I had sent myself an email. Usually this is a spoof or whatever but this one had the subject line that included an old password. And three of my websites have been hit with big login attacks. Added together, I took the safe road and with my webhost who confirmed it is a spam.

In addition to telling me to check out the pwnd site, they directed me to this article:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/07/sextortion-scam-uses-recipients-hacked-passwords/

It is likely that this improved sextortion attempt is at least semi-automated: My guess is that the perpetrator has created some kind of script that draws directly from the usernames and passwords from a given data breach at a popular Web site that happened more than a decade ago, and that every victim who had their password compromised as part of that breach is getting this same email at the address used to sign up at that hacked Web site.

I suspect that as this scam gets refined even more, perpetrators will begin using more recent and relevant passwords — and perhaps other personal data that can be found online — to convince people that the hacking threat is real. That’s because there are a number of shady password lookup services online that index billions of usernames (i.e. email addresses) and passwords stolen in some of the biggest data breaches to date.

For the record, I don’t visit porn sites, I don’t have a webcam (that works), and lawd help them if they record me sitting here (if they could, that is). What I do have is a cool program called 1Password. It not only keeps track of them for me, it creates new passwords, lets me know if there are any too similar, and some other cool stuff. LastPass and Dashlane are two others. I found Dashlane to be rather intrusive in what it wanted to install on my computer, though. Do a Google search for ‘password manager’ and check them out. PCMag has a good review article as does CNET.

So, go to the Have I Been Pwned site, check your passwords, and put a piece of tape over your webcam.

*For those who don’t know, pwned is gamer shorthand for “pawned” and means to be really beaten (paper airplane meets flame kind of beaten).

Back It Up!

I am a big proponent of doing backups. My WIP files are in 3 places.

– WIP folder on my desktop
– to cloud (DreamCloud w/ DreamHost)
– USB key here at my desk

LibreOffice is set to do an autosave every X minutes as well as save the document as a .bak file whenever a save is done.

The cloud version backed up weekly.

The USB key is mirrored every morning.

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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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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)

Shutting Down Cortana

I don’t like Cortana. Don’t want it. Didn’t ask for it. I find the entire thing not just a waste of resources on my already choked computer, but an invasion of my privacy.

If you want to turn the dang thing off though, ha. Microsoft took care of the “off” switch a long time ago. And now even the registry change isn’t quite enough. (see how to do that here but know what you are doing!) There is one way to turn her off but it has to be done after nearly every major update it seems. It’s a simple matter of renaming a folder.

You will see “Cortana” running as a process in the Task Manager. Right click on the little darling and select “open file location”. This will take you to the folder you need to rename.

Right click the name of the folder and select “Rename”. You want to simply add “.old” to the end of it. Change nothing else. Hit the Enter key. It will tell you the file is in use and do you want to try again. Leave this window alone.

Go back to the Task Manager. Maneuver it so that it is near the “try again” window.

Select the Cortana process and click the “end task”. Then quickly move the cursor over and click the “try again” button. If you were successful, you won’t see that window again. Cortana wants to live and she returns very quickly. If you see that window again, then just simply repeat the end task but be faster, grasshopper.

Next time you see that dang Cortana process running, you’ll have to do it again. This will make the 3rd time I’ve had to do it. I’ve turned it off in the registry so I don’t know what the program is doing. And that is what i don’t like.

Writing Apps

So what mobile apps do y’all use to do your writing? Even research? And by mobile I mean not laptop or netbook, but tablet or phone.

I use all Android on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone (soon to be upgraded) and my Samsung Note 10.1 tablet. When I do write away from home and it is not on the laptop, it is on the tablet. With the Note’s pen, I can either do it by hand or use a keyboard (bluetooth or onscreen). I went with the Android because, as a writer, I wanted the ability to easily get to my files and keep backups on a card vs being forced to use a cable or cloud the iWhatever is limited to. My Note has a 32gb card that holds all my WiP files as well as my music, ebooks, and bunches of other stuff. My phone has a 64gb card because it has ALL of the music and a ton of other useless stuff. I keep the tablet more “professional” (less games, for one).

If I like a program, I don’t hesitate to buy the pro or premium version. And if it is free, I like it, but the ads are annoying or I don’t like the permissions, I won’t use it.

The two I use the absolute most are OfficeSuite Pro and AndFTP Pro.

OfficeSuite Pro – word processing. Tracks changes that actually transfers to the desktop. Reads the .odt format (open document, which is what OpenOffice uses) but cannot save in it. It can, however, edit that document then save in .doc which OpenOffice can then handle. Which is why I love OpenOffice.

LectureNotes – I heart this muchly. You can import an image or pdf file then take notes on it or beside it. It is mostly for college students to use this way. You can also create your own drawings, notes, or whatever. There is a fully functioning trial version (has some limits, of course).

Write: Tablet Journal – well organized note taking or journaling kind of app. I use this for world building and idea growing when away from home. I can export them in .txt format when I get home. Easier to manipulate the text than a simple note program yet not overly complicated. The notes can be organized into folders. There is also a version for phones.

WordWeb – I use this on my desktop, too. Dictionary and thesaurus program that can also tap into Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Freakin’ way cool program. On the desktop, I use this a lot.

Aldiko Premium – eBook reader. Reads epub, pdf, and acsm formats. I upload the books (including L’s Nook books) to my tablet via Calibre, a free ebook organization program. I just now found a Calibre Companion app which, somehow through wifi, works with your phone/tablet and Calibre on your desktop to keep your books organized. It won’t read them, but it can help you tag them, mark them as read, etc. I haven’t tried it yet but I will soon!

SimpleMind – a mind mapping / brain storming program. I have it on the desktop, too. I prefer Novamind, however, but that program doesn’t have an app just yet so when I need it while away from home, I can explore the thought process with SimpleMind then transfer it when I get home.

Rory’s Story Cubes – excellent and fun way to get a little spark back into your creativity! Hard to explain so you’ll have to check them out. They existed in “hard format” first and I think I would prefer them that way.

BeyondPod – I was into podcasts for a while but then if I missed a day or week, I got behind and then it is hard to catch up and and and…so I don’t anymore. But I still have the app for if I ever want to get into it again. This was THE best app I tried (and I tried a lot of ’em) for finding the source, downloading, sorting, and then finding the download to listen to it.

And finally, AndFTP Pro and S3Anywhere Pro. AndFTP is an ftp app that lets me upload/download to/from my backup ftp site. I do regular backups and syncs (yes, I do both) from my desktop and when actively writing, I do daily syncs of the active project. That way, when away from home, I can access the most recent version from my tablet, even if I haven’t put it on there. S3Anywhere allows me to access the cloud service I use (I use DreamHost’s DreamObjects). I don’t often use it but in case something happens to the FTP version, I still have the cloud version. And ya never know! The two apps are made by the same company.

There’s a few more that I tap for reference but these are the faves. OfficeSuite and the ftp one are used the most. I’ve tried a LOT of different apps over the past, what, two years? I really liked Kingsoft, which became WPS Office but it couldn’t handle the odt format. Remembering to save in doc and to upload it was a pain in the arse. It had some other issues as well (clearing the “most recent” list had a tendency to delete the files themselves!) and I was pleased to find another app.

Showing Off the Craft

I got this friend/acquaintance (seriously, I have several) who is this crafter/knitter/sew-er/creator kind of person. And a waitress who knows her stuff in that arena, too. I recently “friended” her on FB (wave at Sammi everyone). Most of her stuff on her page is all pics of her craft. Really cool stuff, really creative. Makes me uber jealous. Writers are crafters, too, but we really have no daily pics to show off. Sure, we have books as the final products but…you know, one every six years is just not enough.

So I thought I would share some of my work process.

This is the folder I have for To Dream.
– “Awakening” was its initial name but, obviously, I changed it. When I did the rewrite (Awakening is the raw-arse draft), I saved the original and started fresh, basically. I’m a document hoarder.
– “Beta” is what I sent to the Beta readers, bless their hearts. It also contains their responses in all its brutal honesty.
– “Edit chunks” is when I realized Google Drive had eaten a huge chunk of the manuscript. I was editing heavily, taking out what I had edited and putting it into a new document. I then had to go through both to figure out what pieces were missing. Yes, I saved these, too.
– “Images” are some drawings I did of maps and some houses I built in Sims3 so I had an idea of what their house looked like. Yeah, I am that freakin’ weird.

The rest are the actual current documents. The .doc files are the ones I put on my tablet. The program I use there only uses .doc format, dammit. There’s one that can use .odt but it is awkward as heck to use.
– The “~lock” ones are the currently open documents. It is how OpenOffice works in doing their autosaves and recoveries I think.
– “ack-ded” is the acknowledgements and dedication that goes into the front of the books. I keep track of this so I don’t leave anyone out. I have a short memory.
– “synopsis” is, duh, the synopsis.
– “cuts” is what I remove as I edit. I save those because sometimes there’s a word or phrase I can use later. I said I was a document hoarder, get over it.
– “edit” is, duh, the edit version.
– “wb” is the world build document
– “To Dream” is the final version before I started this edit.
– The .txt file is one that I brought over from the “To Sleep” folder. It contains some quotes about butterflies, mostly.

I use a variety of tools, just like Sammi. Although mine aren’t as colorful, dangit!
WordWeb Pro – way cool thesaurus, dictionary, reference. I have the paid version but the free one has a lot to it.
OpenOffice – a free word processing program that also has a spreadsheet (excel), database (access), presenter (powerpoint), a drawing something, and something to do math equations.
IrfanView – an image program that resizes and does other stuff. Simple and to the point, the way I like ’em
NovaMind 5 – it is called a “mindmapping” program. I call it a “brainstorming” program. Works either way.
SimpleMind – While NovaMind has a lot of bells and whistles, it doesn’t work with my tablet. SimpleMind does. So sometimes I use it instead.
Notepad 2 – a simple alternative for Windoze Notepad. Much better for those who do coding, too.
SyncBack Pro – After my disappointment with Google Drive, I needed some other way to keep everything together. My bro pointed me toward SyncBack Pro and I love it. Syncs, backups, both. Does both via FTP, too.
Dragon Premium – I recently got this again. I don’t expect my hands to completely fail but there are days where typing is impossible. And there are days where sitting is difficult. So I’d be stupid to not give it a go. The problem with Dragon is you cannot edit what you have not used it to write with so I can’t edit with it. I got the Premium because I can dictate into my phone and then load it into the program on the desktop later. My goal is to do one of the Butch Girl books completely with Dragon. One of the characters in BGCFA was Rain who had multiple disabilities including the loss of both legs. I plan on doing her book via Dragon as it feels appropriate to do so. I have two others to do first, probably three. That gives me plenty of time to learn Dragon before I jump on the Dragon Wagon. Heh.

On my Samsung Note 10.1 tablet, I use:
Kingsoft Office – good software.
LectureNotes – I am soooo freakin’ glad I found this. What a great program. And makes me glad I got the tablet with the pen! For real students, they have some other excellent software.
OpenDocument Reader – allows me to view (but not edit) .odt documents. But I can’t figure out how to point it to the external card
AndrOpen Office – OpenOffice for Android. Has nearly everything OpenOffice has which makes it clunky on the tablet. Not giving up on it yet though!
WordWeb – yep! Got it on my tablet, too! And my phone! And my iPod Touch! I really love this program.
SimpleMind – the Android version (which I don’t use as often since I found LectureNotes)

Oh, and one last thing. Want to know another reason why I prefer OpenOffice to Word? Go back up to that image. Look at the file sizes of To Dream Edit.odt and To Dream Edit.doc. See the difference? Totally unnecessary.