I’ve just come across Adriane, a simple(ish) Linux computer desktop system for people who don’t see as well as other people – for email, web surfing or even for SMS.
I missed the arrival of Simplenote on Linux – how wonderful.
Up until now I have relied on nvPY to add to and sync with my Simplenote account.
nvPY works really well – possibly even more smoothly than the new Simplenote app, which exhibits some of the glitchiness of it’s brower version – so if you don’t mind a little ugliness, stick with it. For the moment I’ll try both, side by side, to see which I prefer.
Simplenote on Linux fills in one of the missing gaps of ‘apps I missed from my Mac’.
I have been using Nord VPN ever since I received the following notification from Twitter:
…we are alerting you that your Twitter account is one of a small group of accounts that may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors. We believe that these actors (possibly associated with a government) may have been trying to obtain information such as email addresses, IP addresses, and/or phone numbers.
I also, belatedly, turned on two stage identification for my Twitter account and changed my method of making and using passwords. But one of my most persistent problems has been my own fallibility – I search and email for half an hour after turning on my Linux Typewriter before Doh! remembering to connect through my VPN.
A quick search and I found this great explanation of how to set-up Linux to automatically connect through my VPN service at start-up. I added a delay of fifteen seconds to the Application Start-up settings to make sure the process worked every time.
What a brilliant find. I installed Artha a few weeks ago and like all serial application fiddlers forgot all about it. Then, this morning I launched Artha by mistake and am pleased, grateful and enthralled. I’m pleased that I have this wonderful tool to use on my Linux Typewriter; grateful to Sundaram Ramaswamy for having the idea, and investing the time to make Artha; and enthralled, as I always am, by how perfectly formed free, as in freedom, and open source software so often is.
All the functionality you need in a thesaurus is there. There are no frills. Sundaram’s use of font styles, colour and layout is perfect. I appreciate Artha’s naming derivation from the Tamil: Arutham, and Sanskrit: Artha. I appreciate The Open Thesuaurs ~ Artha.
If you need a thesaurus on most Linux desktop environments, Windows or Windows Phone 7, Artha is for you.
I love DuckDuckGo !Bang.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine for finding what you want on the worldwide web. It’s unique selling point is that it doesn’t track your search history like all the other mainstream search engines. Which is just one good reason for trying it out.
Because DuckDuckGo also have a great search facility called !Bangs – these are special short cuts exclusive to DuckDuckGo that always start with an exclamation point, followed by a short cut letter, typed into the search slot. Like all useful computer tricks you have to have a need for the trick to find it useful.
I use Wikipedia a great deal and for this !bangs are perfect.
Go to DuckDuckGo and type an ! in the search slot. Some of the available !bangs will pop up. Type in the letter w directly after your ! – then a space – then your Wikipedia search word or words – click Enter.
DuckDuckGo will go to Wikipedia, search, and return with the Wikipedia page you were looking for like magic.
For users of a Launcher Application such as Kupfer on Linux, you can enter a DuckDuckGo !bang directly without having to load a web page.
First, in Kupfer Preferences, enable the Wikipedia Plugin.
Now when you want to look something up in Wikipedia, while writing in your word processor say – Launch Kupfer – Type a period ‘.‘ (to start free text mode) – Type ! followed by w followed by your search terms – and Launch. You will be taken directly to the Wikipedia page from your word processor, in just a few clicks – wonderful.
To use a !bang other than Wikipedia choose from the others available, the YouTube !bang !yt is also very useful.
One of the few tools I missed all the time, coming from Mac OSX to Linux Mint, is Apple’s Quick Look. Quick Look is a powerful and useful tool that it is easy to overlook, but for taking a peek at a document without opening it, it is wonderful. One click of the spacebar and a functional view of the focused document pops up for a word, image, video or sound file, which you dismiss by clicking the spacebar again.
While I was looking through Kupfer’s preferences the other day – Kupfer at its most basic is a launcher application – I spotted a plugin called Quick Image Viewer and guessed that it might offer a Quick Look facility – it does!
The facility isn’t available from the Linux equal of Finder so you have to access it via Kupfer, but this is no hardship at all, in fact it is exactly the same as using OSX Search. Invoke Kupfer with Ctrl+Spacebar, locate the file, hit Tab, type View, Enter, and hey presto. To dismiss the Quick Image View hit Esc.
This made my day and has improved an already top notch Linux Mint user experience to something that to all intents and purposes is as fine and useful as using OSX, but with none of the walled garden annoyances.
One crucial file containing early work on my book was corrupted today in the move over from my old MacBook to my new Asus Typewriter. After a few seconds of horror I remembered that I had a Time Machine backup of the Mac’s contents. I plugged the backup hard drive in, fired up Time Machine and restored the file. Time Machine is such a good application that it’s almost a good reason to buy a Mac. But was there anything on Linux that worked that easily?
Searching brought up four likely candidates, all seemingly inspired by Apple Time Machine: FlyBack, Back in Time or TimeVault and Grsync.
I couldn’t get FlyBack, Back in Time or TimeVault to install, there were ‘missing dependencies’, your experience may vary, but this is something you sometimes come across when trying out Linux software. These problems are often fairly easy to overcome, with searching and crossed fingers, but for backup and not to waste any writing time I didn’t want to have to bodge something only to regret it later.
So, to the rescue came the visually unglamorous but perfect Grsync by Piero Orsoni. It installed from the Mint Package Manager and ran out of the box. Phew.
I’ve yet to set Grsync up with an external hard drive but it looks to have almost exactly the functionality of Time Machine, so I’m hopeful.
TreeSheets is a brilliant concept, beautifully executed. If you are on Linux or Windows (beta on Mac) and use mind mapping or note taking software, TreeSheets is astonishing and well worth a long look.
TreeSheets has, in one morning, taken over from Kabikaboo as my main creative out-liner and planner for long-form writing. It is almost exhilarating to find a tool that works in such a way, that suits one’s mind and thought processes.
My 17″ MacBook is too big and valuable to carry around all the time, and it’s too uncomfortable to use sitting up in bed. So I started looking for a small, lightweight notebook computer for use as a typewriter. I wanted good battery life and a nice keyboard for as little money as possible–the usual nirvana of most computer users.
I settled on the Asus 200E. It was the right price and is capable of running Linux, this being important because, as a long time Mac user, my favourite operating system is Linux Mint.
I’m using Haroopad to write this post. Haroopad is a Markdown document processor that I’m a huge fan of – it looks good, works well, and has all the functions a casual writer with a blog could possibly need, and much more beside.
For longer writing I use Lyx; for organisation I like Kabikaboo; notes and links I keep in Simplenote which I access with nvPY, and I sometimes go back to using Scrivener for organising research. (I have a Mac licence but the official/unnofficial Linux version works well in Mint).
The final piece of software I rely on is a pomodoro timer that sits in the computer toolbar, ticking away and helping me write. This applet version by Greg Freeman is excellent.
I can’t sing the praises of either the Asus, or Linux Mint too highly. As a team they work together as if they came out of a factory as a Minty Asus Typewriter.
Comment if you have any questions about setting your Asus up like this, or writing on a Mint flavoured typewriter.
A new blog and site, running on WordPress software but hosted elsewhere, to give me better control of my words, pictures, online identity and data, which is not an option when using content and identity silos such as Twitter, Facebook et al; that’s the intent of IndieWeb, and one of the main purposes of this new site. I’m trying out the IndieWeb possibilities and seeing if I can get it to work outside of new social publishing platforms/software such as Known, which is well worth an indielook.
It hasn’t been easy so far and I don’t see it working entirely as intended for a while yet, because trying to do anything outside of the rails provided by someone else – Twitter, Facebook et al – is a cooperative activity, and I do so like to give it my best try on my own first – then cooperatively put things right second. There is hosting to arrange, WordPress to install and setup, plugins (various) to puzzle over, and generally just trying to grock how lots of odd, non silo things work together – that cooperation I was talking about.
So if you find this post or if it appears on Twitter via Bridgy and my brief mention piques your interest, then take a look at the IndieWeb Principles, because whatever the concerns that brought you here: privacy, control, independence, democracy or idle interest, they are all a part of the larger struggle taking place all over the world. More later.