Saturday, September 29, 2007

MISC: Open-Source Software for Mac

In honor of my shiny new Macbook, some open-source apps for the Mac. I am running smooth as can be with Firefox and NeoOffice, but am still looking for Mac replacements for MS Publisher (I make a lot of booklets for teaching) and Front Page. I suspect I might be able to tinker with Neo Office to get the job done, but there has to be a more elegant way...

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Monday, September 24, 2007

EBOOK: Overclocked by Cory Doctorow

I have blogged about Cory Doctorow before, and was delighted to find his latest short story collection in print recently. It was a worthy buy. If you want to check it out, he has done his usual e-release on-line under a Creative Commons license, and you can download it in a variety of formats thanks to ManyBooks.net.

I found myself disagreeing with many of the Amazon.com reviews. I found the generally panned "I, Row-Boat" to be a charming and original idea, reminiscent of "Someone Comes to Town. Someone Leaves Town." It took me awhile to catch on to the concept of the concept of how humans work in the tale (and I do have a few questions, such as propagation of the species under such a model, which go unanswered). But I loved the idea that inanimate objects could develop consciousness, and there were two lines in particular (among them, the final of the story) that made it completely work for me.

Most of the Amazon reviewers in contrast loved "After the Siege" and I confess, I didn't get it. At all. The writing was vivid and lovely, but the concept never quite gelled in my mind, and I just didn't get it. Can't win 'em all, I guess :)

Anyway, it's a great little collection. If you do enjoy it, I humbly suggest you pick up the print version and show authors like this that Commons distribution works.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

REVIEW: Open Office Revisited

I just bought a shiny new macbook, and after some rather clunky experimentation with the demo version of iWork it came with, I downloaded NeoOffice. And...so far, so good :) It seems a little more stable than Open Office was on a PC, and so far, I am enjoying it.

I think the problem I had on my PC was that I kept trying to run Office too, and the import capabilities bugged me a little. On this Mac, I do not have MS Office and am only using NeoOffice. So, no worrying about the imports :) The rare time I need to share files with my computer at work, it's mostly text-based anyway, and even Open Office on a PC never had problems with that.

Granted, the transition has not been perfect. Any file involving tables imported a little oddly, and most of these will need to be fixed at some point. But this was a good lesson to me in being realistic. Is it a problem if complex graphical layouts do not transfer perfectly between MS Office and Open Office? In theory, yes. But how often will I really want to do that? The last time I made a file with any sort of graphic, it was a birthday card, and I printed it on the spot, at home, and never even saved the file. 99% of the time, I work with plain text, and the 1% of the time I use graphics, I do it on personal stuff that doesn't really need sharing.

I'm sure the file import/export features are among the top priorities for ongoing tweaking, and the problem will fix itself over time. So, I'm not worried. It'll get fixed. For now, I just have to handle the graphics-heavy stuff at home, I guess, and accept that my tables will have to be tweaked a bit. On the plus, NeoOffice on a Mac seems much more stable then Open Office did on a PC. No crashes yet! And a fairly good user experience, too. A few of the preferences still seem a little clunky to access (there has to be an easier way to add to the Gallery!) But overall, I am happy and I think I will enjoy using NeoOffice on my shiny new toy :)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

MUSIC: More from Josh Woodward

As a follow-up to my previous Josh Woodward post, I will be blogging the best of his two new albums. First up is 'Not Quite Connected.' My top picks:
Josh has both cd's available for free download by track or as a whole album zip file, and if you like the music, you can buy the album for the price of your choosing.

Each song has a helpful descriptive tag giving a suggested genre. I found these helpful. If you find a song you like, you can look for similar styles of song by matching the genre tag.

One tip for navigating his site, if you click on a song title, it will take you to a lyrics page where you can preview the song without leaving the page and then choose to download it.

Enjoy! And if you do like the album, support Woodward's alternative distribution methods by buying the CD. I bought his last one and really enjoy it. This is fun rock-acoustic stuff that's very radio-friendly.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

EBOOK: Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie

In honour of the new school year, a Canadian historical classic for you to enjoy: Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie. Moodie was a Brit who came to Canada in its very earliest days and wrote a "Little House on the Prairie" type memoir about her life in pioneer Canada. Her sister, also a writer, wrote a similar account. These books are interesting glimpses into life in an earlier time. Enjoy!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

MUSIC: New Albums from Josh Woodward

Now that the school year is beginning again, I have a new job, and will be at last getting into a sensible routine again. so you can expect a lot more frequent posts from me. I will be trialling a theme system for the month to keep things regular. So, Monday is Music Day, and here is some new stuff from the excellent Josh Woodward. He's got two new albums up on his website for free download, and while I have not had a chance to give them all a listen yet, I did check out the freebie track "Letting Go" on his homepage, and it was excellent. He's nice and poppy, for those who like that sort of thing.

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