Screenshots of the Latest Plume Creator Build

Here is the latest Plume Creator pre-release screenshot. More attention is being given to the look and feel of the program, as well as a few new features.

The best new feature is of course shown at the top and bottom of the main editor. First, you now have the option to get rid of tabs and just show one scene at a time. There is a thin line at the top and bottom of a scene in the editor when that scene has a previous and next scene already in place. If you grab that thin line and pull it up or down, you get a sneak peek at the previous or next scene. This is something I’ve wanted as a writer for years and now I have it with Plume Creator.

The way I have the side menu boxes, Notes, Tools and Attendance and even the bar that houses their buttons are all configurable to the user. This allows for typical flexibility that programmers have with their development environments.

The newly revised Full Screen mode now has icons for menu selections. Icons have found their way into the main editor too, for a more polished look and feel.

Another new feature for this version of Plume Creator is the Styles menu item. This lets you apply a Normal and a Poetry style directly to your scene. Sometimes when you are writing an Epic Fantasy novel you like to quote a poem. That bit of text needs to be styled differently than the main text. Now you can just highlight the area of the poem and apply the Poetry style to it. The result is visible in the above screenshot. Styles are configurable from the Configure Menu item.

Above is the latest Outliner for Plume Creator. It works like a tree diagram inside a spreadsheet. You can open chapters and move them around and add or delete scenes with synopsis and notes. The Outliner is in heavy development and is getting better all the time. It’s also a separate window so you could have it up on a second monitor and refer to it as you write in the main editor.

As you can see, Plume Creator keeps getting better week by week and I’m even using it to write my next novel.

Plume Creator Mentioned in Linux Journal

My friend Shawn Powers is the editor of Linux Journal Magazine. In this month’s issue he mentions Plume Creator, the writing tool I’ve been helping the developer Cyril test.

I hope this gives the program some new users. Plume no longer looks like the screenshot in the feature, its changing so fast. If you want to get in on the fun, please go here and download it to give it a spin.

Thanks again, Shawn for helping to boost our signal!

Latest Plume Creator Even More Awesome

Plume Creator just keeps getting better with each Alpha release. The latest feature is the Preview Last Scene and Preview Next Scene by using pull down handle bars in the main editor. Elegant, intuitive and more useful than the previous button version. The above screenshot shows this feature being used.

More innovation is happening on the Outliner feature. The developer, Cyril, has added a tree view into the spreadsheet for adding chapters and scenes. Difficult to explain, but this is making outlining a novel much easier and intuitive.

And lastly, a feature coming into the build soon is Styles. This is the ability to let you embed things like poetry into your regular manuscript by using a Poetry Style. The lines of the poem are indented and maybe a different font or italics.

Plume Creator has come a long way since I first started using it. To be sure, it still has a spell to go before it can be released out of Beta, but that won’t be too long from now. If you download it and try it out, please tell the developer what you think of it. Feedback from actual writers, using the program as intended, helps weed out the bugs and makes the program even better.

Favorite Linux Apps – ScreenCloud

One of my favorite apps on Ubuntu is ScreenCloud. This is a simple little program that resides in my menu bar at the top of the screen and lets me take screenshots and store them on the web. Since I use this primarily for my blog, I can then copy the URL of the image to WordPress and be off on my way.

Above you can see what the admin page on the website looks like with all my screenshots. Below is the Preferences dialog. I’ve been using ScreenCloud for a month now and so far have not found it lacking any features and it performs perfectly.

If you’re looking for a nice, feature-rich screenshot capture program, look no further, ScreenCloud is there for you. Oh, it works on those other OS’s too.


Plume Creator Update

Thought I’d show off the latest look for Plume Creator, the writer’s program for Linux. It’s starting to come together nicely. I use it full time now for my next novel. Here is a list of new features and fixes in the latest version:

v 0.521
– bug fixed : when pasting plain text, line breaks weren’t pasted
– bug fixed : crash when tabs are all closed and showing previous scene
– bug fixed : notes an synopsys right margins wrong in new scenes
– New Project Manager
– Wordcount centered under the sheet.
– “Tree” dock renamed “Project” dock
– Closing Project dock is now forbidden
– Project button removed in vertical toolbar
– “Show Previous Scene”, “Outliner” and “Fullscreen” buttons are moved to the side tool bar
– Plume is now lightly styled
– added a basic spreadsheet Outliner
– removed the sheets Outliner (temporary)
– added a “View” menu
– added a few icons

I haven’t had much time to play with this new version, but I’m excited to give it a try.


Scribes Text Editor

Since moving to Ubuntu Linux on my laptop, I have developed an interest in native applications. One of my favorite new text editors is called Scribes. Scribes is more than just another Gnome based text editor. It’s an example of a programmer pushing the boundaries and following his bliss, to make a unique and awesome new take on a simple application.

“Let’s make text editing seamless, empowering and fun. Let’s make ease of use and productivity our foremost priority. Let’s show how simplicity and minimalism inspires good design.”

As this bit from the About page says, Scribes is not your average text editor. It has a mission. Lateef Alabi-Oki is the programmer behind Scribes. He has very particular ideas about what he’s doing and I for one, find that refreshing. You should read his blog if you are a programmer.

Anyway, do give this editor a spin and see if you like it. I use it all the time now and love it.

Dell XPS 13 and HDMI Sound

When players collide Nathan Rupert via Compfight

I’ve recently taken to watching movies on line through Amazon’s streaming video. I can watch them just fine on my Dell XPS with Ubuntu. However, I wanted to try and push them to my HDTV and watch them on a large screen.

When I tried it, the video was fine, but no audio. Then I found this blog post. Your mileage may vary, but for me, I just told the audio settings to use the HDMI output and it worked fine. Now I can watch movies on my big screen TV.

I did need to purchase an HDMI rat tail adapter and some HDMI cable, to make this possible. That was not inexpensive. I was able to get these items at my local Best Buy.

Another thing I did related to this, was purchase the NFL pre-season pass for $20.00 so I can watch all the pre-season games on demand. Normally I’m not that big of an NFL fan, but so many of my favorite BSU football players are on different teams this year, I wanted to see how they did in professional football. This too works fine on the Dell.

Dell XPS and Ubuntu Update

I’ve had a couple of weeks now using the new Dell XPS laptop with Ubuntu and figured it was time for an update. In short, I’m loving it. The laptop is thin and light weight, as you’d expect an ultrabook to be. But unlike a netbook, there is plenty of space for my fingers on the keyboard and the screen is a nice 13 inches over the too small for my aging eyes netbook.

There is really only one major physical flaw with the XPS and that is the lack of a groove to slip your finger into to open it. It is unusually difficult to open this laptop as a result. If you have longer fingernails, it comes apart easier, but my nails are short so I have to pry it open. It’s not hard to open, just more awkward than it needs to be.

The battery life is around five hours, but to be honest, I don’t go for anywhere near that long on the laptop, so I’m a horrible judge of that. The longest I’ve gone is about three hours. Not too many modern computers do less than that.

The screen has been just fine for me too. Again, I don’t need bleeding edge resolution to write books or watch a streaming movie. I did finally watch a movie on it this weekend and it looked great.

The bottom does get warm after an hour’s solid use. But what laptop doesn’t? If you keep it on a desk, like every manufacturer recommends, you should be fine.

I’m also loving the latest Ubuntu operating system on this laptop. It’s fast, smart and let’s me do what I need to do. What else can a writer need? Oh yeah, it looks pretty sweet too.

I wish more manufacturers would put their trust in Canonical and work with them to ensure their laptops run Ubuntu. What say you Samsung, HP and everyone else? Because right now, Dell is the only company and this XPS is the only ultrabook that I can personally recommend to you.


Sometimes You Write, Sometimes You Give Back

I’ve been doing two writing related things this week since returning from my summer vacation. Finishing my first draft of Starveyors and helping to redefine how I will write my next novel. Sometimes you write and sometimes you help others write. Either you help them learn the craft, or you help create a new tool that will help them write more efficiently.

I mentioned a while back that I found a new writing tool for Linux. Plume Creator is an Open Source project that is available on all three operating systems – Linux, Mac and Windows. I’ve recently moved to Linux and so I’ve been looking for something similar to Scrivener to write my novels in. Plume Creator is not a Scrivener clone, but it does work in a similar manner.

I’ve been working with the developer – Cyril Jacquet, to test and improve Plume Creator to make it the best free writing tool on any operating system. It’s a slow process. Cyril is trying new things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but his willingness to keep working at it is really impressive to me. All I’m doing is trying to spot errors so he can squish the bugs and make the program better in the process. There are others helping too, because we all want a better program. This is the essence of Open Source programming, people volunteering their time and effort to make something that we all can use and benefit from.

This weekend I had so much fun watching Cyril change the program and make it better that I neglected to work on my novel. I’ll have to double down to finish up the novel. However, the time spent helping Cyril improve Plume Creator, will help other writers down the line. My next novel, which I will begin in a matter of days, will be completely written in Plume Creator. Programmers call this eating their own dog food.

Cyril has released a new beta version of Plume Creator. If you would like to take it for a test spin and let him know what you think, he’d really appreciate it. Since this program is in heavy development, some parts are not working yet. The program runs on Linux, Mac and Windows.

Trackpad Sensitivity in Ubuntu on Dell XPS 13

The biggest annoyance I have found since I moved in to this Dell XPS 13 laptop running Ubuntu is the over sensitivity of the trackpad.When I was typing, just the slightest touch of my wrist pads on the trackpad made the cursor jump around to some random place in the manuscript. It was becoming quite annoying for someone who spends a great deal of time writing on their laptop.

Then I came across a web page that recommended a program to download that would help tweak the trackpad’s sensitivity. I gave it a try.

From a terminal:  sudo apt-get-install gpointing-device-settings


Here’s a screenshot of my settings. After I used this program I was able to type without changing the cursor’s location all over my manuscript. I’m not sure if the settings will hold after a reboot. But things are running much better using this handy GUI. There is no About menu to tell me who is responsible for this handy app, but I really appreciate their efforts.

Now back to the novel.