Say Hello to King Julian


My new laptop arrived this week and I’ve already put it to good use writing on my WIP. Here it is at work on my lunch break.

When you get a laptop from System76, it comes in this really cool box with a clever shrink wrap that you can open with no tools. I like that it has a Sci-Fi feel to it, because that’s what I write.


Below is a close up of the laptop showing the subtle curve up of the edges. For a plastic case, it’s very tight and solid.


The bottom is always of interest to me, as I hate warm laptops. This one has an intake fan on the right, but it blow out the side, so your lap is spared third degree burns. The speakers also face down near the front. You can also see the replaceable battery that forms a thicker lip under the screen. It actually makes the otherwise thin laptop easier to carry in my big hands.

Not sure what the CATV plug is for or how one would even use it. So happy to have normal sized VGA plug and built in camera card reader.


The power and drive lights are very tiny under the front lip.


The fan air exits to the side along with some USB 3 ports.


I’ve only been using this Lemur laptop for a few days, but already I’m loving it. It’s the first computer of any kind that I have purchased that came with Ubuntu Linux. So. Damn. Cool. I named my laptop KingJulian in honor of my favorite Lemur from the movie Madagascar.



My New Writing Workflow

I’ve been changing my writing workflow this week. What follows is how I draft, edit and build my Indie novel ebooks. I’m admittedly an extreme corner case here, but I think no matter which OS you use, these tools are available. You may have to tailor some programs to your specific OS (Operating System).

I start with Plume Creator. Plume is a first draft writing program similar to Scrivener. Since I write on Ubuntu, I can’t use Scrivener and for the last three novels I’ve used Plume with great success. Plume is Open Source and can be downloaded for Linux and Windows. There is a Mac version, but it’s a few releases behind.

I then export to .odt and import the book into Libre Office’s Write. Then I send it to my editor and he marks it up using Write’s commenting features. When we get the manuscript perfect, I’m ready to build my epub. Write is Open Source and can be used on Linux, Mac and Windows. After all my edits are made, I clean up the document removing tabs and extra spaces.

I now use Jutoh to import my .odt document and divide it up into separate chapter files and add front and back matter pages. I use Jutoh to set my style sheet and import special fonts. When done, I unzip the epub and look it over in the fourth program – Sublime Text 2. Jutoh is NOT Open Source but is available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Sublime Text is an editor used by programmers. It lets me manually tweak the XML in the epub. Sublime Text is NOT Open Source and is available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Reminder – you must unzip an .epub directory to get at the raw XML files. As you can see below, Jutoh leaves a nice clean base to work with.

You can probably substitute Scrivener for Plume and Word for Write on both Mac and Windows OS. There are many other programming editor tools available on Mac and Windows that are free or low cost.

Moto X Thoughts

When the kids bricked my Galaxy Nexus phone last week, I had already pulled the trigger on upgrading my phone. So my down time was less than a week. I went online and custom ordered a Moto X. That was Saturday night and it arrived on Thursday. Pretty fast for a custom product and during a holiday week!

Had my phone not been destroyed, I might still be using my GalNex. I loved that phone. The reason I decided to upgrade was two fold, screen ghosting and price of a new phone. The price of the on-contract Moto X was just too good to pass up. The old phone was beginning to get slow and was at the end of life from Verizon. My plan was to get a new phone and then put Ubuntu on the old one. You can’t load Ubuntu onto a brick, no matter how awesome it is.

Back to the Moto X. Man, what a phone! The battery life on this bad boy is about a day and a half with normal use. That was unheard of on the old phone. I needed two chargers, one for work and one for home with the old phone. Now I only have one and I leave it at home. Amazing. And liberating. The level of integration with Google software services is also amazing. I’m not even scratching the surface of what is possible.

One bad thing is that the Bluetooth will not talk to my car. Bummer. But with hands off speaking to the phone, I can almost get by with that and the AUX in line to the car stereo. Still, no talky on my car is a serious issue. I can’t afford a new car every time I get a new phone. Seriously!

The Moto X is smaller in my hand than the old phone and I’m still getting used to that, but I do not miss the larger screen. I have a tablet for that. The Moto X fits nicely in my pocket without making me self conscious of it. Is that a phone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Yeah.

One final observation. The case I purchased with the phone is not really needed. It has a clear plastic back on it and that back is smooth so when you set your phone down, it goes careening off the table. Uncool. I’m ditching it and not recommending anyone bother with a case like that.

I’ll have more thoughts later, as I get more comfortable using the phone.

Plume Beta Sneak Peek

Thought I’d offer my audience a look at the latest Plume Beta, since it’s really not for public consumption yet. This being Beta software, things are not final and are subject to change. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s see what’s cooking for the next Plume Creator release.

Cyril has been giving the Project Tree an overhaul in an effort to make drag and drop smoother and faster. All his hard work is beginning to pay off, because in the limited testing I’ve done, it’s working great. Another new addition to the Tree is icons for Books, Acts, Chapters and Scenes. Yes, you read that right. Acts is new. As you can see in the screenshot below, your novel or book can now have Acts. Very cool. Kudos to Tushant Mirchandani, the new icons look clean and sharp. Again, things are in flux in this area, so the icons may change before the next release. Tushant is also responsible for the new layout options of the main screen.


Below is a screen shot of the Outliner which is now called the Workbench. This is where you are supposed to create your book in outline form. All changes to this Workbench outline immediately show up on the main screen shown above.


There are more new features planned and I’ll let you guys in on them as I test them. Rest assured that Plume Creator is still very much in development and is getting better with every release.

The Final Sticker

I’ve only had this laptop for a year or so, but I finally finished decorating it. It now carries three stickers. On the bottom it has the Powered by Ubuntu sticker and on the super key it has the Ubuntu circle. This weekend I put the black Ubuntu circle around the Dell logo on the lid. That’s it, done.

It’s been a decent computer for the most part. But it does tend to over heat and shut down if you have it on anything other than a perfectly flat surface. Also, the drivers for the touch pad are still poor. No setting will completely hold off your palms from jerking your cursor around the screen. I can get it to stop for a while with programs, but eventually they die and I have to reboot them.

In playing around with my kid’s new Chromebook, I’m really tempted to go that route next time. Things just work. If I got the Pixel, I could probably get Ubuntu on it without much difficulty. I wonder how Ubuntu works on the Pixel with the touch pad?

My next computer will either be a Pixel or more likely, a System 76 laptop. I’d rather support companies that make Linux only computers over the likes of Dell and HP who have sold their souls to the devil. Heh, I still don’t like Microsoft all these years later.


Liferea My New RSS Feed Reader

I don’t often read my RSS feeds as much as I used to. I just don’t have the time every day to read it. But I do like to catch up at the end of the week with a list of blogs that I follow on a range of topics.

I was using Google’s Reader product for years but that went away. So rather than bitch and moan on the social networks, I just switched to a Linux based reader that I use mostly at home. It’s called Liferea and here’s a shot of it in action on my laptop.

I was able to export all my feeds from Google and import them into Liferea with no issues at all. Since I don’t really need a web based client for my RSS feeds, I think this will suit me  for now.

If you don’t need web access for your feeds, a client side program like this might just work for you too. You can pick up Liferea in the Ubuntu Software Center.


Library Talk on Ebook Publishing

Getting Your Work Published Online SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2013, 1 – 3PM
Location Library! at Collister
Room Sycamore Room
Registration Required No
Contact Name Jim
Contact Phone 562-4995
Location Library! at Collister
Type of Event Classes/Workshops/Speakers
Age Teens

Young Adults grade 7-12 join local author Ken McConnell, author of the Sci-Fi novels Starforgers, Starstrikers and Tyrmia, to explore the why and how of self-publishing and showcase some of the tools needed to render your work. Getting Your Work Published Online is part of the Collister Media Arts series of programs.

Sublime Text – Setup

I’ve recently converted my coding text editor to Sublime Text. This post is a reference for if I have to set it up again. The editor can be used on any OS and looks particularly nice on all of them. It’s also a Python program. (This post subject to updates, as I find nifty plugins)

Get it here: Sublime Text

Reference this blog post for common plugins and general tomfoolery.

Package Control

HTML auto fill.

GIT plugin.

Code Completion plugin.

Lint plugin.

Make Sublime your default editor in Ubuntu.

Make your default Monokai theme have a dark side bar.