Writing my novel using Ubuntu

One of the nice features of using OpenOffice for writing on my Ubuntu machine is that it exports directly into PDF. So when I finished the major edits of my manuscript I was able to output it into the format that pleased me although not without a few twists. For example, I really liked the font ZapFino for the title. But this is a Mac font: so I just put my odt file on the Mac and used NeoOffice (the version of OpenOffice for it) to add it in. Of course, I probably could have downloaded a ZapFino-like font for Ubuntu but it’s fun not being system-dependent for my word processing. I can move from Ubuntu to Mac to Windows with no issues. It was fun to experiment to get what I wanted. 10 Point fonts were fine to read zoomed on my system but I found I had to change to 12 points in order to be easily read in PDF without zooming.
I’m using PDF because my reviewers are computer literate and it would be, I think, too wasteful to print out more copies than I already have.
The name of the book is “The Relater” and it’s a science fiction novel for young adults that reads a little like a fantasy. You could say it is fantasy but that with no magic if that works for you. It’s set on a planet in the distant future where metals are scarce and so little advanced technology still exists after the humans and several other races first landed five thousand years previously.
The hero is a 12 year old boy who wants to be a Relater or story teller. And the story begins with him getting ready for his rite into adulthood.
The story seems straightforward but there are three twists that affect him: a prophecy, a chance meeting with another race and something special about him and his relationship with the solar system. There was not enough time for everything to be explained in the book. It would take a trilogy to do that…


Multiple File Renaming in Ubuntu

Over the past year I’ve been slowly adapting myself and an old PC to use Ubuntu.  At first Gutsy and now Hardy.  We have Windows and Mac systems, too, but it’s hard to get on those these days with everyone competing for time on them.  I do enjoy the independence of my own Linux box where I’m immune to interference from corporate software, viruses, most games and the kids wanting to play them.
I tell them, “I’m sorry _put_whining_kid’s_name_here_, but my machine can’t do that. Go away!” Of course, as I learn more about systems like Wine, I realize that I’m lying. But habits like that are hard to break.
I use OpenOffice to write and calculate with, RhythmBox Music Player to download podcasts, Firefox for surfing, GTK Aiksaurus for thesaurusing, XSane for scanning, and Inkscape and Gimp for drawing and fixing photos. Almost everything I need. One program which I miss, though, is Total Commander which I already golbed about. It partly works on Wine but not the file renamer utility which I needed the other day to massage the names of several mp3 podcasts.
I could have learned how to bash up a shell script to do it but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t reinventing any Ubuntu wheels before I went too far down that road.
As it happens I was listening to a Windows Weekly podcast and one of the hosts, Paul Thurrott, mentioned that he was feeling the same need in Windows Vista. I could have told him that Total Commander would more than fulfill his needs but on the next episode another listener had told him about Ant Renamer but this is Windows software too. I checked the website and the author, Antoine Potten, doesn’t think it would work in Wine so I haven’t attempted it.
So this spurned me to do some more searching and I found a few Ubuntu programs. The first one, pyRenamer, looked good but I couldn’t get it to do the filetype renaming I needed: many mp3 files had extra garbage after the ‘mp3’. The latest version looked better but I wasted quite a while trying to get the latest package compiled on my system and finally gave up. So I tried mrename but that was command line only and seemed limited. Finally I found Purrrr. It look me a while to figure out how to use it (the man page is terrible and the help doesn’t work) but this site showed me what I needed to make it do what I wanted. It doesn’t do all the special renaming that pyRenamer does but it did allow me to rename all filetypes to a specific filetype.
So I’m going to keep pyRenamer (hoping the latest version will finally be made available — since it has some even more cool features) and Purrr as it does the trick for now!