Open Source Musings

FOSS

As you may or may not know, I publish an email letter called Weekly Musings. To celebrate the letter's first year, I recently decided to collect the first 52 essays into an ebook.

With the last few ebooks I've published (at least ones in EPUB format), I've written them in a desktop application called Sigil. This time 'round, things were a bit different.

The 52 essays that I wanted to collect in the book were individual files formatted with Markdown. Converting them to HTML (which is file format in which Sigil stores chapter files) and importing them into Sigil would have been a bit of a chore. Instead, I turned to Pandoc to quickly do the deed.

Pandoc, if you're not familiar with it, is something of a Swiss Army Knife for converting between markup languages. Pandoc can also create EPUB files.

Let's look at how I did it.

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When I mention that I contribute to free/open source projects, and that I do it for free, the question that I invariably hear is _If you're doing it for free, then what do you get out of it?

That's the wrong question. Why? Because I've already gotten something from the projects that I support. That might be the software I'm using, a community I can turn to for help or take part in, or ideas that intrigue me.

Admittedly, I don't contribute as much as I want to or think I should. But I try to do as much as I can, not matter how little that actually is.

Whether it's writing or crafting documentation, advocating certain projects, writing articles, being a community moderator at Opensource.com, posting in this space, or making a small donation, I'm trying to give something back.

I'm trying to share software and ideas that I appreciate.

I'm trying to spread my enthusiasm for FLOSS.

I'm trying to make more people aware of alternatives to commercial software.

I'm trying to teach and to learn.

Are these efforts reaching anyone? I'm not sure, though I hope they are. But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying.

Scott Nesbitt

#FOSS #opensource #opinion

Just to spare you the pain, I won't go into my usual spiel about how useful the command line is. It is, even for the non techie.

In the terminal window, there are so many commands and so little time to learn them all. And there are so many little tips and tricks that can make life (or even just a visit) to the command line a bit easier.

Let's take a look at a few of my favourite tips. If you've been using the command line for any length of time, these tips will probably be old hat to you. But if you're still learning about the Linux command line, then you might find these tips useful.

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If you've been reading my site The Plain Text Project, you know that I'm a heavy user of Markdown. I do a lot of writing with it. In fact, just about all of my writing is done with a text editor and Markdown. Mainly articles and blog posts, but also book chapters and editions of my weekly letter.

To be honest, I'm not one to use a dedicated Markdown editor. While I use a text editor called Emacs for my writing, I've also tried several dedicated Markdown editors. Most left me feeling cold. A few I found useful and worth taking a second or third look at.

One of those editors is ReText. While it's not the prettiest editor out there, ReText is a solid and capable tool with some useful features.

Let's take a closer look at it.

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(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a Creative Commons license.)

There are dozens, if not more, tools out there that can help you manage your ever-expanding task list. If you want to manage your tasks like a techie, or just feel like going back to basics, the best way to do that is to turn to the command line.

With the software that's available, there's no reason why you can't effectively manage your tasks from the command line. You don't need to worry about sacrificing features and functions, either. The three task management tools I look at in this post have something for everyone.

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(Note: This post is based on a presentation I gave at the Opensource.com Lightning Talks on October 22, 2014)

There are many people out there who are interested in, and even eager to use, open source. Not just for one or two tasks, but for their entire computing experience. But, for a variety of reasons, they aren’t able or willing to make the leap from the closed, proprietary world to a more free and open one.

Even the more resolute ones hesitate. Why? A big part of it is change, which no one really likes. And they might not know a lot about open source.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned that can help you ease people into open source.

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Chances are, have a pile of ebooks in any number of formats — like PDF, EPUB, and even .mobi — on your computer. Chances are those ebooks are scattered across a directory or four. Which means finding an ebook at any given time can be a bit of a chore.

One way around that is to do some housekeeping. You can manually move your ebooks around into dedicated set of folders or subfolders. Instead of doing that, why not use calibre to manage your ebooks?

Let's take a look at how to do that.

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(Note: This post was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)

For most people (especially non-techies), the act of writing means tapping out words using LibreOffice Writer or another GUI word processing application. But there are many other options available to help anyone communicate their message in writing, especially for the growing number of writers embracing plain text.

There's also room in a GUI writer's world for command line tools that can help them write, check their writing, and more — regardless of whether they're banging out an article, blog post, or story; writing a README; or prepping technical documentation.

Here's a look at some command-line tools that any writer will find useful.

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