Open Source Musings

opensource

(Note: Parts of this article were published at Opensouce.com and appear here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)

It's been seven years since Google pulled the plug on Google Reader. Seven. Years. And, believe it or not, there are people who are still whining about that. Some of them even say that by sending Reader to the digital glue factory, Google killed RSS.

Those people need to shut up.

RSS isn't dead. Far from it. RSS is still a great way for you to take control of the information you ingest from the online world. You choose what you want to read, not an algorithm.

All you need is a good RSS reader. If you want to go back to basics with your RSS reader, a solid option is Newsboat. It's a command line feed reader, forked from the venerable Newsbeuter, that's easy to use but packs a good number of features.

Let's take a look at how to use it.

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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 read ebooks, I do it on my phone or with my Kobo ereader. I've never been comfortable reading books on larger screens. Strangely enough, articles aren't a problem ...

Having said that, I know that many people regularly read books on their laptops or desktops. If you are one of them, or think you are, then I'd like to introduce you to three ebook readers for the Linux desktop.

Bookworm

Bookworm is billed as a simple, focused ebook reader. And it is. Bookworm has a basic set of features, a set that some people will pooh-pooh it for being too basic or for lacking functionality (whatever that word means). Bookworm does one thing, and does it well without unnecessary frills.

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

While I'm of two minds when it comes to smartphones and tablets, they can be useful. Not just for keep in touch with the people or using the web, but also to do some work when I'm away from my computer.

If you haven't already figured it out, for me that work is writing — articles, blog posts, essays for my weekly letter, ebook chapters, and more. I've tried many (probably too many!) writing apps for Android over the years. Some of them were good. Others fell flat.

In this article, I'd like to share four of my favorite open source Android apps for writers. You might find them as useful as I do.

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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 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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