About a year ago I became a Markdown convert. It's a simple markup language that's meant to make web documents readable and scannable. It's plaintext with a few niceties added in, and I've been using it to write most of my work notes and Nuketown articles since Fall 2014.
This is my first-ever post written on my family's spiffy new Asus Eee PC netbook, aka "The Blue Dolphin", so named because it's small and blue, which led my wife to describe it as a baby blue dolphin on Twitter.
Anyway ... we decided to get a netbook as a direct result of our summer vacation; I could have used it at Origins, and it would have been handy to have for writing on Butler Island on Lake Champlain (where we spent a week hanging out with family friends).
It's a cute little machine -- it ships with a 160 GB hard drive, wireless N support, a 4 cell battery capable of up to eigth hours of use (assuming you use the Asus power management tools), three USB ports, an SD card reader, an ethernet port and Windows XP.
I'll forgive it for that last bit; I don't have the energy to hack this thing to run Mac OS X, and if I have to run Windows, XP isn't too bad (though I am curious about trying Windows 7 on it). The whole thing cost about $300 from Amazon. which made it a fairly inexpensive experiment.
The RPG Bloggers Network has been a tremendous success, sparking plenty of cross-blog traffic and comments. I’ve read lots of great articles and discovered a bunch of new sites, but I think there’s one area where the community can improve: game reviews.
Simply put, there aren’t enough of them. There’s plenty of speculation, analysis and debate but there aren’t nearly enough reviews (or, if they are there, they are quickly lost among the flurry of other posts). The RPG Bloggers guys are working on improvements to bring order to the chaos by adding new categories, but even then I think there will be a need for bloggers to knuckle down and review games.
I have as much work to do as anyone else. It shocked me earlier this week when I looked at my own RPG reviews category and discovered that five months had passed between my Battlestar Galactica RPG review and my new one for Star Wars: Threats of the Galaxy. Now granted, my sense of what I’ve written is distorted by all the writing I do for SCIFI, and I’ve certainly posted a bunch of quasi-reviews in the form of playtest reports, but still … there need to be more.
It’s done. After a month of writing 1,667 words almost every day (with a few days hitting 3,000 to 4,000 to make up for traveling, family engagements, and the occasional bout of exhaustion), I completed my novel.
After a few days of working with Open Office's word processor, it was time to turn to the spreadsheet. I don't work with spreadsheets much at home, but I do have a few specialized uses for them. One of those is a campaign manager for my Mutants & Masterminds campaign – I use it to track past, current and future events in the campaign. Each entry has a column for event name, date, weather, type of event (e.g. blog post, crime, super activity) and a brief description.
My first few days on NeoOffice haven't turned up any major problems, but I have encountered a couple of foibles. Most of these are personal preferences, but I think most heavy Word users while find them to be similarly annoying
Firing up NeoOffice and using it to write a few quick documents, the first thing I noticed was how slick and Aquafied it was -- it feels like a Mac OS X native application, which is a major advantage over Open-Office-under-X11 approach that I took earlier.
November is coming. And that means so is National Novel Writing Month. In years past, I've watched and read as my friends fought their way through it, some succeeding, some failing, all glorious in the pursuit. I've sat, thought, considered and ultimately come up with one excuse or another not to do it. There's always next year, I told myself, I don't have time for it now.
Now it's next year. And I'm going to do this.
Open Office is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. Based on Sun's Star Office, Open Office has been around for a number of years, and has proved fairly popular with the geeks, particularly those who dislike being beholden to Microsoft, Apple or any other proprietary software developer. It's the predominant office productivity suite on Linux, and comes bundled with distributions like Ubuntu.