Writing Magazine

When I’m not writing technical features for money (or DIYing the boat) I try to write fiction. I attend a local writing group and a while ago a publisher, Collette Smith, from Writing Magazine joined us. For her it’s research, trying to get inside the heads of her customers, but it set me thinking. Writers use software and, it often seems to me, pay over the odds for it. I’ve used free software for years and written about it in techie magazines and on industry websites, so why not try a simple guide to free software for writers?

Here it is. (PDF approx 400KB)

And here is a sidebar I wrote to go with it which the magazine put online rather than in the print version.

Nextcloud(2)

As promised the server now runs Nextcloud and MySQL. Unfortunately Nextcloud was forked from the latest version of ownCloud and requires the latest ownCloud client on the desktop. Which wasn’t supported by my operating system a LTS version of Linux Mint based on Ubuntu 14.10. So I waited for the next KDE version of Mint to arrive, which it did in September. Now Nextcloud syncs everything with my desktop, which is fine except that the desktop is temporarily set up in the garage of our temporary accommodation. Until we move to our (hopefully) final destination I’m using an old (Bodhi Linux) laptop which runs the client fine, but I daren’t sync too much because the disk isn’t that big.

The other ‘interesting’ issue is remote access to the server which is being blocked somewhere. It’s fine via the LAN but not via the Internet. I’m beginning to wonder if my new ISP contract has something to do with it, even though it’s the same company. More on this when I get to the bottom of it.

Nextcloud

I’ve blogged about ownCloud before, and written a couple of features about it for MM. Unlike a lot of software that I’ve installed, tested, written about then forgotten, ownCloud is in regular use.

My entire /home/phil directory is synced to an ownCloud server, which is just an old Athlon 3500+ desktop sat in my office, and I can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s so convenient I’ve installed the client on my wife’s PC and use a folder we can both access for simple file transfers between our machines. Changes are afoot though some falling out between the majority of ownCloud devs and the management of the ownCloud company which markets the supported commercial version has led to the majority of devs leaving.

Being open source of course they left with a full copy of the source code which they have forked to create Nextcloud, and have just put out their first release with instructions for upgrading from ownCloud.

We’re moving house soon (-ish subject to lawyers) so the server and network is all going to be packed away. Once we’re settled I think I’ll stick a new disk in the server and install Nextcloud from scratch, and do it right this time using MySQL rather than the default SQLite.

Android, not Google

I’ve written a few pieces over the last couple of years about ditching Gmail, Google Search, Maps, Docs etc but the final frontier was Android which I had on my phone and tab. Having manged to break the screens on both just before Christmas I treated myself to a new large format phone with a 5½” screen and CyanogenOS rather than regular (Google) Android.

Read all about it here: NoGoogleAndroid

It’s Cloudy again

ownCloud on my webserver works just fine. But the obvious snag is that web host companies charge for storage space, and generally charge more than a dedicated cloud storage provider. ownCloud have thought of this and provide a plugin to connect to external storage using various common protocols.

Given that I got into ownCloud because I want to avoid government snoops and US corporates selling my data I want a UK based cloud storage provider that allows access by FTP or SFTP. There are several issues.

A lot of companies with a UK website turn out to be branches of US companies who don’t disclose where there servers are. Many companies provide cheap, even free, storage but only if you use their Windows, Mac or Mobile client software. Won’t link to ownCloud unless you pay for the ‘Pro’ package which often starts at £10/month. I did find one exception, Memset which charges 4p/GB/month. Set up is easy and it links to ownCloud via FTP or SFTP. But I can’t make it accept files.

In desperation I signed up to a 30 day free trial with iWeb. It also uses FTP and connects to ownCloud just like Memset – but it works. This demonstrates to my satisfaction it’s not me or ownCloud at fault, so I’ve filed a support ticket with Memset. I hope they fix it, after 30 days iWeb gets expensive!

The long term plan is to mirror my entire /home/phil directory on ownCloud so I can work anywhere without needing to remember what to copy/backup before I go.

 

Back to work

Just finished a piece for Diesel Car about KERS and got plenty more ‘ghost blogging’ to do for a certain IT company. Hoping to get a regular column on Diesel Car / Eco Car, and yesterday at Yr Wyddfa met a guy who’s a lecturer in Environmental Science at UCL, and expert in hydrogen as a fuel. Should be useful…

No More Google

I’m not paranoid, nor a conspiracy theorist, but I do like my privacy. I choose what goes on my website and it’s all business stuff, family life is off limits. Big business doesn’t work like that, they want to know as much as possible about everyone because they think it makes it easier to sell things to us. Google is way out in front on this, so I’ve decided to opt out of all things Google, no more Gmail, Google+, Docs, Maps or Play. Read the full story here.