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Launchers: What is their deal?

I wanted to do a post about program launchers this week. This is somewhat because I find it relevant to being a writer and having to navigate between a bunch of different programs to find a synonym or look something up or what have you, but mostly because I think launchers are really sweet. I’ve gotten so lazy these days, pressing Ctrl+Space for everything. Makes working so much more efficient. I’ve never really gotten the hang of menus, anyway.

The problem is, I’ve been using Kupfer and Synapse pretty heavily, and I’ll be damned if I can figure out how to compare the two of them. It’s as though I’ve opened up the comics page to find a “spot the differences” puzzle and it looks like both dogs are piddling on the fire hydrant in precisely the same manner. Okay, it’s not a perfect metaphor, but still.

There’s one obvious difference in that Synapse looks much, much nicer than Kupfer does. For this reason alone it’s become my default. As launchers, they both seem to disappoint me in different ways. Kupfer can launch a website, but it can’t do symbols or spaces. Synapse does symbols and spaces and can perform a Google search, but it can’t launch a website. Both of them have mysterious methods for determining what file or folder I want, and it seems to vary with every launch. Both of them give me completely irrelevant results from time to time – especially Synapse, where I’ll start typing a phrase and it will pop up a filename and my keywords in parenthesis next to it, despite those keywords appearing nowhere in the file or folder name.

In short I find their logic equally confusing. For programs and commands they’re both fantastic, for website launching or file searching not so much. If I can convince myself to keep plowin’ away at this problem maybe I’ll post about it eventually, but for now, I’m just stumped.


Suggestion box and PostAWeek

Thanks to everyone who’s commented and recommended programs this week. I’ve been able to try out a fair bit of new stuff – Tomboy Notes, Synapse, and FocusWriter, to name a few – and really, discovering new Linux software is a major part of what this blog is about. So again, thank you.

I’ve put up a suggestion box of sorts if you have something you love to use and you’d like to recommend it. Don’t take it as a reason not to recommend stuff in the comments though – comments are always preferable since it usually provokes some interesting discussion down there. But if you have something you’d like to recommend, and it’s totally unrelated to whatever nonsense I decided to post that day, pop it in the box and I’ll give it a go.

Also, I’m joining PostAWeek. Why not PostADay, even though I’ve been posting every day? Because I’m not sure if I will make a post a day. I’m only posting so long as I have something about which to post. Every post I make, no longer how long or short, is something I want to share because I think someone will find it useful. I might be wrong, but at least that’s my intention. I don’t want to force myself to keep posting if I’ve run out of stuff to talk about. Cluttering everyone’s feeds and inboxes with useless junk wouldn’t get any of us anywhere, would it?

But I do want to write. That’s why I’m writing on Linux, after all, and why I’m posting part of what I’m working on every Sunday. I can’t make it my goal to post about Linux every day, but I can make it my goal to post a bit of what I’m writing every week.

So consider this my official PostAWeek announcement. Maybe a couple weeks late, but there it is.

In the meantime, keep suggesting programs – no matter how trivial you might think they are. I don’t care if you flood the suggestion box with requests; it’s always a treat to have new software to try.

As always, thanks for reading,


Saturdays are now meta.

Told you I’d be doing something different today. It occurred to me that while I’m blogging about writing on Linux, blogging itself is a form of writing, and you can certainly do it on Linux – so why not blog about blogging, too? Besides, I’ve been meaning to blog about my experience with WordPress so far and I didn’t want to shoehorn it into some random post.

So instead, Saturdays are going to be my metablogging days, and I’ve successfully used the word “blog” enough times that it now looks weird to me. Blog. Blog blog blog.

Anyway, similar to how this isn’t my first time on Linux, this certainly isn’t my first time on WordPress. This is my first time “blogging with a purpose,” though – everything before this had been a random collection of whatever interested me at the time. Instead this blog is about one specific subject, and I have to tell you, writing it is a lot more enjoyable. It’s easier to write when you’ve narrowed your scope, for one thing. And for another, I like to think I’m helping out future Googlers looking for writing software.

I started this blog a bit more than a week ago because of the disappointing search results for writing on Linux. And no, I didn’t just search for that – I’m talking about writing software on Linux, writing in Linux, freeware word processors, and what have you. Originally I was going to spit out a few posts about Linux with the maximum of a post a day (so as not to overwhelm anyone, including myself) and then take breaks when I ran out of software to talk about.

But my list of stuff to try out has exploded. Really, I thought I’d do maybe ten posts on my first run. Instead I have thirty or so separate subjects to write about, thanks to other bloggers’ posts and comments. As it turns out, there is a ton of stuff out there for writers. Now I’ve made it my mission to bring it to you.

Enough about Linux, let’s talk about WordPress. Specifically, about finding stuff to read on it.

I didn’t come here just to write, I wanted to see what other people had to say about writing on Linux too. For the past week or so I’ve achieved this by throwing a ton of keywords into WordPress’s “tag surfer” and reading whatever popped up. I found quite a few good blogs/posts from that alone, but recently it’s dried up for me.

The problem with tag surfer is, not everyone tags their posts! And those who do usually don’t tag them enough. Tags aren’t like categories, where you keep them limited to as not to turn your blog into an organizational disaster. Tags are supposed to help people find your stuff. So even if you mention a certain subject in only a paragraph of your post, please tag it! It helps out those of us who are looking for new stuff to read.

In the meantime, Google provides a nice way of supplementing the tag surfer. Go to Google and type this in: “keyword”

Where keyword is, of course, whatever it is you’re looking to find posts about. Once you do that Google will spit out every post on with your keyword in it. That’s pretty useless if you’re trying to find fresh posts, so expand “show search tools” in the left column and select either “latest” or “past 24 hours”. “Latest” gives you a live feed of posts in reverse-chronological order, which is pretty neat, but if you’re catching up on stuff for the first time today I’d stick with”24 hours”.

So help me out here – what’s some other ways to find new stuff on WordPress?

Getting Started: Linux Mint 10

I’m not a complete Linux newbie, but I’m far from a fanatic. I’ve tried a lot (well, a fair amount) of different operating systems and I’d have to say Windows 7 is the most to my liking. It’s fast, it’s shiny, and it runs Microsoft Word, my writing companion for nearly a decade. I’ve grown used to the thing, even back when it had that irritating little paperclip constantly asking you if you were writing a letter, or thinking about writing a letter, or perhaps suggesting, very subtly, that you ought to be writing a letter, because really he was good at helping with that, really he was, just give him a chance.

But what’s the fun in stagnation, eh? So just in the interest of mixing things up a tad, I’ve fired up Linux in a virtual machine and I’m ready to see what it has to offer me as a writer instead of, well, a huge geek experimenting with OS’s.

Technical details ahoy

The Linux distribution I’ll be using is Linux Mint – at the moment, version 10 – by far the most awesome looking flavor of Linux I’ve ever tried. Really, it’s primarily the fact that it’s shiny that I’ve decided to give it a go. That, and it being essentially a modified version of Ubuntu means I can Google around the Ubuntu forums for any issues I may come across. And this being Linux, I will come across some.

The virtualization software I’ll be using is none other than VirtualBox – at the moment version 3.2.12 – because… um… it’s free and I’ve been using it for a long time now. Other suggestions are of course totally welcome, because outside of VBox I don’t really know an awful lot.

My host operating system is Windows 7 because I love that stuff.

All right, back to the writing bit

As for why I’m blogging about this experience, I’ve had a really disappointing time Googling around for Linux programs for writers. There are a few custom distros out there that focus on this sort of thing, but from what I can tell, most of them were abandoned soon after they were created.

So what is this blog gonna be about? It’s gonna be about finding stuff for writers on Linux, reviewing said stuff, and of course documenting my experiences with said stuff. I’ll start off nice and simple with OpenOffice Writer since that comes bundled with Mint 10. And probably just about every other Linux distribution as well I know I know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it seems like VBox 4.0 just came out, so I’m going to go take care of that.