Tag Archives: How-To

#XPocaplypseIsNigh

winxppro

The death clock is nearly at 0:00:00.

On Tuesday April 8th, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP, the second largest operating system still running in the PC market. 27% of all Desktop computers running today still run XP (according to NetMarketShare). Since it became available for sale in 2001, XP has seen its support deadline extended from 5 years to 10 (bringing regular consumers up to the commercial level of support), then from 10 to 12 (in part due to Microsoft still selling XP on Netbooks as an alternative to Linux as late as 2010).

To some of you this is old news. To others Microsoft’s March 8th warning on your desktop may have been a wakeup call. Or if you’re not the automatic updates type, you may be hearing it for the first time from me.

Never fear. Ben Trube Writer has you covered.

All next week I’ll be covering XPs demise, from what you should do on the last days of support, to how to make 8.1 work for you. A not-exhaustive list follows:

  • I have Vista, should I be worried?
  • Can I upgrade from XP to Windows 7?
  • What’s this Linux thing I hear so much about?
  • Argg Windows 8!
  • Is the XPocalypse really that bad?
  • What is Zero Day Forever?
  • Why is Microsoft doing this to me?
  • Will my XP machine be safe to use?

Things you should do before next week (See I have your weekend all planned out for you. Isn’t that nice of me ūüôā ):

  • Download every Windows Update you’ve missed. Go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com¬†(using Internet Exploder). Click custom instead of express and check most if not all of the optional updates (as well as the high priority ones). Repeat a few times until no updates are left.
  • DO install Microsoft Security Essentials if you haven’t already, or at least download the current installer.
  • DONT download Windows Live Services or the Bing Bar. You won’t be using them anyway.
  • Buy an external hard drive if you have big video files or oodles of pictures. A 32GB flash drive if not. A hard drive will run you $50-60, a 32GB flash less than $20.
  • Backup your files.
  • Download Zorin 6.4 Core LTS from here and/or Zorin-Lite 7.1 Lite¬†from here. Burn the image to a disk. If you don’t have a CD/DVD drive download this too. Maybe go ahead and buy that flash either way.
  • Figure out how your XP machine is connected to Internet, and how to disconnect it.
  • Put a strong password (alphanumeric, upper and lower case, and special characters (!@#$*)) for your administrator account. If you don’t know which one this is, it’s probably the account you’re using.
  • Create a limited account and also password protect it. If you keep using XP, this is the one you’ll want to use most of the time. (Both these things can be done from the control panel–>user accounts)
  • Shop for a new laptop if this is within your price range or budget. Don’t buy anything that says Chromebook, or Windows 7 Starter. Windows RT (on the Surface) is probably also a deal breaker. I like ASUS and Toshiba brands if that helps.
  • For advanced users: Create a virtual XP machine with VMWare of VirtualBox.
  • Enjoy this comic from here. (It’s a bit of an ad but funny).
  • Go outside (assuming it’s not raining).
  • Take your XP netbook out for one more spin around the block. Then turn off its wireless.

Have a great weekend!

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Disclaimer:¬†Any advice or tips given here will not be valid for all users in all circumstances. Do what makes sense to you and don’t do what doesn’t make sense. These posts are¬†for educational,¬†informative¬†purposes only. Show these posts to your computer friends and have them tell you if I’m right on the money or out to lunch. In any case, please realize that anything you do to your computer is your responsibility. If you have a specific problem and need help, shoot me a comment, but if your computer bricks¬†you were warned.

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Filed under Trube On Tech

25 Tips For Blogging

My dad started a blog a couple of days ago which got me to thinking about what I’ve learned in these 20 months of blogging. And so, like many before me, I thought I’d give my tips on blogging and building an audience. If I were Brian I’d be blogging about blogging about blogging (gauntlet thrown).

Maybe later.

In the meantime here are some insights in no particular order:

1) Blog 3-4 times a week. More is clutter. Less is too long a wait.

2) The best posts are 300 – 600 words long. Much longer and readers give up. Shorter and you haven’t really said anything.

3) Blog for at least two months without stopping. Consistency reassures readers you’ll be around.

4) Post at about the same time each day. Mornings give people the most time to notice and read your post.

5) Write whenever you want. That’s what scheduling a post is for.

6) Skip Fridays.

7) Always post on Monday.

8) Make it easy to follow your blog. Use the widget.

9) Use 5 tags for each post.

10) Like books, the title and first sentence are what grab readers.

11) List posts look easy but take longer than you think.

12) It’s a blog, not a diary.

13) Follow and comment on other blogs to find your audience.

14) Keep your blogroll short and selective. It should reflect the blogs you think are worth reading, but should not be a list of everywhere you’ve been on the web.

15) Write for 40 minutes, then stop.

16) Don’t go back and change old posts unless there is a glaring error.

17) Don’t obsess over stats. They are often random, and only give a clear picture after a long time.

18) Reblog sparingly.

19) Tweek the site periodically as you learn new tools.

20) Reply to comments whenever you can.

21) Don’t moderate comments unless you start seeing abuse.

22) Many of your followers are bots. Don’t worry about it.

23) Take breaks when you need them but let your readers know. Try not to take more than a week off.

24) Keep an ideas notebook for slower days.

25) Don’t be afraid to break from theme, but remember your audience.

Hope this helps. Any other tips you guys have?

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Filed under Writing

10 Formatting Tips for the Nook (EPUB)

Well, in the span of a week or so I now have two Nooks, a Nook Simple Touch (the current generation cheapest Nook), and a first generation Nook, generously donated by a friend at church. Even though I’ve spent a considerable amount of time formatting the MOBI (Kindle) version of the fractal book, the Nook presented some unique challenges which required different solutions. Below are my initial findings:

1. Use a different file: The Nook version is a little different than the Kindle version of an eBook, particularly one like mine with graphics, figures and equations. For a text eBook you may be able to get away with a single Word file, but in my case you need two, one for your MOBI draft, and one for your EPUB.

2. Size is everything: The Nook, especially the Nook android app, is not always the best at resizing graphics. On the Kindle, if an image is 8″ wide, beyond the physical extents of the device, it is auto-shrunk and centered. This is not the case with the Nook. Above 5″ or so you run the risk of the edges of your picture being cut off (more than 6″ on the eReader Nook).

3. Simplify Math:¬†Probably the worst place where the Nook cuts off graphics is equations. The equation editor in Word produces a graphic file for each equation (usually PNG). Since the equation is not treated as a graphic in Word, however, it is not easy to adjust its width and the edge of the equation can be cut off if it’s too long. Reducing the font or changing from display to inline can both help, but the solution I’ve found best is to shorten words. Instead of maximum use max, instead of number use num, iteration is iter, etc. Creating a multi-line equation may help in some circumstances as well. The eReader version of the Nook is better (but not perfect) at handling this problem.

4. Eliminate Transparency: And while we’re on the subject, equations will be unreadable in the first place because of the transparency in PNG. The Kindle format (MOBI) handles transparency without difficulty (at least the newer generation Touch, Fire and app do). On the Nook it’s a different story. The first time I converted directly to EPUB from the “web page filtered” file all of my equations were black rectangles. The simplest solution I found was to first convert the book to MOBI, then convert this MOBI file to EPUB. The conversion process to MOBI must eliminate transparency so the EPUB doesn’t encounter it. (This is using Calibre).

5. Header in the right direction: The older generation Nooks (and possibly Kindles) do not have the same range of fonts as newer eReaders. In particular headers or section titles that were bold and a little larger do not render correctly. This can affect the flow of pages. No specific fix, just something to be aware of.

6.¬†Spell out fractions: The EPUB format does not seem to recognize fraction characters like¬†¬Ĺ. Invalid characters are replaced with a rectangle. My suggestion is to spell fractions out, for example one-half or (1/2).

7. PDF behavior: PDFs can often be a great solution for solving some of the inconsistencies of an eBook format, but a PDF does not look the same on every eReader. The Kindle auto-centers each page, vertically and horizontally. This can be annoying if a page has only a single paragraph though you can eliminate vertical centering by adding page numbers at the bottom of each page. On the Nook PDFs are left oriented, meaning there is often a lot of white space on the right hand side. A possible solution is a PDF sized specifically for the Nook, using pages that match its dimensions.

8. A Page is not a page: My book is 430 or so pages on the Nook, 500ish in Word, and 300ish on the Kindle. Don’t sweat the page numbers too much, they’ll never match.

9. Use Helevetica Nueue as your font: Pretty self explanatory. This gives the most consistent look across all generations of the Nook and Kindle. Some apps may not support this, but they’ll support something similar. Your Word Doc doesn’t need to be in this font, so long as your reader is set to it. Many computers may not actually have this font installed (and its not free).

10. Webpage links may not work: The Nook Simple touch does not have a web browser so none of my URLs work in the eBook for getting to reference websites and software. Make sure to spell out URLs so your readers can type them, or possibly make them available on your blog or website.

That’s all for now, may have more later.

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Filed under Books + Publishing, Writing