Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: LibreOffice

It’s Document Freedom Day !

Do you use “documents”?

Open Standards

Locations of Major Document Freedom Day Events

Documents with words or numbers — spreadsheets, presentations with images, drawings, math formulas, or databases?

Do you use Microsoft Office to create those documents?

Ever had severe problems with Microsoft Office?

Ever wonder why you should pay money for a program that seems broken out of the box?

I can hear some folks saying, “But, it’s the Standard. I have to use it because everyone else is using it.”


Actually, you don’t have to use Microsoft Office.

I use an office suite (didn’t cost me a penny) and anything I do can be saved in Microsoft’s format (and, perhaps needless to say, I can open Microsoft docs with it).

Also, there’s a worldwide team constantly improving it.

It’s available in over 110 languages, too.

You can check out a complete feature comparison with Microsoft Office.

And, it’s name is LibreOffice <<< that link is where you can download it :-)

Document Freedom Day is not just about LibreOffice but also raising awareness about Open Standards.

Here are the main reasons Open Standards are good:

“Open Standards ensure that you can:

  • Collaborate and communicate with others, regardless of which software they are using
  • Upgrade or replace your apps and still be able to open and edit your old files
  • Choose which phone / tablet / computer you want to use without worrying about compatibility

“Open Standards ensure that society has:

  • More competitive software and tech products
  • More efficient governmental systems and services
  • More accessible high-end software for innovation and experimentation”

So, as a writer, when I need to present my work to others, I use LibreOffice to create as well as Adobe.pdfs.

But, adhering to Full Disclosure, for drafts I use Jarte; and, to do all the insane sorting and collating of complex works, I couldn’t live without Scrivener :-)
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Free Software for Writers . . .

There’s almost too much software for writers.

And, there’s certainly enough free software that, if a writer can afford a computer and at least temporary connection to the Internet, they can be well supplied with writing tools.

I have 10 free programs on my computer that I use at different times for different jobs. Most are PC-only :-(

First is FreePlane.

This is a mind-mapping tool—sometimes called concept-mapping or information-mapping.

It’s much easier to show you a screenshot then describe what it does (all those word-tags can have images or files attached to them, too):

Another organizational tool is TreePad. This program is a Personal Information Manager, Organizer, Database, and Word Processor—though I feel word processing is easier in other programs. Here’s a screenshot:

Next come the Word Processors.

WriteMonkey: A stripped-down, zen-like program that gets all the bells & whistles out of the way and lets you commune with the words. Here’s a screenshot (the colors can be easily changed):

Jarte: Based on WordPad but much faster and with expanded features. This is for .rtf & .txt files.

RoughDraft: Similar to Jarte in that it handles .rtf & .txt files but also has an on-screen file manager and can have a whole slew of files open at the same time. Here’s a screenshot:

And, the last Word Processor, which is actually a Full Office Suite, LibreOffice. This program has all the bells & whistles that Microsoft Office has and doesn’t cost a penny; plus, you can save files as Word .docs

Now, for some tools to help with words themselves and editing.

WordWeb is a dictionary and thesaurus that sits in your taskbar and can be activated by highlighting a word (in most any program or on a web page) and using the hotkeys—instant definitions, synonyms, and spell checking.

WordNet could be thought of as a thesaurus but what a thesaurus! This program is so high-level I feel compelled to quote the site:

“WordNet® is a large lexical database of English. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms (synsets), each expressing a distinct concept. Synsets are interlinked by means of conceptual-semantic and lexical relations.”

Then, there’s SmartEdit. You put text into it and it shows you the dialog tags, clichés, repeated words and phrases, adverbs, and any monitored words you enter into the program. Here’s a screenshot:

The last free program on my computer, which I’m still experimenting with, is AutoHotkey. Basically, you could automate the opening of all the programs I just listed with single keystrokes. It does a whole lot more:

  • Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder.
  • Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.
  • Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”.
  • Create custom data-entry forms, user interfaces, and menu bars.
  • Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse.
  • Respond to signals from hand-held remote controls via the WinLIRC client script.
  • Run existing AutoIt v2 scripts and enhance them with new capabilities.
  • Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don’t have AutoHotkey installed.


Those are my programs. What’s on Your computer :-)
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Writers’ Software ~ Is It Necessary?

Every writer’s needs, as they dance the dizzy path of creation, are different—except, of course, those writers who copy their work habits from other writers :-)

Sure, there must be many groups of writers who have similar routines and one of them is Writers Who Use Special Software.

I like to choose free software—basically ’cause I’m poor.

I use WriteMonkey for quick note taking and may use it for rough drafting on my next book. It’s been called “Zen” software because of its minimalistic, distraction-free design. (Windows only)

I use TomBoy Notes for projects that need inter-note linking and strong searchability. (Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac OS X)

I’m checking out, again, a more versatile piece of software—something for novels and other multi-structured books–called yWriter. (Windows and Gnu/Linux)

yWriter is the work of Simon Haynes, novelist and programmer. Here are a few of his words about his software:

“I really struggled with my first novel because I wrote slabs of text into a big word processor file and I just couldn’t make sense of the whole thing at once. No real overview, no easy jumping from scene to scene, nothing.

“Next I tried saving each chapter to an individual file, with descriptive filenames, but moving scenes between files was a nuisance and I still couldn’t get an overview of the whole thing (or easily search for one word amongst 32 files).

“My last attempt to use Word involved saving every scene as an individual file – e.g. Chapter 01 Scene 01 – Hal Spacejock Gets a Job.doc. That was fantastic until I decided to move one scene three chapters ahead, and had to manually rename all the files. Then I decided to put it back again! I could never remember which of the 200+ files contained a note I was looking for either.

“As a programmer I’m used to dealing with projects broken into source files and modules, and I never lose track of my code. I decided to apply the same working method to my novels … and yWriter was the result.

“I realise Word, OpenOffice and other modern word processors have outlining features, but they don’t have snapshot backups to sequential files like yWriter does. Roll back scenes to where they were half an hour ago, or re-read a version from four months ago – yWriter stores them all, automatically.”

Here’s a link to Simon Haynes books on Amazon.

I also use Jarte (Windows only) for my ever-growing collection of .rtf files that contain others’ writing.

And, when I need all the formatting I can get, I take files produced in those other programs and put them into LibreOffice. (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) I can also pop out .pdf files with this.

Do you use writing software?

Do you know an author who does?

Have you heard any glowing reports about particular types of software?

Have you heard any horror stories about particular types of software?
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An “Open Source” Novel ??

Seeing the words “open source” can make many folks immediately think of computer software like LibreOffice, the free Productivity Suite that, to me, is as good as, or better than, Microsoft’s Office.

Open source connotes creative, usable, free, swiftly updated, and, to some, radical

But, an open source novel???

Enter Cheryl Ives and Timeless. I’ll let her explain a bit:

“I am building a core story (previously known as a novel) and inviting everyone who loves it, me (or both!) to help create as I write, and help build a multi-media creative experience.”

Here’s a page on the various way you can be involved.

And, here’s a look at some of the folks already involved.

Cheryl also says: “I have my own ideas about where the plot trails are going, but nothing’s quite decided. You still have lots of leverage and room to sway the direction. If you don’t like the turns I take, maybe take a stab at it yourself (I think they call this a ‘fork’).”

She’s also looking for a “conversation widget” she can embed on the site. If you can help, give her a Tweet :-) Twitter: @MrsWhich by night,@cherylives by day.

And, if you’re not on Twitter, she’s accepting feedback, ideas, nitpicks, and flights of fancy right here :-)
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