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elementary apps for writing

A few months ago, I installed theelementaryOS (a Linux based distribution) on an old 2011 Mac. On the one hand, I had to fiddle with things some, as one does with Linux. But on the whole, the experience has been very positive. Computing can be fun.
The desktop environment (think Gnome or KDE or Mac or Windows) of elementary is called Pantheon. It has a very nice look to it, light and fast. It’s not Mac, but it’s Mac-like, meaning that it seeks mostly to get out of your way. Unlike many distros, elementary has its own AppCenter, where applications written for the environment are offered for sale, for modest sums. Or sometimes for free.
Recently, I bought three of them that together make up a nice tool set, handy for the creation and elaboration of documents. That’s my primary interest in them.
The first wasMinder, a mindmap program written by Trevor Williams. It was responsive and colorful. Pantheon, and elementary generally, leans toward the minimalist, easily learned workflow. Mindmaps…
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Virtual Placemaking

Today I sat in on a Zoom conference with the Futurist Interest Group of the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL). There was a presentation by Susan Simpson of the Pikes Peak Library in Colorado Springs. She, in turn, based some of her thoughts on the work of Cara Courage (see Look for a series of "lightning talks" about various futurist topics at the next CAL conference, September 10-12, in Loveland. This blog is an attempt to capture just some of my thoughts sparked by Susan's remarks.

There are various factors that make a place real and important to us.
Such places are creative. They speak to the part of us that wants to appreciate the beauty around us, or to make something that delights or captivates us.
Interesting places are engaging. And that means that they don’t just present distractions that succeed in capturing our attention for a moment. We put something of ourselves into it. The place becomes a focus for feeling or thinking, …

Outliners Redux

As noted in my last blog, I've been mucking about with classic DOS outliners, booted up through dosbox-x on Ubuntu. The experience made me dig up some older blogs that have oft been cited on the web, but because I've shifted around the hosting of my website, the links went bad. I still find outliners utterly absorbing. If you do, too, you will find your people at Outliners Redux February 18, 2002
by James LaRue
Copyright, 2002
All Rights Reserved

Introduction As I wrote in "A Blastfrom the Past: Classic Outliners," outliners (also called outline processors) are a powerful tool for the manipulation both of text, and of its underlying structure.

I also recommended two "classic" outliners (where "classic" means "created in the early 1990's"): KAMAS for DOS, and MORE 3.1 for the OSX Macintosh.

I used KAMAS (an acronym for "Knowledge And Mind Amplification System") for years, from its earliest incarnation…

Blast from the Past: classic outliners

Lately, I've been playing with classic DOS outliners on my Linux system, mostly using dosbox-x, KAMAS, PC-Outline, and Grandview. Those are live links for downloads, so they are still to be found, and could still be used. Shockingly, they are still far ahead of anything readily available in today's graphic interfaces.

I'm still thinking about what I've learned from this stroll down memory lane. But in the process, I dug up some old posts that might be worth preserving. (They disappeared off the internet when I changed web hosting providers, and trimmed my content.) This is the first of two. A Blast from the Past: Classic Outlinersby James LaRue
September 2001

The "classic" period of outlining preceded Windows. Outliners thrived in DOS and on the Mac. While most of those programs are orphaned now, abandoned by their developers, they can still be found on various shareware sites.

There is much to be said for these pioneering programs. They had small mem…

Installing Linux on a 2011 Macbook Pro

I had two MacBook Pros, both 13" models from late 2011. One had 4 gigs of RAM, and the other 8. Both of them were intolerably slow. In the first case, I wound up installing CleanMyMac, which did arcane things to various files, and put up alerts to warn me about disappearing memory. But it made the machine useable again, albeit not exactly speedy. I changed some habits: Safari as browser rather than Firefox or Chrome. I tried to keep tabs down to four or five.

The second Mac had bigger problems. Its charger was shot, but even with that replaced, the battery tapped out at 75%. More importantly, the whole disk had been wiped, which meant that it wouldn't boot. Recently, I had downloaded a couple of Linux distributions ("distros") on USB drives. Elementary OS 5.1 (Hera) was reputed to be a lightweight, beautiful distro that shared some aesthetics with the Mac OS. So I thought I'd give it a try.
Ahead of time, I tried to read up on how difficult it might be to insta…

The First Year: 5 strategies for success

[The First Year: 5 Strategies for Success, 1 of 8]

Over the past several years, I've had the pleasure of coaching several new public library directors. For a variety of reasons, many directors are stepping into the role for the first time. Often, particularly in smaller or more rural libraries, they haven't even had a lot of supervisory experience.
I tell new directors that the two big advantages of confidential access to someone who has walked in your shoes is that (a) you can ask the questions you might feel embarrassed to ask your board or staff, and (b) you have the advantage of someone else's mistakes. To be clear, everybody makes mistakes. It may be the most powerful learning tool we have. But I've thought about my mistakes, and I can help you identify the old ones, and with luck, make new ones. There's no good reason to make the same ones!
I believe that there are five key constituencies the public library director must satisfy: your boss (usually a board), y…