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Updated: 2 hours 48 min ago

Ebook Development Resources

14 hours 17 min ago

A few years ago I wrote an article for about ebook resources. That’s a bit dated now, and one of these days, I will update it, but in the meantime, here’s an article summarizing some more up-to-date resources.

Webinars and tutorials are available in numerous places. In each case, the resources below have several service areas. For my purposes here, I am going to focus on resources for ebook developers.


The Last of the Typewriter Men

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 04:30

Here’s a paean to a vanishing breed – the typewriter repairman. Yes, there are a few left, but you might have to travel to New York to find one.

On a recent bleak, winter afternoon in the Flatiron District Paul Schweitzer was once again hard at work, trying to breathe life into a black, jazz-age Underwood typewriter. Behind his spectacles was a furrowed brow and behind that was a tangle of keys, steel, carrying cases and filing cabinets of rollers, spools, levers and k (more)

The Tragedy of Canada’s census

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 04:25

In 2010, the Harper government, in a fit of ideological insanity, decided that the census would no longer be mandatory. Now the chickens are coming home to roost, as provincial governments, cities, non-profit organizations, and corporations are finding that they lack crucial, up-to-date information about the makeup of our country.

Here’s the kicker, though: This new survey, the one that provides less data than the one before it and has left academics, government officials, demographers, so (more)

Whither democracy?

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:42

SF author, Charles Stross, has been working on some near-future SF recently and thinking a lot about what could happen in the next twenty five years or so. He’s not optimistic. Start at the beginning, work your way through his train of thought, and see how you feel.

  1. We’re living in an era of increasing automation. And it’s trivially clear that the adoption of automation privileges capital over labour (because capital can be substituted for labour, and the profit fr (more)

The Canadian government’s war on science

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 04:31

I knew it was bad, but the extent of the current Canadian government’s war on science is appalling.  John Dupuis, Science Librarian at Steacie Science & Engineering Library, York University, Toronto, has done us all favour by compiling what he calls a “brief chronology” of our government’s ideological hate campaign against evidence-based decision making. I wish it was brief; sadly, it’s not.

As is occasi (more)

Tracing the roots of English

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 04:55

English is a complex language, as anyone who has tried to learn it as an adult will testify. In my case, trying to learn Old English as part of my English literature studies was almost enough to drive me to Esperanto. English is a language of assimilation, and its roots go very far back.

Now linguists are digging back almost 10,000 years to discover the origins, not just of English, but most European languages.

Historical linguists can reconstruct many words of (more)

The end of privacy in Canada

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 04:54

It seems that our supreme leader is bent on forcing Bill C-51 through Parliament with little debate. I’ve not made any secret of my distaste for Mr. Harper and his government – I think he is the worst prime minister in the history of this country, and in his tenure he and his government have managed to dismantle three generations of social progress. Now he is hell bent on turning this country into a defacto police state.  Michael Geist has a good analysis of what’s in Bill C-51 and the consequences for Canadian’s freedoms:

At this early stage, I can say that (more)

Some interesting news on climate change

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 18:40

If you’re not liking this winter this much, either because you’re shivering your butt off in the east, or praying for rain in the west, I don’t have good news for you. A recent study indicates that the jet stream pattern that’s been causing so much distress is likely caused by loss of sea ice in the Arctic and may be permanent.

This is where climate change comes in: the Arctic is warming much faster than elsewhere. That Arctic/mid-latitude temperature difference (more)

2014 Nebula Award nominees

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 10:08

SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America, has announced the nominees for the 2014 Nebula Award for the best science fiction and fantasy of 2014. In looking at the best novel list, it’s clear that I’m pretty out of touch with contemporary taste, at least as represented by SFWA, as I haven’t read any of the nominees, although there are two that I probably will (Anciliary Sward by Anne Leckie and The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, although probably not until thei (more)

The past, present, and future of Photoshop

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 04:44

Adobe Photoshop is one of those iconic pieces of software – iconic enough that it’s become a verb, like google. It’s been the gold standard for photo editing applications for 25 years, but can it survive the onslaught of low-priced or free photo editing applications and cheap mobile apps?

The New York Times has a history and appreciation of Photoshop and looks at what its future might bring.

Adobe’s new plan (more)

Test driving the DITA troubleshooting topic

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 04:56

One of the more interesting features in the upcoming DITA 1.3 is the troubleshooting specialization. I’ve considered using this as a focused way of getting a DITA-based workflow going at work, and will probably take a closer look at it in the future. In the meantime, Carlos Evia has a guest post about it on the Scriptorium blog.


25th anniversary of the pale blue dot

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 12:05

Today is the 25th anniversary of the “pale blue dot” - one of the most important photographs ever taken. In the immortal words of Carl Sagan: “From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their liv (more)

Microsoft working on new tools for the visually impaired

Sun, 02/15/2015 - 11:02

The Internet and smartphones are wonderful technologies, if you can see. If you’re blind or visually impaired, not so much. Smartphones, in particular, are pretty much unusable for the blind, although they contain underlying core technologies like GPS navigation, voice recognition, and Bluetooth connectivity that could be the basis of new tools for the visually impaired. Microsoft is conducting research that shows what such new tools could do.

Microsoft’s a (more)

And I thought UMIR was bad

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 19:19

In my work, I’ve run up against UMIR a few times. Fortunately, I’m not a business analyst so i don’t have to delve into the details of the Universal Market Integrity Rules, which are about the most turgid, soul destroying pieces of prose I’ve had to read. Until I came across 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), quoted (more)

The Disappearance of the Instruction Manual

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 04:09

When was the last time you got a manual with something you bought – not a graphic-laden installation guide – but a real manual with feature descriptions and troublehooting information. I got one with the Nikon DSLR I bought last year, but I had to get a Dummies book to really learn how to use the camera. As for my Sony MP3 player, that one I found online in PDF format, because the printed one was so small I couldn’t read it (a common complaint – am I getting older, or are manuals getting smaller).

Popular Science has a good article on the (more)

Typo kills a company

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 04:44

I’ve written before about how typos can be expensive, but now there’s a new one for the Typo Hall of Shame. In Great Britain, a typo in the British government’s companies register erroneously stated that Taylor and Sons Ltd. had gone into receivership. The mistake was corrected within a few days, but by then the damage was done. The company seventually was forced to close and sued (more)

Presentations from the Writing Openly mini-conference

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 04:27

The STC Australia Chapter has posted videos of the presentations given at the Writing Openly mini-conference, which was part of the Linux Conference Australia. Anyone working on documentation for open source projects, looking for open source documentation tools, or working in an agile environment should have a look at the presentations.


A Photoshop alternative for Mac users

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 18:43

For many years, Adobe Photoshop has dominated the photo editing world on both the Mac and Windows platforms. There are some free and open source alternatives, like the GIMP, and Corel keeps updating PaintShop Pro, which was my standard tool for a long time. On the Mac side, there’s not much competition – until now. A new program, Affinity Photo, is out in beta and claims to be a real alternative, taking use of modern processors and coding techniques. It will also be a l (more)

Hard times at Borderlands Books

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 04:53

It’s always sad to see a bookstore close, and especially sad when it’s a city’s main science fiction and fantasy bookstore. Recently, the owner of San Francisco’s Borderlands Books  announced that the store would close in March. The cause wasn’t the usual – a big rent increase or competition from chains or Amazon, but the city’s new minimum wage bylaw, which would raise the minimum wage from eleven to fifteen dollars an hour in three years.

The New Yorker profiles the store and its owner and goes into some detail about (more)

Diving for type

Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:45

Some people will do almost anything for a good typeface. Recently, divers searched the Thames for the type cases for a lost typeface, Doves Type, dumped in the river in the early 20th century.

Printing blocks for a typeface called Doves Type have been discovered in the River Thames.

The font has not been used for nearly a century as the printing type blocks, used to print letters, were thrown into the river in 1917.