Jutoh and print-on-demand

Jutoh is principally all about ebooks. But ebooks haven’t killed print books yet, and probably never will. Using a print-on-demand service such as Amazon’s CreateSpace is a great way to see your books in print, and provide an alternative to your readers who may prefer a physical copy. Fortunately, by using Jutoh you haven’t cut yourself off from print and nor do you have to dig out the old word processor file you were using before you imported it into Jutoh and applied all those edits.

How Jutoh is developed

Brooklyn BridgePeople sometimes ask what tools are used to create Jutoh, so this is an opportunity for me to get nerdy.

Jutoh is written in the ancient but speedy language of C++, mostly courtesy of Microsoft Visual Studio and, on Linux and Mac, GCC. Apart from C++, the bedrock of Jutoh is wxWidgets, an open source cross-platform programming tool I started in Edinburgh in 1992. That’s before the existence of the World Wide Web, if you can remember or imagine that strange, distant world. The South Bridge building I worked in then burned down rather spectacularly along with a substantial chunk of the Old Town, but pilgrims can instead enjoy a Costa coffee in the same location. Appropriate, because I’ve written half of Jutoh in branches of Costa (one of the few coffee chains not to be hit by tax scandals here in the UK – yet).

Announcing Jutoh - a simple to use, inexpensive but flexible ebook creator

Jutoh

Jutoh

I'm pleased to announce Jutoh, an ebook creator with WYSIWYG editing, that can generate Epub, Mobipocket, ODT and plain text. Do head over to www.jutoh.com and give it a whirl. We've got a special introductory offer (not that it's going to be expensive anyway!)

How does Jutoh differ from eCub? eCub is good for when your ebook content has already been written and you don't want to do too much editing. Jutoh is better for the less technical user who wants word processor-style editing, and needs to import from a wider variety of sources, such as a single word processor file (eCub requires you to break the book into pieces manually whereas Jutoh helps you split a file into chapters).

AxTk accessibility toolkit

There are around two million blind people in the UK alone, and most computer applications are not really designed with them in mind. Even when there are accessibility features, or when a screen reader is available, accessibility is still a bit of an after-thought. Complex user interfaces take a blind user a lot of time to learn and navigate. So instead of trying to make an existing interface accessible, another approach is to replace the UI entirely with a custom-built one - or add an second method of accessing most of the important functionality.

Ten inch netbook, two months on

Eee PC 1000HI've been using an Eee PC 1000H for a couple of months now and it's surpassed my expectations. The battery on my big old Dell D820 has been dying for some time and I got fed up of lugging the thing across town to Starbucks. So the Eee PC has been a diminutive godsend.

Whither netbooks?


Since Asus’s Eee PC 701s started wowing consumers in 2007, just about every computer manufacturer (with the notable exception of Apple) has come out with their own take on the genre. Asus themselves seem to have more models available than all other manufacturers put together, and you can now get machines with much more comfortable keyboards, bigger screens, with and without Solid State Disks, luxury versions, with Linux or with Windows XP; and they’re now powerful enough to run Windows 7.

The future of music in the home is...

...this spectacle case and its contents.

While my wife and daughter have audio players (each has a Sansa E280), when I'm out of the house I tend to listen to music while working on a latop, where I have all my music to hand anyway. So I've pretty much avoided audio gadgets apart from the quirky Iomega HipZip I was given while working for Red Hat UK in Cambridge - this used little 40MB disks and ran the eCos operating system that Red Hat inherited from Cygnus UK.

Icon intricacies on the Eee PC

Eee PC LauncherTo install an app on an Eee PC running Xandros, it's necessary to conform to the Asus launcher standards and copy the correct icons and other information to the correct locations, from within the application's Debian installation script.

I have an early 701 machine and it's evident that a few things have changed since then, especially with the way icons are installed.

The revolution of the laptot, er, netbook

Cute little netbooksI love netbooks, such as the Asus Eee PC, Acer Aspire, MSI Wind, Advent 4211, and so on. They're cheap, cute, and brilliant for surfing in bed. But it was only a year or so ago that not only were most people unaware of this hardware category, no-one really knew what to call it.

I think it's only this year (2008) that the term netbook has caught on. A few months ago The Register asked its users to come up with a term for Small, Cheap Computers. The most popular suggestion was cute - 'laptot' - but the recognised term now seems to be netbook, which makes sense as a notebook that is mainly used for accessing the internet (plus it's closer to the book size and shape than notebooks have come in recent years).

PortableApps.com - a developer's perspective

PortableApps.com Menu

This post is about how you can give your customers the convenience of installing applications on portable drives, such as USB memory keys, allowing them to take their working environments – applications, settings, and data – from machine to machine.

A few weeks ago, a customer asked me whether one of my applications (Writer’s Café) could be made compatible with the PortableApps.com suite she was running from her USB memory key. Writer’s Café could already be installed on an external drive, but it used a different directory layout and wasn’t appearing in the PortableApps.com menu.

I wasn’t familiar with PortableApps.com but I checked out the web site (http://www.portableapps.com), found a lot of good reviews and decided it was worth spending some time making Writer’s Café compatible with it. After all, writing software is the kind of thing that people want to take around with them. Currently PortableApps.com is for Windows only, but this could change in future. It comes with a whole suite of free programs such as FireFox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org and Pidgin, and the PortableApps.com site provides tools for developers to ‘wrap’ applications to force them to leave no data on the computer’s local drives on exit. If you’re adapting your own application, then you won’t need to jump through as many hoops, though you will still need to use the PortableApps.com installer and tell your application where to put its settings and data.

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