Showing posts from May, 2013

Correcting EPUBs exported from Calligra Words using Sigil Part 1

Category: Techwriter

Calligra Words exports directly to EPUB and does a good job of retaining text formatting. As a distraction-free word processor, it's a good alternative to applications like LibreOffice Writer. However, the resulting EPUB isn't perfect, particularly when it comes to retaining links, table of contents and images. Using popular ebook editor, Sigil, writers can easily correct image issues and fix EPUB issues.
EPUB images not displayed Once an .ODT is exported to EPUB in Calligra Words, one of the first issues that users may notice with the resulting EPUB is the lack of images. Calligra Words packages the images on the .ODT document with the EPUB but doesn't define the location of the image properly. This can easily be corrected by correcting the src address for the images using any text or markup editor. Obviously, most writers probably wouldn't want to have to ex…

Calligra Words and EPUB Part 2

Continued from Calligra Words and EPUB Part 1

EPUB Export, Sigil, and Calibre
The Calligra-produced EPUB imported quite nicely into Sigil but failed to provide working links and didn't display images. As a medium for just text with footnotes, endnotes, and visuals, EPUB from Calligra Words is great though if you want superfluous navigation and visuals, you might want to tweak the XHTML using Sigil. The text formatting and styles were retained and consistent. There were a few odd marks before the Reference section and the formatting for the Table of Contents required editing.

Using Sigil's FlightCrew Validation tool, I checked if the EPUB was compliant. As expected, there were several non-compliant XML names/ids which needed changing but nothing that would prevent the EPUB from being read on an EPUB device (the names were auto-generated when the .odt was exported to EPUB). Renaming the XML ids would take less than…

Calligra Words and EPUB Part 1

Category: Techwriter

Although it's fairly simple to code EPUB using an IDE or text editor like Bluefish, there's really no reason not to try excellent popular EPUB editor Sigil or extremely powerful ebook converter and manager, Calibre. Sigil is great for packaging your text (or XHTML) to EPUB while Calibre is perfect for working with other formats and testing compatibility with devices. If you want to focus on writing however and exporting directly to EPUB for Sigil or Calibre, then Calligra Words may be a good alternative to the numerous writing software available.

Why use Calligra Words?
There is a infinite amount of writing software available - from commercial products (Microsoft Word), plain text editors and note-taking applications (KeepNote, CherryTree), structured text editing (LyX), word processors (LibreOffice, Abiword), cloud services (Google Docs Writely), and distraction free editors (Focu…

InDesign basics: Adding XML tags using Find/Change

Category: Techwriter

Adobe InDesign is not the best application for working with XML. It's an exceptional page layout program but most XML users would prefer either FrameMaker or open source tools when structuring long text. That said, if you ever need to add tags to an unstructured document, InDesign's Find/Change option can accomplish the task just like most XML editors.

Take note that the instructions below assume you've either loaded an XML file for a list of tags, created your own set of XML tags, or imported a DTD.

To add XML tags using Find/Change:

1. Click View then Structure. Click Show Tag Markers.

2. Click Edit then Find/Change.

3. In the Find/Change window, specify the text you want to tag in the Find What: box.

4. Click the icon in the Change Format: area for formatting options.

5. Select XML in the left panel. Select the tag in the list you want to assign. Click OK.

6. The format request will be added to…

Linux (or Unix) on Film: Pretty Little Liars Season 3 Episode 24

Category: Techtoday

Pretty Little Liars is keeping up with the great shows on television today partly due to the amazingly attractive young female cast. Although I only caught a few episodes in the first season (not willfully mind you), whatever maturity and rationality it lacks is fully compensated through the use of diligently maintained coiffure, flawless complexion, and a story that made me thankful the 80s and MacGyver episodes were not nearly as malicious and deceitful.

In keeping up with the "gold" standard of cinematic computer hardware, episode 24 of Season 3 of this marvelously sexy TV thriller features a Macbook in the formulaic "hacking scene" (which all developers and techs wish TV writers would stop using).  The desktop featured, however, is clearly not MacOSX's. For one thing, the fonts and window manager is clearly not Apple's (it could be GTK stock and Openbox respectively).


App Review: WD TV Live Remote

Category: Tech Today

If you own any of the affordable WD TV Live media players that Western Digital has available, old versions or otherwise, then the WD TV Remote app available on the iTunes App Store is a great, if not necessary value-add to the product.  Contrary to the manufacturer's web site description, however, the app is only compatible with iOS running on an  iPod or iPhone and not on an iPad.

Instructions for setting up the Remote Control app are scant on the WD site but it's fairly straightforward. To set up the Remote TV app:

1. Upgrade your WD TV media player's firmware using the GUI or through a flash drive. The process is slow and ungainly with a downloaded firmware file weighing in at a hefty 100+MB. However, unlike most hardware firmware upgrades, WD's patches are extremely necessary to improve performance and correct the numerous bugs on the product. My own dodgy WD TV Live…

Quickfix: "Segmentation Fault (11)" for KDE Applications in Fedora 18 Xfce

Category: Linux

If you're running Fedora 18 Xfce and installed a KDE application, you might encounter the KDE error Segmentation Fault (11),  which is caused by the Nepomuk Service. Nepomuk, much to LXDE and Xfce users' chagrin, comes as a dependency with most KDE-based applications. Although most users would probably opt for alternative Gnome or GTK-based applications to avoid KDE errors, they will lose out on really good applications such as the Calligra Office Suite and Tellico.

To resolve this issue:

1. Open a Terminal and navigate to the folder /usr/share/autostart

2. Delete the two files:


3. Reboot the system.

You can also shut down Akonadi if it was installed as a dependency, which is unnecessary for non-KDE desktop environments though in most cases it doesn't cause KDE applications to crash.

Note: If you've deleted the two files listed in this article and your…

A few words on Mageia 3 KDE

Category: Linux

It's unfair to make a sweeping conclusion on a Linux distribution so soon but I was struck dumb at the Mageia 3 KDE release. Perhaps it's because I haven't tried a KDE 4.x release ever since I realized I would always choose openSUSE as my default KDE distribution, but I have to admit the trim KDE 4.10 and the revamped Mageia 3 is a pretty impressive combination.

There are a few application choices to the default application set of the Mageia 3 KDE that seemed odd: an iBUS Hangul Preferences utility (someone's been watching too many K-Pop videos), DigiDoc tools for signing documents online, and a related ID card utility.  Thankfully, the Mageia developers left out the KDE games, KOrganizer, KMail, and other KDE applications I normally have to uninstall from an openSUSE KDE system.

Apper, the RPM package manager I griped about in openSUSE KDE, is included though I intend to give the utility…

Practical Shortcut keys and Configuring Paging in KDE

Category: Linux

One of the more useful features of all Linux distributions is Paging through different virtual desktops, a feature that Windows users without multiple monitors would benefit from. Virtual desktops are useful if you multitask often or work with small screens like netbooks. In Gnome, Xfce, and LXDE, clicking CTRL+ALT+arrow keys lets you page to the next virtual desktop.

KDE, in particular openSUSE releases, bucks the trend by using the shortcut combination of CTRL+F1, CTRL+F2 and so forth. Each Function key number corresponds to the available virtual desktops you set up. By default, recent openSUSE has two virtual desktops so clicking CTRL+F2 moves you to an available desktop. Unfortunately, if you configure more than one virtual desktop, it's easy to forget which desktop is 1, 2, 3, or 4. Additional virtual desktops and shortcut keys can be configured by going to Workspace Behavior and clicking Vi…

Before Mageia 3: Mageia 2 in Perspective Redux

Category: Linux

The early articles of this site revolved around the late and somewhat lamented Mandriva, which faced troubles as a Linux distribution, product, and company. Although Distrowatch lists Mageia within its top 10 of most clicked distributions, Mageia receives the same coverage in the media as long running PCLinuxOS and Sabayon. In fact, popular frugal Linux distribution Puppy Linux is mentioned more in articles and forums than Mageia.

Why run Mageia 2 when the developers will be releasing Mageia 3? Well, to see if an updated previous release is a stable one - typically a good sign that a distribution has matured and the next release deserves a go. The positive reception for openSUSE 12.3, for example, was already foreshadowed by the excellent openSUSE 12.2 (which I'm still running to this day).

Some Observations
1. Inspecting /etc/rpm/macros. After setting up Mageia 2 and installing a surprisingly humble amou…

Hate, Racism, the Internet, and Harrison Ford

Category: Tech Today

Although Unsolicitedbutoffered normally focuses on Linux and technology, it's nice to occasionally digress and applaud to laugh out loud videos like those of Harrison Ford's interview in the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Long-time fans of Harrison, who is still one of the greatest actors of all time with his roles as Indy, Han Solo, and Jack Ryan as part of his resume, know that Harrison is terrible with interviews and avoids promoting his films. However, he has displayed an incredible sense of humor such as when he had himself handcuffed during an appearance at a comic convention. I was laughing so hard at his confrontation with his old partner in the recent Jimmy Kimmel show (which I was watching on my iPad) that people were looking at me like I was nuts as I waited for my flight.

It's a pleasure to be able to watch video clips such as this especially since there's so much hatre…

Access an iOS device using Fedora and openSUSE Part 2

Category: Linux

Continued from Access an iOS device using Fedora and openSUSE Part 1

Setting up openSUSE 12.2 for an iOS device

For openSUSE 12.2, you have the option to use either YaST to add the packages or the zypper command usingKonsole. The packages for supporting iOS device access are not similar to those I installed for Fedora. Before installing, check that you have the Packman repository and the standard openSUSE repos.

Using YaST2's software manager, select the following packages:


In my setup for openSUSE 12.2, some necessary packages were already installed. Check the following packages if you already have them on your openSUSE system:

gvfs (and related packages gvfs-backend-afc, gvfs-backends, gvfs-fuse, libgvfscommon0)

Surprisingly, dependable Dolphin and its sibling Konqueror, KDE's default file manager…

Access an iOS device using Fedora and openSUSE Part 1

Category: Linux

Ubuntu, and most derivatives such as Lubuntu, can access the file structure of an iOS device even on iPads and iPods with an updated iOS version (currently running at 6.1.x). With access to the file structure of an iOS devices, users can manage apps that support direct file transfer. After moving files using a file manager such as Nautilus or PCMANFM, reboot the iOS device if needed to refresh the contents and then off you go.

Curiously enough, bleeding-edge Fedora doesn't directly support iOS access out of the box, more likely due to the open source principles of the immortal distribution. Previous releases of openSUSE doesn't support file access either.

I've had a dodgy experience setting up the same iOS support present in Ubuntu distributions in openSUSE and Fedora. However, I've had success with the recent Fedo…

The Apple iOS ecosystem from a Linux user's perspective

My Japanese colleague once told me that she was having dinner with a few Tokyoite sararimen (salarymen) and the discussion swung to the iPhone. My friend didn't have an iPhone and they asked her whether it wasn't inconvenient not to have Apple's ubiquitous mobile device? They didn't tell her it's convenient to have one but the other way around - you were basically crippled without an iPhone. Thankfully, my friend didn't give in to peer pressure and still sports an Android phone.

I've had my 4th Generation iPod for close to two years now and it's running iOS 6.1.3.  I primarily use the iPod Touch for listening to news, music, and playing music videos. When I received an iPad 2 as a gift, I stopped using the iPod Touch as an ereader/comic book reader and used the iPad 2 as my primary reading device for illustrated material, including magazines, old Spidey com…

Yum Extender on Fedora 18 Xfce

Category: Linux

Yum Extender, or more popularly known as Yumex, is a graphical frontend to the yum command for Fedora. Yumex is both an update and software manager and comes default on the Fedora 18 Xfce release.
I first tried Yumex and the somewhat similar software management tool, easyLife years ago when I wanted to try out an RPM-based distribution. Between the two managers, easyLife was more successful at doing what I needed at the time - that is, install codecs, Flash and Java without having to collect all the sources and repositories. Yumex back then crashed and since then I've had little luck with either software managers, depending instead on the command line.

Since 2006, an explosion of GUI based software managers have appeared in mainstream Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and openSUSE. Lovable Synaptic Package Manager has stepped aside f…

Adventures with PC-BSD 9.1 LXDE Part 2: End Game

Category: Linux

Although I had initially set out to devote more time with FreeBSD in the form of PC-BSD, it looks like the adventure ended abruptly with an update error, which was surprising since even the worst openSUSE or Fedora update has never prevented a Linux install from booting up properly. The error message was one of those obscure boot messages that even Linux users get from time to time, which turned out to be a common error with this PC-PSD release and one which annoyed several other users as well.

The fix is detailed in the PC-BSD forum and while the steps are fairly simple and might resolve the issue for some machines, the experience made me decide to switch back to FreeBSD instead. It was not unlike my early forays into Arch and openSUSE a long, long time ago when it was pretty easy to make a mistake and break the system. Perhaps another deal-breaker was that it's so rare that Linux distributi…

Extracting Vector Objects from a PDF using CorelDraw

Category: Techwriter

CorelDraw, like Adobe Illustrator, can extract and edit objects directly from PDFs. Even if the document was produced from open source software such as Inkscape or a commercial product such as InDesign, CorelDraw can import the PDF and extract vector objects.

Note: Screenshots are from CorelDraw X3. The PDF sample was produced using Adobe InDesign CS4 and Adobe Illustrator CS4.

To import and edit the vector objects from a PDF:
1. On an empty page, click File then Import... Navigate to the PDF file and click Import.

2. On the Import PDF window, select Text if you intend to reuse text from PDF or Curves if you want to focus on working with vector objects only. Specify the PDF page where the vector object is located if needed.

3. Position the mouse pointer on the page and press Enter. The PDF page will be displayed as an object.

4. Ungroup the PDF object like any CorelDraw object. Using the Pick Tool, select and …