Saturday, June 23, 2012

Storybook - Free Software

Another great software offering of which every writer of fiction should at least be aware is Storybook.  It's a free, open source software program that lets you outline, organize, and reorganize your story's plot in an easy-to-see, visual way that will let you see all your story lines and elements at a glance and which can potentially enhance your story writing.  Here's a description of the software, as explained on Storybook's webpage.

"About Storybook

"Storybook is a free Open Source novel-writing software for creative writers, novelists and authors. Starting with the plot to the finished book — with Storybook you'll never lose the overview. Storybook helps you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works.

"Storybook assists you in writing your book

"Manage all your data such as characters, locations, scenes, items, tags and ideas in one place. A simple interface is provided to enable you to assign your defined objects to each scene and to keep an overview of your work with user-friendly chart tools. With the Memoria Tool each object can be followed in dependence on time."

And, the best thing of all is, Storybook is open source software - and it's free.

If this sounds like what you've been needing to enhance and organize your writing, here's the link to the download page.

http://www.novelist.ch/joomla/index.php/en/download

Enjoy!

Dropbox

I've begun using an absolutely wonderful file sharing software utility called Dropbox.  It's available as a free download online (https://www.dropbox.com/) and offers up to 2 Gigabytes of file storage - free - which has been more than enough for my purposes.  For those wanting more file storage, there is a small monthly fee, but a very affordable one.  This software tool is useful for a wide variety of file storage and backup purposes, but in my opinion, it's especially valuable for writers who want to store text files, back them up, and duplicate their files on multiple computers as I do.  This is one utility that every writer should know about, and use.

The file duplication feature is what I consider the best aspect of using Dropbox.  This features enables me to share my files between several computers, and the files are automatically updated on each of my computers, as soon as I boot the computer and go online.  I have several computers that I use for my writing and for other computer projects, and I never know which computer I may be using on a particular day.  It depends on where I'll be and what I'll be doing with my computer that day.  With Dropbox, I can start a new story on my desktop computer, grab my backpack, which houses my netbook computer, run to the library or the coffee shop, go online and let Dropbox update my files, then continue working on my story.  It's the best utility I've found for file sharing for the average computer user.

What really sold me on Dropbox was how smoothly and reliably the utility works.  Files are always updated, as soon as you go online, and very rarely with any copy flaws.  And what flaws I have encountered during file synchronization have been easily fixed, because Dropbox detects copy errors, keeps the original copy of the file, and renames the flawed copy, indicating that it is a conflicted version.  All you would have to do, in the unlikely event that you encounter this difficulty, is to delete the flawed file copy, open the original file, and go on working.  This is so much better than Microsoft's Live Sync, which I tried to use before I discovered Dropbox.  My files seldom synchronized properly with Live Sync, if they synchronized at all.  With Dropbox, synchronization is smooth, fast, and consistently reliable.

I should mention that I have dial-up Internet service at home.  I do most of my Internet activities at WiFi hotspots, such as Starbucks, Cafe Mela, or the library, but even at home, Dropbox quickly and easily updates my alterred text files.  Of course, text files are typically small files.  Picture files or videos, should you choose to store them in your Dropbox folder, would take longer to synchronize if you are plagued with the now antiquated dial-up technology, as I am, but for text files, Dropbox works great, even on dial-up.

I really can't say enough about Dropbox.  It has greatly simplified my file backup and file sharing efforts.  Sharing files on mulitple computers, using Dropbox, can replace tedious weekly manual file backups, because each computer on which you install Dropbox becomes a file backup storage device that will automatically synchronize any changes made to your files, regardless of on which computer the file was updated.  Occasional manual backups to an external hard drive, every month or so, is all I need to do now, in addition to using Dropbox, to ensure that I always have reasonably recent copies of all my writing files.  (And by the way, if you use your computer for writing and you are not doing regular backups, shame on you.  You're risking losing all your work.  Computers and hard drives die.  Don't trust them.  Make sure your files are backed up, in multiple places.)  For me, Dropbox is the easiest way to ensure that my files are backed up and the simplest way to synchronize my files on multiple computers.

Now take my advice and go to Dropbox.com and download and install Dropbox on your computer.  If you do, you'll thank me, when you see what a great utility Dropbox is for writers.