Screenshot of LaTeX Typesetting

There are many tools that can be used to write a book and prepare it for self publication. Microsoft Word, of course, is commonly used for this purpose, and LibreOffice Writer, a free, open-source alternative to Word, is rock solid.

Word processors, however, are not true typesetting systems, though they do a decent job if “good enough” is your aim. If your aim is a little higher, you need to move up a level.

The next level up from word processors is the tier of publishing systems that do a more nuanced, attractive, and professional-looking job of kerning and leading…


An Exploration in Natural Language Processing

F. Scott Fitzgerald / “S.S. Van Dine”

Just as I began learning basic techniques for natural language processing (sometimes called “computational linguistics”) in the Python programming language, I read that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby had been released into the public domain. As an English major (B.A., M.A.) who had pivoted into a career in IT, this attracted me like a folksinger to a new acoustic guitar. I knew I had to try out my new licks on Gatsby, so I downloaded the plain text version of the novel from Project Gutenberg.

As is the case with most lit majors, I’m a word addict, so I thought…


My Covid-era 2020 Christmas present to myself was an eye-catching red and white keyboard with a computer inside: a Raspberry Pi 400. Like a 1980s-vintage Commodore 64 all it needed was a cable connection to my monitor and I was sitting in front of a fully operational Linux computer. Cost: $70 US for the unit alone, or $100 for a complete kit that includes the keyboard/computer, color-coordinated mouse, HDMI video cable, and a book, The Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide.

As a writer, I’m fascinated by low-cost, minimalist writing devices and the Raspberry Pi 400 (RPi 400) delivers more power per…


Posted on December 1, 2020 by Gene Wilburn

I was determined not to make any Black Friday purchases this year, but my resolve melted when Amazon offered a sale price of $50Cdn, approximately $30US, on its diminutive, discontinued, 16GB Kindle Fire 7 ereader/tablet. I’m a tablet junkie with a soft spot for minimalist writing devices that goes back to my days of writing on a Palm Pilot. Small, I learned, could be not only beautiful, but also portable and productive.

And so, despite my resolve, I clicked the slightly more expensive ($70Cdn) 32GB version of the device into my shopping…


Photo by Md Mahdi on Unsplash

By Gene Wilburn

For years I resisted using a word processor. My preference is to write with a simple, fast, and uncluttered text editor, such as iA Writer. For things like headings, bold or italic, and links to URLs, I use Markdown notation. I find Word, LibreOffice Writer, Pages, and Scrivener overkill for my needs. Hence it came as a surprise to me to discover that I like using Google Docs.

There were two factors that drove me to try Docs:

  1. The acquisition of a Lenovo C330 Chromebook as a portable writing machine. …


By Gene Wilburn

As a secular humanist with no religious inclinations I frequently ask myself: where do I fit in with the cosmos? What are my bedrock, fundamental assumptions? As a freshly-minted 75 year old, I’ve come up with the 10 following assumptions that have guided my journey through life.

1. The Universe came into existence.

This had implications :-) Chemistry was born. Particles changed into quarks as the plasma cooled. Hydrogen atoms formed. Things expanded dramatically and rapidly. Concentrate enough hydrogen atoms together and you get heat. Then fusion. Stars ignite. Over time, some stars die in a spectacular…


SongNet: Building a Private WiFi LAN Using a Raspberry Pi Zero and a Travel Router

By Gene Wilburn

Overview

There are times when you meet with a group and want to share documents in common, but your meeting place doesn’t have WiFi Internet access. It could be an informal classroom situation, a regular meetup group, or, as in my case, two music-jam/singing groups.

In one of my groups we use Dropbox for sharing electronic versions of lyric and chord sheets. In the other we use Google Drive. …


By Gene Wilburn

Lenovo C330 Chromebook

Until recently I’d shied away from Chromebooks. They didn’t seem like real computers to me and for the price of even the basic ones, you could often pick up a used laptop with more overall functionality. I have several programs, such as Photoshop and InDesign, that require a high-end computer and I use both MacOS and Linux computers for these heavier-duty computing needs.

What softened me to the possibility of using a Chromebook was my iPad. It changed the way I used the Web. Between the iPad and the advent of reasonably-priced cloud storage, I began using…


I faced a purchasing dilemma recently: to buy a mosquito tent for the back deck, on sale for $99 at Canadian Tire, or to purchase a Linux laptop for the same price. Being by nature a geek, I don’t spend a lot of time outdoors so I opted for the laptop.

I must admit I was curious about how much laptop $99 would buy. My main laptop is a svelt, nicely appointed Macbook Air that cost several multiples of $99 and it’s the kind of machine you take good care of and hope nobody ever steals. What I wanted was…


By Gene Wilburn

Gestalt (ge STALT). A word meaning, roughly, when the brain perceives with clarity that the whole of a system is greater than the sum of its parts, and everything clicks into one awareness. One can have a gestalten moment. But can one achieve a gestaltenexistence?

When I was coming of age intellectually at university in the early to mid 1960s, there were a number of explorations of the mind making the rounds. Existentialism, the sometimes bleak philosophy that arose strongly in Paris after the Nazi occupation at the end of World War II, was alive and well…

Gene Wilburn

Humanist, Writer, Photographer, Computerist

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