Every year when we go on vacation, especially if it’s to an exotic place, I write a travelogue of our adventures. I write a page a day while on the trip, and include photos from the day. I do this the old-fashioned way, in an email to my friends and family. Oddly, rather than people being annoyed by this, people actually ask to be on distribution.
At the risk of sounding particularly full of myself, people have told me that my writing style is engaging and even sparkling! All I can say is that I make myself laugh as I write these letters, so at least one person is entertained. It is definitely not your typical, “My Summer Vacation” report.
A few years ago after our huge Dubai, India, and Nepal trip, Wally Cherwinsky suggested that I try to make my travelogue into an iBook. He felt it would be a great way to have them all together as a keepsake of the trip. Well, I tried back then, but it was too hard.
We’re joined by Shelly Brisbin, author of the book iOS Access for All and host of The Parallel Podcast. As she’s written more than a dozen tech books, I asked her to come on the show to explain how she creates her books, what tools she uses, and how she migrated from using an agent and a big publishing house to doing self publishing. It’s a really fun episode because while you’d think creating a book is all about writing, Shelly gets into how she uses TextWrangler and writes her own Cascading Style Sheets to create her books.
The grandbaby isn’t here yet, but we’re on the edges of our seats around here. In the mean time I found an app called 1Writer from 1writerapp.com that might help me write in Markdown on the iPad. We’ll take a look at iOS Console, a Mac app from lemonjar.com/… that lets you see the diagnostics coming out of your iOS device. Finally we’ll check out an iOS, Android and Windows Phone camera app that will give you amazing control of your images called ProShot from riseupgames.com/….
You might have noticed that I write a lot. I write blog posts all week long (in theory publishing them during the week but they seem to pile up towards the end of the week). I also write a monthly column in Don McAllister’s ScreenCasts Online Magazine. Today I write all of my articles using either my MacBook Pro at my desk with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard that I love, or on my MacBook when I’m on the go with the less wonderful but still adequate keyboard.
For the blog I use an app called MarsEdit from red-sweater.com which has long been a favorite amongst bloggers. I write in HTML in MarsEdit and when I’m done I can whoosh the posts up to my blog and publish from there. One advantage of this workflow is that I can partially write a post on one device, whoosh it up as a Draft, and then refresh on MarsEdit on the other Mac and keep writing. I do have to remember to refresh each time to make sure I’m working on the same version but 90% of the time it works for me.
Jim Sewell wrote this to me in an email in Markdown. He did this as an illustration of how he, along with Bart and just about everyone else, seem to think I’m missing the boat on using Markdown instead of html. I enjoyed it so I asked permission to share with all of you.
Thoughts about Markdown
I just had to jump in on this! 🙂
(My favorite) The file format lasts forever. Who can open my old WordStar files?
The output of a well formed document is beautiful with very little effort and great tools to help (see attached example from ByWord).
Apps exist to help create Markdown. If you want to use the more advanced features they help a lot but still aren’t necessary if you just learn the syntax. There are apps on the iPad that put a row of symbols above the keyboard to help
It lets you focus on what you are saying and not messing with all the fiddly bits of font size, color, alignment, etc.
I noticed today that Skype bolds things surrounded by asterisks.
To turn markdown into a pretty PDF is the same as turning HTML into a pretty PDF. They both need a processor – a program like Marked for MD and a browser for HTML.