Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mariner Software StoryMill Review

When I was researching scientific information for my novel, I found that my typical journal technique simply became a mess as I scratched out ideas that won't work and kept jotting ideas around the margins. I like neat notes and I like physically writing my ideas, but writing them quickly became a bigger mess than ever before. That's what happens when you write a complicated, detail-necessary work! How do I get organized? How do I make it easy to find my ideas without a ton of Word files in my research folder? I'm still trying to find a good solution that works for me, and during this process, I've come across quite a few writing tools that sound interesting. The first one on the list: StoryMill.

StoryMill is one of a few software packages by Mariner Software that work to help writers. While StoryMill is dedicated to various aspects of overall novel writing, Persona (character management) and Contour (story outline) are two other options that focus on specific areas of novel development. I'll be honest: Contour is not something I'll try because I am not the type of writer who outlines in any detail whatsoever. I have a general idea, pit stops along the way, and an endgame; however, my characters direct me better than any outline I've ever done. In other words, you won't see a review of it here because it won't be unbiased. With that being said, Persona is on my list because it has what I wished StoryMill did for characters: detail, detail, detail!

Character Screen
This is one of my problems with StoryMill. The most you have under the info block is what you see above: role, height, hair, race, weight, and eyes. You can add photos, tags, links, and blah blah blah, but the majority of your information is going to be typed in a blank word-like document. It's not very organized other than being under the name of the character. This is why I'll be testing out Persona for my characters; however, if I'm going to drop money on software ($40 a pop!), I don't want to have to buy something else I would think should be included.

It does have some simple planning features that make Contour unnecessary for many writers. The main screen for "Scenes" gives you a list of your scenes and the ability to pull up a timeline of your novel's scenes:

Scene Main Screen
In each scene's page, you can write the scene, make notes, add photos, select the chapter, choose the characters in the scene, pick the location, and choose the date and time it starts and ends.

Individual Scenes

When going back and adding the information for my novel, the most helpful parts for me were the chapter, date, and time. I was able to get a timeline going and really think about the amount of time that was passing in each scene and how plausible certain things were in the scheme of that time frame. On the other hand, the timeline feature is only so helpful. Rather than stacking scenes chronologically for each date, everything falls in a line to scroll horizontally no matter how short of a time frame you select.

Notice above that the first time shows "The Ex....Dealing". This is because there are multiple scenes in that time period. It would be much more helpful if it was more of a calendar format where each day's scenes stacked in a straight line and then you could scroll right for the following days.

The locations option is helpful but still basic. You can add pictures, take notes, create tags, save links for files or websites, and see which scenes are related to the location. This is helpful for keeping together information for each location, but there's nothing special about it. The research tabs are similar. The only difference is that the "scenes" tab is missing. You can also create a list of tasks that you want to complete and use tags for them.

There are a lot of small features having to do with formatting, exporting, etc., but they are what you would expect from writing software. A few mop-up features of interest:
  • Word Frequency - See how many times you use certain words in each chapter or the novel overall.
  • Progress Meter - Set a word count goal and you'll see a meter at the top of the screen that shows your progress to the selected goal. It can be progress for the current session or the whole novel's completion.
  • Highlight Cliches - Find possible cliches in your writing.
  • Snapshot - Take a snapshot of your work before you make big edits or changes. 
Full Article

You can use any of these 4 coupons in Mariners online store and save between 5% and 25% off the retail price of new purchases or one of the 5 pack bundles.

TOMW = 25% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
MARS = 15% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
PHOBOS = 10% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
DEIMOS = 5% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles

Monday, January 4, 2016

WineHQ Wine Mac OS X binary downlad packages now available

We here at wine-staging are happy to announce an initial version of our Mac OS X >= 10.8 Wine builds. So far the packages have not yet received that much testing, so please give them a try, and report any issues you encounter.

The packages are available at: https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/macosx (Some mirrors don't show all files yet, just append random arguments to the url like ?whereismypackage to trick the cache)

For inexperienced users, it is recommended to install Wine using the *.pkg files. Just double-click on the package, and the usual Mac OS X installer wizard should open. As pointed out by Austin, I am not a registered Apple Developer and therefore the packages aren't signed. This will result in an error if you configured gate keeper to block unsigned packages. The installation itself should be self-explaining, so I will not go into too much detail here. It is possible to install the package either for all users (needs administrator privileges), or just for your current user. If you haven't installed XQuartz >= 2.7.7 yet (our package supports the x11drv as well as the macdrv), the installer will complain. Just install the missing dependency, and restart the installation, if this is the case.

After the installation is finished, you should find an entry "Wine Staging" or "Wine Devel" in your Launchpad. By clicking on it, a new Terminal window opens with a short introduction into some important wine commands. You can now directly start wine/winecfg/... from the Terminal, as the PATH variable is set correctly. For user convenience, the package also associates itself with all *.exe files, which means you can run windows executable s just by double-clicking on them. This might not work for all executable s though, since OS X doesn't seem to pass the current working directory to the "Open With" handler.

Some experienced users on the other hand might prefer a raw wine version without those gimmicks, so we also provide tarball archives. They basically contain the same files (except packaging related stuff), and can be unpacked in any directory. There is no need to set DYLD_* environment variables, all paths are relative, so it should work as long as the directory structure is preserved (you can skip the /usr prefix though using --strip-components 1). Also make sure to install XQuartz >= 2.7.7 in this case.

For those who are wondering, here a couple more technical aspects:

-------- Dependencies --------

The following dependencies are shipped as precompiled *.dylib-libraries directly with Wine:

    * libjpeg-turbo
    * liblcms2
    * liblzma
    * libopenal-soft
    * libtiff
    * libxml2
    * libxslt
    * [libtxc-dxtn-s2tc]
      This is the patent free implementation of dxtn as used by many
      linux distros. Only included in Wine Staging.

-------- Scripts --------

You can find all scripts and build files at https://github.com/wine-compholio/wine-packaging/tree/master/macosx Those files allow you to build the packages on Debian Jessie as host system, starting from a patched clang compiler (to support ms_hook_prologue), tools necessary to create OS X packages, cross compilation of the Wine build dependencies and finally cross compiles Wine itself. You only have to provide MacOSX10.8.sdk.tar.xz and xquartz-2.7.7.tar.xz, everything else is built from source. However, the generated scripts are meant to be run inside our build VMs, so realistically speaking it requires some effort to setup such a system and is not suitable for an average user.


There are also some features I am planning to implement in the future (depending on how much time I have):

-------- Auto updater --------

There is no common system to provide automatic updates for packages besides the Store, so I think it would be good to come up with some solution for this problem. Especially if the user installed the package into his home directory, he could easily update it without entering a password. I don't have much knowledge about objective-c or cocoa, so if someone else wants to implement this, I am more then glad to add it as an optional feature to the installer.

-------- Desktop integration --------

So far Wine does not create desktop entries that are shown in Launchpad, but instead creates useless entries at ~/.local/share/applications/. I think it shouldn't be too hard to dynamically create a proper entry at ~/Applications/ using a wrapper like I did for the main wine executable.

-------- Package signing? --------

This is basically something I could fix in 5 minutes, but I don't feel like paying 99$/year if I basically don't use Mac OS X myself.


The Wine Devel and Wine Staging packages can be installed in parallel. When started correctly (using Launchpad or the Dock), they will work no matter which other Wine versions are on the same system. Technically this is implemented by prepending the $PATH environment variable with the installation directory of our Wine version.

Please note that it is very important here that users use the Launcher, typing "wine" in a regular terminal will either not work, or run a Wine version installed via other sources like Macports/Fink/Homebrew. At least Homebrew installs to /usr/local, which means that "wine" typed in a regular terminal has a different meaning than "wine" typed in a terminal spawned by clicking on "Wine Devel" or "Wine Staging". Only in the second case, the WineHQ packages will be used.

In order to start WineHQ from a terminal without going through our Launcher, the user either has to:

* Prepend $PATH himself with the installation directory. For an installation into the home directory, the following command should work:

export PATH="$HOME/Applications/Wine Devel.app/Contents/Resources/wine/bin:$PATH"

export PATH="$HOME/Applications/Wine Staging.app/Contents/Resources/wine/bin:$PATH"

* Use the Mac OS X specific "open" command, which will search for the executable by program name.

open -a "Wine Devel" program.exe
open -a "Wine Devel" --args winecfg
open -a "Wine Staging" program.exe

The only (non-critical) "conflict" is that the Devel and Staging packages (and also Play On Mac) register themselves for .exe files. The first installed application is then the default application to open .exe files. But like on all other systems, you can do a right click on such a file and use the "Open With" menu entry to select the application you want to use. The user can also change the default application for the .exe extension, if they want to always use Wine Devel or Wine Staging.

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PlayOnLinux and PlayOnMac 4.2.10 have been released

PlayOnLinux and PlayOnMac 4.2.10 are now released. Here is the changelog:
  • Wine 1.8 staging is now the default wine version on OSX. The build process has been improved thanks to wine-staging team so that the compiler supports ms_hook_prologue, allowing function hotpatching. This should improve the compatibility of some applications like Steam.
  • Some wine staging instructions have been added so that they are fully supported by the scripts.
  • The wineprefix tab in the configuration panel has been improved.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

MacGourmet Deluxe 4.2.3 has been released

Introducing MacGourmet Deluxe 4, the most powerful food and drink management experience for the Mac! And El Capitan compatible.

Import recipes from your favorite websites. Create, edit, and scale your recipes. Share them via email and Facebook. Break down and illustrate the steps for your recipes with images, as well as written directions. Use the Chef’s View for distraction free cooking. In addition to cooking notes, you can now build up a library of notes about beer, cheese, as well as wine. There’s a place for tasting notes, brewery, pricing - even pairings. Enhance your recipes and your notes with images. Make shopping lists from your recipes - even combine multiple lists. Plan out meals for your family or a formal dinner.

Concerned about nutrition and how many calories you consume?


MacGourmet Deluxe will calculate the calories and nutrition of your recipes. If you have a collection of great family recipes, creating a cookbook of them would make a great gift. Use the Cookbook Builder to do it and have a PDF of it that’s suitable for printing.

Not sure what to have for dinner? Use the Ingredient search or let MacGourmet Deluxe suggest a recipe for you.

Share with other MacGourmet Deluxe users - via a Mac or iOS device - when you sign up for an included, free Mariner Cloud account where you can store and sync all your information.


New in MacGourmet Deluxe 4

• Full, two way, incremental syncing for Mac and iOS
• 64 bit architecture
• More intuitive user interface
• Added new Icon View
• Added Beer Notes
• Added Cheese Notes
• Moved and improved Chef Reference
• Fixed date comparisons in Smart Lists
• Added Chef View to default toolbar
• Added new recipes
• Added new wines, beers, & cheeses
• Added share with email, Facebook
• Added prices in shopping list printouts
• And much more!


• "As an Executive Chef and business owner, I need to be organized and able to view and use a recipe at any moment. MacGourmet Deluxe does all this for me - and more. One of my favorite features is the ability to send attractive looking pdf recipe files to guests and magazines. Love the product and love the folks at Mariner." -- Kent Rathbun, Iron Chef America Winner

• "With so many ways to sort, organize, and search for recipes, MacGourmet Deluxe is invaluable for anyone who loves cooking and collecting recipes." -- MacNN

• "It all boils down to this: if you need a database to manage your recipes, there are several available, though none has been more pleasant for me to use than MacGourmet Deluxe." -- ATPM

What's New in Version 4.2.3

Updated the Food&Wine.com importer to support the new site format.
Updated the NYTimes.com importer to support the new site format.
Updated the Epicurious.com importer to support the new site format.
Updated the FoodNetwork.com importer to support the new site format.
Added (more) missing Retina display images and icons.
Fixed a crash when using web clippings.
Added new security for El Capitan.
Updated Help menu.

You can use any of these 4 coupons in Mariners online store and save between 5% and 25% off the retail price of new purchases or one of the 5 pack bundles.

TOMW = 25% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
MARS = 15% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
PHOBOS = 10% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles
DEIMOS = 5% off Any New Purchase And 5 Pack Bundles

WineHQ has released Wine 1.9.0 for Linux and Mac

The Wine development release 1.9.0 is now available.
What's new in this release:
  • A number of fixes that were deferred during code freeze.
  • WSAPoll implementation.
  • Standard font dialog fixes.
  • X11 drag&drop improvements.
  • Various bug fixes.
The source is available now. Binary packages are in the process of being built, and will appear soon at their respective download locations.

 Bugs fixed in 1.9.0 (total 43):

   3611  CorelDRAW 9: copy/paste of graphics elements between multiple instances of the program doesn't work
   8097  Pazuru Alfabet picture display flicker
  14290  winhelp: temporary 100% CPU use when loading some help files
  15253  VB6 application doesn't fully render text using custom bitmap font (only one character shown)
  15951  Origin Pro 6.1 / 7.5 / 8.0 / 8.5: Matrix menu commands don't work (dialog for auto-spacing of levels, colors or linestyles in contour-plots not shown)
  17310  Window looses its top returning from fullscreen and is undragable from normal means
  18347  Multiple applications crash on unimplemented function gdiplus.dll.GdipImageSetAbort (Cooliris, IPLA 0.9)
  20208  Liquid Story Binder - 'z' location broken and window management issues
  22871  MinGW gdb 5.2.1 crashes when trying to enter commands
  22966  Restricted Area: incorrect rendering of character animations
  25104  ChooseFont dialog does not support non standard font sizes
  26769  Unable to play mms in Windows Media Player [9|10] with builtin wininet
  28915  Eclipse Indigo SR1 (3.7.1) C++ IDE complains "'Periodic workspace save.' has encountered a problem." (java expects NtWriteFile to support FILE_WRITE_TO_END_OF_FILE)
  29455  Call of Duty 4: persons are not visible
  30621  Web Forum Reader 3.0 shows empty/white page when adding website resource (embedded browser)
  30678  Phantasy Star Online: Ambition of The Illuminus (PSU: AOTI): resolution dropdown box empty
  30811  Music in Alpha Centauri stutters
  32650  LibreOffice 4 beta UI quite slow
  32926  PPTV 3.2.1 crashes after installation
  33101  FlashDevelop 4.3.0 (.NET 2.0 app) crashes on startup with 'Initialization failed. Please, run FlashDevelop again.'
  33641  MS Comptes Bancaires 9.0 crashes on startup
  33651  HeeksCAD & HeeksCNC fails
  33737  PowerPoint Viewer 2010 cannot start when Windows version is Vista or later ('IFileDialogCustomize::MakeProminent' and 'IFileDialogCustomize::SetControlItemState' are stubs)
  34312  3d chat client for there.com crashes
  35187  Jade Empire Special Edition configuration tool always resetting video settings
  35605  3Dmark 2000: Choosing "Run Default Benchmark" says "Benchmark Aborted!"
  35693  Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 service installation fails due to missing TDI wrapper library 'tdi.sys'
  37457  Musedit crashes when trying to transcribe from a midi file
  37580  Spotify "Browse" GUI not present.
  37646  valgrind shows an invalid free in advpack/tests/install.c
  38076  GameRanger: unimplemented function dnsapi.dll.DnsFlushResolverCacheEntry_A
  38321  Game Heroes 3.5 In The Wake Of Gods (Heroes III of Might And Magic mod): Mouse pointer disappears after click
  38580  Secret Files 1-2, UFO:Extraterrestrials Gold: hardware mouse pointer missing/corrupted
  38601  Planetary Annihilation needs WS2_32.dll.WSAPoll
  38734  Application Impact Telemetry Static Analyzer from Windows SDK 8.1 App Certification Kit needs api-ms-win-core-path-l1-1-0.dll
  38818  Umax Astra 4100 USB scanner driver installer needs setupx.dll16.DiBuildDriverIndex in Win9X mode
  39611  Any Video Converter (AVC) crashes after converting a video, needs msvcr100.dll._wtmpnam_s
  39678  Zararadio can not read folder/file name path with Latin characters
  39764  An attempt to do automatic authentication unexpectedly drops the payload from server response
  39769  Caffeine Demo fails to start with NVIDIA: Extension GL_VERSION_3_3 required for glVertexAttribDivisor not supported
  39770  "Enter/Exit Full Screen" menu isn't localized
  39789  Reusing xmlhttprequest doesn't clear previous headers
  39811  GetLongPathName not working on case insensitive filesystems when short path is passed

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