Write Better in only Three Minutes a Day

Writing is being able to hold a conversation without the other person present. No more, no less. Becoming a better writer is easier than you think. Writing is not some secret art that only a few people can do well and everyone else struggles with.

I doubt anyone will read this post who is a professional writer. Writing as well as a professional writer, for the most part is reserved for professional writers. What you can do however is learn to become comfortable putting your thoughts on paper.

Whether you are putting words on paper or typing text in a simple text editor, writing is a simple process. What separates you from others who write well is not writing or very little writing. Writing takes practice as does almost everything else. The more you do it the better you get.

These simple steps will help you to write better with the least amount of effort. We can’t know what we can’t know. We can’t write if we don’t write. Let’s do some writing.

Open up whatever text editor is on your computer, Notepad, TextEdit, Gedit, Leafpad, Mousepad or another text editor. A word processor is not needed, although if you feel more comfortable using a word processor, use it.

1. Write three sentences about something that happened today. Your three sentences do not have to be about the same topic. For example:

“I woke up hungry today. I took my dog for a walk. The weather is hot and humid today, I am ready for winter”

The important thing is you write something. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

Write better by writing something every day

Write better by writing something every day

2. Each day before you go to sleep, write out three more sentences. Think about what you want to write before you sit down and write. Having an idea of what you want to say makes writing easier.

3. Every five to seven days, review what you have written. Read your sentences out loud. Do your words sound like conversation? If your words do not sound like conversation, what could be the reason? Write as you talk, you are having a conversation when you write.

4. When you find you can write out three sentences with little effort, it is time to start writing three sentences about the same subject.

If your daily three sentences have been about the same subject, try writing five sentences, turning your sentences into a complete paragraph.

This is all there is to improving your writing. A few minutes a day is all it takes. Soon you will be writing like you were a born writer. Your words will fill the page, and they will sound great. All that separates you from someone who seems to write without effort is practice.

Only a few minutes a day over time and you will become a natural writer.

Friendlier Debian Linux Discovered

If you have read any of my Linux posts, you know I am a fan of Debian and XFCE. I found a couple of Debian Distributions and each do better at bringing Debian to the Desktop than Debian itself. Both are based on Debian and use Debian repositories. Both make some modifications to Debian to enhance Debian and make it a more complete desktop experience.

Debian 8 screen shot

Debian 8 screenshot

Debian is not the most user friendly distribution. Nor is Debian recommended as a beginner Distribution. When using Debian, one is pretty much on their own when looking for answers. There excellent resources and references for Debian, but they are scattered and at times difficult to understand. Some of the material of course is outdated which complicates things. There is a Debian newsgroup, but it is stuffy and mostly unfriendly to beginner questions.

Basic Debian is pretty much basic upon install. Debian is boring and like it that way. Depending on your needs Debian is incomplete and will need you to install additional programs. You need to have some idea of what additional programs you want added.

What Debian does do in an outstanding manner is produce a small footprint, very fast OS. The system is not cluttered with junk you do not want or need. The blandness of Debian allows each user to create the system they want. What these two distributions do is take Debian from bland to outstanding.

The first Distribution I stumbled upon is from the Mepis folks, actually a subgroup of Mepis. The Debian modification they are putting out is called MX-15 based on Debian 8. The changes you are most likely to notice is a change in XFCE. They have upgraded XFCE and are using the version in Debian Testing. The next thing you will notice is MX-15 is complete both on the desktop or with the software.

Mepis MX-15 screenshot

Mepis MX-15 screenshot

MX-15 Linux makes other less obvious but enjoyable changes to the main distribution that the average user may not even notice. MX-15 is worth checking out. Of the two distributions in this post MX-15 is more user friendly to install. EFI install is an option during install. You will wish to read the notes during install.

http://www.mepiscommunity.org/mx

The second and flashiest Debian distribution I found is from Voyager Linux which originates in France. The Debian spin Voyager has created is named Voyager X8 and is based also on Debian 8. Voyager Linux is interesting in they take Debian and Xubuntu (Ubuntu XFCE) and give each distribution a colorful change over and dress up, from the desktop to the programs included.

Voyager X8 screenshot

Voyager X8 screenshot

Voyager X8 is less beginner friendly for install, but if you understand how the hard drive should be formatted, install is easy. Not only is Voyager X8 a live CD when you download the ISO, but you have some options to decide on before you start your download. Voyager X8 comes in two live versions, one for EFI installation and one for a normal Grub 2 mbr installation.

Click on X8, select your language on the right.

Between MX-15 and Voyager X8 and MX-15 both distributions go a long way towards making Debian a better Debian. MX-15 created some changes which Voyager X8 does not do. Documentation and help is on the main screen when you log in. MX-15 has a grub repair tool on the live CD. Voyager X8 is the most modified desktop with the Voyager group adding their own special additions to the desktop, with MX-15 not modifying the desktop.

Support for both these systems is very good and the documentation is excellent with the edge going to MX-15. If you are looking for a Debian based Linux, check out these two options. Both have a Live CD ISO, so you can try them first. Try them both, decide which you prefer, install it, and make it yours.

Chess Games and Chess Resources for Linux

I listed below the chess programs and resources I have on my Computer running under Linux. Some of these listed below are also cross platform.

3D Chess – glChess and this manual page were written by Robert Ancell bob27@users.sourceforge.net. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

http://linux.die.net/man/6/glchess

Gnome Chess – GNOME Chess is a 2D chess game, where games can be played between a combination of human and computer players. GNOME Chess detects known third party chess engines for computer players.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Chess

Brutal Chess – Brutal Chess features full 3D graphics, an advanced particle engine, and several different levels of intelligent AI, inspired by the once popular “Battle Chess” released by Interplay circa 1988.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/brutalchess/

Chessx – A free and open source chess database application for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/chessx/

Chinese Chess – GMChess is an open source Chinese Chess based on XiangQi Wizard. (link is external) Chinese chess (Xiangqi) is one of the most popular chess games to have originated in China.

https://lgdb.org/game/gmchess

One of many configurable from beginner to winner Chess games for Linux

Dream Chess – DreamChess is an open source chess game. Our primary target platforms are Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. DreamChess features 3D OpenGL graphics and provides various chess board sets, ranging from classic wooden to flat figurines.

A moderately strong chess engine is included: Dreamer. However, should this engine be too weak for you, then you can use any other XBoard-compatible chess engine, including the popular Crafty and GNU Chess.

Other features include music, sound effects, on-screen move lists using SAN notation, undo functionality, and savegames in PGN format.

The DreamChess team currently consists of only a handful of people. We could use help in many areas, such as programming, graphics, sound and testing. If you’re interested in helping out, please send an email to feedback at dreamchess.org.

http://dreamchess.org/

EBoard – EBoard is a user-friendly chess interface for ICS (Internet Chess Servers). While it will focus on FICS (www.freechess.org ), should work with any other ICS. It supports playing against local chess engines too.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/eboard/

Knights – Knights aims to be the ultimate chess resource on your computer. Written for the K Desktop Environment, it’s designed to be both friendly to new chess players and functional for Grand Masters. Here’s a quick list of Knights’ key features:

Play against yourself, against computer opponents, or against others over the Internet.

Customize your board and pieces with over 30 different themes, or create your own!
Audio cues help alert you to important events.
Novice players can preview potential moves.
Save your unfinished matches and play them again later.

http://knights.sourceforge.net/news_archive.php and http://www1.knights-chess.com/?kw=chess+pieces

Pychess –  PyChess is a gtk chess client, originally developed for GNOME, but running well under all other linux desktops. (Which we know of, at least). PyChess is 100% python code, from the top of the UI to the bottom of the chess engine, and all code is licensed under the GNU Public License.

The goal of PyChess is to provide an advanced chess client for linux following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. The client should be usable to those new to chess, who just want to play a short game and get back to their work, as well as those who wants to use the computer to further enhance their play.

Use Any Chess Engine

With PyChess it is easy to play a game against the computer or use the computer to help you find the best move during a game with the Hint Mode feature.

PyChess comes with its own built-in chess engine and will automatically detect and work with most popular chess engines as long as they’re installed on your computer. This includes engines such as GnuChess, Crafty, Sjeng and Fruit, and even Windows engines like Rybka.

In the case PyChess doesn’t automatically detect an engine you’ve installed, you can manually add and configure it engines menu. See the wiki for additional engines.

http://www.pychess.org/about/

Scid – Scid is a chess database application (cross-platform, for Unix/Linux and Windows) with many search and database maintenance features.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/scid/

XBoard – XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). It serves as a front-end for many different chess services, including:

Chess engines that will run on your machine and play a game against you or help you analyze, such as GNU Chess, Crafty, or many others.

Chess servers on the Internet, where you can connect to play chess with people from all over the world, watch other users play, or just hang out and chat.

Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The CMail program automates the tasks of parsing email from your opponent, playing his moves out on your board, and mailing your reply move after you’ve chosen it.

XBoard runs on Unix and Unix-like systems that use the X Window System.

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/

XShogi – GNU Shogi is a computer program that plays the game of Shogi, also known as Japanese Chess.

https://www.gnu.org/software/gnushogi/