Metabook

Write the great American novel with this cool Windows application.

MB-05

Every writer, EVER, has the same dream – to write the book that will make him a bazillionaire. The book goes viral. It gets turned into a series. Movies are made from them; and their name becomes a household word. They are remembered all the time, everyday, out loud by everyone and anyone because they’ve all read the books. The key to getting started, is getting organized. That’s why I really like Metabook. It’s a Windows tool to help you create organization around your great American novel.

One of the hardest things to do when writing short stories and novels is organizing your thoughts and ideas. Yes, you have this totally awesome idea in your head and its beating down the walls trying to get out. What you really need to do is to organize the information so that you don’t lose any of it. This is where Metabook comes in. With it, you can create a structure that will help you organize information and metadata around people, places, items, actions and activities. It’s the easiest way to get your idea(s) out of your head and actually on paper where they can make sense and won’t conflict.

The best thing about Metabook is that its totally free form. You can create unlimited structure notes, but are limited to three layers. If you need to go deeper than that, you can start an individual node and drill three levels on it. If you need go deeper than that, then you can again, start an additional node, or you may want or need to rethink how you’re organizing your thoughts. The idea here is to get them down on paper and get them organized.

You can also use your document editor of choice. Metabook will allow you to hook into Word, WordPad, or any other tool you’ve got so you can write. Again, the idea is to organize and help the words come out, not to limit you to a specific tool. If needed, you can also pull in attachments – notes or other files, say…pictures and graphics or Visio files and other Office-centric data – into the tool so you can access them later. You can also create a separate project file for each book or document you wish to organize. Again, the idea is to keep it all separate so you can keep it all organized.

Metabook is a great application. If you’re trying to get organized around any kind of writing project, this is a great way to start. The app is light and easy on resources. Its easy to use. Its affordable; and it provides the basics around getting the whole party started – getting your thoughts out of your head and in some kind of organized form so you can begin writing.

The biggest issue with the app is that if you’ve never used it or anything else from this author, its not very easy to figure out how to get started. Once the app starts, you need to right click on the left pane window in order to bring up a context menu to create your first node. If you didn’t know to try that, and I didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to get very far with the app. There’s no File—New command, or any other visual clue to get you going; and that’s probably the biggest hole in this app.

Download Metabook

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Windows 8 Part 1 – Repeating Windows 7 Success

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview (or Beta) is due out on 29-Feb-12 at Mobile World Congress. While it may be strategically important to Microsoft, consumers may not thing so.

I’ve been part of nearly every Windows Technical Beta Team since Windows 95. I’m used to being one of Microsoft’s go-to external testers. I also was part of their Windows 7 Launch, as I was chosen in 2009 to host a Windows 7 Launch Party at my home. I covered the event for a local paper as well, and spun off into a print column for them called, “Technically Speaking.” At the time of its release, Windows 7 was the right operating system for Microsoft’s ailing desktop operating system business – It provided enough of a reason to compel enterprise users to move away from Windows XP, and wasn’t the consumer-worrying, performance deprived, hardware consuming mess that Windows Vista was.

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is hoping to address two big issues.

1. Repeat the Windows 7 success
2. Address the tablet trend

In this two part series, we’re going to look at both of these issues and try to make sense of it all.

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 – Repeat the Success

There are a couple basic reasons why Windows 7 was so successful, and both of them are operating system related. Interestingly enough, both reasons have nothing do to with Windows 7.

Windows 7 wasn’t Windows XP

Windows 7 owes a lot of its past and current success to Windows XP. WinXP was released over 11 years ago. It stuck around in the enterprise for so long because it was solid. Even though it still has a number security issues, it’s still a huge player in the enterprise space because of XP’s longevity and familiarity with IT support staff. Simply put, they’ve been working with it for so long, they’re familiar with the pain it causes, know where the problems are, and know how to deal with them.

However, its time has come and gone. Many companies that are still running the aged OS are in the process of phasing it out of the enterprise and are making in the process of drafting or implementing approved Windows 7 migration plans. IT support staff members feel confident that their users will be able to effectively make the transition without too many use or support issues. It’s enough like XP that users will be able to make a smooth transition, and improved enough that the support issues encountered with XP have been successfully and effectively addressed. Microsoft had also clearly made its plans for sun setting the OS widely known.

Simply put, Windows 7 was a success because the need for an XP replacement was clear. XP needed a replacement and the enterprise and consumer public was more than ready for it.

Windows 7 Clearly was NOT Windows Vista

One of the biggest reasons why Windows 7 was such a success was that it clearly was NOT Windows Vista. While Vista may have introduced a new interface, desktop theme and new technology, it unfortunately came with a lot of problems.

Microsoft moved everything. Windows XP users moving to Vista had a huge problem using the OS. Many of the features and functions that they were used to going to in location X were now located in location Z (location “Y” would have made sense, but MS seemed to randomly move things to new locations that only THEY understood the reasoning behind…).

Vista was late to market. The OS, originally code named Longhorn, was well over 7 years late being released. Worse yet, it was riddled with performance issues. Correcting them was easy and after SP1 was released, it actually wasn’t a bad OS.

Its problems were marketing in and PR-based. Windows 7 didn’t have a hard time being a success. In fact, based on Vista’s bad PR and XP’s overly long longevity, Windows 7 couldn’t have been much else other than a success. Microsoft did what it needed to do to address some interface and user experience issues, further improved the underlying performance and put some marketing money behind the release. The result was instant success.

Come back next time, and we’ll address some items in the Windows 8 Developer’s Preview and what’s supposed to be happening with the Consumer Preview to address the increasing popularity of tablets at both home and at work.

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