All posts by darnzen


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The Different Types of Writing Fonts: Calligraphy Font Styles, Hand Lettering, and More

Curious about writing fonts, calligraphy fonts, handwriting fonts, and more? In this article, we’ll explore different types of writing fonts, where they come from, and what the different terms mean. We’ll also observe some different writing font examples, like chalkboard fonts, kids’ handwriting fonts, script fonts, and others. read more

Scaling a Business: How & When to Do It

Challenges that Come with Scaling a Business

7 Factors to Consider Before Scaling Your Business Towards Growth

This is the main paradox the startup community faces when it comes to venture-backed businesses. For instance, angel investors expect a profitable exit within 5 years of the founding round, preferably sooner. Different VC studies report anywhere from 4 years to 6.3 years on average. read more

12 Daily Planner Apps to Help You Organize Your Days Better

Evernote Daily Planner App

9 Android Apps to Plan Your Workday

One of the top issues U.S. businesses face is poor time management. In an eight-hour workday, surprisingly little time is directed toward tasks that boost profitability and business growth. In fact, according to an Anatomy of Work Index whitepaper from Asana, employees spend just over a quarter of their day on high-priority, skilled tasks; and, according to The Alternative Board’s December 2015 Small Business Pulse Survey, business owners spend only about a third of their day on urgent and essential activities. read more


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What Are Content Audits & Why Are They Important?

Before creating an inventory of URLs and metrics, it is important to decide what kind of content you are going to review. You can audit your internal content, such as blog posts, news, educational materials, product descriptions, and landing pages, or your external publications. You can also assess other types of content, such as video, PDF, or interactive content, such as quizzes, tests, and games. read more

Books in the Cloud: What is OPDS and Why Should I Care?

Books in the Cloud

One of the benefits of an e-book, over a traditional publication is that it is disconnected from the physical world. It has been virtualized. It is a bunch of bits that reside “somewhere” that you copy onto your reading device which converts it into a visual rendition of the text. The somewhere can be on your PC at home, on a laptop you carry with you, on a thumb drive in your pocket, or stored on a server that you can access through the internet. Once on the internet, the location of the book can no longer be expressed in longitude and latitude, or country and zip code. It is no longer in real space, it is in cyberspace! Since cyberspace evokes scenes from TRON or books by William Gibson, the world marketing minds of the Internet® decided to call it “the cloud.”


The Open Publishing Distribution System (OPDS) is a web service with which e-books can be shared with other connected systems. An OPDS client application can communicate with any server that implements this service. This is how an app on a mobile device, such as Stanza (iOS) or Aldiko (Android), can “get books” from bookstores or libraries.

While OPDS is format agnostic, the reader applications are usually not. As was mentioned in the article Understanding e-Book File Formats, the “universal” format for e-books is EPUB, and most OPDS enabled readers will only recognize e-books in this format. This forces kindle users to get all their books from Amazon. For most, this is not much of a hindrance since Amazon has an enormous selection, and the store is well integrated into the Kindle, but it blocks Kindle users from libraries and small publishing houses (such as WritelyDone). To find something  like can someone write my paper for me in the cloud, you need its web address (URL) and then can you can access it where ever you are, and it can never be misplaced or forgotten on a nightstand.

OPDS in Action

As an example, I’ll go through the process of connecting to WritelyDone’s OPDS service using Stanza on an iPod Touch.

Once the Stanza application is running, select “Get Books” from the icons along the bottom. A list of per-configured book sources appears.

Selecting the “Shared” button from the top row of buttons opens a user configurable list of book sources. In my case, I already had Feedbooks set up, so it shows up in the list. Pressing the “Edit” button allows you to add or remove sources.

After pressing the green plus button to add a source, you can enter the URL of the OPDS catalog you are trying to add. Enter that data and press “Save” and then “Done.” The WritelyDone catalog is now added to the list.

Selecting WritelyDone as a book source opens a screen where you can select from the available content on WritelyDone. The “Bookshelf” option, will contain any of the titles you have added to your bookshelf on, you will be required to log in to view your bookshelf. Enter your WritelyDone user name and password when prompted.

Selecting a book from your shelf, opens a page with a description and a “Download” button in the upper right. After pressing “Download” you will be prompted to confirm the action, and then the download will take place.

Different sources

The process for adding book sources is similar in all readers. All you need to know is the location of the OPDS catalog and you can add a source.

Here are some OPDS catalogs to try out read more

Understanding e-Book File Formats

One of the first things that confronts a writer wishing to e-publish their work is the confusing array of file formats and meta-data and the seeming lack of any standardization. In this article I will explore what an e-book really is, information regarding the different formats, tools to convert between formats, and how minor changes made as you write will make things much easier when you are ready to publish.

Why can’t I just save my doc file as an e-book?

When I was young, most writers used a typewriter to create a manuscript. There is some nostalgia surrounding typewriter, the snapping of the keys, the sound of the bell for each finished line; this was the sound of progress being made. When people were using typewriters, content was separated from format, layout, and design. You wrote a manuscript, double spaced, with whatever typeface was in your typewriter, typically in 10 or 12 point font. If you wanted to indicate special formatting, you would add hand-drawn markup to the document, or use some simple character based markup such as asterisks to indicate *bold* or underscore for _underline_and a slash for /italics/. At the publishing house, they would also add markup to the hard-copy, indicating margins, fonts, page-breaks, vertical spacing, table layout, images etc.. Authors worried about content, and publishers, for the most part, handled the presentation.

Nowadays, almost everyone uses a word processor of one type or another, with Microsoft’s Word being used by the majority. Publishers still want manuscripts in the same format (double spaced, 1 inch margins, etc.), but with the advent of word-processing, the markup can be embedded in the file. So when you italicize a phrase, as I did in the previous sentence, there is a code embedded in the text stream marking the start and end of the italic text. When viewed or printed, the phrase is shown in italics. This is known as presentational markup, and is what is used most often on word-processors. With presentational markup, you can change type family, size, weight, style, decorations, etc. You can go nut and dO crazy thi=&0=&. This allows writers to make bold, large titles, and chapter headings, or put the telepathic robot conversation in some odd font / style / weight to differentiate it from normal dialog.

The problem with presentational markup is that it is often used where descriptive or semantic markup should be used. Semantic markup differs from presentational markup in that it labels the individual parts of the document, such as the title, a paragraph, an image caption, or a heading, without defining presentation. For instance, the title is distinguished from the rest of the text by surrounding it with the appropriate markup codes, or tags. In html the markup tags are human readable and indicated by surrounding the tag name with angle brackets <tag> to open an element and including a trailing slash to close the element <tag /> as follows.

<title>This is a Title</title>

With semantic markup, the presentation is defined elsewhere, either in a separate file (known as a style sheet), or at the beginning of the document. In this way, equivalent parts of the document will have the same styling throughout. It is therefore easy to define and change the styling of every piece of the document that shares the markup, such as paragraphs, or chapter headers. It also becomes easy to generate a table of contents for a book by creating links to each chapter heading. This is important because the concept of a page is generally no longer meaningful due to variations in reading device sizes and capabilities.

This discussion of markup is necessary because all e-book formats require the document to have some sort of semantic markup. If you are self-publishing or want to understand why you can’t simply publish your MS-Word doc file as an e-book, you need to understand a little of what’s going on inside the e-book files themselves. The “e-book” is a container that supplies the document text, styling information, cover art, and meta-data to the reading application or hardware. A *.doc file is a document with hardly any semantic markup, containing mostly proprietary presentational markup.

File formats: the big 3

There are three major e-book formats that are supported on the majority of reading systems: ePUB, MOBI, and PDF. EPUB is an open format defined by the International Digital Publishing Forum (<idpf>), it is the primary format used on the iPad, Sony Reader, and the Barnes & Nobel NOOK, and can be read by any PC or internet based e-book reading software (eg. Calibre, Stanza, Bookworm, Ibis). Basically, all e-readers except the Kindle can read ePUB files without fuss.

MOBI, the Mobipocket reader file format now owned by Amazon, can have the *.azw, *.prc, or *.mobi extention. AZW is Amazon’s version of the mobi format that can be read on the Kindle. It is essentially the mobi file structure with its own DRM scheme, and no javascript support. The Kindle can also read unprotected *.prc or *.mobi files directly. MOBI is technically an off-shoot of the ePUB format and shares many of the same conventions.

PDF isn’t really an e-book format at all, it is a document format based on PostScript (PS). PDF is useful when you need to keep the “page” concept, and positioning on the page is important. It is also supports scalable vector graphics, so it is good for rendering technical drawings and diagrams. This really isn’t a good format for e-readers, most will read them, but it often requires horizontal panning which is no fun. It is useful if you need the e-reader version to match the printed version, or you need scalable graphics and mathematical formatting.

There are two other formats worth mentioning at this point, plain text (*.txt) and HTML (*.html, *.htm). Plain text has the advantage that it is readable on all e-readers. There are several formatting issues that need attention with respect to line wrapping, and there is no support for images, links or TOC, but for a simple document, it works well. HTML is important because not only is it the basis for web display, it is the underlying format for both ePUB and MOBI! Plain old HTML files can be viewed by the majority of e-readers without modification.

There are

many other e-book formats read more