Version 2 Released

by NJB // // Broomfield, CO

© 2022 Nantucket E-Books LLC

CC-BY-SA 4.0

Otto the Nantucket Whale

Version 2 of Nantucket E-Books was released today. A big thank-you to my supporters on Patreon, and the authors and readers who helped with beta testing, offered suggestions, and helped make this release possible.

The big changes in Version 2 include: a new file structure, making it easier to share e-books and read them offline, a complete rewrite of the stylesheet, improved dark mode and note management, and the ability for authors to choose a serif font for their e-books.

To read through more of the changes, and to check out the actual files, head over to the Versions page.

I gave a livestream presentation on YouTube, which you can watch here. Here’s an Invidious link, if you want to avoid YouTube’s proprietary JavaScript.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the livestream, and for asking some questions in the Q&A section.

Cover of the short story True Love’s Kiss by Riley Duffield

At the end of the livestream, I introduced an excellent new short story from Riley Duffield called True Love’s Kiss. It’s an imaginative fantasy short story. On Mastodon after the stream, Duffield wrote that he was inspired by the premise, “What if there were a good orc?” I think he explores that question well.

Have questions about Version 2, or other thoughts? Send me a comment and I’ll post it below.

//!!TITLE The Free-Software Life, Part 1: Twitter and Rainbowstream


//!!LOCATION Broomfield, CO

//!!DATE 2022-04-10

//!!COPYRIGHT 2022 Nantucket E-Books LLC

//!!LICENSE CC-BY-SA 4.0 :link

//This is the first in a series about my attempts to use more free software in my life, and less proprietary software.

//Some parts of this transition have been easy, and some have been god-awful. I’ll start of by talking about one of the tougher transitions: Twitter.

//Why use Twitter at all? Objectively, I don’t need to. There are other social media networks that run on free software, such as Mastodon. I’ve started using Mastodon more, and I like its smaller, decentralized feel. I also like chatting on IRC. Mastodon and IRC feel a lot better for having conversations and meeting like-minded people.

//I plan to use Mastodon and IRC more than Twitter, but I cannot give up Twitter entirely. I use Twitter because it lets me keep in touch with friends and colleagues. Some of the authors and illustrators using Nantucket E-Books™ are on Twitter, so it allows me to keep in touch with them.

//I also use Twitter for the same reason the Free Software Foundation does: it lets me communicate the importance of Free Software to people who are unaware of it.

//This sets up the challenge: can I use Twitter without using nonfree software? It turns out the answer is ‘yes’, and there’s a few options available.


//First, if you want to read tweets, you can use undefined. With Nitter, you just type in a username, and you can see that account’s tweets, and replies to their tweets. It’s a pretty simple user interface. If you’re using older hardware, like my ThinkPad T60, you’ll find Nitter is a faster, no-bull experience. Nitter does not require any JavaScript to use.


//What about writing? This is a bit more complicated.

//Back in Twitter’s early days, circa 2008, you could actually send tweets with nothing more than cURL or Wget. The cURL request would look something like this:

//curl -u userame:password -d status=“Text to be tweeted out”

//A tweet using Wget would look like this:

//wget —keep-session-cookies —http-user=emailaddress —http-password=password —post-data=“status=Text to be tweeted out”

//Twitter didn’t like people doing this. Heaven forbid the advertisers be deprived of one dime! These days, if you want to send a tweet, you have three options:

//1) Apply to become a developer to access Twitter’s API, and figure it out yourself. You could, in theory, send a tweet via cURL or Wget if you have an API key, or you could build your own client.

//2) Use a third-party client that’s already figured it out.

//3) Use an official, proprietary Twitter client.

//I chose option two. The most popular third-party Twitter client is Rainbowstream, which lets users send tweets from the command line. It also shows you a ‘stream’ of tweets from the people you follow. The stream is color-coded, which helps with readability. Rainbowstream is written in Python, and uses the MIT License.

//The Free Software Foundation uses a combination of Nitter and Rainbowstream to manage its Twitter account.

//I’ll mention one other command-line Twitter client called Oysttyer (note the ‘TTY’ in the middle), which is written in Perl. Oysttyer is pretty simple to set up and use after cloning from GitHub. One downside to Oysttyer is its monochrome display, making the timeline harder to read. Oysttyer also uses a strange license called the Floodgap Free Software License, which almost reads like a parody of the GPL. I will discuss the FFSL at a later time.

//So, Rainbowstream it is, then.


//Rainbowstream is pretty easy to set up… in most cases. It was not an easy setup for me.

//Remember, Rainbowstream is written in Python, and installed using the ‘pip’ package manager. Rainbowstream’s developer further recommends running Rainbowstream in a virtual environment, aka Python’s ‘virtualenv’.

//Here’s how you would normally install Rainbowstream:

//1) Run virtualenv -p /usr/bin/python3 venv This creates the virtual environment for Rainbowstream.

//2) Run source venv/bin/activate This turns on the virtual environment.

//3) Run pip install rainbowstream

//To actually use Rainbowstream, run source venv/bin/activate, and then run rainbowstream.

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