Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why We Chose Ubuntu — Post by Michael J. Findley


Our very first computer was a Coleco Adam. Production began in 1983 with two tape drives. We were the only people in our user’s group (does anyone remember those?) with a floppy drive. It also had the power supply in a daisy wheel printer which sounded much like a machine gun.

After the Adam, we purchased a Tandy 1000 and then two Commodore Amigas, a 3000 and a 1200. The demise of Commodore forced us to the Microsoft Windows platform. To this day, I like the Windows 98 OS as their best operation system. Compared to the Coleco Adam and Commodore Amiga, Microsoft and Apple are both clunky, inefficient and open to security breaches.

Microsoft started off poorly and each version is slower, less efficient and more difficult to use. Every generation of windows requires a month’s learning curve to find out where Microsoft hid the features we had come to depend on.

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution. Linux is an operating system for personal computers. Development began when Finnish student Linus Torvalds released the source code in 1991 prohibiting commercial distribution. Though the coding is different, it follows the same philosophical approach as UNIX, so the name Linux combines the name of the original coder with UNIX.

Ubuntu can access the data from the Windows 7 partitions of the hard drive. Though it frequently requires a password, such as downloading anything and even entering the system, it is far more secure than either Windows or Apple.

Ubuntu loads in less than 20 seconds. Ubuntu has tools which work as well as the Windows tools, for our purposes, such as Blender, LibreOffice suite, Inkscape and GrafX2. The Ubuntu site has drivers which can be downloaded easily and to this point, flawlessly. Though every icon seems to be in a different location, they all work as well or better than the Windows equivalent.

One obvious fact is the speed. When Windows users get a new computer with no additional programs, it usually seems fast. But as programs are added and windows keeps sending updates, the computer will run slower and slower. Ubuntu does not do this; programs usually open instantly. Even a cold boot is under 20 seconds.

Ubuntu is the largest Linux distro available. To date, every download has worked without a problem. When we do not understand something, such as how to load a new font, there are detailed and accurate online instructions.

Probably the most satisfying and the most frustrating aspect of Ubuntu are the terminal (Windows command line interface) and the need to use it. Many things must be keyboarded through the terminal. These commands work well and allow you to have more control than any Windows OS ever had. At the same time, mistakes can damage your Ubuntu operating system and detailed instructions on-line can be difficult to find. So far, we have found many people willing to help. We are grateful for the help. It has been a real lifesaver.

Ubuntu is not perfect. We have run into unusual system crashes, but not many. We have also needed to restart the computer, but this is also rare. The initial install only required one restart after the entire system was installed.

Ubuntu takes time to get used to. Though it accomplishes the same work as any other Operating System, it requires getting used to. We chose the default Unity layout because it was so easy to install.

Since there are a few programs we must use which do not run on the Linux OS, we must use both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Each time we use those, our appreciation for Linux grows.

Image Credit: Author Kaiiv. Original uploader was Kaiiv at de.wikipedia This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

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Joining the Ubuntu/Linux Community — Post by Michael J. Findley

linux penguin ubuntu

We left the MS Windows/Apple world. With very little knowledge of computers, you can too. Linux is a free operating system which was originally based on Unix. We have contemplated making this move for years. There will be a follow-up blog of why we made the move, but this is a how-to blog. Though there are thousands (an infinite number?) of ways to set up Linux, there are two very easy ways of getting Linux on a laptop.

The first is to purchase a computer with Linux installed by someone else. This is the easiest and includes tech support. Companies which sell laptops with Linux already installed include System76, ZaReason, Dell, ThinkPenguin, and EmperorLinux. This is more expensive. Though Dell frequently changes their product line, for today, here is a link to their $1200 laptop with a Linux Ubuntu operating system.

We purchased two refurbished Windows 7 computers for under $800 from a shop which refurbishes computers. There are thousands of such shops throughout the United States. Refurbished Windows 7 computers are also available in many foreign countries and thousands are available online. Included in the price was repartitioning the hard drives with 50 Gig partitions for Linux. The dual boot system allows Ubuntu to access data from the Windows 7 partition. The Linux partition is only needed for the Operating System and Linux programs such as LibreOffice, Inkscape, Blender, GrafX2, Font Manager, etc. We found a dual boot system to be the easiest to install and use. Using Windows 7, download Ubuntu from here

Burn the download to a DVD, then follow these instructions.

Be certain you write down ALL USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS.

It really is this simple. Purchasing a new computer is actually more difficult to get particular features that you want, since there are many refurbished Windows 7 choices. Even with a dual boot system, which is much slower, the system boots up in about 18 seconds.

Anything which can be done on Windows or Mac can be done with on Ubuntu. The single greatest issue is a lack of tech support for Linux in general. However, to date, everything we have needed to do with Ubuntu is available by asking on Google.

Image credit:


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99 cent and Free Books from Findley Family Video — Post by Mary C. Findley

Do you know how many FFVP books are 99 cents or free? Check it out!

black friday cyber mon sale

Check them out!

cyber sale 3

Nonfiction, Contemporary, and Historical Books

blackfriday cyber sale 2

Science Fiction, Steampunk, and Historical

sale books 1

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Best Christian Book Covers of 2014

2015 covers

These are not my Best of 2014 cover choices. They are just the covers for my 2015 Writing Goals

Recently several author groups shared around a post called “Worst Christian Book Covers of 2014”. I’m not going to link to it, because, frankly, I don’t want to give it one single more view. Many sites are set up to include a “worst of” whatever so that people can make clever but snarky and often cruel comments and feel superior. Instead, please share your “Best of” covers. If you can’t come up with just one, that’s okay too.

But I’d like to set some ground rules so we are not just posting one for our best friend or to promo our cover designer, or other criteria than what really IS the best. I also want to encourage people to offer brief but positive and helpful critiques explaining what makes the cover an excellent one.

Part One: Christian and Independent

I’d like to encourage people to chime in and post the best Independently-published Christian book cover you’ve seen this year. When I say independently-published, I mean not with a big, well-known, famous traditional publisher, but with a small press, or a cover made or purchased or fully-approved for that book by the author him/herself.I am not excluding books where the author purchased a premade cover by saying this. I am excluding books that were made in-house by an employee of a publishing house.

Part Two: Fonts

1. Title Fonts: Are they attractive, contrasting, readable, appropriate for the genre, and well-formed and colored?

2. Subtitle/tagline fonts: Are they compatible with the title, the right size and sort to complement and support the title and genre?

3. Author Fonts: Is the author name readable, strong, but not distracting from the title?

Part Three: Image(s)

Does it use images of good clarity, quality, and that evidence care in the choosing? Are they appropriate to the subject? Are they attention-getting without being simply beautiful or startling or attractive without having any relationship to the book’s title or subject? Are they right for the genre, setting, time period, or otherwise truly “right” for the book?

(Let’s make a separate category for covers with handmade art. Some people just irrationally hate to see anything that looks hand-drawn or colored or painted on a cover, but I think there’s a place for it.)

Part Four: Overall Composition/Design

1. Is the effect clean, organized, and drawing the eyes around to the important elements?

2. Are the colors, shadows, lights, textures pleasing, harmonious, and right for that book? Or, if the purpose is to create suspense, terror, or other emotional responses appropriate to the subject or genre, is it effective in doing that? Do things fit together and seem all to belong in the same composition?

I am hoping many people will participate in this, and make it a celebration of the best in cover design, as well as a learning experience for those who want both to learn to make better covers, and to stop being superior and cruel in our critiques.

Please comment or email us at with covers you’d like to see included. Hopefully by the end of the year we can present a Top 100 Independent Christian Book covers list.


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Who Am I Thankful For? You, You, and You! — Post by Mary C. Findley

thanks hop image

Hi! I’ll just say this out loud. I agreed to participate in this author Thanksgiving blog hop, and then forgot all about it. But, it just so happens, that I have things I am thankful for, or, rather, people, so I am very glad I did remember, and I do have this opportunity to share just who I am thankful for. I’ll give my thanks in reverse order, from least to greatest. Do not think that least means unimportant or anything like that. I am so very thankful for everyone on this list. I truly am. God bless my thankful list inhabitants. They have blessed me.

1. I am thankful for author friends. Just click that picture at the top of this post and you will see just a few of my author friends, and their books, and you will be thankful for them too. All of them write from a heart of service to God. Pray for Christian authors as you read their books, and ask God to keep us focused and able to write for Him.

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”  Psalm 45:1

2. I am thankful for my loved ones. That’s my family and friends, the ones I especially praise God for (Hubby and daughter, you know who you are) and the ones I am privileged to pray for which is everybody. So I praise God for them, too. Because the privilege of praying for others in unparallelled. God wakes me up at night and says, “pray for somebody.” He doesn’t even always tell me who. But often it ends up being family, or friends who have troubles. I am also thankful for the followers of this blog, and faithful readers and sharers. Thank God! Thank God! You are over two thousand strong, so thank you, too.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

3. I am thankful beyond measure for the God who has made Himself known to me, pursued me, and brought me to Himself. So thankful.


I’d like to share a book of mine, A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist, and I will give away a free copy of the illustrated ebook version to anyone who comments about what they are thankful for. Read about it by clicking the image below.

dodge illustrated 25

As an aside, I’m thankful for food at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. I am not very well domesticated, but I do love making Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and especially baking homemade from scratch rolls. My Dodge book has a recipe in it that I kind of invented, and I’d like to share. I have made these a few times but so far they’ve been too messy to take pictures of. They are delicious, though. You are welcome to try them. I promise Uncle Vanya will not come after you if they aren’t pretty.

bread ball recipe

Here’s a bigger version of Uncle Vanya’s Bread Balls, if you have trouble reading this one:


Filed under and about Blogging, Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Publishing, Reviewing, Writing

Teaser from “Family Plan”– post by Mary C. Findley

fifty shades one final tagline the edge 25

Our latest fiction work is a collection of short stories titled “Fifty Shades of Faithful.” The following comes from the last story, called “Family Plan.”

“Hi, um … my wife and I want to get some photos taken, but she’s running a little late. Is it okay if I wait for her here?”
“Of course.” Calvin Weeks, the receptionist, swung around his desk and led the young Asian man over to the comfortable waiting area. “You can just sit here and relax, or you can start filling out your information here–” he indicated a touchscreen “– and you can even look at packages and prices by touching this, here. You have great cheekbones, by the way, and Viv will love working with you. I can’t wait to see your wife. I am just nuts about – are you Chinese? What’s your name?”
“Alan Chang,” the young man said with a nervous blush, looking at the touchscreen. Calvin swept back to the counter as someone else entered.

“How much for family photos?” Alan Chang looked up and tensed as the group entered Living Images Photo Studio. The blond male receptionist smiled at them and got to chatting and typing on his console. Alan’s eyes widened as he took in the number of children the couple had, and how young the mother looked. All of them looked strikingly attractive. The man had perfect gray touches at his temples and wore a pure white and red silk jacket. The woman had her hair wound into two braided buns fastened with ivory sticks and lacy white and gold ribbons. Her top and capri-length pants were gold and white silk with little fingerless mitts, socks, and sandals.
Four children stayed close to them; two girls and two boys, the youngest seeming to be fraternal twins under the age of five, and the whole crowd looked like cosplay characters. Everything about them was perfect. Too perfect. Chang waited until the photographer, a striking redheaded woman who seemed to favor animal-hide clothing, had ushered them behind a curtain. He jumped up to the desk.
“Don’t let those people leave,” he hissed at the receptionist, freezing the young guy’s fingers in mid-stroke and showing him a badge.
“Can I see that ID?” The receptionist, whose nametag said Calvin, had recovered his composure quickly. Chang reluctantly handed over his wallet. Calvin studied the picture. “That’s terrible. Viv can do a much better job for you.”
“I’m serious,” Chang snapped.
“I can see that you are. Hey, Sam, I am so glad you’re here!” Calvin waved at the big, uniformed police officer with a dark mustache who entered the shop at that moment. “Viv is back shooting this adorable oriental family and this gentleman seems to want us to try to keep them here.”
“I don’t need local police,” sneered Chang. “You can walk right back out of here. In fifteen minutes I’ll have Homeland Security wedged in here so tight you won’t be able to breathe.”
“Homeland Security?” Sam gradually backed Chang away from Calvin’s counter and into the waiting area. “Simmer down, friend. What’s all this about?”
“Child trafficking,” Chang finally said, when Sam had backed him into a corner and he had nowhere else to move to. “We believe the man is a sex trafficker and his ‘family’ is being photographed for sale online.”
“You have some proof of that?”
“I have images in this file,” Chang answered, showing the corner of a file folder tucked in his jacket. “They match general descriptions of those people.”
“General descriptions. Calvin, pull up the security photos and show me this happy family, please.”
Calvin spun his monitor and Sam glanced at the Oriental family. Chang surrendered the file after Sam held out his hand for a solid minute. Sam spent a few more minutes in study.
“How can you be sure these are the same kids? They’ve been worked over like poodles at a dog groomer.”
“This is not your business,” Chang insisted.
“You’re not Homeland Security,” Sam said. “Who are you?”

Click the image above to see the book on Amazon.


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