My new favorite tool in Word

I’ve just discovered a new favorite tool in Word. Despite how long I’ve been using the program, I still come across simple features I just haven’t noticed before that turn out to be extremely useful.

I had highlighted a word in my book (on my Kindle) that I thought maybe I’d been using too often, so I went to my document in Word, opened Find and Replace (Ctrl + F) and noticed the Reading Highlight button. I swear I’ve never noticed it before, even though it’s right there and I use Find and Replace all the damn time.

Here’s a pic.

So I clicked it, chose “highlight all” and then realized it also showed me how many times the word was highlighted! So now I have a quick way to count words in my document if I feel like I’ve been using one way too often.

And if you didn’t know about this little feature, now you do too! :D

Turns out I had not used the word nearly as many times as I felt like I had (not “yelled”) and so I don’t even need to worry about it. :D

I also checked for a few other words I do use too frequently and yep, definitely like that F-word. 155 times in all it’s variations.

Doubt I’ll change a thing! :D

But I really like this little tool. Very handy for the odd words you don’t want to repeat too often.

Making progress

I’m making progress on this book but you sure wouldn’t know it by my word counts. Yesterday I came in at 328 words for the day. Gah.

Still, I’ve solved a major problem with the story and I’m just trying to get everything to line up now.

Something of note: this story is way more fun than I thought it was. I like it a lot. :D

Random thoughts: File naming conventions

First, a new column for the blog, if you can call anything here columns: Random thoughts.

Second, I had one. :D

It led me to researching the accepted wisdom for naming files. I have a very confused set of file name conventions I just haven’t been happy with for a while.

Almost everything I’ve read over the years says to avoid spaces in file names, so a while back I started naming folders and files like this:


I did that not just because of having read a lot of advice saying to avoid spaces. I also had an instance where a file on my computer wouldn’t delete. I had to use the command prompt to get rid of it, and oh boy, was that a headache. So I don’t use spaces in file names in most instances anymore.

Some folders are like this though:


In fact, all the subfolders inside my book folders are lowercase and use _ for spaces like_this, but all the folders outside those book folders are LikeThis or Like This.

I hate it.

It’s not very readable, and it’s definitely not consistent, although it is more readable than my first iteration:


It was a nightmare with filenames like:


So I continually find myself looking for a better way, and yet internet searches never turn up anything I find particularly useful.

At some point, I read something that said to avoid hyphens because of cross OS compatibility. Underscores were the winner, but I can’t remember why, and so I started using _ whenever I needed a space.

I still don’t like spaces in file names because of the internet issue. And they’re ugly. Seeing %20 mixed into a long file name makes that filename look ridiculous and difficult to read.

So mostly I tried to stick with PascalCase.

PascalCase was a new term to me when I came across it. I thought I was using camel case, but apparently thisIsCamelCase, because it uses a lowercase first character.

Today I came across loads of people recommending ‐ instead of _ as a space replacement. So I’m back to wondering why hyphens aren’t a good idea in file names, because I still don’t remember why underscores were the winner, only I didn’t run across anyone talking about that issue this time around so I still don’t know!

And really, I think they’re mostly talking about filenames and folder names for the web, and that doesn’t matter much to me except in a very few specific instances (like book cover file names).

One reason I don’t like the dash as much as the underscore is because the dash isn’t as easy for me parse out as a space in a column of file names. But an underscore, if used in a hyperlink with an underline, is unreadable. You won’t even know it’s there sometimes.


Really, this whole this is just one big annoying mess.

However, I have finally settled on a file naming convention this time, one that I’m pretty happy with, despite everything (and after two days of letting this obsession occupy brain space). Although to be honest it doesn’t solve the readability problem of PascalCase.

Maybe you don’t have trouble reading it, but I sure do!

Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

Stop using [ ] and other special characters in file names

Use hyphen instead of space when needed


Dates like 20160109 are impossible for me to read, so I don’t use them.

Stick to title case for most things with no spaces


When using 1–9, use 01–09


MyBookTitle root directory


Folders (when needed)


Folders are lowercase because they’re less distracting that way.

I know this is inconsistent with my other folders, but I actually do find them less distracting when they’re lowercase and they’re all one word names, and these particular folders are inside folders where I have to differentiate between a lot of similarly named files. I just won’t use two word file names here. If it ever does become necessary, I’ll just use a hyphen.

Files inside these folders



For jpg, png, gif, tif, use all lowercase, no space, no underscore, since these files are more likely to be used online.





Add a version number to the old file when replacing it so that it doesn’t overwrite old file in \backups\ folder if it is moved there later

MyBookTitlePb.docx (current)
MyBookTitlePb1.docx (oldest)
MyBookTitlePb2.docx (second oldest)

And that’s it. I did some cleanup to rename the files and my directories now look a lot better and everything is much more consistent. Now I’m satisfied, at least for a while. :D

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I changed all these names quickly and easily, I used a bulk renaming utility for the majority of the work. They’re very handy to have around!

Let me say that although I feel very satisfied with the changes I’ve made, I’m completely aware of the fact that spending two days on this was two days too many.

It’s procrastination, plain and simple, most likely to deal with the writer’s block I’ve got going on, and the only way to solve that is to get this obsession out of my system. Honestly, I almost believe these episodes are a way for my subconscious to keep my conscious thoughts occupied so it can work out whatever issues are going on with my writing. :)

Here’s hoping I’m correct about that and that when I finally put this obsession to bed, I’ll be ready to get past the current part in my book that has me completely stumped.

Schedule update: times are almost right, sessions keep changing

Since I started following a writing schedule again, I’ve found that some adjustments have had to be made. A few things just weren’t working out how I’d like.

I added an extra half hour for the midday break. I also stopped an hour earlier for lunch and moved that hour to after lunch.

Scheduled times

7 to 12 became 7 to 11, while 1 to 4 became 12:30 to 4:30.

I’ve only tried this for one day, and not successfully, let me add, but possibly because it’s fall break for the schools here and I keep messing up my 7 am start time. Still, the lunch hour wasn’t working. I’ve had to adjust it every day, so building that into the schedule makes more sense than not.

Session times

First it was 50 minute sessions, then 15 minutes, then 25 minutes. They each worked at different times this week, but I’m moving permanently back to 50 minute sessions for planning writing output because of how well they work within the framework I’ve constructed. It’s very easy to account for how many sessions I should have completed in any number of hour long blocks if I assume 50 minutes writing time to 10 minutes break time.

One change I’ve made is that I’m not longer stressing over whether or not I can complete the entire 50 minutes without a break. (Too much tea, I know. I can’t help it. I feel compelled to have something to drink while I write.) I just plan to write for 50 minutes, pause the timer when necessary, and aim to complete the 50 minute session within the one hour block. Now this? This is something that’s actually had a much bigger impact on how I feel about these long sessions than I would have thought. The new perspective is working great. No more resentment for long sessions, or hesitation to start one, because it’s perfectly okay to pause the session. In fact, I expect it. There’s also a bit of pressure to get back to it quickly that’s helpful (because the timer is paused). It’s working out much better than the break between sessions. That’s where I’m still having a lot of trouble with distractions. :)

Session goals

One thing I realized right away was that I wasn’t just pushing for higher word counts per hour with the sessions. I was also demotivating myself a bit. Not much, just enough that I really started to notice it yesterday. The problem is that I use my number of sessions times my word count goal to estimate what goal I should have for a day’s writing. The numbers made me feel too optimistic about the chances I’d have of reaching really (really) high word counts, despite what I know of my historical performance.

So I scaled back. I might want to write 250 per 15 minute session, or 325 per 25 minutes, or 600 or 800 per 50 minute session, but that’s just not that likely, and it’s no way to plan. I can still hold all those numbers in my head as goals, but they’re really no good for planning.

I’ve settled on a 550 word goal for each 50 minute session for planning purposes. That’s 660 words per hour. My average the last time I checked was about 641 wph, and my all time average was about 541 wph, so it’s a bit of a push, but not an overwhelming one.

I know how many words I need to finish several of the books I’ve got going, I just needed estimates of sessions and words to get me to a daily plan to make it happen by the deadlines I’ve set myself (publicly this time). The book lengths are estimates, of course, but I don’t mind adjusting how much writing I need to do each day if I see that a book is going longer than I planned. It happens more often than not, to be honest, and that’s another reason overly optimistic word count expectations are a problem for me.

My former session goals led me to create deadlines that were just too tight. I gave myself some much needed breathing room. :)

I miss Evernote, but I miss it less after installing Pocket

I’m pretty happy with my switch from Evernote to OneNote in most respects, except one. I used Evernote as my to-read list and regularly clipped articles I wanted to read later to a “To Read” notebook. If I liked the article I moved it to my Clipped notebook, where I kept random articles and clippings from the web to revisit later if I wanted.

I don’t organize these articles, because it’s not some massive amorphous list of things I’d like to read someday/maybe. These are articles I absolutely want to read as soon as I have time and I get through them quickly. No one article usually sticks around longer than a week, and if I keep passing it over, I usually just delete it.

I still have those notebooks in OneNote, but OneNote doesn’t quite work like Evernote did and I find it more difficult to read articles I’ve saved.

Pocket has become the solution to that problem—an excellent solution, in fact, because it’s compatible with every device I own and I can read on any of them, much the way I was able to read my Evernote notes on any device, even my 5 year old Droid X.

Although OneNote is compatible with almost all my devices, it won’t run on the old Droid (which I still use as a reading device) or my second generation Kindle Fire. Believe it or not, these are my two favorite reading devices and I choose them over my newer options almost every time, unless I need OneNote. Now I can read on my preferred devices, despite their age.

If I want to save an article, I can visit the original article from Pocket and clip it to OneNote. (I tried it and it works just that easy.) This seems like it’d be extra trouble compared to just moving a clipped article from one notebook to another, but this really isn’t a big deal for me, because I don’t save that many articles. Mostly I read and delete.

And if in the future Pocket goes the way of Evernote and starts limiting device usage, I’ll just go back to reading on OneNote.

Some days, I still miss Evernote. I used it for years and was quite happy with it, so it’s only natural. But now I don’t miss it quite so much. :)

Independence Day!

Today is the last day I need to let myself get away with not writing to my goal word count. June was my worst month for writing since January. It was bad. I admit January was worse, since I ended that month in the hole. :D

I’ve been distracted for about two months now, starting about the time school let out for the year and my A/C stopped working, but instead of getting better after getting my A/C unit fixed, and the kids settling in for the summer, it’s gotten significantly worse this year.

It got even worse this week, with my beloved phone giving me significant trouble with some recent updates to Google services. I finally had to give up on it and migrate to a new phone.

Of course, I went out with my usual impulsiveness and bought a phone while I was stressed. :D

I paid for it, oh, boy did it. On Friday, I bought an LG V10. Cost me $710 and I liked it—it was an amazing little machine—but by Sunday afternoon, I was over it.

The battery lasted 3 hours on Saturday, and all I was doing was a bit of internet and email—no video at all. Then it took 5 hours to recharge. What?

I did some research on it, talked to the shop where I bought it, and did a factory data reset. At this point, I was anxious and irritated, because it was a new phone and I don’t like stress. I wasn’t doing much with the phone at all, so battery drain shouldn’t have been so significant—I even kept it in airplane mode for a while.

Overnight, the battery charged to a higher level and seemed set on Sunday to run for about twice as long as it had on Saturday. I needed that battery to last at least 12-14 hours, if not significantly longer. I was getting 6-8 hour estimates based on my Sunday morning usage. (Very light.)

So yeah, the factory data reset helped and the battery life improved, but not enough. Not by far.

At that point, I started to really consider all the other things about the phone that weren’t working out as I’d hoped. The 5.7″ display was beautiful, but I couldn’t hold it comfortably in the palm of my hand for very long. That massive display wasn’t much smaller than the display on my 6″ Fire, which I like to hold two-handed, but can’t really manage in one hand without cramping my hand. The LG V10 was entirely too much phone for my hand.

This made me realize something else: I actually like having a range of small, medium, and large devices to choose from depending on what I want to do, and I definitely like having at least one small device for reading because of my small hands. I’m short and my hands are sized appropriately. :) It was no fun holding that huge phone.

I don’t even want to know how much power that screen would use up during a reading binge—I didn’t get to test that. I read for about half an hour Saturday morning before I noticed how quickly the battery was draining. :o

Then there’s the $710. I looked up a few other phones online and realized I’d really missed how cheap smartphones had become. I found something comparable to my Droid X (only better* and newer, of course) for $70.

What?! Yeah. $70.

I took the LG V10 back. I had 14 days to make a return, and I decided Sunday afternoon that I’d overbought by a ridiculous degree, and that $710 was a ridiculous amount of money to spend only to be disappointed.

What this experience taught me was that I don’t need a flashy phone; I need a workhorse.

The only app that I really wanted on my Droid X that it couldn’t run was OneNote. I definitely needed a phone that could run newer apps, but… that was it. Any decent Android phone with the newer OS on it could do that.

So, I rethought my entire plan: no more thinking I needed the best phone I could find so I could ride out a long time on the same device, no more thinking I needed a replaceable battery so I could keep the phone working well as it got older. Smartphones are ridiculously cheap now and an upgrade at today’s prices just isn’t the big deal I’d imagined it would be. Only the top of the line smartphones are still pricey and I had fallen so far out of the loop I hadn’t even realized that. :o

I replaced the LG V10 with a cheap little Moto e with the intent to upgrade (if I want) after doing my damn research. Impulsiveness won’t win again on this issue. :D Lesson learned!

*Mostly better. In actuality, the camera is not better. Since I take so few photos, I decided I didn’t care. The phone was $70. Sadly enough, my impulsiveness cost me on this too, because I came home after buying the little Moto e and found it available on for $35! Holy crap.

The truth is, I’m remarkably satisfied with the phone even at $70. I like it. I hadn’t realized just how slow my Droid X had become. The Moto e is great for me and I’m thrilled I didn’t end up spending $710 + $70 sales tax after all.

Now, off to a fourth of July cookout! :D I’ll be back later to worry over the writing I’m going to have to do to make up for all the writing I didn’t do in June. :)