Friday, July 21, 2006

Idle Hands

Last night, I seemed to be frustrated on a number of fronts. For one thing, for all my internet options, I was shut out. The RV has gone to the shop to get its gray water tank repaired after our June adventures. Then, the ISDN went down. This is the third time it had gone down in the past month. I suspect it's either heat related or construction related. But since it comes back up on its own after a few hours, I haven't followed up on it. Heat ruled out using my cell phone internet option. Sprint signal isn't strong enough inside the air conditioning to use. So ... that left the dial up modem. Somehow I didn't have the stomach to even plug in the cable.

Besides I was working on my latest novel and was in an exciting sequence ... when Microsoft Word announced it had too many files open and was unable to save anything. This happens regularly in my copy of Mac Word v.x whenever I leave the application open for a few days running. I've gotten used to it. I saved several days work in the clipboard and then quit without saving. When I re-opened the old version of the novel I pasted the new work back in. I waiting for the day when OpenOffice is good enough to use.

So, traumatized from the potential loss of words, I quit for the night and played with my new camera, a Canon Powershot A620. I grabbed a bunch of coins from my desk and tried out the macro setting.

I always have a lot of coins around. These are just a random selection. They appear to be mainly leftovers from my last European trip, along with a few Canadian coins, commemorative medalians and ice machine tokens. I love coins -- and about anything qualifies. I've got a wooden nickel from an old co-worker, aluminum Dairy Queen tokens good for a treat, squashed pennies from various tourist attractions, as well as some personally squashed coins from the RV campground outside of Durango Colorado which was handily next to the train tracks. I've got special silver coins from the US mint, and lots of statehood quarters. I have coins and paper money from all the different countries we've visited.

There's one special set of coins I don't have, yet. It's because they don't exist. In my unpublished novel Follow That Mouse there are psychic resonance enhancers that are specially made quarter-sized coins. When the novel sells and becomes popular, I'm going to contract with trinket makers to produce matched sets of resonance enhancers, and I'll get myself a set to rest in my desk along side the coins from all the countries I haven't visited yet.


shelley said...

Have you tried the word processor in the iWorks suite? I use it for small tasks and it is pretty intuitive. And it doesn't crash on me.

Henry Melton said...

Pages is nice, for what it does. I used it in composing and laying out the chapbook Looking Back At Looking Forward, but writing manuscripts means creating a .DOC or .RTF file that will find its way into the workflow of an editor somewhere. And Word is what I keep coming back to. I've tried more different word-processors than most writers. I've even written four or five of them myself.

My minimum requirements for a replacement word processor? Hmm.

Not Microsoft.
Generates RTF well enough to cause no problems for an editor or publisher. Generating DOC is optional.
Supports style sheets like Word. I want to be able to switch from style to style on a character boundary with a command keystroke.
Supports a macro language powerful enough to find and replace styles conditionally.
All the niceties like spell and grammar checking, thesarus lookup, et al.
Complete Mac look and feel, with good looking text. (Here is where the Office clones like OpenOffice fail. Even on the Mac they look like the Windows version and fail to properly support cut and paste between applications.)
Zoom text to arbitrary values.
Support for underlining and bold. (Why I need a word-processor rather than a text editor.)
Free of any text loss bugs.
Easily support speaking text aloud.

As you can see, even Word fails a few of these items, but it's the closest to what I want. I tolerate Word v.x, but I don't upgrade. When the right tool comes along, I'll change in a heartbeat. But even then, the transition will likely be time-consuming.

shelley said...

Have you checked into an emacs or vi clone? I know gvim is now my editor of choice, but I have seen some pretty slick emacs editors that seem more like word processors than text editors. And you would get your scripting support. Didn't you use to write stuff in LaTex or something similar that you hooked up scripts to make a bazillion different formats?