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Story Software for tracking, outlining & writing

unValentine
Updated:

I know about Scrivener (M/W/soonish iPad), Aeon Timeline (M/W), yWriter (W), Ulysses (M/iPad), Write Plan (iPad), Writing App (iPad), Writers App (iPad), OmniOutliner (M/iDevices); and have worked out my own workflow for story outlining and project tracking while at home and on the go.

I am curious to know what methods and software the Authors here at SOL using.

Crumbly Writer

I personally find the whole 'just write' software for dummies movement to be frustration. I want more advanced tools than less. Also, as I've said before, I'm better at outlining in my head, rather than on paper. I'll typically lay out plot points and character conflicts, then sit on them for months at a time.

That said, I haven't found any of those tools you mention to be particularly useful. I do use a few 'editing' tools, like AutoCrit and another on the Mac side, but I couldn't get the Mac tool to operate on the latest OS, so I couldn't give it a decent test (it kept crashing, taking all my revisions with it).

For me, I continue to use M$ Word 2010, dropbox to communicate with my editors, and Calibre and Sigil for formatting ebooks and the likes. I also post html pages, so I use an html coding program.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@unValentine

whiteboard, paper, memory, notes on the end of the story until it's completed - varies with story and my current situation.

I've tried most of these and find they do NOT work for me, because my thinking system is different to what they were created to help with.

Crumbly Writer

UnValentine, I found the tools you mention are mostly geared to 'idea generation', rather than tools for writing. They focus on 'white/pinboards' for story planning and outline creation. For those of us who already have story plots laid out, they just become distractions.

I typically think up a story concept, and create a series of notes outlining how I see it unfolding. I'll then put it aside while I work on another story, letting the plot develop in my mind. Once I have the entire plot outlined in my head, I then throw in a monkey wrench, forcing me to take another pass at the story, which helps me add depth to the story (something I wouldn't recommend for other authors). I'll then sit on that for another couple of months.

One I work out how to work around my own self-imposed limitations, I'll get to work. My next stage is creating names for the various characters. My family has a genetic problem with recalling visual memories, so I use photographs to create character descriptions. Those photos then help inform the character in my mind, where I add physical details to the character. I then simply write, and see where the story takes me. I may have to delete a chapter here and there, and occasionally I'll kill an entire story (sometimes numerous times), but the writing generally holds up.

I'll continue until I have the entire first draft of the story, then I'll start the revision. I'll get about a 5 chapter lead on my editors, revising as they edit. This is the phase that makes me crazy!

But then, I'm pretty much old-school about writing.

ElDani

@unValentine

Well, I'm no author here on SOL, but I do quite a bit of (technical) writing and have found that SmartEdit helps me a great deal in getting the kinks out of my writing style. My mother tongue is German so I have less of an issue there, but translating to English comes with its own challenges ;)

SmartEdit is not a tool that does everything for you (which would be the wrong track to go down in my opinion), but it directs your attention to those parts that may suffer from a natural weakness of yours. Do you often mix up your/you're, its/it's, than/then etc? The tool will be very helpful in that case. It also offers an adverb usage list and displays the count of the most-used words and phrases, which I liked from the beginning due to my limited vocabulary (well, limited compared to a native speaker). To round out the analysis of your writing, it offers a sentence length graph and a number of other features that were less useful in my case.

All of that has really helped me improve my writing in my non-native English language. I suppose the tool can be just as advantageous to creative writers too. It has been available for a while, but last year it was finally released as a Word Add In, so there's no need to use an extra application anymore.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@ElDani

ElDani, I think I've tried SmartEdit before, but I find most of those features handled more completely by AutoCrit. AutoCrit is an obnoxious bugger, as it flags EVERYTHING it considers wrong about your writing, and you (the author) have to examine each one and determine whether they're (the flags) are valid or not.

It flags sentence lengths, active vs. passive writing, word usage, repeated word use, repeated phase use, homophobes, overuse of words ("it", "then", "just", "only"), advert usage, and a bunch of other stuff.

I'll have to check SmartEdit out again to see where it stands on the automated tools spectrum.

(By the way, it's taken me about four or five books to master AutoCrit. Now it only takes me an extra day to use it on each given chapter (i.e. for a typical book it adds 20+ days to the revisions cycle, before I had the story over to the editors.)

Replies:   ElDani
ElDani

@Crumbly Writer

but I find most of those features handled more completely by AutoCrit.

I didn't know about AutoCrit before, but after taking a look at the demo video on their website I can understand why. It sounds like the perfect tool to help with your self-editing process of fiction, which is just not what I use SmartEdit for. Thanks for mentioning it though.

You're right of course, that the tool I use is not nearly as feature-rich as AutoCrit. Then again, it is not a web-based product and doesn't require a subscription either.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@ElDani

You're right of course, that the tool I use is not nearly as feature-rich as AutoCrit. Then again, it is not a web-based product and doesn't require a subscription either.

When I first discovered AutoCrit (shortly after they started), I was convinced, even though I had trouble applying it. I signed up for a year, and at the end, they offered me a discounted 'lifetime' subscription (I also helped debug their newest version of the software). So now it pays for me to use the software as much as possible!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

Just how 'trainable' is AutoCrit? I just tried the on-line trial version on a large action scene and was not impressed with the report due to it wanting to make changes because the names of the two main characters in the scene appear a lot - and similar essential components of the scene.

Can you tell it to ignore words and accept contractions and odd spellings?

Crumbly Writer

AutoCrit isn't "trainable", but it's assumed that you ignore much of what it offers. It's more 'informative' than 'corrective'. Instead of telling you what you should write, it shows you were potential problems may exist. One of my most used features is 'duplicate words', so I don't use the same word three times in a row in the same paragraph. Thus you've got to ignore the 'false positives'. The sentence length check is useful (just so I personally examine anything over 25 words), as are the cliches and redundancies. But, as I said, it took me about 4 books to finally master which details to pay attention to (since I write in the past tense, it continually tells me I use "was", "had" and "have" WAY too much (as opposed to authors who only write in present tense).

Also, the 'trial' version isn't as robust as the subscription product.

As for marking the uses of your main characters names, I use that to change the names up. If I use it a lot (too close together), I'll often switch the name to "he"/"she", "his brother"/"their lover", etc. But more often, I'll catch when I use "destruction" or "aliens" too often. It may seem obsessive, but reducing duplicate words really seems to improve the flow of the language.

If you decide to go for it, contact me personally and I'll walk you through using it.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

If it was trainable it would be useful. One of the issues with it, that I see, is it reports on the top 'x' items in each section, when they're taken up with false positives, either all of them or the top few, you get absolutely no benefit from that section. Too many false positives and it becomes a waste of money. Have that happen to two or three sections and you've got a major issue developing.

In the example I gave it most of the stuff was an action sequence between two characters in a ute and an SUV, 3rd person omni with it moving focus back and forth between the two. Thus their names, suv and ute were frequent words and came up in a few categories, and could be expected to come in in a few. Since the categories involved are what I'd find useful, being unable to have it ignore the expected words means I get no benefit from it in that area.

I may try sending the makers an email about the issue.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The first page (what you see in the 'sample') is an overview summary page. That gives you the topmost issues, but by checking it tab, you can delve further down. You're not limited to the top three occurrences.

However, you've got to learn to ignore a LOT with AutoCrit. Once you do, you learn what to ignore, which to focus on, and which items to skip entirely.

At no point does it insist that you do something. Instead, it's a list of things you should be aware of. In reality, it doesn't matter much how frequently your characters' names are used. But, if you can winnow it down, it reads smoother.

Generally, the sentence length and duplicate word sections cut the size of most of my chapters (as I cut out unnecessary details). Still, it's a difficult service to master, and it takes a LONG time to get used to. I like it, but even now, it takes a LOT of time.

Also, to be fair, I've been working at improving my writing, using tools like this, and it has NOT increased my book sales, downloads or scores. So I'm once again left with a dilemma: is it better focusing on the writing, or on the story? Is rougher wordage worth more or less than focusing exclusively on the story. I'm not sinking a LOT of time on writing better, and not a single user has commented on how 'clean' the language is (though, if I review other authors' chapters, they DO notice, so it's not completely wasted.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I take it AutoCrit is an online service only. I sent them the question I had and they sent back the details for a 14 day trial usage. So I may try it out.

Ernest

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

If you're doing the 14-day free trial, you'd do best if you arranged a full story (say submit a chapter a day, to get the most use out of it). I have a tendency to try a new editing site, and if I'm not immediately blown away, I simply ignore it until the free trial is over. :(

I'll send you a private note on the items I've found the most useful, so you can focus more precisely during your trial. As I said, I find AutoCrit useful, but it consumes a HUGE amount of time and energy!

PervOtaku

I'm old school as fuck. I write my stories in a Word Processor and I have another file in the same software where I put all my story ideas and notes. I don't know if I just too lazy to learn a "better" program for doing this or if I'm organized enough on my own that I don't need anything more complex. Well, probably both.

Replies:   Stultus
DeYaKen

OK, I have never planned much but I can see distinct advantages so I've given it a go.
Fist tool is Freemind. This is mind mapping software which comes with a story plotting template.
I use this to define my Main, Secondary and bit part, players. In the notes, you can write a short bio of each. The template comes with Nodes for beginning, middle and end. I add child nodes to those to define chapters and scenes. On each node, you can write a note to say what is going to happen.

When that is complete I export in open office, Writer format.
Next tool is Ywriter5 I cut and paste all characters from exported Freemind form, into the character places in Ywriter. I then create the chapters and scenes as I had previously defined them. Yriter allows you to create the content of each scene so you can actually write your book in it. You can easily switch between content, characters and locations so it's easy to maintain consistency.
For me, all plans must be flexible. If I feel that an extra character makes things better then I have to be able to create one and Ywriter lets you do that. It will export the finished article in HTML of rtf format. It will also read your scene content back to you.

All tools mentioned are free so what do you have to lose?

MisguidedC

I use MS Word for writing. I like it because it is simple enough to use when just starting, but has enough depth to evolve as my knowledge evolves. Word can format for just about anything. However, Word is a terrible tool for organizing thoughts and ideas.

I've tried half a dozen methodologies for organizing ideas for stories. The best that I've found for me is OneNote. Ideas can be added to a notebook (OneNote's name for a section) in any format desired, and at any time. They can be rearranged at a later date. I like it because I'm not locked into a specific methodology, and can be as detailed or as granular as I want. I use a lot of real world references in my stories, and they're easy to track and use with OneNote.

I work with two screens. Most computers have that capability and used monitors are cheap. Check Goodwill. I put my OneNote notes on my small screen, and use my large screen for writing. I can copy text from my notes, or easily use information in my notes for my writing.

I hope this helps someone.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@MisguidedC

I use MS Word for writing. I like it because it is simple enough to use when just starting, but has enough depth to evolve as my knowledge evolves.

Careful, you're likely to start another flame war about M$ WORD. For many of us, it's handy, but ... it's much more prone to crashing, introducing errors into the internal coding (which you can't examine), and it produces bloated code with unnecessary controls (when I convert to html, I'm constantly removing instances italics turning off and back on in the middle of a single word).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
MisguidedC

I sure don't want to start a flame war. :)
Word is my preference, but I use an old version. I have found formatting issues, but have worked around it. I know a lot of people don't like MS, and I have my gripes about them, too. I got it cheap (student purchase while taking college classes) and am used to it. Switching to another word processor would cost in money or learning curve time. Plus, when I have a problem, I won't know how to find a fix. If nothing else, gotchas in Word are very well documented.

Dominions Son

@MisguidedC

Personally, I am using Open Office

Replies:   MisguidedC  MisguidedC
MisguidedC

@Dominions Son

I've tried Open Office. It is very similar to Word. It wouldn't cost anything but time to switch, but I don't know what I would gain. Why spend the time to change to something so similar to what I already have?
The end of my career ended working in K-12 schools. Apple had a foothold in education long before MS did, and for good reason. Apple was a superior system to anything MS could produce, and they marketed to education. MS marketed to business, and became the standard of the business world. That created a broader market for programmers to market to. If you are a programmer, do you write for the 80% market share, or the 10% market share? Note that I didn't say MS OS or programs are better or worse than other OS or programs. Only that they became the standard. Love em or hate em, Everything else works from that standard.

MisguidedC

@Dominions Son

I've tried Open Office. It is very similar to Word. It wouldn't cost anything but time to switch, but I don't know what I would gain. Why spend the time to change to something so similar to what I already have?
The end of my career ended working in K-12 schools. Apple had a foothold in education long before MS did, and for good reason. Apple was a superior system to anything MS could produce, and they marketed to education. MS marketed to business, and became the standard of the business world. That created a broader market for programmers to market to. If you are a programmer, do you write for the 80% market share, or the 10% market share? Note that I didn't say MS OS or programs are better or worse than other OS or programs. Only that they became the standard. Love em or hate em, Everything else works from that standard.

Crumbly Writer

@MisguidedC

I've always (?) used WORD, because like others, I picked it up in the business world where it was a requirement. I still remember how to flag index entries before they went to a WYSIWYG design. As a result, even though it's not as stable, I still use it.

However, I've got a Solid State (SSD) HD in my computer, where space can get tight. Since OO is actually larger than WORD, whenever I run out of space, I delete OO simply because I don't use it as frequently.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@MisguidedC

It wouldn't cost anything but time to switch, but I don't know what I would gain.


Cleaner smaller files. Word uses a binary format which from what I have read (and believe based on personal experience) is basically a core dump of the state of Word when you save your document. They are extremely bloated with all kinds of unnecessary whatnot.

More transportable files: Open Office uses Open Document Format which is an HTML based plain text file format. Converting to straight HTML in particular (for posting here) is much easier and cleaner.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


OO is actually larger than WORD, whenever I run out of space, I delete OO simply because I don't use it as frequently.


A size on disk comparison between OO and Word is not exactly fair since OO is a complete office suite and Word is just a text document editor.

Try comparing the size on disk between OO and a full Microsoft Office install.

Edited to add:

On my work laptop, the company install of Office takes up 1.1 GB of disk space.

My OO4 install on my personal PC is 325MB, around 1/3rd the size of MS Office.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Hey CW, that's not fair.

I think I'm the most anti-MS Word person here, but I've always recognised its capabilities. I only object to be forced to pay for a new copy every time you get the latest version of MS Windows and the forced changes to make it harder to use - like the rancid ribbon. One of the reason I like Libre Office so much is it's 99% like MS Word was like before they introduced the ribbon.

Ernest

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@MisguidedC

Switching to Open Office, or its better fork of Libre Office, shouldn't take much to learn if you're used to a pre-ribbon version of MS Word because it should look the same and 99% of works the same. The only thing I had to learn when I switched over was that here MS Word has a margin and a gutter for mirrored pages OO and LO use inner and outer margins you set.

One big advantage is OO and LO work on every version of MS Windows, Unix, and Linux.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I think I'm the most anti-MS Word person here, but I've always recognised its capabilities. I only object to be forced to pay for a new copy every time you get the latest version of MS Windows and the forced changes to make it harder to use - like the rancid ribbon. One of the reason I like Libre Office so much is it's 99% like MS Word was like before they introduced the ribbon.

Now it's sold on a subscription basis, where you pay every month, and when you stop, it goes away.

As for the ribbon, I use add-ons to restore the old-style menu, MS OFFICE retains all the nessary code for it.

DS, you're right, I was comparing apples to a bag of oranges. I always used to use OFFICE, but the last several years I rarely use the other aspects of it.

Chase Shivers

@unValentine

I do almost no planning on my stories beyond very basic plot points, and even then, I often know little in advance beyond a few character attributes or relationships. I just kind of let the characters interact with their world and with each other, and I find that conflicts and resolutions come naturally from letting interesting people act and react. Some future plot points become obvious this way, and others, even some of my favorite ones, are revealed to me as I write them.

I have tried to do outlines and lots of plot/character tracking but that doesn't work for me because it tends to force the characters into pre-designed actions from which they will begin to diverge immediately.

What I do keep track of are a few very basic reminder points, such as upcoming birthdays, upcoming visits or encounters (sister coming into town on December 23, Bailey's birthday coming up on October 12, etc).

As far as software, I keep it very, very basic. I use OpenOffice and write the main story in one big ODT file, with no formatting besides italics. When I have finished a chapter, I create a new HTML file in OO and copy in the unformatted text (I add the italics back in later, but this makes it a very basic html file with no other formatting).

I keep a TextEdit file with basic header / footer templates (this is useful for my ASSTR website, but not here on SOL), copy in what I need, then edit it using a browser against the local file.

I've found no need to do more than this. I'm always open to streamlining the process (more so for ASSTR chapters than here on SOL), but this works so well that I can't see trying anything new at this time.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Chase Shivers

Chase, if you need to see how to code for ASSTR, check out the front matter in one of my stories at Crumbly Writer's Stories Website (I'll let you decide which story). Those codes cause the information about the story to pop up when an ASSTR user hovers their mouse over the story.

I learned ALL of my html coding skill from checking others code to see how they accomplished specific things.

Replies:   Chase Shivers
Chase Shivers

@Crumbly Writer

Thanks, CW, I'll check it out. I do know a lot of HTML and have used it for many years. I keep my site at ASSTR very basic in terms of style (mostly because I'd rather spend time writing than fitzing with the site), though I may give it a refresh one day.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

it continually tells me I use "was", "had" and "have" WAY too much (as opposed to authors who only write in present tense).


Sorry for the late reply, but I wasn't following this thread. I'm not a fan of tools.

What it found has nothing to do with past or present tense. It has to do with the "to be" verb. When I see myself using "was" in a sentence, it's a red flag. It could mean passive voice when active would be better. Or it could be "was walking" when "walked" is better.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

A size on disk comparison between OO and Word is not exactly fair since OO is a complete office suite and Word is just a text document editor.


I tried OpenOffice a while back and deleted it as soon as I tried it. What you say is true. It's multiple products bundled together. That caused the load time to be painfully slow which is why I deleted it and continue to use Word.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

That caused the load time to be painfully slow which is why I deleted it and continue to use Word.


Do you want to know why Word (and the rest of the MS Office products load so fast? It's because once you install them, parts of the applications are loaded on system start up to make the application seem to start faster. This is deliberately hidden from the user.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I typically start the computer once or maybe twice a day. I constantly start and exit out of Word and Excel many times during the day. If that's what it takes to do it quickly, it's okay with me.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Switch,

While you use MS Windows and the version of MS Office designed for that version of Windows you'll find it opens faster than any other program because MS build in hooks to give it deep access to the operating system. It's finding these hooks that allows a lot of the malware (virus and Trojan software) to do so much damage. Without those hooks all other software has to include extra code to work through the access protocols. Which is why the Windows versions of Libre Office are bigger than the Linux or Unix versions. If you're happy with MS Word and happy to pay for it when you need to upgrade, there's no reason why you shouldn't continue to use it.

NB: If you get a good memory management program it will help speed up the operation of MS Windows but regularly clearing out the RAM for you. Back in the days of Win 98 and Win NT opening and closing MS Word a few times would leave a lot of no longer needed files stuck in the RAM and slow the system right down. That was still the case with XP and some versions of Vista, don't know about Win 7.

One of the biggest things I like about Libre Office is its portability between operating systems keeping the same formating.

BTW I've never had any version of MS Word open as fast as Libre Office opens on a Linux system.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


NB: If you get a good memory management program it will help speed up the operation of MS Windows but regularly clearing out the RAM for you. Back in the days of Win 98 and Win NT opening and closing MS Word a few times would leave a lot of no longer needed files stuck in the RAM and slow the system right down. That was still the case with XP and some versions of Vista, don't know about Win 7.


I've seen reviews on memory management programmes, and for anything after Win95 they weren't worth the money, nor the resources they used (and even then their benefits were often minimal).

Prior to Win Vista system resources were a big issue- remember getting Out of Memory error messages when you still had hundreds of MB of RAM still available?

Since Windows Vista a programme has to have a huge memory leak issue to affect the OS or other programmes in any significant way, and just shutting down that programme resolves the issue as memory management & system resources since XP are much improved.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Grant

Grant,

The memory management in MS Windows has been all but non-existent since day 1. They tried to address it in Win Vista, but from what I saw and read it was still a significant issue with any but the top two versions of Vista, not having used it I can't confirm one way or another beyond helping a friend improve the performance of their system by loading a memory management program on the Vista Home version that came on their new laptop.

The issue has been that MS never wrote RAM clearing code into their applications, the way most others do, thus many files were left in the RAM and taking up space after you closed down a genuine MS program. After a while it chewed up all your RAM and you needed to reboot to clear the RAM, or use a memory management program. With the amount of RAM expanding at a fast rate extra space was provided and the issue was reduced a lot when you put in lots of RAM. Prior to the top end versions of Vista there was no memory management program clearing the RAM in Windows itself, I believe they have one in it now, but don't know how effective it is.

As to the cost. I usually used the cheap ones that just cleared the not currently used programs from the RAM when it reached the set level of usage. Dearer ones do a lot more, but I never worried with them, and haven't had any issues since I changed to Linux several years ago.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


The memory management in MS Windows has been all but non-existent since day 1. They tried to address it in Win Vista, but from what I saw and read it was still a significant issue with any but the top two versions of Vista, not having used it I can't confirm one way or another beyond helping a friend improve the performance of their system by loading a memory management program on the Vista Home version that came on their new laptop.


I don't know what the issues were with your & your friends systems, but it had nothing to do with Windows memory management.

The only companies I've seen pushing such software are those that make it, or own or get advertising revenue from companies that do.

You may not believe me, or those that know (see below), but it's true.

http://www.howtogeek.com/171424/why-memory-optimizers-and-ram-boosters-are-worse-than-useless/

I think at best we can agree to disagree.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Grant

From the look on the page, it seems to be referring to Windows 10.

In the mid to late 1990s I was doing a number of IT diplomas and certificates at a tech college, the college used Win NT on their systems and one of the regular issue was the rebooting of the systems to clear out the RAM because of orphaned programs left behind by MS Office. In one class on optimizing systems for client usage the teacher took us all into one of the labs and loaded some software onto a system selected at random - he looked for one not in use we could gather around. The software showed what was being used in the way of RAM and Paging Files. He then went through the process of opening and closing MS Office programs and we watched as the software showed the files being loaded into RAM but not cleared out afterwards. By the time he had opened Word 5 times many of the Word specific files were still in the RAM in five spots. Leaving Word up he ran a memory management program from disc and we watched it clear out four copies of the Word programs and all the other stuff not currently being used.

In later years I saw the same problem proven on Win XP and have found every Windows system loaded with a memory management program to clear orphan files out is faster. However, I do not work on Vista or later MS Windows systems and the only Vista Home systems I've worked on for close friends have benefited from simple memory management software.

The tech mags I used to buy mentioned MS adding Memory Management software to Windows to enable it to handle Aero properly when that was added, but it didn't work too well in some low end systems due to restricted resources on them. How far they've gone since then, I don't know, but MS rarely remove anything they've added, so it's probably still there.

edit to correct a typo

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


From the look on the page, it seems to be referring to Windows 10.


The article is from Nov last year.


the college used Win NT on their systems and one of the regular issue was the rebooting of the systems to clear out the RAM because of orphaned programs left behind by MS Office.


Unnecessary, and it surprises me that this would be done in an accredited IT course. Win9x & prior systems, OK. Win XP & later, no.

It reminds me of Peter Brock & his energy polariser- you would expect such people to know better.


The software showed what was being used in the way of RAM and Paging Files. He then went through the process of opening and closing MS Office programs and we watched as the software showed the files being loaded into RAM but not cleared out afterwards.


I can't comment on what the programme was actually displaying as I don't know what programme it was, but the fact is memory optimisation programmes were pretty much redundant with Win98- not completely so but pretty much. And even at their best, they weren't of much value.

The tech mags I used to buy mentioned MS adding Memory Management software to Windows to enable it to handle Aero properly when that was added,


Then I would have to question the credentials of the authors of those articles.

Memory management, from the horses mouth

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/magazine/2007.03.vistakernel.aspx

As it is, we've drifted off topic, just a bit.

EDIT- fixed formatting.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Grant

Over the years I've had a lot of experience in improving performance and reducing reboots in Win XP (and all before it) by using memory management programs to clear the RAM of orphaned files. As to memory management in Vista and later, I did mention some of the tech mags said MS introduced memory management to enable them to operate Aero properly, and Vista was released in 2006.

BTW That MS article you point to is about Vista.

Anyway, the issue isn't important to me now because I use Linux and have good memory management built in.

Crumbly Writer

@Chase Shivers

That's why I suggested you look at the coding at the top of the web-page. All the ASSTR specific code is there in just a few lines, and it presents all the details of the story when the reader simply pauses over it. I researched what I needed and set it up, and whenever I post a new story (or chapter) I just update the relevant fields. (I'd include it here, but Lazeez's Forum throws a fit if you include angle brackets.)

Replies:   Chase Shivers
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

Prior to Win Vista system resources were a big issue- remember getting Out of Memory error messages when you still had hundreds of MB of RAM still available?

The program which is notoriously bad for memory usage is Adobe Photoshop, which is strange, because the other Adobe programs are pretty good about it. The later versions are better, but it still refuses to release it's memory reservations when you close it, and keeps them open until you shut the whole system down. (I design my own book covers, so I use Photoshop quite a bit.

Chase Shivers

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, I use the ASSTR meta tags for title, author, summary, and keywords. All my ASSTR stories have those. That's where the templates come in handy, I have titles prefilled for each story, along with the basic body-top pieces I have on every chapter (menu, links to index, intro, etc). I just enter the specific info for the chapter after copying in the head/top-body template.

I have a second one I use for the bottom of the body where I keep the link to the next chapter and the ASSTR comment form (side note, the ASSTR comment form is awful, the CAPTCHA doesn't show up in many browsers), as well as the analytics code I use to track page views on ASSTR.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Chase Shivers

side note, the ASSTR comment form is awful, the CAPTCHA doesn't show up in many browsers

I've finally replaced all my ASSTR comment forms with html mailto commands. They're more universally accepted. I've had the ASSTR comment form fail multiple times over the years.

One reason why I'm abandoning ASSTR is because, for some reason I haven't determined, many of my images and "next page" links are invisible on my ASSTR pages (under certain conditions). The html code displays fine, but it doesn't execute properly. Rather than recode every single file/chapter/story I've ever written, I think I'd rather back out of the site.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I've been wary of using ASSTR for a few years because I find many of the stories posted there get stolen and put on pay sites without the owner's permission. I know the ones of mine and Caz's on the unapproved pay sites were stolen from ASSTR because they include some typos that were only in the early ASSTR versions.

Perv Otaku

I've used WordPerfect since the days of DOS and never switched to anything else even after WordPerfect was eclipsed by other things. It's a rather old version of WordPerfect to boot.

I do have a rather extensive set of notes regarding what text manipulations and such I have to make to publish stories to different sites.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Perv Otaku

I've used WordPerfect since the days of DOS and never switched to anything else even after WordPerfect was eclipsed by other things. It's a rather old version of WordPerfect to boot.

How the hell do you share chapters with your editors? One major reason I use WORD (.doc formats) is because it's an almost universal tool.

Lumpy

responding back to the original question, I have switched to using Novlr, a cloud based program for writing. Mostly because, even using drop box, I kept ending up with different versions of my stories, since I write from many different computers and my ipad, depending on where I am.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I use open office. Being free, it was easy enough to get my editor to download a copy.

Crumbly Writer

@Lumpy

Mostly because, even using drop box, I kept ending up with different versions of my stories, since I write from many different computers and my ipad, depending on where I am.

I'm not sure what you were doing, but DB doesn't keep separate versions unless you put them in different locations. I typically keep my own files private, then give each editor copies in separate directories.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Crumbly Writer

Sometimes there are hiccups. A computer drops internet, who knows. But jumping from computer to computer was becoming a pain.

Also, the file was becoming a bit bloated and a pain to work with. And I was using word, and word for the ipad sucks hard core, but there are times when the only convenient device I could use was an ipad.

All I know is I have been way happier since switching to a cloud writing program.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

One major reason I use WORD (.doc formats) is because it's an almost universal tool.


Except MS Word has four different .doc formatting set ups and while most are partially compatible, none are fully compatible with the others. Then we can get onto the multiple .docx ones.

Crumbly Writer

@Lumpy

All I know is I have been way happier since switching to a cloud writing program.

Just be cautious about which site you choose. Many authors use Google Docs, but as I've said, Google records and sells data based on what you write in your stories. I used to get adds for hotel rooms to cities I've never visited, just because I was doing research for my stories, and that was just Google Search.

But more problematic than that, if anyone at all registers a complaint about you or your stories, the site is justified (according to them) to delete your account, destroying any files you have associated with it. I've known authors who've lost their entire body of work because someone objected to some aspect of their stories. And there is no appeal process!

That's the main reason why I like dropbox, because they are the only cloud sharing program which doesn't make money by selling your data (and they don't care what you store on your account)!

Lumpy

I am using Novlr. It's not cloud storage, it's a cloud writing/word processing platform. As far as I can tell from their privacy statement, they do not keep, use, or track any of the writing.

It's still in beta, but I am enjoying using it. They also export as .doc, .odt, or .epub which is nice.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lumpy

I am using Novlr. It's not cloud storage, it's a cloud writing/word processing platform. As far as I can tell from their privacy statement, they do not keep, use, or track any of the writing.

Sigh! I've never been able to use 'writing systems', a catch phrase for outlining and idea-generation platforms. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I come up with a story premise, consider all the issues with the story, and then simply sit on it until the story is ready to write itself. I don't need any help coming up with plots, but I spend a long time before I can work through all the pacing, flow and consistency issues.

If it helps you, then I'm happy for you. But I've tried many of them, only to find them ... pointless to my own writing process.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Crumbly Writer

I've never been able to use 'writing systems', a catch phrase for outlining and idea-generation platforms.


That's not what it is. There are no outlining features, no idea generators, nothing like that.

You create a book, you can add chapters and get an open space to type into and word processing features like bold, italic, etc. Other then being able to switch to other chapters and some statistical information on # of words written, that's it. It's more like an online word processor than a writing system.

I agree about the writing systems. I tried some to see if it would help, and they didn't me either.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lumpy

That's not what it is. There are no outlining features, no idea generators, nothing like that.

Lumpy, in that case, I revoke my objections. (Though I also find the 'simplified writing apps' to be both insulting and limiting.) I prefer word processors, but software develops gave up on them a long time ago, so they haven't advanced. sigh!

There's a lot you don't need in a word processor (like footnotes), but the Style definitions are essential (if you don't want to create them from scratch in your ePub file).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I prefer word processors, but software develops gave up on them a long time ago, so they haven't advanced. sigh!


There really aren't a lot of new features that could be added to a word processor that more than 0.01% of users would find useful enough to shell out money for a new version to get them.

The only thing selling new copies of commercial (as opposed to open-source) word processors is compatibility upgrades for new operating system versions.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

There really aren't a lot of new features that could be added to a word processor that more than 0.01% of users would find useful enough to shell out money for a new version to get them.

The hell there aren't! How about, simplification, or cleaning up the coding to make them work more efficiently/faster?

The current generation sucks Donkey notepads!

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


The hell there aren't! How about, simplification, or cleaning up the coding to make them work more efficiently/faster?

The current generation sucks Donkey notepads!


Simplification or cleaning up the code isn't a new feature and doesn't sell software. You might be willing to pay for such, but 99.99 of the software market wants new bells and whistles in a new version of any application more than it wants improvements in the existing code.

I work in IT. Writing software is my day job.

Improving the existing features, code base, and performance costs $$$ but the user base is only willing to pay $ for it.

On the other hand new bells and whistles cost $ to develop and self for $$

If that's what you want, look into open source software. Fine, you don't like Open Office, I would be surprised if there weren't at least a few stand alone open source word processors available.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

There is another factor a play.

As I said, I work in IT, nearly 20 years of professional experience.

A lot of programmers (I'm not one of them) get more fulfillment/enjoyment out of writing new features/applications than doing bug-fixes/code cleanup.

Because of this, it tends to get pushed off onto the least experienced, least qualified programmers.

The problem is that doing bug-fixes/code cleanup well, so you aren't just covering old problems with new problems is hard, a lot harder than doing new development (this is why it costs so much).

The 2016 standalone version of Word is $110 for the commercial version (you would need the commercial version as an author).

Would you be willing to pay $500-800 for just Word (standalone, not Office) if it was cleaned up the way you want? Do you have 10s of million of friends willing to do the same? Because that is the kind of money it would take to do it.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Simplification or cleaning up the code isn't a new feature and doesn't sell software. You might be willing to pay for such, but 99.99 of the software market wants new bells and whistles in a new version of any application more than it wants improvements in the existing code.


DS, before I had to retire for health reasons I also worked in the IT industry and was involved in some software design at times. I was a basic coder at best, but had a skill at managing meetings and getting to the core of what the client really needed and wanted in the software changes. The surprising thing I found, at that time, was the great majority of staff didn't want or need new bells and whistles, they simply wanted better real-time functionality of the existing bells and whistles, and easier to handle data input and output screens and reports.

Where I could chase down who was wanting a new bell or whistle it always turned out to be some manager who thought it would look better to higher management to have the bell or whistle included in the code, and they often took up resources disproportionate to the benefit they provided. The few that were found to be useful were always along the lines of we noticed program xxx does this, can you incorporate that capability into program yyyy and we always managed that by the expedient of getting with the makers of xxx and designing a simple routine to draw the data from yyyy, feed it to xxx, and have xxx send back the output. Since it all happened in the background none of the clients saw it or knew what was happening and we just added the cost of buying and upgrading the xxx program to the cost of the job. No need to rewrite code that already works well. That process was a lot quicker and more effective than trying to redo the xxx code.

Now, as to CW's complaint about cleaning up code in word processors. In almost two decades there has not been a single new bell or whistle added to any word processing software that has substantially improved the performance or use of it, and over 90% of users use the same 10% of the software capabilities. However, what has increased is the number of users who export their word processing work into html pages. At the moment all such exports provide format coding per paragraph, which is excessive and what CW complains about. Thus a change in that process to eliminate the per paragraph formating and incorporate the basic format code at the start of the exported file with later code only where it changes from that, or include a stylesheet in place of the paragraph by paragraph code. That would be a major enhancement of word processing programs that people will pay for.

BTW: You should note how many people bitch about having to pay for new copies of MS Word and Office because their old one works well and does all they want but just won't work on the new MS Windows. I've been hearing that particular gripe since Word 5 was introduced in the 1990s.

typo edit

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Where I could chase down who was wanting a new bell or whistle it always turned out to be some manager who thought it would look better to higher management to have the bell or whistle included in the code, and they often took up resources disproportionate to the benefit they provided.


Yes, but it's that manager, and his directors and their VPs who control how the money gets spent.

However, take that same staff and sit them down and talk to them about spending their own money on some piece of software for their personal use and many of them will start acting an awful lot like those managers.

Hmm.

In almost two decades there has not been a single new bell or whistle added to any word processing software that has substantially improved the performance or use of it


Yes because by two decades ago every word possessor on the market already had all the features that 99.99999999% of the market will ever use.

Thus a change in that process to eliminate the per paragraph formating and incorporate the basic format code at the start of the exported file with later code only where it changes from that, or include a stylesheet in place of the paragraph by paragraph code. That would be a major enhancement of word processing programs that people will pay for.


I rather doubt that their is a substantial portion of the market that would truly be willing to pay for that.

You should note how many people bitch about having to pay for new copies of MS Word and Office because their old one works well and does all they want but just won't work on the new MS Windows. I've been hearing that particular gripe since Word 5 was introduced in the 1990s.


I've made that gripe myself. MS applications are relatively expensive for what you get and MS has been known to do things that deliberately break old versions of applications in new versions of their OS.

And yet as much as people gripe, most will fork over the money to MS for what is little to nothing more than an OS compatibility fix.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

And yet as much as people gripe, most will fork over the money to MS for what is little to nothing more than an OS compatibility fix.


That's due to the people making the majority of the buy decisions being people spending other peoples money in a corporate environment where the see it as better and easier to spend more money on what they're used to than take the time to look for something better.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I rather doubt that their is a substantial portion of the market that would truly be willing to pay for that.


I suspect about 20% of the total market would pay for it, but that's still a fair share and obtainable if available at the right price. The job must not be that hard because there is already software out there that does that as part of some specific applications doing most of it already. the program Calibre can take in a .odt file and output an e-pub file as well a a variety of other xhtml style files that use a style sheet. There are other programs that do that with versions of MS Word, as well. So the basic code must exist, and it's just a matter of including it in the word processing package or putting it together in one program to convert any of the word processor program files.

An example of existing software

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

That's due to the people making the majority of the buy decisions being people spending other peoples money in a corporate environment where the see it as better and easier to spend more money on what they're used to than take the time to look for something better.


In my experience, 90% of individuals do the same thing spending their own money on software for personal use.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I suspect about 20% of the total market would pay for it, but that's still a fair share and obtainable if available at the right price. The job must not be that hard because there is already software out there that does that as part of some specific applications doing most of it already.


My opinion is that if the market was as large as you think and it was as easy as you think, it would already exist.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Simplification or cleaning up the code isn't a new feature and doesn't sell software. You might be willing to pay for such, but 99.99 of the software market wants new bells and whistles in a new version of any application more than it wants improvements in the existing code.

Several of Apple's iOS updates have featured general cleanups, however they accompanied other, more spectacular updates. But if a cow can't hustle, no one's gonna want it, even if it wears a sexy new skirt. Everyone knows that Office is a hog (mixing metaphors here), and they also know there's a limited number of new features, so you do the math. Sell something that works, or try to convince a skeptical public you have something worth purchasing.

Ernest, the one objections to there being no bells or whistles in Word Processors was the addition of the Review function, which improved corroboration between authors (or in our case, between author and editors).

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

as easy as you think, it would already exist.


It didn't say it was easy, but it can't be as hard as you think because most of it is already happening in some other software.

Most software gets written because someone in the position to write it or tell people to write it think it'll sell and get busy on it. I suspect this is one of those cases where the independents don't think it's worth the time, and the companies can't be bothered. Thus they all ignore the market, the way the big computer companies ignored the domestic computer market for several years after it was technically possible.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Ernest, the one objections to there being no bells or whistles in Word Processors was the addition of the Review function, which improved corroboration between authors (or in our case, between author and editors).


CW,

According to my memory and the Word for Windows manual sitting in my bookcase, that function has been there since 1990, they just called it by a different name Revision Marking and had a slightly different way of activating and using it over the various versions. All you had to do was study the manuals and learn it.

edit to add: Of course, knowing Microsoft management, they may have yanked it at some point, skipped a version, then stuck it back in with a big hoop-do-doo just for the PR effect. More likely they just moved where it was found and gave it a new name for the PR hoop-de-do.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Sell something that works, or try to convince a skeptical public you have something worth purchasing.


Or move to a subscription model and force people to re-buy it every month.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Or move to a subscription model and force people to re-buy it every month.


And offer them a trial period where they can't get at or use what they created after the trial period if they don't contract to subscribe - like MS now does with Office 365

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

You can get a non-subscription version of Office 365, but the price has gone up over prior versions.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

You can get a non-subscription version of Office 365, but the price has gone up over prior versions.


That may be possible in the US, down here you can find a retailer with some of the Office 2013, but all the versions of Office 365 being offered are subscriptions - some are a discount for paying a year or 4 years up front. All the MS websites I can hit only offer subscription models, here and in the US. Although i did see one site that offered Office 365 for Mac only that looked like it may be a full purchase item, but wasn't clear either way.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Your right, I did make a slight mistake. They aren't calling the non-subscription version Office 365. You can get Office 2016 at a flat price. It's the same applications as 365 (though probably without the cloud storage).

Home and student 2016 are $149. This is right off the MS website. http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/cat/All-Office/categoryID.69403900?s_kwcid=AL!4249!3!77514952493!e!!g!!office%20365&ef_id=VdY7QQAAAOf9IhEG:20150925180619:s

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You can get a non-subscription version of Office 365, but the price has gone up over prior versions.

I was looking at the new release, and the only non-subscription version is their "Student & Home" version, meaning you can't (not supposed to, at least) use it for publishing. :(

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I was looking at the new release, and the only non-subscription version is their "Student & Home" version, meaning you can't (not supposed to, at least) use it for publishing. :(


You better check your source, CW, the websites I look at say the Student version of Office 365 is a 2 seat single payment for a 4 year subscription copy that dies after 4 years.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Office-Home-amp-Business-2016/productID.323023000

Office home and business 2016. It's the exact same applications as office 365 Retail price $229.99

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Ernest, you haven't been paying attention. Office 360 is the rental, pay-per-month version. Office Home & Student 2016 is the pay once version for $150. DS (see below) pointed us to the Office Home & Business 2016 version for $229.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

I have no idea what Microsoft is selling in the USA, but down here the websites I usually check for MS software (which includes MS Aus) does not have any Office 2016 products available except as the student package with limited capability and a EULA restricting its use to students enrolled in an education program. It gets no upgrades or updates or support at all.

https://products.office.com/en-au/compare-microsoft-office-products

Quote from the MS website (bold added by me):

What's the difference between Office 2016 suites and Office 365 plans?

With Office 365 subscription plans you get the full, installed Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access (Publisher and Access are available on PC only.) You can install Office 365 across multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, Android tablets, Android phones, iPad, and iPhone. In addition, with Office 365 you get services like online storage with OneDrive and Skype minutes for home use. When you have an active Office 365 subscription, you always have the most up-to-date version of the Office applications.

Office as a one-time purchase includes applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for use on a single PC or Mac. The applications are not automatically updated; to get the latest version, you must purchase Office again when the new version becomes available. Office application versions available for one-time purchase are Office 2016 for Windows and Mac. Previous versions include Office 2013, Office 2011 for Mac, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2008 for Mac, and Office 2004 for Mac. Office 2010 and Office 2007 are compatible with Windows 8.1 and earlier. Office as a one-time purchase does not include any of the services included in Office 365.

end quote

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I have no idea what Microsoft is selling in the USA, but down here the websites I usually check for MS software (which includes MS Aus) does not have any Office 2016 products available except as the student package


You're checking the wrong site, you need to check the official MS store www.microsoftstore.com

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msaus/en_AU/list/Office-Suites/categoryID.65073700

The office 2016 packages are listed on their en_au page.

The applications are not automatically updated; to get the latest version, you must purchase Office again


Yes, and despite what Microsoft want's you to believe, that is actually the better option from an economic perspective

Microsoft releases new versions of office on average every two years. The Office 365 home version is AU$119 / year or AU$12 / month.

The Office Home and Student version sells for AU$179

So, If you go with 365 on subscription, by the time the next version comes out you will have spend 133% of the cost of the new version on your subscription If you pay yearly. or 161% if you pay monthly.

Microsoft wants you to go with the subscription version so they make more money off you, not less.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I'm not interested in any version of MS Office because I already use a far superior product called Libre Office and it's free - although I do donate to the project.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'm not interested in any version of MS Office because I already use a far superior product called Libre Office and it's free - although I do donate to the project.

What's more, as we've already noted, none of these 'updates' offer ANY new useful features, it's just a couple patches to the same old product we've been using for decades.

Don't worry about it. If you like what you have, keep using it.

Better yet, let's forget the M$ debacle and continue discussing the undiscovered tool which actually helps us write!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Better yet, let's forget the M$ debacle and continue discussing the undiscovered tool which actually helps us write!


A kick in the pants is one we rarely mention, but often works.

Perv Otaku

@Crumbly Writer

How the hell do you share chapters with your editors? One major reason I use WORD (.doc formats) is because it's an almost universal tool.

It's easy enough to dump a file out to rtf, pdf, etc. It's somewhat moot since I don't use any editors for my porn stories. But yes, you pretty much have to use .doc if you are sending a document to somebody else for them to edit. Even people that don't use MS Word have to have MS Word because other people only send files to them in MS Word format.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Perv Otaku

But yes, you pretty much have to use .doc if you are sending a document to somebody else for them to edit. Even people that don't use MS Word have to have MS Word because other people only send files to them in MS Word format.


I use Open Office. Open Office (OO)and it's forks handle reading most .doc files just fine. And, OO being free as in beer as well as free as in liberty it was simple enough to convince my editor to download a copy to edit my stories.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Arquillius

Celtx for stories at the moment. All of Don't change was written in it, then converted to a normal format in Microsoft Word.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I use Open Office. Open Office (OO)and it's forks handle reading most .doc files just fine.

Yes, but not many other products read .odt files. .doc files are pretty much universal. Most smartphones and tablets read them now (not always directly, but there are plenty of packages which do, like Dropbox and others).

However, yes, I make adjustments. I'll send out .doc files and receive back .odt files from one editor, and one editor will only edit via email, so I've got to cup and paste entire chapters into email. But those are the exceptions. Most of my editors accept .doc with no issues.

P.S. I hope you don't send .pdf files, because unless you have Adobe Acrobat Pro, no one can edit them. That means they'll essentially be editing from a printed page, and sending you a list of descriptions to change (a nightmare if you have a lot of changes, believe me).

However, I've also done that. I usually send my beta readers printed books for them to scribble in, and I transpose their corrections into my source documents. But it is much more difficult!

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

.doc files are pretty much universal.


I know we've discussed this before, CW, while files ending with .doc may be seen more often they aren't universal. In fact, not all .doc files created by MS Word are readable by MS Word because there are different sets of MS Word .doc files and they aren't fully compatible. There's Word 2a, Word 6, Word 95, Word 97-2003, Word 2003 xml, and the two versions of Word .docx now. The great majority of Word files you see traveling around and being used in programs like the Smashwords Grinder are Word 97-2003 or expecting to see Word 97-2003, but send them something saved in one of the others and watch the fur fly.

As to PDF files, there are many non-Adobe PDF programs that allow you to open and edit a PDF file, most are available for free, too.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Yes, but not many other products read .odt files. .doc files are pretty much universal. Most smartphones and tablets read them now (not always directly, but there are plenty of packages which do, like Dropbox and others).


1. Actually, you can get versions of Open Office for Android or iOS.
2. Anyone trying to write/edit fiction of any significant length on a smartphone or tablet needs to have their head examined.

paliden

You may be interested in this:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@paliden

that only allows people with MS Office 2000 to 2003 to download a patch to be compatible with the later versions of MS Office, but does nothing about them being incompatible with the earlier versions. The real sad thing is there should be no need for such compatibility patches for the .doc extension only the the .docx should require one. However, if MS actually used the industry set standards and went with the Open Document type like .odt there would be no issues at all.

Edit to add: I doubt MS will ever go with the set industry standards because that would mean all the versions of MS Office with them would have to be made to work with every version of Windows and cut deep into their upgrade software rip-off cycle profits.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

However, if MS actually used the industry set standards and went with the Open Document type like .odt there would be no issues at all.


The only way MS will ever use an industry standard is if the industry lets MS be the standard without making it available to anyone else.

I don't remember the exact standards involved, but I recall there being a couple of cases where MS participated in an industry standards process, got the standard board to adopt what MS was already doing as the standard and then as soon as the first non-MS application was released using the standard, MS extended the "standard" in their own products so the MS products could not fully inter-operate with non-MS applications.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I don't remember the exact standards involved, but I recall there being a couple of cases where MS participated in an industry standards process, got the standard board to adopt what MS was already doing as the standard and then as soon as the first non-MS application was released using the standard, MS extended the "standard" in their own products so the MS products could not fully inter-operate with non-MS applications.


It was a little bit more complex than that, and it was in the early to mid 1990s. Between the acceptance of the couple to use as standards and the dummy spit by MS there were a couple of other standards being discussed in the committees and a few were by MS and a few by others. At the time all of the ones being considered were proprietary work, but the committee didn't feel it was right to charge people for using a standard, so they made it a condition of acceptance the owner had to sign over the rights to the code to allow anyone to use it free of charge without paying any royalties. MS refused to do so, then got very upset when some of the others agreed to do so and their's became the approved standards. Since they couldn't force any of the code through to draw huge royalties MS spat the dummy and only used industry standards where there was no other choice. That's why there was that very short spell where hardware and software was very compatible - the MS variant of the cross platform compatibility was called plug-n-play but within eighteen months it was dead and you were looking at hardware and software as being Windows 95 Compatible on the side of the boxes, and all the variants since.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I know we've discussed this before, CW, while files ending with .doc may be seen more often they aren't universal. In fact, not all .doc files created by MS Word are readable by MS Word because there are different sets of MS Word .doc files and they aren't fully compatible. There's Word 2a, Word 6, Word 95, Word 97-2003, Word 2003 xml, and the two versions of Word .docx now.

Yeah, we've been over this a few times. When I talk about '.doc files', I'm not talking about the ancient versions, and I'm also not talking about the newer (and less widely accepted) .docx. I'm talking specifically about the 1997-2003 version. It seems to be the most widely accepted (by a variety of software and sources). The later version may be newer, but they really don't add much value (the only thing I've lost by relying on .doc files is the ability to use small quotes).

DS, actually, while I don't do it frequently, I've done a lot of writing (mostly editing) on a 7" tablet with decent results while I'm traveling. I have cell phone LTE access, so it's like working on a DSL line. I got a LOT of work done that way, but the apps I used kept screwing up my files, so I had problems using them. So I've since quit doing it.

I hadn't seen the OO for iOS before. I'll have to check it out. But, for the most part, anything for mobile devices is inherently limited to bolding and italics only.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've done a lot of writing (mostly editing) on a 7" tablet with decent results while I'm traveling.


I don't know how you can stand typing more than a dozen or so words at a time on the virtual keyboard tablets come with.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I don't know how you can stand typing more than a dozen or so words at a time on the virtual keyboard tablets come with.

Easy, I use USB keyboards on a full sized tablet (Logitech Folio). It makes writing (and editing), much easier. Since I've learned I can't rely on stories I change in apps, I now mostly respond to forums or read.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I don't know how you can stand typing more than a dozen or so words at a time on the virtual keyboard tablets come with.


My son has a little wireless keyboard the same size as his tablet he keeps in the case with it. When he wants to type something he plugs in the dongle that comes with it and types on the keyboard. Works well for him.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

My son has a little wireless keyboard the same size as his tablet he keeps in the case with it. When he wants to type something he plugs in the dongle that comes with it and types on the keyboard.


Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a tablet rather than a small laptop.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a tablet rather than a small laptop.


No, 90% of the time he uses it for reading and simple Internet searches. He got upset with the shitty excuse they have for a keyboard and bought the wireless thing for about ten bucks. It fits in the cloth sleeve he use to protect the tablet when not in use, so it's not an issue. All up, the tablet is a little bigger, but the keyboard doesn't have a number paid so the keys are a reasonable size.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

For iOS devices, the keyboards serve and act like Smart Covers, simply folding over the device and powering it on/off. It's simple to switch from the smart covers to a smart keyboard, and it'll retain a charge for weeks/months!

I can type at 100+ wpm while riding in a car on bad roads (though speeds go down, as does accuracy). If I'm traveling by air, I'll take my MacBook (10 hours battery) along with my iPad for movies or reading books, but in a pinch, the iPad works reasonably.

graybyrd
Updated:

Microsoft appears to be forcing its customer base onto subscription modes for both it OS and its Office software. The Win10 model is "free" for a year for those who choose (are coerced/forced) to upgrade via hidden 'security patches' to Win7 & 8/8.1.

Win10 does not have voluntary/user enabled security updates. Everything now comes via unspecified 'in the night' downloads. There's no option to pick and choose, or refuse the 'user experience enhancement' additions to Win10.

After a year's free ride, one might expect that the free ride will end, and subscription fees will apply. At this point, a typical Windows OS/Office subscriber will have lost all control over their desktop/laptop (short of wiping the drive.)

For some folks, this may be the rose-petal path to Nirvana. Pay the monthly fees, or accept a one-time 'bargain' annual payment, or choose the super-saver option of four-year's cash up front. And accept whatever MS installs at any given point into the future.

There is a $75 alternative, sans MS.

1. Buy a lease-return laptop from a reputable reseller. Yes, there are good ones. Check eBay and read their user ratings. (I got a lovely IBM ThinkPad T-60 in mint condition, barely used, for $65 plus shipping.)

2. Research the Distrowatch website and become informed about which Linux distribution suits your tastes. (If you later become unhappy with that choice, wipe it and install another ... and another ... until you're happy. Total cost? The price of a blank DVD to burn the .iso file you'll download and burn.

3. Software: notice that most Linux distros now include LibreOffice as their MS Office 'substitute'. This has become the 'lingua franca' of universal office software. So you now have a free office suite already installed in your Linux distro, ready to go. There's also a good text editor or two included.

4. Go to the Literature and Latte website. Download the FREE beta copy of Scrivener for Linux. It expires at the end of 2015, but the owner/developer has publicly promised that the Linux version will be updated and extended, so not to worry.

5. I've never found a great or good or even acceptable research/scrapbook/notebook app on Linux. There are a couple that claim to be, but they're not. Hot Tip: use Scrivener for research notes, graphics, filing, scraps, lists, tracking, scribblings and such. It has the two main sections in its 'binder' column on the left side, which is actually an outliner index. Use it. The 'special' area in this index is the 'Research' portion which is programmed to receive graphics and other binary (non-.rtf text) files

Cost so far? Laptop: $65; Software: $0.

6. Need a free stand-alone word processor? Abiword is free and included in many Linux distributions, or is available for download from the software repository.

7. I"ll admit, this isn't for everyone. And Linux ain't Windows. And some folks are terrified of used or old laptops. And others are just terrified of leaving the herd. So don't.

8. If there's an old laptop gathering dust in the family that still works, chances are it's just perfect for new life running Linux and the software I've listed above. Linux is famous for having versions that run very well (fast!) on old machines. Do a little online research to find which Linux has the 'desktop' interface that is 'lightweight' (less demanding). KDE is a graphics-intense desktop environment for newer, faster machines. XFCE is far less demanding, has much less 'flash' and eye-candy, and is superb for older machines. That's just a hint to help get started.

Please note that my suggestions above are for setting up a dedicated writing machine, that will also do all the common file manipulation, internet browsing and upload/download functions, and can also be enabled for most anything else needed (with a learning curve involved).

Hope this helps.

Gray

Crumbly Writer

Update: From what I've heard from actual users, especially those who've installed multiple installations, is that Win 10 worth the effort. Not only is it faster, but it's much more secure (i.e. less prone to malware attacks). However, I share Graybyrd's concerns, that M$ will try to switch everyone to a monthly subscription model, so I'll probably continue waiting until the first year of 'free' installs is over.

You can also disable the automatic uploads and reporting back to M$, but you've got to patch like ten different locations to shut the multiple processes down.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Win 10 worth the effort. Not only is it faster, but it's much more secure (i.e. less prone to malware attacks)


You can go faster and more secure with Linux or Unix or Mac. To make Windows more secure all they needed to do was to rewrite the code to close out a few of the holes that have been there since Win 95 was first released. More probable it seems more secure at this point because they made the holes harder to find (the usual MS approach) and they haven't been found yet - wait a couple of years and they'll be used by the malware people.

I've seen a few reports where it seems MS is going to the subscription only mode at some point and one update then will ensure you go that way, regardless of what you want. - Not sure if the reports are factual or not.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Ernest Bywater

About MS & "Windows as a Service", theres this interesting article where MS execs talk about evolving revenue streams, last May just before the launch of Win10.

Primarily, the focus is on enhancing "downstream" revenue from home users (non-Pro) by deeply embedding Cortana and Bing in Win10 to maximize on-going advertising revenue during the life of the user "experience."

Then there was a concluding speculation about the desirability of an "annuity conversion" of the Win10 experience. To-wit, "subscription."

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2917799/microsoft-windows/microsoft-fleshes-out-windows-as-a-service-revenue-strategy.html

From the article:

But at another point in the meeting, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operations officer, made a comment that hinted a subscription was, if not in the immediate future, something the company may covet. "With Windows as a service, you can only dream about what the capability might be over the long term there as we develop that and it matures," Turner said, talking about the shift from a focus on licenses to one on "annuity conversion."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

But at another point in the meeting, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operations officer, made a comment that hinted a subscription was, if not in the immediate future, something the company may covet. "With Windows as a service, you can only dream about what the capability might be over the long term there as we develop that and it matures," Turner said, talking about the shift from a focus on licenses to one on "annuity conversion."

To paraphrase an early comment (on another thread), "I've got your 'annuity conversion' right here!!!"

Stultus

@PervOtaku

Also old school as fuck..
Everything is done in Word 2010. Story outlines, background notes/quotes and then the various revisions of the story. Mostly this is done so that my external editors can make trackable edits, notes and changes.

For 'world building', compiled big digital notecards of everything needed for a story, I use AZZCardfile. It's easy and does everything that I want or need it to.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Stultus

For 'world building', compiled big digital notecards of everything needed for a story, I use AZZCardfile. It's easy and does everything that I want or need it to.

I should have used that. I had an 'alien invasion' story where I named two different alien races, but didn't keep the names in a specific file, simply copying them from one file to another. My editor started flagging the names, and I realized I'd spelled them wrong in every conceivable manner!

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