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Month: September 2004

And after

On CNN, they’re citing unnamed conservative blogs as feeling Bush had a mixed performance. It’s amusing to watch blogs get co-opted into the spin. General feeling of positive for Kerry from the CNN talking heads. Maybe the Corner; they’re pretty dubious about how Bush did. CNN thinks Bush looks annoyed. Fox is not calling either man the winner. Fox picked up on how tired Bush looked and how much he sighed. Not to mention annoyed. They don’t know if it was effective or not, but Ceci Connelly is calling the expression sour. They’re admitting that Bush looked shorter due to the framing. Spin is fun.

Neck and neck

Although Ulysses has flaws, CopyWrite has a very similar interface and provides a slightly better editing pane (paragraph spacing) plus in-line formatting. It looks like I can coerce InDesign into handling formatting codes for me, which means named styles are less important. And CopyWrite is about a quarter the price of Ulysses.

I’m doing my latest game (The Kiss of God) in CopyWrite; after I’m done I’ll post about the experience.

Feet and streets

One reason I’m fairly confident Kerry will win: he has the best ground game. I’ve been assuming that get out the vote efforts were a major component of the DNC’s strategy this election for a few reasons; most obviously, I’ve just seen a lot of activity oriented towards getting people to the polls this year. More importantly, though, I watched John Kerry win in Iowa because of an absolutely perfect get out the vote operation run by Michael Whouley. Any campaign with Whouley at the center is going to be one that has a good ground game, regardless of anything else.

The really significant thing about the “chaos” in the Kerry campaign last month was not Joe Lockhart’s arrival. The media gets very excited about every Clinton signing, so it was nice for them to be able to run stories about the Clintonistas taking over the campaign — Lockhart was Clinton’s press secretary. The real news, however, was that John Sasso, another experienced Massachusetts political operative, joined the campaign. That made it possible for Michael Whouley to go over to the DNC to be their General Election Manager.

And who’s outsourcing a lot of their get out the vote effort to 527s? The DNC, which now has the best ground game in the business. If Kerry loses this election, it will not be because of poor voter turnout.

Public service

The extended edition Return of the King DVDs will include:

  • 2 disc 250 minute movie cut
    • Commentary by the director and writers
    • Commentary by the design team
    • Commentary by the production team
    • Commentary by the cast (with split personality dialogue between Gollum and Smeagol)
  • Tolkien documentary
  • From Book to Script documentary
  • Designing Middle-Earth documentary
  • Big-atures documentary (?)
  • 2 WETA documentaries
  • Costume design documentary
  • Horse Lords documentary
  • Cameras in Middle-Earth documentary
  • Documentary on completing the trilogy
  • Music documentary
  • Soundscapes documentary
  • 2 documentaries about the end of it all
  • Cameron Duncan documentary
  • Two Cameron Duncan short films, “DFK6498” and “Strike Zone
  • Mumakil battle multi-angle feature
  • Abandoned concept: Aragorn battles Sauron feature
  • Photo galleries (2,123+ images)
  • Tracing the Journeys of the Fellowship map feature
  • New Zealand as Middle-Earth map feature

That’s a hunka hunka burning DVD. Via Twitch.

End of want

It occurred to me this weekend, while I was contemplating buying a dozen Powers graphic novels, that we’re probably not more than five years away from solving the comics life span conundrum. (Namely, the vast mass of the history of comics is not available for reading; you can’t go back and check out Grant Morrison’s early Marvel Universe work, for example.)

But let’s say we live in a world in which all comic book pages exist in digital form, which is a world we may well live in already if that’s a useful step in the printing process. So DC puts up a web page, which allows you to select a comic book title and a range of issues within that title. Click “Buy” and the pages of those issues are assembled into a single file and sent off to the print on demand printer.

Currently I’m pretty sure that the cost of color POD is too high. But give it five years.

Tales of brave

Sometimes the technology is so damned close, but it’s not quite there. Ulysses is like that; now that I’ve tasted it, I want the perfect version, but I don’t think I can quite use it as it is.

OK, so: as a writer, I don’t use most of Microsoft Word. Mostly I want is something I can type into. It needs to do spell checking. It needs to be able to save style information with the document, because I want to be able to mark headers and bold text and so on. It needs to be able to export the style information in a format which InDesign can handle, since that’s what I use for layout these days. It needs to be able to do smart quotes and hyphens.

Word does all of that. It also does a million or so more things, which is vaguely annoying.

Ulysses is a very simple text editor with an amazing interface. The interface is now on my list of things I want, after about ten minutes of playing around with it. It’s hard to explain without pictures, so check out this screenshot.

The big middle area is your typing space. The tabs up at the top — “Obstacles” and “10x – Notizen” are different documents; you can also see a list of documents in the first pane on the left side of the window. The project is the sum of the documents in the left hand pane. You can have as many of them as you’d like open in tabs at once. The right pane is mostly an area to type notes, with a small pane for title and word count down below.

If you select a document in the left hand pane, you get the text of that document in the little window below; you can select it, but not edit it. This is great for reference or for copy and paste. You can set the status of any document — New, Final, Draft, Done, etc. You can also set colored labels, which are customizable.

When you’re done, you export the project as a document. You order the individual sections however you like during the export process. The notes don’t show up in the exported document unless you want them to, so you don’t need to worry about cleaning up the little bits that say “Don’t forget to add an example of play here.”

This is the best idea for editing large books I’ve ever bumped into. Everything’s readily accessible; you can get to any chapter of your text whenever you want. But nothing’s ever in the way. You never get lost in editing windows. It is insanely great.

But it doesn’t do styled text, because the authors are purists about formatting getting in the way. I can’t even get it to change the spacing between paragraphs, which means that paragraphs will always jam into one another unless I put extra blank lines in, which will mess up any layout work I may do. You can do styled paragraphs by tagging them with a code at the beginning of the line, but the RTF export format doesn’t have named styles, so it’s a pain to do layout once again. The only other export formats are plain text and LaTeX.

So now I am frustrated. It’s not quite good enough to use as my main writing platform, but the interface it offers is so much better than anything else I have that nothing else is going to satisfy me either. So close! So far!


For the record, Vernor Vinge was right. I want that slogan on a T-shirt.

Last February, it was .bmp files that carried the hack. This time, viewing a JPG on a Windows XP computer that is not running Service Pack 2 can cause your computer to execute arbitrary commands. This is horrible. Imagine what would happen if I stuck an worm image in a bunch of Flickr photostreams. Imagine what would happen if I used one for an LJ icon. Do you read a bulletin board that allows people to upload their own avatars?

Time to upgrade to SP2. I don’t care if it breaks City of Heroes.

Mission to

Ranchero Software released the beta of MarsEdit the other day. My preliminary feeling is that it’s nice and slim and practical. As Ginger has noted more than once, ecto is kind of getting increasingly bloated. The latest version, 2.0, has a WYSIWYG editor that isn’t quite there yet, and it’s all about autoformatting for you, and so forth — and I don’t really want my weblog editor to be a RTF editor. Sure, I can switch into a simpler mode, but why should I buy into all the overhead?

However… on my system, my ecto process is currently running at 14.55 MB and my MarsEdit process is running at 33.42 MB. That’s with this post typed into both of them. So we’ll see; they’re both in beta and they both have time to slim down a little. (I have enough memory; it’s the principle of the thing.) In the meantime I’m going to use MarsEdit so as to give it a workout.

Hm, it just posted this as a draft. That’s not what I wanted…