Monthly Archives: December 2012

Scrivener, a Year In

Mid-November of last year, I tried a beta of the Windows Version of Scrivener. At the time I found it a little clunky. For instance, I couldn’t get the compile or export to work in a satisfactory manner.

I’ve now been using the program for over a year, and I have to admit, I’m addicted. I’ve even started suggesting people use scrivener for all kinds of tasks that involve writing and organization.

Below, I have taken a screenshot of how I do re-writes in Scrivener. In the main window is my working copy, and on the right is the previous version of the chapter, saved in a snapshot.

Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 10.35.01 AM

My WIP in scrivener

I used to do this with Word, keeping two windows open at once, constantly fighting to keep the text the right size so I could work and read, as well as trying to keep all the controls on the screen, having to bounce back and forth between windows to scroll. It’s nice to have everything in once place. Well, okay, it wasn’t really that bad, but this is nicer.

The other thing I could praise all day about scrivener is the organization. I used to keep my WIP in separate Word files. This was not too bad a way to go, it help with revision control, but it also prevented me from doing things like global search and replace. Also, I find being able to name the scenes a great way to locate information. Today, I wanted to re-read some text from an earlier scene, and I was able to use the scene titles to come within 1000 words of the description with almost no effort.

That’s not to say I haven’t had problems. There’s an odd bug that always ends an em dash followed by a quote with one open quote rather than a closed quote. Even on my brand-new MacBook Pro, I sometimes have trouble with the real-time spell check falling behind. I wish each project could have it’s own custom dictionary. And even after using it for a year, I feel like a novice.

The more I use Scrivener, the more I find myself relying on it and recommending it to others. If you want to try it, there’s a 30-day free trial.

jQuery with date inputs

Sometimes, jQuery just seems like magic.

Recently, I was looking through the new input types in HTML5. Of course, most of these are not supported by IE9, but the author of the article I was reading suggested coders use some of the types anyway, since rendering engines default to type text. Therefore:

<input type="date" name="thedate">

would show up as a text field in browsers that don’t support the date type and they would render as the date type in browsers which implement that feature of HTML5.

This seemed like a great idea, and then I realized that if I was already using jQuery UI, I could add “dateify” all the date-type text fields with the following code.

$('input[type="date"]').datepicker();

Maybe it’s a trival change from the way I used to do things (using a class as the jQuery selector), but I feel like the code is a little tighter, uses less keystrokes, and is just as readable.

One caveat though, the date input type is used by some mobile browsers to invoke their own date widget. In these situations, I don’t know who would win, or if it would just cause a horrible train-wreck.

Just an update

I’m currently slogging through the middle of my latest rewrite, fighting the “Muddle in the Middle.” It doesn’t help that my coffee shop is playing the XM seasonal channel, so instead of my usual Rat Pack crooners, I’ve heard Feliz Navidad 12 times in the past 3 weeks, which apparently makes me want to eat nachos and attack innocent bystanders with a meat hammer. I’m going to spend the weekend away from the book so I can get some fresh perspective next week.

LocationsFOn the bright side, I’m feeling good enough to drink wine, and my friend Jose has announced his bottle–or in this case bottles–of the year. The Locations F-1 and E-1 by Dave Phinney. I opened a bottle of the aromatic F-1 last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Idle Oxford Comma Speculation

This morning, I was trying to resist ranting on a forum where the Oxford Comma was being discussed.

Reading the comments, there seemed to be a pattern between the two camps. The people who were against the Oxford comma were looking at the comma syntactically as a replacement for the conjunction,

I believe the people for the comma were approaching the problem phonetically–this is where I would pause in speech to denote a new item in the sequence, therefore a comma is correct.

Or maybe I’m wrong.

Oh, and for reference, here’s the original article that sparked the debate, and while I believe is correct in every possible way.

Sick of being sick.

This is a picture of Danny DeVto’s foot. Why? I don’t know.

In Iowa, we have something we call the creeping crud. We get in every fall, where temperatures tend to rise and vary by 40 to 50 degrees (F) in a night and cold snaps can be followed by a week of 50 degrees and 100% humidity, where the air carries wet funk like a soiled sponge.

My family came to Iowa via Ireland, Nova Scotia, and the Eastern US. Once my father showed my the diary of one of my first ancestors to move to Iowa, it was basically complaints about the weather and a lot of swearing.

The crud usually starts as a virus and then turns into a respiratory infection. At my tender age, I’ve had it about 20 times and it accounts for around 40% of my doctor visits total. This year, it’s pulled a new trick and turned into bronchitis.

Needless to say, between a family funeral, the creeping crud, and the bronchitis, my writing productivity was down for the month of November. It did give me a lot of time to watch old television shows and play on my new Nexus 10 tablet. I can’t even drink wine because my palate is  toast.

However, I am now on steroids* and showing signs of vigor, productivity, and erratic behavior–which only helps with the way I write.

* Ha! WordPress tells me that “on steroids” is a cliché. I think it can be allowed as I am actually on steroids.