Back in the Saddle

Once again weeks have passed without a blog post. I can only blame a particularly nasty flu, compounded by travelling while sick. It put me flat on my back for a couple of weeks and I only really started feeling vaguely normal again this week. But enough snivelling, it’s time to thank Father Nurgle for his gifts and move on.

I recently started carrying my Windows laptop into work. There were a number of reasons for this. The trackpad on my MacBook Air has gone on the blink. (I have the ungodly power to ruin trackpads on Apple machines after a year or two. Maybe it’s a mutant ability to sense their weakness and destroy them or perhaps the Machine God picks on me when Nurgle does not—that would make an unpleasant tag team.)

I needed to use Microsoft Word for Windows because, after many happy years of using Word for OSX, I have finally discovered why people hate it—the truth is that it is terrible at handling long, complexly formatted documents. All I get is the spinning beach-ball of doom. I never used to understand why people whined so much about Word on the Mac. I get it now. It’s always done really well for me when writing and editing manuscripts. On the power user stuff, it’s not so good.

Why do I need to format complex documents in Word, I hear you ask? I am laying out the print versions of the Kormak books in it, a process that has proved to be surprisingly easy and which I will post more about at a future date.

In any case, I needed to bring in my Windows machine, an Asus Republic of Gamers behemoth that weighs roughly ten pounds with its power brick. The strangest thing is that in my mind I had convinced myself that carrying this thing to my co-working space would be the equivalent of humping a sack of potatoes along for the twenty minute walk. Ten pounds plus the carrying bag, I thought gloomily, contemplating the enormous difference between that and skipping along toting my svelte MacBook Air.

The truth is that I did not even notice any difference. It may be that carrying the baby  on long walks has built up my muscular strength. It seems more likely that a measly six pounds or so weight difference between the two computers makes absolutely no difference to a man of my enormous bulk. I am starting to suspect there is a triumph of marketing over common sense in there somewhere.

So what have I been working on? I have been bouncing the outline for the third Macharius book backwards and forwards with my esteemed editor Nick Kyme. I have been polishing the final draft of the fourth Kormak book City of Strife and I have been amusing myself with aforementioned laying out of print books.

And how have I found working in Windows? Well, Scrivener is neither as pretty nor as powerful as it is on a Mac but it seems to have roughly 99% of the functionality that I use. Office 2010 is a lot better than the Mac equivalent. Windows Live Writer, on which I am writing this blog post, is actually a bit better than Marsedit on the Mac. Everything else I use, such as Firefox, is much the same just not as pretty. What can I say? I happen to really like the OSX interface.

Anyway, I have a lot to catch up on with the blog—some reviews, a guest post or two which has languished while I did and some articles I’ve been meaning to put up for a while. Hopefully it won’t be another few weeks before I make a start.



  1. You sound as if you’re getting to the same place on using Windows that most corporates are – it isn’t as pretty, but it’s cheaper. Putting aside the cost of ownership thing (which, with your ability to ruin trackpads seems pretty hard on you) it comes down to what difference does your work environment make to you. For me, I spend 8 hours a day on a Windows machine, and it pretty much puts a patina of despair on everything I do. It’s the equivalent of working in a windowless room on a hot day with a bunch of sweaty techies (and yes, I’ve worked in that environment all too often). I can do it, and I WILL do it if the money is good enough, but I don’t enjoy it at all.
    Working in the pretties Mac OS just makes me a shade happier. Over an 8 hour day, that’s probably a big thing. If you are only actually working at the keyboard for half of that, and spending the rest of the time on non-keyboard tasks, it may well work for you.
    And corporates, by and large, don’t give a toss whether I’m a happy worker or not.

    • I confess I feel somewhat the same way about OSX as you do about Windows, mate. For me, it’s the place I work and has been for many years. I really like my work so there’s no patina of rage and despair. Given a choice, I prefer to work on a Mac, but I don’t mind writing in Windows at all. It tends to have a bit of a holiday atmosphere for me since it’s where I also do my gaming. I suspect that therein long-term may lie the danger! There is the possibility of distractions.

      I wish I knew what I was doing to my trackpads– this is the second one to go in as many machines and in more or less the same way.

  2. Say, have you given OpenOffice (or whatever it goes by these days, LibreOffice?) a go? Or is it just frowned upoin in your circles for whatever reason? I noticed Word documents are a requirement whenever I indulge in my thus far unfulfilled dreams of sending a butchery of the 40K universe, the English language and common sense to Black Library during a submissions window.

    • Word is pretty much the standard in publishing, mate. That said, I can and have used OpenOffice/Libre Office for writing then transferred things across to Word at the end. Currently I need Word because I am using a professionally created template to lay out my books for printing and it did not work in LibreOffice. I tried it :).

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