Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Fucking Microsoft

I just mailed off my rewrite for "The Angel of Gamblers", a short story that'll be appearing in the Eidolon anthology, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy Byrne (it has a cracking Table of Contents, btw) and to be launched at Conjure in Brisbane at the Easter Weekend (so I'll be having a few drinks in honour of Messrs Strahan and Byrne at Eastercon in Glasgow) . It's a fun wee Gentlemen's Club story (well, I think it's fun) based around a game of Texas Hold 'Em, and it has my very own Evil Monkeys, Jack and Puck (well, they're not so much Evil as reckless and shameless respectively, but they're definitely Monkeys, even if they don't have the tails to prove it)... so anyone who enjoyed the more humourous episodes in Vellum can bide their time between now and Ink with a wee light relief there, if they so wish.

Anyhoo, enough of the shameless self-promotion; what the fuck is it with Track Changes in Word? Huh? Huh? I ask you. I mean, I get the proofing document back with all the edits marked up neatly in red with notes in the margins. Cool. I'm not sure about this Track Changes malarky so, with some suspicion, I set the font to blue, and I start to make my own changes. They all show up neatly in blue with notes in the margins. Hurrah! Bloody brilliant tool this Track Changes, I think. Must use it in future. So I go through it all, tweaking the text here and there. I even catch one major fuck-up with the betting that I'd missed in the umpteen times I went through the story before sending it off (Christ, you know how hard it is trying to keep a poker game in your head with my memory? One of my stock responses is "Was it more than a minute ago?" for crying out loud. In the end I had to deal out the game, chips and all, with props sat round on the floor to represent the five players (a fountain pen, a tube of glitter, a bust of Lenin, a Zippo, and a cocktail shaker, in case you want to know).)

So. OK. It all goes well and I'm left with a story I think is better for the changes and feeling all proud about catching my fuck-up and learning a new skill with Word (yes, I'm a programmer by trade... no, it's not ironic that I'm a complete Luddite with computers... the trick with programming is knowing only what you need to, you see... frees up all that biological ROM for processing power, mate... leastways, that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Anyway... then I open up the doc for one last run through before mailing it off.

And it's gone fucking mental on me. Taken a fucking eppy, as we say here in not-very-politically-correct-Scotland (an eppy being an epileptic fit, for those unfamiliar with the term). The original edits are now purple, with a few staying red just for... oh, the sake of it. My changes are now brown, with a few staying blue just for... oh, the sake it, again. Schickinfrickrazzafrazzinconsarnbastuhd Microsoft, says me. I do manage to ascertain that there are now three "reviewers" recognised by the document, because -- Aha! -- there's a wee drop-down where you can select whether to show their changes or not. It shows "Al Duncan" in red, "j" in blue and "User" in brown.

Expletive deleted.

It almost makes sense. I mean the purple is missing and surely "j" (Jeremy Byrne?) should be red and "Al Duncan" blue, but it has three of the four colours it's seen fit to use so it does seem to bear some relationship to what's going on with the text. It's just the... not-quiteness of that mapping that makes me go, What the fuck?

Oh, and while every other edit I made showed up in the font which the proofing doc had been formatted into, the one last-minute edit I decided to make after this, Word decides to automatically reformat as Courier New. And I can't change it to the document font cause that ain't on my laptop. Feh.

Fucking Microsoft.

Still... one more thing to look forward to Easter for. Plus I only have three more working days next week before I've worked my time at the day-job, and then that's me: a man of leisure -- sorry, letters. Plus I have an agent! It happened a couple of weeks back while I was in the midst of preparations for me mate Phil's stag night, so in between that and heavy religious debate and a stinking cold (partly due to preparations for aforesaid stag night, some of which involved me standing in the freezing cold, pretending to be a dodgy street dealer in, well, squished angel, while long-suffering friend Claire pretended to buy squished angel off me for Turkish lira, and long-suffering friend Mags filmed us both (It's a long and complicated story, but I will say this: if you think it would be a cool idea to make a three-minute pop video version of a friend's novel for showing at their stag night one week hence, because they're the type of mad fucker who does things like (the Hugo-nominated) Lucas Back In Anger and they'd probably appreciate their mates taking on a similarly insane Project, DON'T DO IT! IT'S INSANE!))... so... um... yes... in between all of that I completely forgot to mention it, but I'm now represented by Howard Morhaim, who I've heard nothing but good things about from various sources. See, I told you I had a bad memory.

But, yeah, so really it's all good.

Apart from fucking Microsoft.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, because Microsoft fucked your document for you...

Some of us work there and don't need the shit. You stick to writing, we'll stick to making software.

4:26 am  
Anonymous Ryan said...

Just got my copy of Vellum.

It is good. It is very, very good.

That is all.

5:58 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Anonymous Snarksome Dude: less of that RTFM attitude here, matey-bubbles. Microsoft programmes are as liable to bugs as any programme and it ain't always the user's fault. But don't take it personally; I blame the development methodology (push out the product and follow-up with patches), not the programmers.

Ryan: :) Enjoy.

12:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm having a real "Dr Strangelove" moment, and am manfully trying to resist (okay, I'm not resisting at all). I mean, sure, get in your shots about politics and religion, Hal, but if you don't get God on that computer you know what's gonna happen to you? You're gonna have to answer to the Microsoft company...

--minz

5:36 pm  

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