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Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the change-is-scary dept.

Books 522

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. 'I actually like it,' says Martin. 'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.' 'I actually have two computers,' Martin continued. 'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.'"

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Amen, brother Amen! (5, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | about 3 months ago | (#47003191)

'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.'

Amen, brother, Amen!

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (5, Insightful)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 3 months ago | (#47003325)

Hallelujah! Trying to select text and it grabs the whole word, or worse, some programs grab the whole word plus a space. Why do I want trailing spaces with everything I paste?

As a developer thinking about how I can "help" the user, I always favor the perspective that the user knows what they want.

Some developers make the "they can disable this feature" excuse. The frustrating thing is every time you get a new desktop/phone/upgrade/update you find yourself disabling the same options again and again. Only a small handful of products remember these kinds of settings across devices/installs.

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47003415)

This is because, as a developer, you're a user who understands and knows what you want. Microsoft is writing software for the kind of people who'd type google into the google search bar to get to google.

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (5, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 3 months ago | (#47003525)

Type 'Google' into Bing bar to get Google to search for 'Hotmail' to look at their email and then forward it to their grandchildren.

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (4, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47003771)

So when a user who doesn't know what they want copies a temporary password from an email and pastes it in to a login form is supposed to know to remove the trailing space the Microsoft software so helpfully included?
Or when you've gone to the pain of selecting only the word and not the trailing space, then select part of another word to paste over, it helpfully inserts a space that you must then delete.

I'm so glad I don't know what I want.

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (2, Funny)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 3 months ago | (#47003459)

Real DOS users edit with EDLIN. (ducks)

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (2)

Grog6 (85859) | about 3 months ago | (#47003761)

I never used EDLIN with DOS, only with CP/M. I really hated it. :)

IBM's BASIC editor was the first WP program I used on DOS; I'm still using the PWB Editor that came with Macro Assembler 4. :)

I still have a machine that can play Duke3d and Leisure Suit Larry, lol. :)

To have to duck around here, you have to say "EMACS can't..." and follow that up with pretty much anything. :)

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003537)

There is something to be said of the simplicity of a dedicated word processor that is offline. No worries about Internet based worms, no worries about remote intrusion, usually response time in the UI is faster, and when a document is saved to a disk, it is saved. No caching, no unmounting a filesystem. Once the red light is off, the disk can be pulled out.

These days, for an offline setup, I'd probably end up doing a compromise between something that is usable [1] and archaic, versus a modern OS.

I'd probably go with WordPerfect 6.2 for DOS running in a VM. CentOS doesn't get too unhappy if run offline, but virtually any UNIX would do.

[1]: For response time when using a word processor, a Mac SE/30 with System 6 and Word 3.0 or 4.0 is still pretty good. Yes, it is single-tasking, but it did the job well.

Re:Amen, brother Amen! (3, Funny)

Richy_T (111409) | about 3 months ago | (#47003733)

I was just thinking this would be something a Raspberry Pi would be perfect for.

In fact, if Wordperfect was still around in a reasonable condition, they could just sell the complete package in a box (just add keyboard and monitor). Or they could just sell the SD card.

It kinda makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003197)

I mean when you're writing in made-up languages, you probably don't want auto-correct hassling you.

This seems like kind of an extreme, though - why not just use notepad, emacs, vim, or another one of the billion text editors out there? Or just disable the features you don't like in Word?

Re:It kinda makes sense (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 3 months ago | (#47003307)

or Scrivener that's designed for writers, write a section and store it away for later and assemble your bits, chapters, ideas afterwards.

Add a document management system and an inbuilt-;'snapshot' system and you have a lot ore power than, say, with Word.

Re:It kinda makes sense (4, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 3 months ago | (#47003463)

Douglas Adams typed on an Apple IIe. Many authors bring typewriters or other dummy typing devices with them somewhere so they can remove external influences and distractions during their writing time

Also credits the dude that keeps it running (5, Interesting)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about 3 months ago | (#47003205)

In one of his books, he also gives credit to the guy that keeps that outdated system running.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 months ago | (#47003493)

I hope he has 50 kaypros or whatever stored in nitrogen somewhere... that can't go on forever.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | about 3 months ago | (#47003627)

I hope he has 50 kaypros or whatever stored in nitrogen somewhere... that can't go on forever.

I don't see why not. DOS runs fine on modern machines. At some point he may have to switch to emulation, but IA32 emulators should be around for a very very long time.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003691)

And there is always FreeDOS.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003675)

If the word processing hardware dies, the tech person could install DOS under Virtualbox on a modern computer. Or, he could skip the separate computer and just take away the virtual computer's ability to connect to the internet. Old hardware isn't a necessity for this.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (5, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 3 months ago | (#47003589)

Poor guy has to dick with GRRM's autoexec.bat and config.sys every time he adds a new feast scene.

Re:Also credits the dude that keeps it running (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003629)

"outdated system running"; could you not run this in dosbox?

Not just the computer (1)

phorm (591458) | about 3 months ago | (#47003779)

I'd imagine that there's also a printer in the mix somewhere. While there are still some parallel port models available, I'd imagine they're hard to come by (and that work with DOS, yet).

I hope the GRRM has a backup strategy, because I'd hate to see what happens when that old system fails!

Why do people still pay money for basic software (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003211)

Why do people still pay money for software performing most basic tasks like Word 365? Nowadays, they have millions of alternatives.

Re:Why do people still pay money for basic softwar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003663)

I think it's just a problem of ignorance. Do you think your mother or grandmother have ever even heard of "OpenOffice", or even know how to get it? Probably not. Most of the non-geek world just goes to Staples, walks down the aisle and grabs whatever program they've heard of, or used in the past. 99% of the time that's "Word"

raises more questions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003217)

I wonder if he uses KVM? probably not but it's nice to believe.

Re:raises more questions! (1)

oracleofbargth (16602) | about 3 months ago | (#47003381)

KVM...

Keyboard? AT keyboard. check.

Video? VGA. check.

Mouse? serial mouse. check.

... so technically yes. Or is that not the KVM you expected?

Re:raises more questions! (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#47003435)

Probabl8y a Model M.

Re:raises more questions! (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 3 months ago | (#47003701)

I believe he is referring to a KVM switch, which would allow Martin to do his email, his taxes, and his writing all in the same room, at the same desk.

But then, what would be the point of Martin's writing studio [authorsroad.com] ?

joe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003219)

joe has a wordstar emulation mode.

And.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003221)

..it takes him 5 years to write a novel. Now we know why.

Shut up..... (5, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about 3 months ago | (#47003401)

Every time someone complains about how long he takes to write a book he kills another Stark!

Re:Shut up..... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47003461)

Every time someone complains about how long he takes to write a book he kills another Stark!

So that's how we got the Red Wedding...

Re:Shut up..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003739)

Except that he was writing books quickly back when that happened...

Re:And.... (5, Funny)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 3 months ago | (#47003451)

He keeps loosing his new chapters. If you're going to try for a second side on your floppies with a hole punch, you take your chances.

Re:And.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003587)

I hate you.
Learn to spell.

Re:And.... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47003727)

and he's been working on an ASCII version of Duke Nukem for the past 25 years...

640k isn't enough for everybody (2)

jfengel (409917) | about 3 months ago | (#47003241)

You can't fit even the shortest of his books into 640K of RAM. AGoT clocks in at 298k words, which is going to take up considerably more than 640k.

I suspect he's probably got each chapter in a separate file. And if I remember correctly the CP/M version of Wordstar had an overlay feature that was a kind of primitive virtual memory. So yeah, I believe it's possible, and there's a lot to be said for Just A Plain Glorified Typewriter. (I got to review the draft of a book by one of the Mac's original designers; it was done in double-spaced Courier with crude hand-drawn illustrations. The formatting was to be done by those who did formatting.)

I'm increasingly using Google Docs for my work because I like the fact that it doesn't allow, and thus doesn't require, much formatting. Less time fiddling is more time working.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (2)

Wdomburg (141264) | about 3 months ago | (#47003383)

Word processors and editors have supported paging parts of large documents to disk since the 1970s.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (1)

blippo (158203) | about 3 months ago | (#47003529)

Maybe, but unless a 25 year old with a hat has reinvented that in a browser, it doesn't count.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003391)

Notepad can handle 640k. Not very well though.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 months ago | (#47003439)

640k is enough if the processor loads in only part. I remember scrolling in documents of that age in DOS. It was painful. It'd have to read the parts of the document you tried to scroll to. There's no reason you need 640k of RAM to read a 2M file. You just can't have all of it in RAM at the same time. That's how it used to be. The idea of ramdriving every program by loading 100% of every program you are running and 100% of every file used by every one of those programs is silly, but it's the new norm. You don't read what you want, you read it all, even if you don't need it.

Shit like that is one of the many reasons someone might like the "old" way. It was faster/better. He's writing, not doing a global search and replace (which would be painful on something like that),

I have no idea of that's how wordstar did it, but I used some that did, I just don't remember which, as most didn't survive the transition to Windows, so they are gone. No need to indicate experience with Write when nobody has heard of it and will assume I made an error.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (4, Informative)

sir-gold (949031) | about 3 months ago | (#47003489)

Wordstar probably has it's own swap file. Most of the heavy-duty DOS word processors did.

640k stopped being a real limitation with DOS 5.0 and the EMS/XMS standards. As long as the words and interface elements currently on the screen fit into 640k, you are fine. Also, if you are in a text-only mode (with a flashing square for a mouse cursor), there are memory hacks that can give you up to 720k of conventional ram, at the expense of losing all graphics ability.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (2)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47003509)

Dos can access a lot more than 640k - the limit on real mode access is 1mb. The EMS interface can handle multiple megabytes of expanded memory, using a scrolling pageframe usually set to 64k. This memory would simply be mapped into a dedicated section of the first megabyte of address space and accessed just like any other memory, except that when the program was done with one 64k segment it would shift a pointer and keep reading the next segment through the same addressing window.

With the 286 processor another mode became available that allowed direct addressing of extended RAM, and with the 386 the EMS interface became generalized and supplemented with virtual memory.

So if you are thinking you have to fit everything in 640k with Dos I am sorry, you are mistaken.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 months ago | (#47003601)

That depends entirely on the program: not all DOS programs can use EMS or XMS or DPMI; they have to be written specifically for those standards. WordStar 4.0 supports none of these, so it is in fact limited to 640K minus whatever else is running in conventional memory.

Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003515)

Unlike Microsoft Word, real editors don't just mmap everything into main memory. Presumably WordStar (like JOE, its clone) manually pages-in and pages-out chunks as necessary (and I don't mean using virtual memory; I mean using stdio). It's not that difficult.

In fact, if you're doing any serious work with potentially large datasets, you never assume that you can keep all the data in memory, even if it can fit in virtual memory with swap backing. Datasets tend to grow with or faster than RAM. Compare the ratio of the largest datasets processed on DOS relative to DOS' memory (which was actually much more than 640k in later versions), with the ratio of modern datasets processed on modern machines. 32GB or 64GB is nothing compared to the hundreds of terabytes you might need to process.

The Good Old Days! (5, Insightful)

cogeek (2425448) | about 3 months ago | (#47003245)

I still remember WordPerfect 5.1 running on DOS, once you had all the shortcut keys memorized, was lightning fast and did just what it was supposed to. I get so pissed off clicking on the little blue lightning bolt every 5 seconds to undo something Microsoft thought it was helping me "fix."

Re:The Good Old Days! (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47003309)

Man rages against machine because he can't figure out how to set options.

Re:The Good Old Days! (5, Insightful)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 3 months ago | (#47003329)

I still miss Reveal Codes.

Re:The Good Old Days! (1)

97cobra (89974) | about 3 months ago | (#47003507)

this this this

Re:The Good Old Days! (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 3 months ago | (#47003729)

I used WordStar back in the late 1980's on CPM and what I loved about it compared to more "modern" word processors was that I never had to remove my hands from the keyboard to touch the mouse or function keys. It was all there with Ctrl keys. Once I learned it it was really fast for me.

Also (4, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 3 months ago | (#47003249)

'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.

And for the ultimate in security, he also uses 8" floppies. [slashdot.org]

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003345)

Based on screen time, he's into a much different type of 8" floppy.

Re:Also (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003395)

wieners. floppy wieners. floppy wieners...

He thinks it is not connected to the internet ... (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 months ago | (#47003255)

. . . but curiosity got the better of those eager NSA employee fans, who have bugged the computer to know what will happen before the rest of the world . . .

Re:He thinks it is not connected to the internet . (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about 3 months ago | (#47003327)

. . . but curiosity got the better of those eager NSA employee fans, who have bugged the computer to know what will happen before the rest of the world . . .

So that explains the *Beep* *Boop* *Hiss* sound he hears every time he boots up his computer these days....

Slashdot posting "news" people discussed years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003265)

Sigh.

Same here, but more modern. (2)

santax (1541065) | about 3 months ago | (#47003273)

For creative writing I use focuswriter, for the simple reason I can focus(!) better on the creative proces. All you see is your text. It's awesome. I can't do without internet, but I'm sure if I had the balls to disconnect my laptop I would become a whole lot more productive.

Not "obsolete" (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | about 3 months ago | (#47003285)

What does "obsolete" mean? If his writing instrument does what he needs it to do and he's happy using it, then more power to him. Who's to tell him he can't use it, or an IBM Selectric, or even a quill pen and vellum? Nothing is obsolete if it still works for your needs.

Re:Not "obsolete" (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 months ago | (#47003553)

obsolete
adjective
        1. no longer produced or used; out of date.
        "the disposal of old and obsolete machinery"
        synonyms: outdated, out of date, outmoded, old-fashioned, démodé, passé, out of fashion;

I think you might have had a pedantism fail.

Re:Not "obsolete" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003581)

Who's to tell him he can't use it

Publishers who do not have a way of receiving his scripts? :P

Don't get me wrong, I agree with the whole "if it ain't broke" paradigm. But I'm curious how he moves scripts off that ancient machine.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it (5, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about 3 months ago | (#47003289)

If it's working for him, then this makes sense.

What a non-story!

P.S. I assume that no words or names in his fantasy world have any accents or any characters not in the basic ASCII set. DOS WordStar is notably lacking in support for extended characters of any sort. (In fact DOS WordStar uses the high bits of characters for its own purposes, so it cannot ever work with anything beyond 7-bit ASCII.)

http://justsolve.archiveteam.org/wiki/WordStar [archiveteam.org]

Re:If it ain't broke, don't fix it (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47003517)

P.S. I assume that no words or names in his fantasy world have any accents or any characters not in the basic ASCII set.

Correct, the Lannisters, the Starks, the Targaryens, the Tyrells, the Greyjoys all plain English names... honestly it's a refreshing break from the high fantasy ThÃloündyir. (Oh right... neither does /.) In fact one of the main characters is named John Snow...

Re:If it ain't broke, don't fix it (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47003651)

"WordStar is notably lacking in support for extended characters of any sort."

Like Slashdot 25 years later?

some one is preparing reader (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47003297)

for a big delay. Oh... I was Just about to print the book when my ancient computer died. Oh well, talk to me in 5 years.

*giggles on his way to the bank*

Re:some one is preparing reader (0)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 months ago | (#47003505)

What makes you think he doesn't save the file and sneaker-net it to his Internet connected computer for sending to the publisher? If he weren't doing that, he should be writing on a typewriter. He obviously doesn't.

Re:some one is preparing reader (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47003697)

tip: When responding to a post reread it and ask yourself "What would this be if the guy was smiling while he wrote it?"
Seriously dude. CTFD

somebody make a dragon for dos joke (1)

CaptainStumpy (1132145) | about 3 months ago | (#47003301)

I'm not smart enough to make it

Re:somebody make a dragon for dos joke (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47003773)

When Smaug came to the Lonely Mountain, he Terminated and stayed resident.

My dad stilll runs Windows 98SE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003323)

My dad still runs Windows 98SE. It does everything he wants it to do. The only reason he upgraded to Windows 98SE was that he needed a new printer and drivers were not available for Windows 95 at the time. The upgrade path that Microsoft promotes only promotes the coffers of Microsoft.

Software doesn't age (0)

DogDude (805747) | about 3 months ago | (#47003349)

Software doesn't age. Hence all the angst (my own included) about having to throw away perfectly good Windows XP. I still use lots of old software, including Winamp, Textpad, and DVDShrink, just to name a few. Many people's obsession with the newest *thing* is really fucking stupid, in many cases (word processing being one of them).

Re:Software doesn't age (2)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 3 months ago | (#47003443)

You're right, software doesn't age, but attackers will eventually find security holes in that software. You can continue to run Windows XP if you wish, but don't expect that software to get patched or have any other support. Do you think Mr. Martin could possible get support for WordStar?

Re:Software doesn't age (1)

Traze (1167415) | about 3 months ago | (#47003499)

Might be why MS is trying to get a subscription model for Windows going. You get your unchanging software, and they get to make money.

The man (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 3 months ago | (#47003351)

That's how it's done. A person who doesn't worry about "support ending", or having the latest version, or what other people think about him using old tools. He has a perfectly fine tool in his hands, so he grabs it and starts working.

Re:The man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003477)

Makes sense right up until you connect it to anything else.

Whaaaaat? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 months ago | (#47003361)

He (gasp) uses an OLD version of Windows because it (gasp) DOES the JOB? He must be some kind of criminal!

Re:Whaaaaat? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 months ago | (#47003369)

...ok so DOS isn't exactly Windows, but nevertheless...

The Clippy version (5, Funny)

Snufu (1049644) | about 3 months ago | (#47003363)

"It looks like you're trying to write a newsletter about incestuous elves. Would you like assistance?"

Whatever works. (1)

dosius (230542) | about 3 months ago | (#47003379)

I'd be one to use WordPerfect 5, because of its bare minimum UI in edit mode.

He can have 2 computers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003399)

Or he could just use git.

JOE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003407)

I've been using JOE, a WordStar clone, since about 1995--basically since I got my first computer and, a few months later, discovered Slackware Linux, where joe was the default editor.

First thing I do at any job, or when beginning any significant work on a new server, is to download, compile, and install joe. I'm can get by with vi, but I'm at home with joe.

And of course I still use mutt (after elm stopped being maintained) so I could keep using joe.

For serious documents, however, I write LaTeX, sometimes in joe, sometimes with TeXShop--because it's easier to preview the output.

Re:JOE (1)

AndroSyn (89960) | about 3 months ago | (#47003469)

I do pretty much all of my text editing(coding etc) with JOE as well. I too started out as a Slackware user in the mid 90s. I had jumped straight from DOS(where I was used to WordStar) to Slackware, so JOE made me feel pretty much at home...20 years later, I'm still using JOE.

Re:JOE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003723)

I do pretty much all of my text editing(coding etc) with JOE as well.

Me too. I get some strange looks but it does everything I need and never lags on my typing (like EMACS) or tries to do too much. The first thing I do when I setup a new *NIX box is put joe on it. It's really an underrated editor.

Well I am shocked... (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 3 months ago | (#47003449)

...that he does his own taxes.

Doesn't this Game of Thrones gig pay enough for him to hire an accountant?

Re:Well I am shocked... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003591)

...that he does his own taxes.

Doesn't this Game of Thrones gig pay enough for him to hire an accountant?

You don't get rich by spending money...

Huh? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 months ago | (#47003501)

Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop

Why would anyone think that?

Atta boy! (1)

NMBob (772954) | about 3 months ago | (#47003503)

Now I AM going to buy all the books and read them after the TV thing is over. I hope just about all "modern" word processor writers just felt a slap in the face, although part of it must be the users fault too. :) -- Waiting semi-patiently for next weeks episode.

writers write, right (2)

mbaGeek (1219224) | about 3 months ago | (#47003511)

When asked for advice on "how to become a writer" - most professional writers will come back with some form of "write something, then write something else, then write some more." A big part of the writing process is figuring out when, where, and how you are able to write. i.e. The tools you use to write shouldn't get in the way of your writing (the second most popular tip is "when you aren't writing - read")

if Mark Zuckerberg were to come out and say that he is using a Commodore 64 or TRS-80 to work on Facebook - that would be unusual...

Mr. Martin's writing process has the benefit of being almost 100% secure (maybe Quentin Tarantino needs a downgrade [reddit.com] )

Auto-Guess == Auto-Mess (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47003527)

Although one can turn off Microsoft Word's annoying "auto-guess" and "smart replace" features, I've found you have to do it in two different places, do it to each replacement character or sequence, and finding those two places is not intuitive.

Ideally, Microsoft would make a single button for "turn off ALL auto-guess and auto-replacement features". But that's not the Microsoft way: they want you to become dependent on auto-guess such that you'll miss it on competitor products and come running back to Mother Microsoft.

Their stupid "smart quotes" with the forward and backward lean are probably the biggest pet-peeve auto-shit feature of MS. If you paste such text into different products, it often renders them all wrong. MS's solution: "Only use MS products with MS text and everything will be just fine".

MS's behavior often demonstrates the stupid side of capitalism: naive customer manipulation, standards-rigging, monopolies, long-term dependency, bait-and-switch, FUD PR, etc. (I'm not saying there are no upsides to capitalism, but MS sure does a bang-up job of reminding one about the down-sides; if they bother to look around.)

Upgrade . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003551)

. . . to WordPerfect 5.1

Oh jesus (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 3 months ago | (#47003555)

I really hope the my prospects of downloading future episodes of game of thrones via bittorrent are not threatened by the reliability of floppy disks.

New is still not better (1)

benro03 (153441) | about 3 months ago | (#47003561)

The best way to write anything is still pencil and paper. It doesn't run out of batteries, crash if you drop them (though the lead might break), and you don't have to put them away during taxi and takeoff.

Doing it that way has merits! (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 3 months ago | (#47003569)

I will, from time to time, fire up my Apple //e and write in AppleWorks for a while. It's kind of awesome. There are not many features, and the simple text display keeps me focused.

The other thing I like is how the interface, the clackety feel of the keyboard, etc... all take me back to an earlier time. When I connect in that way, with that time, what I write will be different in subtle ways.

Good for him.

Good to see old stuff is still useful (1)

cyberspittle (519754) | about 3 months ago | (#47003607)

I like old machines. People are so quick to throw away the past. Half the fun of using old machines is keeping them working. For me, it is a hobby.

DOSBox (1)

relaxinparadise (943965) | about 3 months ago | (#47003615)

So if I wanted to emulate Martin without having to dig up an XT machine, I would use DOSBox. But since I don't, has anyone used DOSBox for office-ware? How does the printing function work?

Text editing vs. typesetting (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 3 months ago | (#47003619)

I also did some writing using WP 5.1 on DOS back in the day, but later I've come to realize the problem of word processors. The issue became apparent upon learning LaTeX, and since then I've wondered why people spend so much time on the "ink on paper" look, as opposed to the text itself. If you want to focus on text, you should try a plain text editor rather than a "fancy because it's not fancy" word processor.

Further links: http://iki.fi/teknohog/rants/w... [iki.fi]

His books take place in medieval settings (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 3 months ago | (#47003639)

So is it really so surprising he's using DOS?

I use a Tandy WP-3 for writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003649)

It's a device that can only do wordprocessing. It's not fast, the dictionary doesn't have all the words I use in it, and I use a serial cable to download my documents over x-modem. But it has decent keyboard and enough RAM to hold a book chapter and a ton of notes.

One day it will break, and I will be sad. Perhaps I will have the skills necessary to construct a suitable replacement.

Step 1: stick hand in ass. Step 2: pull shit out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003693)

Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing [...], they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop

Holy statement you pulled out of your ass, Batman! I failed to see even the faintest connection between "being the author of a fantasy novel" and "futuristic desktop"... Can anybody help?

Dear developers: STOP HELPING ME! (4, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 3 months ago | (#47003743)

George Martin said it, but I feel like screaming this about a dozen times a day. Don't change my words, my punctuation, or my URL. Don't suggest sites I might want to visit, items I might find interesting, or settings more befitting someone my age. Don't give me the ability to change all things *trivial* (e.g. appearance) but nothing that matters. If you're going to help, help me fix real *problems* and not just appearances. ("Ohhh, Microsoft helped me fix my network problem!" - said No one, ever).

In short, BUZZ OFF (And get off my lawn).

Wordstar even kinda lives on elsewhere, to boot... (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | about 3 months ago | (#47003751)

Several of the Wordstar key bindings are supported in -- of all things -- "edit.exe" under Windows.

That being said, I hope he's using a machine with 3.5" floppies -- gonna start getting hard to pull data off 5.25" floppies in the not-crazy-distant future.

I Still Use Protext... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47003753)

I still use Protext on my Atari!

Just need to write something people would pay money to read...

This is the same reason so many writers use iPads (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 months ago | (#47003769)

An iPad with the Wi-Fi off and with a $5 writing app and your favorite Bluetooth keyboard (chosen from about 30,000 options) is a great “digital typewriter.” Many writers have moved their writing to an iPad and their Macs are just for Internet and research and so on. Just having your writing on the iPad screen 24/7, your writing app always frontmost, is a huge benefit. Being able to close the Mac and turn the world off and just write is also a huge benefit.

I like the portability of the iPad, too, but if you always write in the same room at the same desk, it doesn't matter if your digital typewriter is an old DOS machine.

For a long time now, I thought that Linux-on-the-desktop should stop trying to make yet another Mac clone and make novel devices using Linux instead. Like a digital typewrite that George R R Martin would switch to.

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