Sunday, August 05, 2007

Always More to Want

It's been a frustrating evening. Other than sleeping in, going to see The Simpsons Movie, a little work on Wikipedia, research on the origin of Mickey Mouse, shopping, reading Doctor Who: World Game and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, watching several Tenth Doctor episodes and downloading updates for my new computer (Oh, is that all? You know, the usual), I've mostly been editing Mages of Mâvarin all day. I've made progress, but it's been a tough slog, mostly because MS Word keeps giving me an endlessly rotating blue circle and a "Not responding" message. This has happened at least four times today. Arrgh!

There are several issues involved, most likely, and I can't really blame the new computer for any of them (she said defensively). For one thing, I've been updating my word count table for Mages, which tracks words and page numbers of each chapter. Reasonable thing to do when editing a novel, right? But this document is a Word file with an Excel spreadsheet embedded in it, and it's always been a troublemaker, going back at least to my first laptop, if not the iMac that predated my return to school. Once I edit that embedded spreadsheet, there's always a good chance that Word is going to soon stop working. I've tried recreating the file, but it doesn't help.

So that's one problem. Another is that I'm working in MS Office 2003, which is only vaguely compatible with Vista. If I can get it working properly, I get out of spending $130 on Office 2007, for a while at least. Meanwhile, I should at least update my copy of Office with any downloads that might help. So I've been to the Microsoft web site, and checked for updates. Now I'm downloading 14 updates, 188.9 MB worth in all. Since I'm on dial-up, it's going to take a while. Overnight, probably.

And that's the third issue, because getting a nice new computer does nothing for the fact that my connection to the Internet is more of a leaky faucet than a firehose. As I download these updates, the modem and phone line struggle to get messages through between America Online and my AOL software, between Microsoft and my copy of Explorer, between Google and my copy of Firefox. There's also an issue with RealPlayer and possibly Windows Media Player, the latter of which I haven't tried yet. The BBC web site has claimed several times, even before I started this big download, that I don't have the software to play their video clips. Is it a firewall issue, or my slow connection, or a missing plug-in? I'll figure it out, but it's clear that the slow connection is the biggest issue right now. Well, that and the unresponsive Word docs!

It's kind of annoying, this dissatisfaction with my Internet connection and Word's unreliability, coming as they do at a time when I've just spent $600+ on a new computer. Can't I be fully satisfied, just for a bit? Apparently not. I suppose even if I got Office 2007 tomorrow, and John hooked me up to the cable modem at last via the wireless network I bought months and months ago, I would find something else I really need. Darn it.

Meanwhile, though, I've gotten Mages edited through Chapter Six, which is where I left off in my previous edit. When I got to the uncompleted scene with Darsuma and Fayubi's spirit, I basically skipped over it. I'll wait until I get to the other scene like it in Chapter Nine, and then decide whether to expand or cut or merge. But I reworked some dialogue between Rani and his grandfather, found some characters whose names weren't on my master list yet and added them, renamed the tributary that flows around the Palace (the Daga, as in Onondaga), and tightened some wording here and there. And my Lopartin glossary is coming along nicely.

There are a number of things I'd like to have done online tonight, including an entry for the fiction blog and checking out Pat's contest on Here, There, and Everywhere, which ends tomorrow. But I'll be lucky to get this entry to post, much less load other people's blogs while that big download is going on. Heck, I've had the AOL Welcome page fail to load numerous times over the last few days! But if I don't get roped into taking another friend to see the current Harry Potter film, I'll try to get to it tomorrow afternoon. And maybe, if both my brain and the computer cooperate, I'll get that letter from Jace to Sandy written tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, good night!



julie said...

Have you considered OpenOffice? It's free and so far has worked like a champ with Vista for me. The updates for Office 2003 should work for you, though. Microsoft claims that it'll work with Vista.

As for playing videos, you'll need the beta version if Real Player. Other versions are not compatible with Vista. Been there, done that, got the error message.

Feel free to drop me a line if you run into any Vista-specific issues. with your new system.

DesLily said...

oh my.. this is the first that I've heard that any Word version other than the newest will work on Vista! I've been contimplating a laptop but I already know when I get one I will special order to have xp home put on it.. but it will have 2 gig of memory and 160 hd so I know it will take vista if and when I decide to upgrade to it.. I always wait for all the fixes before I move forward with windows..and they are backing xp for another 7 yrs.
but I have office 2000.. heh.. so that would never work on vista!

The contest ends at midnight tonite.. tomorrow my brother will draw a winner from names put in a bowl..

Wil said...

Tell me you haven't done what I think you have: you created your novel as a single MSWord file, right?

Go in and read the help file info on creating a "Master Document" then create a Master Document and split that puppy up. It will make working with huge files far easier.

Also, I second the emotion about Open Office. And it is quite capable of producing plain vanilla MSWord files. In case your publisher demands the document in that fashion.

The other thing -- I read somewhere (Boing, Boing I think)that BBC has got a "regional lock" on their programs, making downloads direct from the BBC unusable
for someone in Region 1 - North America. This is in addition to the whole PAL vs. NTSC conversion crap you have to go through. YMMV

I know money is tight. But you can get a perfectly serviceable laser printer (black and white) for $150 or less on the street which will turn out your manuscripts at a very respectable 18 pages per minute. Food for thought.