Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

How I Came to Be a Mac Person

24 January 2014

I never owned an Apple ][, but I did own an Apple ///. And yeah, the numbering really was like that.

I didn’t immediately take to the Mac. It was different in weird ways, and I was mostly working on CP/M systems at the time.

In January 1985, the year after the Mac was released, I went in to look at buying a DOS system for work-related reasons, and I had to wait almost an hour for a sales guy. I decided I was going to amuse myself with the store’s Macintosh.

One of the things I’d had to do in the past was engineering drawings (of things like circuit boards). On DOS. (Edit: not just DOS. One of the apps we used was actually on the Apple ///, now that I think about it.) Without square pixels.

Ten minutes with MacPaint and I was sold. Square pixels! How revolutionary. I walked out of the store without the Mac, but with the resolution that I was going to have to figure out how to buy one. Not much later, I bought a used Mac+.

Since then, I’ve never owned a DOS machine — or a Windows machine. I’ve owned a few Linux devices, including some weird ones (like a Corel Netwinder), but basically I’ve been a MacOS person at all other points in the last 30 years.

Read More

Kameron Hurley on Persistence and Being a Writer

23 January 2014

Kameron Hurley’s post is here. But I’m really more reacting to Rose Fox’s response here.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Writing wasn’t something I tried until my 20s. It wasn’t an easy start, and it’s still not easy, but it stuck.

If I’d known how hard it would be, I probably would never have tried it, but I think that’s true of many art forms. We have a romanticized notion of the craft in question, and, by the time we find out that’s not the cold, harsh reality, we’re sucked in deep enough that we plod along.

The actual truth: I don’t enjoy writing — most of the time. I do enjoy taking stuff I’ve written and shaping it into something. In other words, I enjoy editing (my own work) more than I enjoy writing. I don’t enjoy editing others’ work nearly as much.

I wrote more about my history with writing in this post. When I was thinking about what to say to the posts linked at the top, pretty much everything I thought of was said in my previous post.

Except, perhaps, the most important thing of all: I write because I’m happier when I write consistently. Not every day, but when I get my writing time in on fiction projects. Whatever else I’m doing with my life, I need to make enough mental space that that can happen.

One of my fans said (paraphrasing) that I write my best stuff when I’m traveling. She’s seen my dailies, as it were, and I think she’s right.

Oh, and I’m still working on the book whose synopsis I mentioned in that post — been working on the book for about three months (though I’m also working on other projects).

This post brought to you by a rainstorm in Bora Bora….

bora-bora-rain

Read More

On Quark XPress's Demise

21 January 2014

Back in the day, I used to write Quark XPress XTensions for a living, so this commentary (and linked article) about Quark XPress’s demise was fascinating.

One of those involved revamping and revising a significant (and sluggish) XTension to add new features.

I remember contacting Quark because of a problem we were having with so many boxes being laid out on the page (the XTension was for television listings, so there were often 600+).

They said, and I quote:

But why would you want to do that?

So I explained it to them, and they said:

Huh.

Here’s the thing. No matter what kind of program you write, someone will use it (or want to use it) in ways you don’t expect. You can learn to roll with that, or you can ignore it.

They chose to ignore it, as they chose with other customers.

And that is why oh so many of us no longer write Quark XTensions.

Read More

Pitcairn Island

16 January 2014

Technically the occupied island out of the four-island group, a British Overseas Territory.

Home to 49 people. Though I’m not sure if that number is before or after the Pitcairn native we dropped off today.

Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn

Read More

Cool Writing Tool

11 January 2014

So I write in Markdown, which is basically a text file where you put asterisks around stuff you want to underline, etc. There’s more to it than that, of course. Full syntax here.

There are a number of Markdown editors. I normally use Byword, which I prefer.

byword

However, there’s another Markdown editor, Writer Pro, that has a cool feature I rather like using for editing. You can syntax highlight any of the following: nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, or conjunctions.

Like so:

writer-pro

Pretty sweet, huh?

It’s gonna save trees, as I traditionally have printed out for these editing passes. Don’t have to any more. Yay.

And, part of the beauty of the Markdown format: you can freely switch between these (or any other) Markdown editors.

The heavy lifting on this feature’s actually a part of MacOS, so there may be other editors doing this soon. One can hope.

Read More

Random Linguistic Notes

10 January 2014

Phrase that annoys me: “tribal tattoos.”

Tattoo is from a Tahitian word, from tatau, meaning “to mark.” They were inherently tribal. Your ink, tribal or otherwise, is your ink. But ink that has cultural meaning isn’t tribal. It’s a tattoo.

Likewise, taboo is also a Polynesian word, though it’s been credited to Tongan (tapu), Fijian (tabu), or Maori (tapu). The Hawai’ian form of the word is kapu. (Some day, I’d like to write a long post about why Hawai’i has so few consonants. One aspect of the answer is that teeth were considered to have mana. So. Religious dentistry.)

While I’m on the linguistic tear here, I’d also like to put in a word for desert.

Apple’s dictionary gives the derivation as follows:

ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from late Latin desertum ‘something left waste,’ neuter past participle of deserere ‘leave, forsake.’

And most dictionaries stop there (because everything stops at Latin or Greek, right?), but that’s not where the word comes from.

The Middle Egyptian word, transliterated dshrt (deshret), means the red lands beyond the area where the flooding occurred aka those lands that were desert. Kmt (kemet) referred to the black soil where the flooding occurred annually. More notes on this with hieroglyphs.

So, I get why, historically, the original meaning was lost — because we really did lose much of the meaning of hieroglyphs until the Rosetta stone was deciphered. It doesn’t really excuse the dictionary derivations being wrong past that point, though.

IMG_0664

Read More